Abu Dhabi - Toto Wolff hopes to see his champion Mercedes
team deliver a "great show for the fans" at this weekend's
season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
The Mercedes team chief, who has overseen Lewis Hamilton's
memorable fifth title triumph and the Silver Arrows' fifth consecutive
constructors' championship, said he felt humbled by the celebrations last week,
but also determined to continue setting the pace.
"The celebrations in Brixworth and Brackley were a very
humbling experience," the Austrian said. "Claiming the fifth
consecutive double championship - an experience that very few people in the
sport have ever had - felt amazing. We cherished that moment.
"At the same, time everyone is keen to continue to
raise the bar together and be even stronger in 2019. For now, we have one race
to go in 2018 and we want to put on a great show for the fans who supported us
this season, be it at the track, in front of their TV or on social media.
"The pressure is off so this is one race where we can
really for broke."
The prospect of five-time champion Hamilton and his
team-mate Valtteri Bottas battling for victory against the Ferrari and Red Bull
teams at a track where Mercedes have been unbeaten in the modern turbo-hybrid
era is tantalising.
But the Yas Marina circuit has only rarely delivered
thrills, even if the racing under floodlights has always looked a dazzling
Whatever happens in the race, for many the weekend is likely
to be more memorable for two-time champion Fernando Alonso's farewell to
Formula One and Kimi Raikkonen's last foray with Ferrari before he moves to
Sauber in a swap that sees Charles Leclerc going the other way.
A victory for the 39-year-old Finn would be also a first at
the track for Ferrari as Abu Dhabi celebrates its 10th hosting of the event.
Alonso, who has won the Monaco Grand Prix and the Le Mans
24-Hours race, is departing to concentrate on adding the Indianapolis 500, the
third element of the motorsports triple crown.
"I've won more races than I dreamed of when I came
here," said Alonso, 37. "I've ticked this box. I need to find another
box to fill with another tick now."
As the season ends, amid reports that Pole Robert Kubica has
been recruited, aged 33, to race for Williams next season after completing a
remarkable recovery from injury, there is sure to be a festive atmosphere with
parties up and down the pit lane.
Daniel Ricciardo, who is leaving Red Bull for Renault, will
be planning to ruin the celebrations at Mercedes and Ferrari by marking his
150th race with a victory.
Formula One world championship standings ahead of Sunday's Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, the last race of the 21-event season:
1. Lewis Hamilton (GBR) 383 pts (champion), 2. Sebastian Vettel (GER) 302, 3. Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) 251, 4. Valtteri Bottas (FIN) 237, 5. Max Verstappen (NED) 234, 6. Daniel Ricciardo (AUS) 158, 7. Nico Hlkenberg (GER) 69, 8. Sergio Perez (MEX) 58, 9. Kevin Magnussen (DEN) 55, 10. Fernando Alonso (ESP) 50, 11. Esteban Ocon (FRA) 49, 12. Carlos Sainz Jr (ESP) 45, 13. Romain Grosjean (FRA) 35, 14. Charles Leclerc (MON) 33, 15. Pierre Gasly (FRA) 29, 16. Stoffel Vandoorne (BEL) 12, 17. Marcus Ericsson (SWE) 9, 18. Lance Stroll (CAN) 6, 19. Brendon Hartley (NZL) 4, 20. Sergey Sirotkin (RUS) 1
1. Mercedes 620 pts (champions), 2. Ferrari 553, 3. Red Bull 392, 4. Renault 114, 5. Haas 90, 6. McLaren 62, 7. Racing Point Force India 48, 8. Sauber 42, 9. Toro Rosso-Honda 33, 10. Williams 7