A protest from Mercedes turned the dream final into a nightmare. The performances of the drivers had nothing to do with it. Lewis Hamilton drove like a world champion again. He only lost the race on the track because of a safety car at the wrong time.
This Formula 1 World Championship didn't deserve this end. The new champion wasn't chosen on the racetrack, but in the stewards' office. The offense had nothing to do with Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen. It was just a question of whether the race was released too early after a safety car phase or not. Verstappen retained his world title. He certainly deserves it, but a small aftertaste will remain.
The aftermath had no impact on the performance of the pilots. We don't judge decisions at the green table here, but what the drivers show on the track. And that's where Lewis Hamilton once again showed a world champion performance, regardless of the result. Even if the Englishman clearly lost the duel for pole position to Max Verstappen and was only the second winner after 58 laps.
Tsunoda with the best race of the season
When the starting lights went out, the Mercedes driver was wide awake. He never gave Verstappen a chance and reacted correctly when the Dutchman pushed him into the run-off zone of turn 6 with one of his crazy attacks. He didn't stand a chance in the final. His hard tires had already done 44 laps on the tread. Verstappen competed against him with five rounds of old soft rubber. Fate gave the Dutchman a chance and he took it coldly. The bottom line was that he was still one grade worse than his World Cup opponent.
Of the remaining drivers, Sergio Perez, Carlos Sainz and Yuki Tsunoda also earned the grade 9. Perez for his water carrier services for team captain Verstappen. Sainz for his fourth podium this year. And rookie Tsunoda for his best race of the season. For the first time, the Japanese outperformed his teammate Pierre Gasly.
Driver grades GP Abu Dhabi
Here are the F1 driver grades for the last Grand Prix of the season in a short overview. As always, you can find the detailed individual reviews of the 20 drivers in the gallery: