Lewis Hamilton wins tense Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Nico Rosberg takes first F1 world title with second place
Lewis Hamilton claimed the victory at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix ahead of his Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg, a result that clinched the 2016 Formula...
Lewis Hamilton claimed the victory at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix ahead of his Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg, a result that clinched the 2016 Formula 1 world championship for the German driver.
Rosberg, who becomes the third German driver to win the world title 34 years after his father Keke won his own championship in 1982, knew ahead of the race that he only needed to finish second or third if Hamilton won to take the crown.
Sebastian Vettel finished third after a late race charge for Ferrari, which created a grandstand finish as Hamilton tried to back his teammate into the opponents who could deprive him of the positions he needed to win the title.
At the start, Hamilton and Rosberg leapt off the line in formation from first and second on the grid, while the Ferrari pair of Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel attacked Daniel Ricciardo’s Red Bull for third place.
Raikkonen got alongside the Australian driver and moved ahead under braking for Turn 1 as Ricciardo and Vettel locked up heavily at the left-hander. In the pack behind, Max Verstappen hit the side of Nico Hulkenberg’s Force India as the fought over sixth, which spun the Dutchman around and he fell down to last place.
The early stages of the race were characterised by Verstappen fighting his way back up the order as Hamilton pulled a small gap on Rosberg before edging back towards his teammate, who has being followed closely by Raikkonen, Ricciardo and Vettel.
Hamilton pitted at the end of lap 7 and Rosberg followed him in one lap later to switch their ultrasoft Pirellis for the yellow-walled soft compound. Raikkonen came in on the same lap as Hamilton and Vettel did likewise behind Rosberg, which forced Mercedes to hold both drivers slightly longer than it would have liked to avoid the risk of an unsafe release penalty.
But Rosberg was held to such an extent that he came out behind the recovering Verstappen, who was continuing to lap on the supersoft tyres that he had started the race on.
Mercedes told Rosberg to pass the 19-year-old, but after a couple of early moments the German driver remained behind Verstappen, as Red Bull had decided to extended the Dutchman’s first stint and switch him on to a one-stop strategy.
For the next 12 laps, the race settled down, with Hamilton keeping a watching brief on Verstappen and Rosberg in his mirrors. Mercedes then told Rosberg it was “critical” for him to make a move for second place, which he duly did with a late lunge at Turn 8.
Although the pair came close together as both Rosberg and Verstappen held their lines, there was no contact between them. But the Red Bull was pinched on the inside of Turn 9 and that allowed Rosberg to get a better exit and he blasted by on the long run up to Turn 11.
Verstappen came in for his only stop of the race on lap 22 and Rosberg set about building enough of a gap to cover him off when he came in for his second stop, which he did a lap after Hamilton had come in for his own fresh soft tyres on lap 28.
Ricciardo had jumped ahead of Raikkonen by undercutting the 2007 world champion at his second stop, which caused Ferrari to let Vettel run longer on his middle stint at the head of the race, while Verstappen put in enough pace early in his second stint to become the lead Red Bull driver in a net third place.
When Vettel pitted on lap 37 for a new set of supersofts, Hamilton led Rosberg by one second – a gap that had fallen from 3.3s when the latter had rejoined after his second stop.
Mercedes repeatedly questioned Hamilton about his pace, as Verstappen and Ricciardo remained in close contention behind the two leaders.
On lap 46, Mercedes gave Hamilton an “instruction” about his laptimes, as it had become that Vettel, who had cruised up to and past Raikkonen and Ricciardo on his supersofts, was a threat for the win. But the Briton replied “I suggest you guys let us race” and he continued to lap in the high 1m45.9s, which allowed Verstappen to move to within two seconds of the lead with Vettel closing in quickly.
A further radio call to Hamilton came from Mercedes technical boss Paddy Lowe after Vettel moved up to third with a sweeping move ahead of Verstappen on the run into Turn 11 on lap 51.
With just two tours of the 55-lap race remaining, the top four were covered by just 2.5s as Hamilton continued to back Rosberg into Vettel and Verstappen.
But although the Ferrari driver could use DRS for an extra boost down the Yas Marina circuit’s two long straights, so could Rosberg and in the end they ran to the flag without any last-gasp moves.
Hamilton took the chequered flag to win his tenth race of the season by 0.4s, with Rosberg a further 0.8s ahead of Vettel. Verstappen finished fourth, 3.6s clear of Ricciardo, and Raikkonen came home by himself in sixth place.
Speaking after the race, Hamilton said: “I did everything I could these last four races and that’s all I could really ask for myself. So I’ll leave here and will have a lot of fun tonight celebrating with the team and everyone.
“You can’t win them all, obviously we had a lot of problems this year so that’s inevitably why I’m in this position, but I’m still grateful for all the success and ups and downs we’ve had as a team.”
Rosberg, who clinched the crown by five points, said: “That was definitely not the most enjoyable race I’ve ever had. With Max at the beginning, and then with those guys coming up in the end [it was] really not very enjoyable those last laps. I’m very glad it’s over and unbelievably ecstatic.”
Hulkenberg enjoyed an early-race scrap with his teammate Sergio Perez, and they eventually came home seventh and eighth to seal Force India’s fourth place in the constructors’ championship, which is its highest ever finish in F1.
Felipe Massa finished his final F1 race in ninth place for Williams, with Fernando Alonso rounding out the top ten for McLaren.
Romain Grosjean led home his Haas F1 teammate Esteban Gutierrez in 11th place, with Esteban Ocon emerging from a late-race fight with his Manor teammate Pascal Wehrlein to claim 13th.
Marcus Ericsson and Felipe Nasr finished 15th and 16th for Sauber, and Jolyon Palmer brought up the rear of the field after running into the back of Toro Rosso’s Carlos Sainz late on – a clash that earned the Briton a five-second time penalty and caused the Spaniard to retire with a broken gearbox.
The other non-finishers were Sainz’s teammate Daniil Kvyat, who pulled off with a mechanical problem on lap 16, Jenson Button, Valtteri Bottas and Kevin Magnussen.
Williams detected a problem in Bottas’ data that was sufficient to cause his retirement after he came in for the team to inspect his car, while a damaged steering rack ended Magnussen’s final race for Renault.
Button retired from what he expects to be his final F1 race after his McLaren suffered a dramatic right-front suspension failure just a few moments after he hit the kerbs hard at Turn 9.
Abu Dhabi Grand Prix results:
1 Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes 1hr38m04.013s
2 Nico Rosberg, Mercedes +0.439s
3 Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari +0.843s
4 Max Verstappen, Red Bull +1.685s
5 Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull +5.315s
6 Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari +18.816s
7 Nico Hulkenberg, Force India +50.114s
8 Sergio Perez, Force India +58.776s
9 Felipe Massa, Williams +59.436s
10 Fernando Alonso, McLaren +59.896s
11 Romain Grosjean, Haas F1 +76.777s
12 Esteban Gutierrez, Haas F1 +95.113s
13 Esteban Ocon, Manor +1 lap
14 Pascal Wehrlein, Manor +1 lap
15 Marcus Ericsson, Sauber +1 lap
16 Felipe Nasr, Sauber +1 lap
17 Jolyon Palmer, Renault +1 lap
DNF Carlos Sainz, Toro Rosso
DNF Daniil Kvyat, Toro Rosso
DNF Jenson Button, McLaren
DNF Valtteri Bottas, Williams
DNF Kevin Magnussen, Renault
2016 Drivers’ World Championship
1 Nico Rosberg 385
2 Lewis Hamilton 380
3 Daniel Ricciardo 256
4 Sebastian Vettel 212
5 Max Verstappen 204
6 Kimi Raikkonen 186
7 Sergio Perez 101
8 Valtteri Bottas 85
9 Nico Hulkenberg 72
10 Fernando Alonso 54
11 Felipe Massa 53
12 Carlos Sainz 46
13 Romain Grosjean 29
14 Daniil Kvyat 25
15 Jenson Button 21
16 Kevin Magnussen 7
17 Felipe Nasr 2
18 Jolyon Palmer 1
19 Pascal Wehrlein 1
20 Stoffel Vandoorne 1
21 Esteban Gutierrez 0
22 Marcus Ericsson 0
23 Esteban Ocon 0
24 Rio Haryanto 0
2016 Constructors’ World Championship
1 Mercedes 765
2 Red Bull 468
3 Ferrari 398
4 Force India 173
5 Williams 138
6 McLaren 76
7 Toro Rosso 63
8 Haas F1 29
9 Renault 8
10 Sauber 2
11 Manor 1
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