Abu Dhabi GP: Rosberg ends the year on a high with victory

As the sun set on Formula One, Nico Rosberg claimed the final win of the season at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

For the Formula One season finale at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Nico Rosberg drove a controlled race to round the year out with another win. Lewis had closed the gap down during the middle stint but the win was just out of stretch as Mercedes secured a record points tally. 

Rosberg went into the race starting from pole position after a super Saturday saw the German clinch the top grid slot. Lewis on the other hand had a mixed Saturday, being behind Nico in FP3 before temporarily taking provisional pole.

When the race begun, Nico mustered a great start to ensure he held on to the lead for longer than he was able to last year. Hamilton meanwhile was forced to fight for second rather than the lead into turn one after a poor launch.

Hamilton in fact managed the slowest launch off the line out of the top four, allowing Raikkonen to go side-by-side through the first corner. Lewis though soon created a gap back to Raikkonen and Perez as Rosberg extended his lead.

Over the first stint neither driver made serious gains in terms of time between the Mercedes drivers with Nico holding a strong lead. For the second stint however Hamilton began to eat into Rosberg’s lead as Nico began to suffer front end graining.

In a bid to fight for the win, Hamilton stretched out his second run. But the loss of time this caused allowed Nico to rebuild a 10-second lead once Lewis eventually pitted rather than the one-second he had in hand when pitting.

With Hamilton out of contention for the win, Nico Rosberg was able to round the year out with his third win on the bounce following victories in Mexico and Brazil.

Hamilton in turn ended the race in second, securing Mercedes more championship points in a season than any other constructor in Formula One history. Out of the points available to Mercedes in 2015, the team secured 86% of all the points on offer.

Behind the Mercedes 1-2 finish came both Ferrari drivers as Raikkonen controlled his strategy to finish on the podium for just the third time this season. As for Vettel, the German began the race on the soft compound tyres after a miscalculation from the team saw him eliminated from qualifying in Q1.

Over the course of the race Vettel rapidly gained positions, moving up to 12th by the first lap and briefly ran in second when Mercedes first pitted their drivers. The rest of the positions were easy picking for Vettel as he breezed through the field without too much hassle other than backmarkers.

After qualifying for the season finale in fourth place, Sergio Perez drove a controlled race to finish high in the points in fifth. While his teammate, Hulkenberg, moved up to 5th on lap one and drove without too much hassle to finish in seventh.

Towards the start of the race, Hulkenberg found himself embroiled in a battle with Ricciardo, who finished the race in front of the German. The early battle saw Ricciardo stroll ahead of the Force India with the aid of DRS but Nico fought back down the next straight to briefly regain the position.

At the start of the race a mistake by Alonso saw Maldonado retire for the ninth time this season, with todays down to broken suspension. Fernando had made brief contact with the Sauber of Nasr before locking up and collecting the Lotus into turn one. While Pastor retired on the spot, Fernando managed to return to pits for a change of front wing but later received a drive through penalty for the incident.

Contact was also the special delivery for Bottas in the pit lane as he tagged the rear of Button’s McLaren shortly after leaving his box.

Jenson was coming in to his first stop of the day as Williams cleared Valtteri to leave the box. He however made contact with the rear of the McLaren leaving both cars with damage – Bottas with a broken front wing and Button with slight rear wing damage.

As he had left his box, Bottas was forced to carry out a full lap with half a front wing before also receiving a 5-second penalty for the unsafe release. All in all leaving the Finn out of the points with a mammoth task to regain ground.

Before his stop Valtteri had already lost positions from the grid to Sainz and Kvyat. The Red Bull and Toro Rosso drivers gained the positions off the line before Massa overtook his teammate under braking at turn five. Massa then got past Kvyat leaving Bottas to an early scrap with Kvyat for ninth.

As he looked to regain the position, Bottas went deep at turn 11 allowing the Red Bull back through. Kvyat soon moved out of Bottas’s way however when Red Bull pitted the Russian at the end of lap five – the first to pit for non-contact reasons – with more hitting the pits the following lap.

For Romain Grosjean’s farewell race for Lotus the Frenchman drove the sole remaining Lotus to a point scoring finish. Romain now leaves Enstone for the incoming Haas team, who will be targeting points from the off after a close relationship with Ferrari saw them sharing know-how.

Position Driver Gap to leader Points
1 Rosberg WINNER 25
2 Hamilton 8.271 18
3 Raikkonen 19.43 15
4 Vettel 43.735 12
5 Perez 63.952 10
6 Ricciardo 65.01 8
7 Hulkenberg 93.618 6
8 Massa 97.751 4
9 Grosjean 98.201 2
10 Kvyat 102.371 1
11 Sainz 103.525
12 Button 1L
13 Bottas 1L
14 Ericsson 1L
15 Nasr 1L
16 Verstappen 1L
17 Alonso 2L
18 Stevens 2L
19 Merhi 3L
20 Maldonado DNF