The bright red Ferrari is the most famous car on the track – but a team with 16 constructors’ crowns and 15 drivers’ titles to its name is now getting worryingly used to being second best. While being left in Mercedes slipstream will frustrate loyal supporters , the early season performances of four-time World Champion and the welcome return to form of the ice-cool Fin Kimi Räikkönen gives encouragement that the Prancing Horse could be back on top of the podium next season.
Force India is now a force to be reckoned with. The independent team debuted on the grid back in 2008 and have become a well-established, point-scoring member of the paddock. For a team built on steady year-on-year progress, however, this year may have served up more drama than they would have liked. Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon have led the team to fourth in the standings, but Force India had to impose team orders after a number of on-track collisions.
Haas were the first American-led team to join the F1 party for 30 years when they debuted in the 2016 season and the team has made solid if unspectacular progress since. Spearheaded by talented Frenchman Roman Grosjean and former McLaren man Kevin Magnusson, they have already more points in their second season heading to the Abu Dhabi finale then they did last season. They will be looking for a strong end to the campaign as they continue on the road to long-term success.
Despite having double world champion Fernando Alonso in their ranks, the misfiring eight-time constructors’ champions might themselves in an all-too-familiar position at the back of the grid. Alonso has been hit by a string of retirements and hasn’t shown himself to be a class apart from unheralded teammate Stoffel Vandoorne. The team will end its ill-fated partnership with Engine supplier Honda at the end of this season and fans will switching to Renault can lift them out of the doldrums.
The ninth annual Abu Dhabi Grand prix will be a race-long victory lap for the Silver Arrows, who have already secured their fourth consecutive constructors’ crown and saw Lewis Hamilton notch up his third drivers’ title with the team and fourth in total. It didn’t look that way in the first half of the campaign, as Ferrari put up a mighty effort to dislodge the champions. Mercedes, however, managed to win thanks to Hamilton’s dominance and the steely assistance of the impressive Valtteri Bottas.
The glory days of the team’s four consecutive constructors’ and drivers’ titles might be behind Red Bull but, with a young and vibrant line-up at their disposal, they are capable of emerging from the chasing pack on any given race. Both Australian speedster Daniel Ricciardo, who has outpaced multi-time F1 king Sebastian Vettel in the past, and teenage superstar Max Verstappen have picked up victories his year. In Verstappen, they have a man who could dominate in years to come.
There have been plenty of twists and turns in Renault’s F1 history over the years – but this season has been distinctly middle of the road. The team has had three separate spells in Formula One and was at its most potent in the mid 2000s with a young and fiercely ambitious Fernando Alonso in the cockpit, leading the team to double constructors’ and drivers title success in 2005 and 2006. Seasoned German Niko Hulkenberg has secured the bulk of the team’s points this year but a lack of back-up from the now-departed Jolyon Palmer has stunted the team’s progress. The signing of Carlos Sainz offers some hope.
It has been another dismal season to forget for Sauber. A team that has been part of the F1 furniture since 1993 enjoyed their moment in the sun back in 2008 when Polish racer Robert Kubica claimed victory in the 2008 Canadian Grand Prix. But since then there hasn’t been too much to talk about. The 2017 season has, sadly, been a slog from start to finish, with only murky clouds gathering on the horizon. The team has picked up a paltry five points, courtesy of Pascal Wehrlein, while Marcus Ericsson has picked up none, leaving them marooned at the bottom of the constructors’ standings.
Red Bull’s junior team has been a breeding ground for future talent, with both Sebastian Vettel and Daniel Ricciardo getting their big break with the outfit. This year has been one of turmoil, however, with their initial driver line-up of Carlos Sainz Junior and Daniil Kyvat both moving on during the course of the reason. Sainz Jr plundered plenty of points before switching to Renault and will be a huge loss. Toro Rosso look set to end he campaign with rookie duo Brendon Hartley and Pierre Gasly behind the wheel.
One of the most successful teams in F1 history appeared to be enjoying a renaissance thanks to the partnership of veteran Brazilian Felipe Massa and flying Finn Valtteri Bottas. But Bottas’ switch to Mercedes has left Williams with a gap in their driving line-up they have been unable to fill. Felipe Massa’s U-turn over his retirement plans has given them some stability, but a place stranded in the middle of the constructors’ championship is a poor return for a team with such a trophy-laden history.