|Photo Credit: Daimler AG/Mercedes Benz|
After 20 races, the 2016 Formula 1 season reaches a climatic end on Yas Marina Circuit this weekend. In a year where Mercedes AMG dominated the tour (with exception to a handful of grand prix events), team drivers Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg are contesting against each other for the ultimate prize. The 2016 Formula 1 World Drivers' Championship has come down to the wire as the pair of nine-time grand prix winners are separated by 12 points leading into 55 laps for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
Setting the grid for the season finale event for the 2016 Formula 1 tour, qualifying produced results that surprised few spectators who have followed the auto racing through the year. Mercedes AMG once-again owned the front row after Q3 was completed. This was the 14th time the feat of an all Silver Arrows front row was accomplished in 2016 and also saw one driver claim the team's 20th pole position for the season. Prevailing for the top spot, Lewis Hamilton was able to guide his hybrid-powered Mercedes-Benz powered #44 car around the 5.554-mile Yas Marina Circuit with a 1-minute, 38.755-second lap. Hamilton's fastest time displaced his teammate Nico Rosberg from the pole position the German driver won the two previous years in Abu Dbahi. On a mission to come from behind to take his third-straight championship, the British driver dominated all three sessions of qualifying and clicked-off a final lap 0.303 seconds quicker than Rosberg.
Nico Rosberg has seen his late season points lead chiseled down by 21 points in the past three events. Hamilton has won the previous three grand prix races leading to a more tenuous hold on the championship lead for Rosberg. However, if Lewis Hamilton wins for a fourth consecutive occasion to close out the season, Nico Rosberg needs only to finish in third place on Sunday to capture the 2016 drivers' title in Formula 1.
Emerging as the only team that could so-far muster victories against the constructors' championship-winning Mercedes AMG juggernaut in 2016, Red Bull Racing has grabbed the best result among other organizations in Abu Dhabi Grand Prix qualifying. Malaysian Grand Prix victor Daniel Ricciardo starts third on Sunday after setting a fastest time that trails Nico Rosberg's car by more than half a second. Although the second Red Bull-Tag Heuer machine seemed poised to join Ricciardo on the second row for the main event, Max Verstappen slipped into turn 11 concluding with a sixth place starting position. Slotted between the Red Bull Racing duo is the two Scuderia Ferrari vehicles. Kimi Raikkonen found just a tick more speed in qualifying to claim the fourth spot ahead of teammate Sebastian Vettel.
The fourth row of the Formula 1 finale is completely occupied by the Force India team that showed flashes of brilliance throughout 2016 but is still chasing a first race win as an organization. Nico Hulkenberg will start his final race with the Force India team in 6th place ahead of Sergio Perez.
While several competitors are bracing for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix race to be their final effort with their 2016 team, the final race of the 2016 Formula 1 season will prove to be an emotional time for at least one driver. Ending a career stemming 14 competitive grand prix seasons (15 years if including his test driver role with the Ferrari team in 2003), Felipe Massa will launch from 10th place on the grid at the Yas Marina Circuit. Massa's Williams-Mercedes is joined on the grid row by past Ferrari teammate Fernando Alonso who is starting 9th in his McLaren-Honda.
The start for the final Formula 1 race of 2016 is set for 5:00 PM local time in Abu Dhabi (8 AM for viewers in the eastern time zone.
2016 Formula 1
Abu Dhabi Grand Prix
Pos # Car # Driver Team Engine
1 44 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes AMG Mercedes-Benz
2 6 Nico Rosberg Mercedes AMG Mercedes-Benz
3 3 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull TAG Heuer
4 7 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari Ferrari
5 5 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari Ferrari
6 33 Max Verstappen Red Bull TAG Heuer
7 27 Nico Hulkenberg Force India Mercedes-Benz
8 11 Sergio Perez Force India Mercedes-Benz
9 14 Fernando Alonso McLaren Honda
10 19 Felipe Massa Williams F1 Mercedes-Benz
11 77 Valtteri Bottas Williams F1 Mercedes-Benz
12 22 Jenson Button McLaren Honda
13 9 Esteban Gutierrez Haas F1 Team Ferrari
14 8 Romain Grosjean Haas F1 Team Ferrari
15 30 Jolyon Palmer Renault Renault
16 28 Pascal Wehrlein Manor Mercedes-Benz
17 26 Daniil Kvyat Scuderia Toro Rosso Ferrari
18 20 Kevin Magnussen Renault Renault
19 12 Felipe Nasr Sauber Ferrari
20 31 Esteban Ocon Manor Mercedes-Benz
21 55 Carlos Sainz Jr Scuderia Toro Rosso Ferrari
22 9 Marcus Ericsson Sauber Ferrari