Abu Dhabi race check-up: What went down

2015 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Sunday – Steve Etherington

Nico Rosberg won the 2015 Formula 1 Abu Dhabi race with an 8.2-second lead over his teammate Lewis Hamilton. This was Rosberg’s 14th career win, 6th win of the season, and third in a row, making it the first hat-trick of his career. Among the all-time greats, he equalled the total tally of wins of legendary Graham Hill. Let’s take a closer glance at the season’s final race at Yas Marina and at the whole situation of the teams today.

Click here to subscribe to our print edition!

The Mercedes duo were followed by Ferrari driver and 2007 World Champion Kimi Raikkonen, who took his third season podium. Rosberg won the Grand Prix from pole position to the finish line, and his teammate and 2015 champion Lewis clocked the fastest race time, which was 1 minute and  44.517 seconds.

The 55-lap race had only one retirement: Lotus driver Pastor Maldonado when Fernando Alonso punted him out on the first lap. As a result of the investigation, the Spaniard was handed a five-second drive-through penalty. It was Pastor’s ninth retirement this season.

Another incident involved Jenson Button and Max Verstappen. The 18-year-old went off the track in an attempt to overtake the senior McLaren driver. Verstappen was handed a five-second penalty and a 20-second post-race penalty for ignoring blue flags on the track. He has also been slapped with three penalty points to his license adding up to a total of eight. If the young Toro Rosso racer is given four more penalty points during the next four races, he will automatically qualify for one race ban for collecting 12 or more points in 12 months, and this would be a wake-up call for the team in terms of controlling Max.

Mercedes: The Silver Arrows might have completed the season with a record-breaking 16 wins, 12 one-two finishes and 18 pole positions, but their biggest problem that spilt out in public was the relationship between their two drivers and their arguments on the radio with disappointments going public. Toto Wolff has said that it was a conscious decision to have two well-matched drivers in the team three years ago, but admitted that “the biggest weakness is the dynamic of the relationship between the drivers – and sometimes between the drivers and the team”. He has further noted that either driver upset with the weekend has to be pacified post the race, and the disappointment spills into the team and its atmosphere, so Toto intends to stop it. He has threatened to reconsider the team line-up if tensions between the two drivers continue. Hamilton’s contract is extended until 2018, and Rosberg’s expires after 2016.

Ferrari: The scarlet team has finished the season with a total of 428 points. Sebastian Vettel, who did not make it to Q2 due to a puncture during the first session of the qualifying, started the race 15th on the grid and finished fourth. The four-time world champion finishes the championship as the second runner-up with a total of 278 points in the drivers’ standings. Finnish driver Kimi Raikkonen ends the season with a fourth-place finish in the standings with a total of 150 points. Kimi drove a fantastic race but had two slow pit stops – one of 3.5 seconds and one of 6.6 seconds.

Raikkonen’s hunger to win has been questioned throughout the season, but his current podium has ended all talk. However, when Finn arrives at the conference post-race, he isn’t quite happy and hints that only a win can completely satisfy him. His team did seem to be handling it all much better. Sebastian might not have had a podium finish in Abu Dhabi, yet he said he is 100 per cent certain that the Silver Arrows can be defeated and optimistically looks forward to the 2016 season.

Williams: Valterri Bottas started the race sixth and finished thirteenth, outside the points. He was handed a 5-second penalty for the unsafe pit lane release during his first pit stop and made a total of three pit stops during the race. Felipe Massa was eighth, bringing home four points. However, in the constructors’ standings, the Grove-based team finished the season third behind Ferrari, with a total of 257 points.

Force India:  This is probably the last time we see the team in the Indian tricolour or with the Force India badging. If paddock speculations are true and the Aston Martin-Johnny Walker tie-up goes down, we will look at a new Silverstone-based outfit next year. A missing element from their paddock was the team’s owner Vijay Mallya, who did not attend the Grand Prix due to his commitments. Putting a season roundup together, from when it was bought as Spykar and finishing fifth in the constructors’, it is very creditable for a team which has punched way above its weight in the mid-field to seal the fifth spot among such rivals.

Red Bull: Something to look out for in the next week from the Milton Keynes team is their engine supplier for 2016. Renault’s Cyril Abiteboul also said in Friday’s press conference that there would be an announcement about the future of Renault in Formula 1 very soon.

McLaren: At the start of the race, Fernando Alonso was handed a 5-second drive-through penalty for his incident with Pastor Maldonado. Alonso hit Nasr while approaching Turn 1, which pushed him into Maldonado, retiring the Venezuelan from the race. The Spaniard had to immediately pit for a new nose in the first lap, after which he finished 17th ahead of the two Manor cars. However, he strangely managed to clock the third fastest lap of the race, which was 1 minute and 44.796 seconds. Jenson Button finished in the same place he started, 12th. The team could not achieve its goal of beating Sauber in the points tally. For the Woking-based team, all has gone wrong from the start of the season with their Honda package, leaving two World Champions struggling at the bottom of the grid and the worst result of their career.

As the season finale, Abu Dhabi race certainly had the best atmosphere yet a less eventful race as compared to previous years. This time the Grand Prix had only one retirement and less drama unfolding throughout the 55 laps. With Mercedes running off with the championship for the second time in a row, one can only hope the rival teams can develop better challengers over the winter break to give the Silver Arrows a tough run next year. With a roller-coaster season of 19 races, it’s finally an adieu to Formula 1 for this year.

There are no comments

Add yours