Abu Dhabi is not only the final race in what has been a historically long Formula One championship season, it is also the final race for a number of drivers in numerous ways. It will be the final race of Felipe Massa’s lengthy career, the final race for Jenson Button before he takes a well-deserved sabbatical in 2017 and the final race for a raft of drivers with their current teams.
One such driver is Nico Hulkenberg, whose tenure with Force India comes to a close this weekend after which he makes the move to Renault for next season and beyond.
Therefore, the 21st race of 2016 will be an emotional one for the German driver but that said, he may be changing teams and not working with his current team after Sunday, but they will most certainly rub shoulders in the paddock in future months.
He does however have one more job to do before his time as a Force India driver comes to a close and that’s to help them secure fourth place in the 2016 constructors championship…
“The final race of the season is always special, but this year even more so. It will be my final race with the team, so it will be emotional to work with the crew and the other team members for one last time,” he said. “People move around teams a lot in Formula One, so I know it’s a goodbye and not a farewell. I want to enjoy this last race together and make sure it turns into a celebration: I want us to confirm fourth place in the championship, then we will see a lot of big smiles on everyone’s faces and be proud of what we achieved together.”
And there is no better place to get that job done than the beautiful Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi…
“Abu Dhabi is a very cool place. Yas Marina is very modern and the circuit has probably the best facilities of the whole calendar,” Nico explained. “The track is not bad either and it’s fun to drive. You race into the sunset and it looks really cool when all the lights come on. It’s a unique experience. The pit lane exit is very tricky and one of the most memorable parts of the circuit: you release the pit limiter, accelerate for a second and then you have to brake for the very sharp left hander underneath the track.”
“The wall feels very close and you always hold your breath every time you drive through that narrow exit! It’s a little uncomfortable because as soon as you push harder, you start to slide and it’s very easy to get it wrong. Looking at the track characteristics, Abu Dhabi should suit us really well. We had a few strong results in the last few years and I am confident we can get a good one this time around too. I would love nothing more than to sign off from the team in style.”