Rosberg ends season on high with Abu Dhabi GP win
Nico Rosberg has ended the 2015 Formula One season on a high by dominating the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, leading team mate Lewis Hamilton from start to finish and thereby securing Mercedes' 12th 1-2 finish of the year. Kimi Raikkonen similarly had a good race to complete the podium in third place.
As the lights went out and the sun slowly set, Nico Rosberg easily retained his pole position as Lewis Hamilton had a dificult start. He did manage to stay second, but only after fending off Raikkonen and Perez who both attempted to get ahead of the Mercedes.
While the initial start didn't produce much position changes, apart maybe from Alonso and Maldonado who tangled together and ended up at the back, the entire first lap was frantic, with both Williams, Red Bulls, Toro Rossos getting involved in a midfield fight.
By lap 3, Rosberg had 1.4 seconds in hand on Hamilton and another second on Raikkonen. Perez followed in 4th, ahead of Hulkenberg, Ricciardo, Massa, Sainz, Kvyat, Bottas, Verstappen, Vettel, Button, Grosjean, Ericsson, Stevens, Merhi and Nasr. Alonso followed 20 seconds further down after having stopped for a new front wing and soft tyres. Maldonado meanwhile had to retire after that first lap incident.
On lap 5, Kvyat was the first to make a regular stop to change from super soft to soft tyres, dropping down to 16th. All super soft starters bar Hamilton followed in the next 5 laps, with Hamilton pitting another lap later.
For Bottas, things went from troubled to worse, as Button clipped his front wing in the pitlane, resulting in another pitstop the next lap. He later also received a 5s penalty for an unsafe release, due to the Williams pitstop crew.
On lap 12, Rosberg lead the race, 4s to Vettel who started on softs and had yet to pit. Hamilton followed in third, with Raikkonen 3 seconds further down. Perez was 5th, ahead of Grosjean who also still ran on his initial set of softs.
On lap 21, after being allowed to get past his team mate Carlos Sainz, Max Verstappen had a big lockup with both front wheels at the end of the straight, soon telling his team a pitstop is necessary. Verstappen certainly hoped to do more on that set of soft tyres but did only manage 13 laps.
2 laps later, Vettel and Grosjean both pitted at the same time to take on another new set of prime tyres. That left Merhi and Stevens who still went on on their initial set of softs.
Alonso meanwhile wasn't having the must enjoyable of races, with the Spaniard running 17th, ahead only of the two Manor cars but 60 seconds down on 16th placed man, Valtteri Bottas. Of course, that was all due to the first lap incident, along with a penalty he received for causing that collision, one that appeared to be a squeeze with three abreast, launching Alonso off into the back of Maldonado. All this made the Spaniard report on the radio "I'm really going to retire the car if we're not having a safety car".
Then, on lap 30, Rosberg pitted for another set of softs, possibly in reaction to Lewis Hamilton catching him. The latter had been reduce his deficit to the race leader from 6s to 1s in 6 laps. One lap later, Raikkonen also pitted, but a problem with the right front cost him 4 extra seconds, dropping him 3 seconds behind Vettel.
Hamilton on the other hand continued on, targeting a longer stint to fight back later. Rosberg obviously at this time in the race lapped faster, gaining about 8 tenths a lap thanks to his fresh set of tyres. Hamilton eventually continued until 13 laps from the end, pitting for a new set of prime tyres after his engineer told him it would not pay off to gamble on a single stop strategy, something the World Champion was pondering in an attempt to win this race nonetheless.
As Hamilton's charge ended along with the advantage of his fresher tyres, Mercedes subsequently asked both drivers to turn down their engines, effectively sealing their positions to take the team's 12th 1-2 of the season. Kimi Raikkonen finishes the season on the podium for Ferrari.
|5||Sergio Perez||Mex||Force India||+63.952s||10|
|6||Daniel Ricciardo||Aus||Red Bull Racing||+65.010s||8|
|7||Nico Hulkenberg||Ger||Force India||+93.618s||6|
|10||Daniil Kvyat||Rus||Red Bull Racing||+102.371s||1|
|11||Carlos Sainz||Esp||Toro Rosso||+103.525s||0|
|12||Max Verstappen||Ned||Toro Rosso||+1 Lap||0|
|13||Jenson Button||Gbr||Mclaren||+1 Lap||0|
|14||Valtteri Bottas||Fin||Williams||+1 Lap||0|
|15||Marcus Ericsson||Swe||Sauber||+1 Lap||0|
|16||Felipe Nasr||Bra||Sauber||+1 Lap||0|
|17||Fernando Alonso||Esp||Mclaren||+2 Laps||0|
|18||Will Stevens||Gbr||Marussia||+2 Laps||0|
|19||Roberto Merhi||Esp||Marussia||+3 Laps||0|