Despite the Lewis Hamilton/Mercedes domination, 2020 has been a pretty entertaining Formula 1 season overall. But it ended on a pretty flat note.
And that’s far from the first time that’s been the case when the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix has concluded the schedule.
Indeed we’re struggling to think of any Yas Marina thrillers.
So which track should host the season finale? Our writers make their suggestions:
This is basically a shout for a pragmatic choice that can also be entertaining. We could dream and say Bahrain’s Outer circuit given how that race went!
But realistically even Bahrain’s normal grand prix layout is a significant upgrade on Abu Dhabi.
Bahrain’s layout is superior to Abu Dhabi’s for racing, though not nailed on for drama. Of the new-wave circuits though it is among the best.
It’s a track that DRS hasn’t necessarily ruined either, rather enhanced – thanks to the opening Turn 1-2-3 complex and the run up to Turn 4.
It needn’t mean the season finale loses much pageantry either, as it can operate as a night race and incorporate some nice fireworks.
And what it lacks in style compared to the Yas Marina circuit it makes up for in pretty much every other meaningful metric for a circuit.
F1 is pretty well-known for being irritatingly resistant to change, as well as endlessly caught up in nostalgia (case in point – the hullabaloo over those Fernando Alonso R25 demo laps this weekend).
But tradition and nostalgia needn’t be bad by the default. Sometimes they can just accentuate the positive qualities of something – and in this case that something is Brazil’s Autodromo Jose Carlos Pace.
Is Interlagos the best regular F1 track? Probably not quite, no, but it’s up there and it routinely provides very good races even outside of the context of a title decider.
But having it as the finale would just feel right. And as F1 changes with the times, an Interlagos finale is one connection with the past that should be reasonably simple to maintain.
Aside from, you know, the much bigger budget that other venues can contribute. But hey, what can you do?
It’s got to be Interlagos every time, hasn’t it? Not only is the track perfectly configured for drama and overtaking, but the weather is always liable to throw in a delicious random variable.
And then there’s the atmosphere. It’s an amphitheatre with thousands of passionate fans looking down onto the gladiators. The whole samba drum build-up just ratchets up the tension.
This is where the finale should always be – and when it’s a title decider the drama will be amplified.
Australia proved to be a perfect season finale host country from 1985-1995.
It had the right vibe for both an ‘end of term’ feel if the title was settled and a passionate atmosphere for a championship decider.
That would translate just as well to Melbourne. Albert Park isn’t the easiest track for overtaking, yet it reliably provides drama and intrigue.
And that’s not just because of the first-night jitters or underprepared situations that come from its place as season-opener. The layout punishes mistakes and generates excitement.
You could argue that it’s in the wrong timezone for the global TV audience and therefore not a great choice for a finale. But that hasn’t stopped it hosting most of the season openers of the last quarter-century.
It’s probably an age thing, given that Adelaide hosted the F1 season finale from 1985-1995 when I was in my formative years, but that just feels like the perfect place to sign off.
Setting aside the various logistical challenges presented by recreating the event, it has everything. That ‘flyaway’ feel, a real festival atmosphere thanks to being that bit closer to the centre of the city even than the Albert Park circuit is in Melbourne and a capacity to produce remarkable races.
Whether it’s incidents like Nigel Mansell’s tyre blowout, controversial collisions (Mansell and Ayrton Senna in 1992, Damon Hill and Michael Schumacher two years later), rain-hit races such as 1989 and 1991 or bizarre moments – such as David Coulthard crashing his Williams in the pit entry in 1995 – there’s always something going on on the streets of Adelaide.
While Melbourne puts on a great race, Adelaide just feels that bit more special and was a wonderful event to attend even in the days when it became a V8 Supercars event on a shorter version of the track.
What’s the one thing about Abu Dhabi that does work quite well as a season finale?
The night-race atmosphere, evocative twinkly backdrops and fireworks.
Singapore’s Marina Bay has all that too, is properly gruelling, and a really challenging venue that always throws up incidents too.
As another race that exists to help promote its region, having one of the most important dates on the calendar take place on the Singapore streets would also draw even more eyeballs to the venue.
Suzuka has all the right ingredients to be the season finale.
The old-school, tight and twisty nature of the circuit means that drivers are tested to the maximum for the duration of the race and the smallest mistake can end up with the biggest penalties.
Weather also plays a big role. One day it can be dry, the next a threat of a typhoon. It makes it so difficult for teams to decide on strategy and it’s this lack of predictability that makes the weekend all the more exciting.
It may not produce as many overtakes as the likes of Interlagos, but when a pass does happen, it’s usually remembered for a while. Just think back to Fernando Alonso passing Michael Schumacher around the outside of the 130R in 2005.
Suzuka may not be the obvious finale choice these days, but there is no getting away from the fact that most of the races held at the circuit are great to watch. It’s something to always be looking forward to, which is what you want for the last slot on the calendar.
The Mexican GP is pretty universally beloved as an event and already possesses the kind of festive atmosphere that would be befitting of an F1 season finale.
The legions of fans and colourful surroundings mean it looks the part, and the climate should theoretically fit.
In addition, the twist of low air density means it is less predictable than the average F1 circuit when it comes to the competitive order of machinery.
And, hey, it also helps that it’s just a really good and fun track all round.