Abu Dhabi GP: Rosberg dominates final race of 2015

Nico Rosberg won a third consecutive Grand Prix for the first time in his career in Abu Dhabi – his sixth victory of 2015 – to end his season in style to defeat his World Champion teammate Lewis Hamilton once again.

Rosberg led from the start, and controlled the race from the front.

Hamilton's main challenge came when he extended his second stint, but he was unable to find the requisite pace on his final set of soft tyres – the team having decided against him gambling on supersofts. Rosberg won by 8.2s.

Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen finished a distant third, ahead of teammate Sebastian Vettel – who charged up from 15th on the grid, and used superior pace on the supersoft in his final stint to seal his position.

Story of the race

From the final grid of the season, poleman Rosberg made a great getaway so Hamilton had to defend from Raikkonen and a quick-starting Sergio Perez (Force India).

The second Force India of Nico Hulkenberg got up to fifth from Daniel Ricciardo's Red Bull and then a huge battle behind in which Daniil Kvyat (Red Bull) and Carlos Sainz (Toro Rosso) touched exiting Turn 6.

Vettel clipped Max Verstappen's STR at high speed on the opening lap, after Verstappen had brushed wheels with Kvyat just a few corners earlier. Vettel ended the first lap in 12th, already 10s off the lead.

Rosberg led Hamilton by 1.4s, with Raikkonen less than a second behind in third.

Sainz up to seventh, ahead of Massa, the spikey Kvyat, Valtteri Bottas and Verstappen.

Massa passed Sainz for seventh at Turn 8 for seventh on lap three, while Kvyat and Bottas swapped ninth through the DRS zones.

Ricciardo passed Hulkenberg for fifth on lap six, with a neat outbraking move before they both pitted to switch to softs.

Hulkenberg only just rejoined ahead of Massa, but well behind Ricciardo. Massa was ninth, ahead of Kvyat.

Rosberg set fastest lap on the seventh tour after reporting "I'm pushing the tyres a bit more now" and pulled 4.7s clear of Hamilton before he pitted at the end of lap nine, the same tour as Raikkonen.

Vettel, who was running a long first stint on the soft tyre from his lowly grid position, was briefly promoted to second when Hamilton pitted on lap 10.

Hamilton retook second from Vettel with a routine pass with DRS on lap 14. By this stage was 7s behind Rosberg, which Hamilton reduced to under 5s by lap 22, then halved it again over the next three laps.

Hamilton's engineer suggested that Rosberg was suffering from right-front graining, the gap closing to 1.3s before Rosberg stopped again at the end of lap 31.

Hamilton responded with a fastest first sector, as he attempted to 'overcut' his teammate by staying out for longer. "We're going to try and extend this stint," his engineer confirmed.

Rosberg's engineer asked him to "pick the pace up and close up to Lewis", to be in a better position to defend if Hamilton switched to the faster supersofts for his final stint.

Rosberg slashed into the 18s post-pitstop gap, getting it down to under 10s with 15 laps to go. Hamilton then considered taking his softs until the end of the race, but the idea was rubbished on his pitwall, and Hamilton pitted for another set of new softs. He rejoined 12s in arrears, and needed to find a second a lap to win the race.

Rosberg's lead continued to dwindle as the laps unwound, with Hamilton lapping up to 1.7s per lap faster.

He was told "flat out until the end" but couldn't quite produce the times he needed, and finished over 8s in arrears.

The battle behind

On far fresher softs, Raikkonen caught Vettel, who let him through following a team order on lap 16. Vettel pitted for his first stop on lap 24, dropping to sixth.

Grosjean likewise ran long after starting on the softs, and frustrated Perez for a lap but the Mexican got past on lap 12 to maintain his top-five position. Grosjean pitted on the same lap as Vettel, and rejoined in a fight with McLaren's Jenson Button for 11th.

Ricciardo attempted to undercut Perez at the second pitstops, but Perez stayed a second clear in their battle for fifth and then set the fastest lap of the race overall to pull well clear and keep in the hunt for fourth against the three-stopping Vettel.

Raikkonen suffered a slow second stop, as the team couldn't get the right-front wheelgun to work, putting him behind Vettel again who had one more stop to make.

Vettel again allowed Raikkonen past, but not after a few laps of defiance.

Vettel pitted for the final time, switching to supersofts with 15 laps to go. He rejoined right behind Ricciardo in fifth, and took a lap to get ahead of him to take fifth.

Vettel then chased down Perez, passing him for fourth with 10 laps to go, and seemed to have no problem in nursing his supersofts to the finish.

After that, the closest battle on track was for seventh, with Hulkenberg fending off Kvyat and Massa.

Massa got ahead of Kvyat, who was being urged to save fuel, with seven laps to go with a huge lunge at Turn 11 after a great DRS run.

Sainz had suffered a horrendously slow first pitstop which dropped him out of the top 10 after his feisty start. Verstappen passed Sainz for 11th on lap 19, again after team orders, but was forced to pit soon after due to a massive lock-up at Turn 8.

Romain Grosjean used his three-stop strategy to surge into the points in the closing stages, passing Sainz and Kvyat to finish ninth right behind Massa.

Button did a decent job to fend off the Saubers and Bottas in the closing stages, but had no answer to Verstappen on supersofts despite banging wheels at Turn 12. Stewards then penalized Verstappen for gaining an advantage off the track.

Verstappen finished 12th, but will be investigated after the race for ignoring blue flags.

Marcus Ericsson won the duel of the Saubers from Felipe Nasr, with McLaren's Fernando Alonso finishing a much-delayed 17th. Will Stevens won the final Manor-land battle of the season, after Roberto Merhi started from the pitlane to allow for a setup change.

Incidents and accidents

Bottas hit the McLaren of Button in the pits as he was rejoining and the McLaren was coming in. Bottas lost the left half of his front wing, and had to pit again, dropping him down to 16th.

There was also a first-corner crash: Pastor Maldonado and Alonso collided, with the Lotus of Maldonado out on the spot with broken suspension and Alonso's McLaren requiring a new nose.

An initial touch with Nasr was the catalyst for the crash, and Alonso then ploughed into Maldonado, narrowly missing Vettel who was on the outside.

Alonso was penalized for causing an avoidable collision.

PosDriverTeamTime
1 GermanyNico Rosberg  GermanyMercedes 1:38:30.175
2 United KingdomLewis Hamilton  GermanyMercedes +8.200
3 FinlandKimi Raikkonen  ItalyFerrari  
4 GermanySebastian Vettel  ItalyFerrari  
5 MexicoSergio Perez  IndiaForce India  
6 AustraliaDaniel Ricciardo  AustriaRed Bull Racing  
7 GermanyNico Hulkenberg  IndiaForce India  
8 BrazilFelipe Massa  United KingdomWilliams  
9 FranceRomain Grosjean  United KingdomLotus F1 Team  
10 RussiaDaniil Kvyat  AustriaRed Bull Racing  
11 SpainCarlos Sainz Jr.  ItalyToro Rosso  
12 NetherlandsMax Verstappen  ItalyToro Rosso +1 lap
13 United KingdomJenson Button  United KingdomMcLaren +1 lap
14 FinlandValtteri Bottas  United KingdomWilliams +1 lap
15 SwedenMarcus Ericsson  SwitzerlandSauber +1 lap
16 BrazilFelipe Nasr  SwitzerlandSauber +1 lap
17 SpainFernando Alonso  United KingdomMcLaren +2 laps
18 United KingdomWill Stevens  United KingdomManor +2 laps
19 SpainRoberto Merhi  United KingdomManor +3 laps
R Pastor Maldonado  Lotus F1 Team Collision

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Event Abu Dhabi GP
Track Yas Marina Circuit
Drivers Kimi Raikkonen , Lewis Hamilton , Nico Rosberg
Teams Mercedes , Ferrari
Article type Race report