As the Formula One party winds down for its winter hibernation, Nico Rosberg continued his sterling late season form, winning in Abu Dhabi ahead of team mate Lewis Hamilton and the Ferrari of Kimi Raikkonen.
In a sterile last race with a distinct ‘end of year’ feel, Rosberg claimed his sixth win of the season and the first hat-trick of wins in his F1 career. It also marked Mercedes’ sixteenth win of the season, a new record for the sport, surpassing the McLaren MP4/4’s tally of fifteen in 1988.
In qualifying, Rosberg trumped Hamilton once again, making it seven poles in 2015 and six in a row, a run stretching back to the Japanese Grand Prix. Kimi Raikkonen put in one of his best Qualifying performances of the season to line up in third, whilst Sergio Perez did well to put his Force India alongside the Finn. Meanwhile, Sebastian Vettel was knocked out in the first session due to timing mistake by the Ferrari team and lined up fifteenth after engine penalties were handed out.
After starting from pole, Rosberg exploded away from Hamilton – who came under immediate pressure from the lively Raikkonen and Perez – and never looked back, never looking under real threat and only losing the lead when he came in for fresh sets of rubber.
In the little action that did take place, it came further down the field, Max Verstappen putting in a typically dogged performance, the highlights being his bold moves on the Sauber of Felipe Nasr and Jenson Button’s McLaren. Yet, the Dutchman’s hard work was undone at the end of the race, penalised for overtaking Button off the track, dropping to twelfth.
However one bold move that didn’t work for Fernando Alonso came at Turn 1, when he made contact with the Lotus of Pastor Maldonado, evicting the Venezuelan instantaneously, making sure the website ‘Has Maldonado Crashed Today’ ticked over from “No” to “Yes”. Alonso limped on to finish in seventeenth.
Valtteri Bottas looked set for a positive end to his solid, if unspectacular campaign, but a traffic light error at his pit-stop released him into the path of Button, taking half his front wing off, forcing him to limp round again with Williams’ new drag reduced-spec car. The Finn ended up in the deep mires of fourteenth.
The biggest mover and shaker in the Middle East was Sebastian Vettel, producing a fine drive to counter his shocking Saturday, finishing behind team mate Raikkonen in fourth.
Romain Grosjean’s last race for Lotus ended with a points finish, after starting at the back due to an engine change, as he moves on to Haas for 2016 as Jolyon Palmer joins Maldonando for Renault’s return.
So going into the winter break, Rosberg looks to be in a very good place for 2016, whilst others just want to find a hot climate, sit back and relax for a few weeks. I hear there’s a grassy mound in Brazil and a deck chair with your name on it, Fernando.
Let’s see what next year brings.
Follow me on Twitter @therealjeagles for updates on when I post.