First, Last & Only: 6 Milestone events from the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

From double points, to one-off liveries and last appearances for car numbers and tyre manufacturers, here are six milestone Formula 1 occasions which have taken place at the Yas Marina Circuit!

2018: First one-off livery for McLaren since 1986

McLaren ran a special livery at the 2018 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix to commemorate Fernando Alonso’s last race appearance. The colours of Alonso’s helmet were splashed across the engine cover of the MCL33. It was the first time McLaren had run a one-off livery since the 1968 Portuguese Grand Prix, where instead of the iconic rocket red and white colours, Keke Rosberg ran in a car that was yellow and white. It was to promote a new brand of Malboro cigarette which had the same colour packaging.

2014: First race for Will Stevens

Will Stevens made his first Grand Prix appearance with Caterham in Abu Dhabi in 2014. Caterham, formerly named Team Lotus, was one of three new teams to enter the sport in 2010. By 2014, the team was struggling financially and entered administration before the United States Grand Prix. They also missed the Brazilian Grand Prix but, after a crowdfunding campaign, they returned for one last appearance at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

While Kamui Kobyashi stayed, Marcus Ericsson had terminated his contract. Prior to them entering administration, Rubens Barrichello had signed a deal to take Kobayashi’s seat for the remaining three rounds of the season – but the Brazilian never raced with the team. Instead, Will Stevens partook in his first race, finishing in seventeenth place. Stevens would go on to race with Manor in the 2015 season, and made his last F1 appearance at Yas Marina that season.

2014: Last appearance for #1 for 8 years

Sebastian Vettel became the last driver to race in car number one at the 2014 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. The number would not be used again until 2022. Permanent driver numbers were introduced in 2014 and the World Champion had a choice of either running their own number or the number one.

 While Vettel opted to run the number one on his car in 2014, Lewis Hamilton stuck to his number 44 for the 2015 season. Nico Rosberg is the only other driver to have won the World Championship since, but he retired straight after winning the title.

The number one has made two brief appearances between 2015 and 2021, however, with Hamilton opting to run the number in Free Practice at both the 2017 and 2018 Abu Dhabi Grands Prix.

In total, 52 drivers have raced with the number one on their car so far in Formula 1 history. Drivers racing with the number one have had more wins, poles and podiums than drivers in any other car number. 

2010: Only 4-way title decider

The 2010 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix was the final round of the nineeteen-race season. With Fernando Alonso, Mark Webber, Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton all still in the title hunt, this was the first and so far only time in Formula 1 history that the title could have been won by any one of four drivers at the final round.

Alonso led the championship battle with an eight point advantage over Webber. Vettel was fifteen points behind, while Hamilton had only an outside chance of taking the honours. While both Alonso and Webber were caught in traffic after their pit stops, Vettel led the race having started from pole and became the sport’s youngest World Champion. He won with a four point lead over Alonso. It was the first time Vettel led the championship in his career!

2010: Last race for Bridgestone tyres

While the 2010 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix is remembered for being a dramatic title-decider, it was also the last race to feature Bridgestone tyres. Bridgestone had first supplied F1 tyres at the 1976 and 1977 Japanese Grands Prix. They became a regular tyre supplier in 1997, first supplying tyres to four teams. They were the exclusive tyre manufacturer in 1999 and 2000, before Michelin joined in 2001. Bridgestone then became the sole supplier once again in 2007.

At the end of 2009, it was announced that Bridgestone would leave the sport at the end of the following year. Sebastian Vettel’s win at the 2010 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix was the 175th and last win in F1 for Bridgestone. Tyres have been supplied exclusively by Pirelli since 2011.

2014: Only time double points have been awarded

Double points were awarded for the only time in F1 history at the 2014 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. The controversial tweak of the rules meant 50 points were on offer for the win, the aim being to eke the championship fight out until the last round.

Ironically, the race would have still been a title decider without double points being awarded. Mercedes team-mates Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg had fought in a league of their own for the 2014 Drivers’ Championship, with Hamilton entering the final round with a seventeen point advantage. As it happened, Rosberg faced mechanical troubles in the race. An ERS failure saw him finish way outside of the points and a lap down on race winner Hamilton. Hamilton claimed his second title as a result, his first since 2008.

The 2o22 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix takes place at Yas Marina Circuit on November 18-20.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *