France’s Philippe Chiappe proved earlier today that he’s not going to give up his Union Internationale Motonautique F1 H2O World Championship title without a fight. The three-time defending world champ produced a simply faultless drive from pole position to take his sixth career victory at the Grand Prix of Abu Dhabi in United Arab Emirates.
CTIC F1 Shenzhen China’s Philippe Chiappe earned the victory in today’s Grand Prix of Abu Dhabi. Photo by Simon Palfrader/F1 H2O
The CTIC F1 Shenzhen China driver kept his hopes of winning a fourth straight world title alive after closing the gap on championship leader Alex Carella, the Italian driver for Team Abu Dhabi who also owns three world titles, to 11 points heading into the final race of the season in Sharjah, UAE, next week.
Today’s race opened with a spectacular crash on the start lap involving Maverick F1 Racing’s Cedric Deguisne and the luckless Mad Croc BABA Racing driver Sami Selio. The incident immediately brought out the yellow flag and the racing resumed after five laps.
Chiappe made no mistake from the start and again at the restart on lap 5, but he was unable to break the persistent challenge and pressure from Norway’s Marit Stromoy, who finished second in the 52-lap race, just 2 seconds behind Chiappe and 7 seconds ahead of third-place finisher Carella.
“It was a tough race and it was important to remain focused,” Chiappe said. “The job is done and I am very pleased for my team. We have kept the pressure on in the championship and we now see what happens in Sharjah.”
By far her best performance of the year, Emirates Racing driver Stromoy backed up yesterday’s second place in BRM Qualifying with her first podium since her famous victory in Sharjah in 2015.
Emirates Racing driver Marit Stromoy was happy to be back on the podium in Abu Dhabi. Photo by Arek Rjes/F1 H2O
Stromoy appeared unfazed at being sandwiched between two world champions throughout the race. Although she could not get close enough to challenge for the lead, holding off Carella was no easy task.
“That was good—I am very happy,” Stromoy said. “It almost feels like a win because it’s been so long since a result like this. I pushed as hard as I could and kept Philippe quite close but I never really had an opportunity to get ahead.”
Despite a determined drive, Carella was unable to improve on starting from third and opting for a more cautious approach as the race progressed.
“It was a difficult race, a very fast pace,” said Carella, who has 70 points heading into the final race of the season—Chiappe has 59 points and Team Sweden’s Erick Stark is in third place overall with 49 points. “I got close to Marit many times but then she just kept pulling away. There was no point for me to take any risks. The championship is more important and it is still in our hands. We see what happens in Sharjah.”
Victory Team’s Shaun Torrente, a native of Florida, made a great start moving up from sixth to immediately make up two places and then had a rather uneventful race as he was unchallenged for fourth place. Stark’s title aspirations evaporated after he finished in fifth ahead of teammate Jonas Andersson.
The final round of a compelling season continues next week (Dec. 13-15) at the UIM F1 H2O Grand Prix of Sharjah with two three-time world champions set to go head to head in what promises to be a thrilling title showdown.
Team Abu Dhabi’s Carella Extends F1 H2O World Championship Lead
Stark Earns First F1 H2O Victory in China
Team Abu Dhabi’s Carella Wins F1 H2O Grand Prix of France
Chiappe Takes Victory in F1 H2O Season Opener in Portugal
Al-Hameli Joins Torrente on Revamped Gillman-Led Victory Team
Enough is Enough: Torrente Calls for Focus on Safety