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ABU DHABI GP: FERRARI THIRD AMONG CONSTRUCTORS, 3 POINTS BEHIND MERCEDES



What a disappointment. By just 3 points, practically nothing after 22 races, Ferrari lost its grip on the second position in the Constructors' World Championship, yielding to Mercedes. Toto Wolff's team had secured the second position at the seventh Grand Prix in Spain, surpassing Aston Martin-Mercedes, and since then, they firmly held onto that prestigious spot. Although Ferrari initially lagged behind, they consistently closed the gap, arriving at the eve of Abu Dhabi with just a 4-point deficit.


Unfortunately, Carlos Sainz was missing during the crucial weekend. Despite consistently being in the top 10 from the fourth race to the 21st in the calendar, he faced a tough day in Abu Dhabi. Could the incident in the second free practice have "upset" the Spaniard? It's hard to say, but it's a fact that in qualifying, he finished 16th, failing to advance from Q1. In the race, starting on the hard Pirelli tires (a questionable choice given the circumstances), he attempted an almost impossible recovery. Although he reached the points zone, he was forced into a second pit stop, effectively excluding him from the points competition, even though he didn't change his tires. This move proved crucial, especially given the circumstances.


Charles Leclerc, brilliantly finishing second behind the untouchable Red Bull-Honda of Max Verstappen, tried everything in the first lap. However, the Dutchman defended well at turns 6 and 9, effectively closing the game from that moment. The three-time world champion drove with mastery, managing the tires precisely and winning the 19th Grand Prix of the season out of 22 contested. What more can be said.


In the final laps, Leclerc sought creative ways to secure the points needed to beat Mercedes. He even considered the idea of helping Sergio Perez by slowing down George Russell, who was behind him. However, when he learned that Perez had self-penalized by 5", deciding to overtake Lando Norris with a borderline maneuver, Leclerc allowed the Mexican to pass him. The reason? Leclerc hoped that Perez could create a gap greater than 5" between himself and Russell, preventing the latter from rising to third place. Unfortunately, Perez failed to do so, finishing second but dropping to fourth due to the penalty. Thus, Russell gained 15 points instead of 12, proving crucial for the standings. If not for the points tie, Ferrari would have secured the desired position.


Nevertheless, applause to Russell for his excellent performance, devoid of excesses that occasionally characterize his races. The young British driver outshone Lewis Hamilton from the free practices, where the experienced driver seemed less determined, almost indifferent, failing to enter Q3 and finishing the race in ninth place, even making an error in the final lap while attempting to overtake Yuki Tsunoda.


A good performance also for the two McLaren-Mercedes drivers, with Norris finishing fifth and Oscar Piastri sixth. Both fought hard and earned the points that secured McLaren fourth place in the Constructors' Championship. Behind them, the Aston Martin-Mercedes, aiming for that fourth position, finished seventh with Fernando Alonso and tenth with Lance Stroll. However, the signs of awakening from the AMR23 and Stroll came too late.

Kudos to Tsunoda and Alpha Tauri, who even led the race for a few laps thanks to a well-played pit-stop strategy. The Japanese driver finished eighth, providing satisfaction to team principal Franz Tost, now officially retired after leading the team based in Faenza since its first Grand Prix in 2006 when it was named Toro Rosso. Just 3" outside the points zone was Daniel Ricciardo, finishing 11th, paying the price for a poor qualifying.


Alpine-Renault disappointed this time, staying out of the points zone with both drivers. Little glory for Williams and Haas (despite Nico Hulkenberg's notable performance in qualifying), as well as Sauber, anchored at the bottom of the standings.



© Cavalieri Garage & Co.

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