A bitterly disappointing end to the season for Carlos Sainz in Abu Dhabi. Arriving at the final leg of the championship with the opportunity to solidify his fourth position in the standings, the Ferrari driver instead endured a poor weekend at the 5.281-kilometre Yas Marina Circuit on Yas Island.
In the United Arab Emirates, the Spaniard completed his second race weekend without scoring any points. A decidedly negative record that began with Friday’s free practice.
In FP2, car #55 lost control and crashed into the barriers at over 200 km/h. Everything was okay for the driver, but not so much for his Ferrari, which was wrecked on the left side. A bump on the track had hit the underside of the car, causing Carlos Sainz to lose grip.
Qualifying didn’t fare any better. Carlos Sainz failed to advance from Q1 and will start sixteenth on the grid. The Madrid native attributed the blame to leaving the pits too late. Due to traffic, the driver couldn’t complete a clean lap.
The race was another ordeal. Starting sixteenth on hard tires, he gained two positions in the first lap. However, he struggled to maintain a good pace with that compound, and it was difficult for him to climb back into the points. The team expected a safety car from the pits (as is tradition in Abu Dhabi), but it never came, condemning him to retire at the end of the race (having meanwhile dropped to eighteenth place).
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Without Carlos Sainz, Charles Leclerc‘s Ferrari was not enough to secure second place in the constructor’s championship, which was instead claimed by Mercedes. Consequently, the Spaniard dropped three positions in the driver’s championship, going from fourth to seventh.
The Schumacher-Villeneuve incident
Such a disastrous season finale had only happened to Michael Schumacher in 1997. In that year, the German was leading the championship. At Jerez, the Ferrari driver was on the verge of winning his first title with the Italian team.
However, he was excluded from the final championship standings for dangerous driving after colliding with Jacques Villeneuve. Michael Schumacher retired at the end of the race. His then-rival, Jacques Villeneuve, became the Formula 1 world champion and secured his first and only title.