Sunday, November 29, 2015

Final Pole for 2015 Formula 1 Season Captured by Rosberg in Abu Dhabi

Photo Credit: Mercedes AMG

A 19-race 2015 Formula 1 season has landed in its final destination as they arrive in the United Arab Emirates. The Abu Dhabi Grand Prix on the 21-turn, 5.554-kilometer Yas Marina Circuit delivers a symbolic close to the season as a race where drivers and teams transition from daylight into night time. Saturday's qualifying in dusk-like conditions gave 20 drivers of the current Formula 1 one final moment to mount total driving efforts on a single lap. With almost the entire Formula 1 grid in place for the 2016 season even before the final race of 2015, a good deal of drivers are returning to their current rides. However, some drivers are confronted with a last chance to prove themselves in surroundings they have grown comfortable with after 18 races.

The last qualifying session of the season resulted in another battle between the Silver Arrows piloted by Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg. Close in all three time trial sessions, Hamilton held the top spot through Q1 and Q2 holding a narrow 0.221-second advantage on Rosberg after the latter session. In the deciding Q3 session, Nico Rosberg once again showed his newly-recovered championship calibre performance. With each hot lap, Hamilton and Rosberg bettered each other on track. Setting the last lap was the Mercedes AMG race car driven by the German who took the pole position in last minute of qualifying. His final 1-minute, 40.237-second lap time was 0.377 seconds quicker than the best effort of teammate Lewis Hamilton.

On pole for the 2015 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Nico Rosberg's sixth consecutive success in qualifying equals him in third-place overall in the Formula 1 record books with Nigel Mansell and Niki Lauda (Lauda is currently the Mercedes AMG non-executive chairman). Earlier this year, Lewis Hamilton set the mark of seven consecutive poles that was derailed by the Singapore Grand Prix.

Continuing with the ongoing tale for much of the 2015 season, Mercedes AMG has been operating in a league of their own in qualifying.  Almost half a second slower than Lewis Hamilton, Kimi Raikkonen timed in third with his Ferrari. Teammate and three-time 2015 winner Sebastian Vettel will be capping off his first season with Ferrari deep down in the grid. Starting in 16th place, Vettel faulted a misjudgement in qualifying where another car was said to have interfered with his timed lap,

Photo Credit: Ferrari S.p.A.

Starting alongside Kimi Raikkonen, Sergio Perez is rounding out the 2015 Formula 1 season strong with Force India. Since gaining an updated race chassis for the British Grand Prix, Perez has missed out on scoring points on just 3 occasions over 10 races. At the start of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Perez is in striking distance of a second potential podium finish. The second Force India-Mercedes race car of Nico Hulkenberg will be positioned in the seventh place position. There may be a chance that this race could be the final one for the Force India team as we know it. Rumours indicate the race organization could be rebranded as under the Aston Martin umbrella.

Daniel Ricciardo will roll off the grid of the 2015 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix in fifth place able to make full use of his Red Bull race car's updated Renault power unit gained in Brazil. Renault registered fairly well in qualifying at the Yas Marina Circuit with two other vehicles from the French automaker posting a top-10 effort in time trials (Daniil Kvyat's Red Bull in 9th and the Toro Rosso team driver Carlos Sainz 10th spot). Ricciardo will start alongside Williams' Valtteri Bottas who is battling intensely for the fourth place in the overall world drivers' standings with Kimi Raikonen. Following an exclusion in the final results after the Brazilian Grand Prix due to a tire temperature, Felipe Massa will start his Williams-Mercedes in 8th place.


Deeper in the grid for the final Formula 1 race of 2015 is teams with ongoing struggles. McLaren Honda is reaching an end of an exceptionally difficult debut year for the Honda powerplant. Jenson Button will start in 12th place while Fernando Alonso is positioned in 17th. With questions whether or not their team will exist in any form for 2016, the Lotus F1 Team is also bidding goodbye to Romain Grosjean leaving for the new Haas F1 Team. In qualifying, Pastor Maldonado out-performed Grosjean posting a 13th place effort compared to the Frenchman's 15th.

With no grid penalties suffered by any drivers or teams, the starting line-up for Sunday's race is a mirror of qualifying at Abu Dhabi. A 55-lap event, the grand prix on the Yas Marina Circuit will start at 5:00 PM local time (8:00 AM in the eastern time zone).

2015 Formula 1
Abu Dhabi Grand Prix
Starting Line-up

Pos # Car # Driver Team Engine

1 6 Nico Rosberg Mercedes AMG Mercedes-Benz
2 44 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes AMG Mercedes-Benz
3 7 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari Ferrari
4 11 Sergio Perez Force India Mercedes-Benz
5 3 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull Renault
6 77 Valtteri Bottas Williams F1 Mercedes-Benz
7 27 Nico Hulkenberg Force India Mercedes-Benz
8 19 Felipe Massa Williams Mercedes-Benz
9 26 Daniil Kvyat Red Bull Renault
10 55 Carlos Sainz Jr Scuderia Toro Rosso Renault
11 33 Max Verstappen Scuderia Toro Rosso Renault
12 22 Jenson Button McLaren Honda
13 13 Pastor Maldonado Lotus Mercedes-Benz
14 12 Felipe Nasr Sauber Ferrari
15 8 Romain Grosjean Lotus Mercedes-Benz
16 5 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari Ferrari
17 14 Fernando Alonso McLaren Honda
18 9 Marcus Ericsson Sauber Ferrari
19 28 Will Stevens Manor Marussia Ferrari
20 98 Roberto Merhi Manor Marussia Ferrari

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