Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Nico Rosberg Wins Abu Dhabi as Light Dims on Formula 1 Racing for 2015

Photo Credit Mercedes AMG 

The final 55 laps for the 2015 Formula 1 season took place with this weekend's running of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix at the Yas Marina Circuit.

As a 19-event race calender neared closure, the prosperity of teams and drivers on the Formula 1 grid has been well-established since the opening race in Australia. Again, Mercedes AMG has practically left the rest of the other teams in the dust. With exception of a few events, the superiority of Mercedes AMG's F1 W06 Hybrid has left contention of most races between the organization's pilots Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg. Hamilton enters the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix having clinched the 2015 World Drivers' Championship three races prior in the United States. Point scored reflected his dominance in a year highlighted by 10 grand prix victories. In the shadow of Hamilton for much of the 2015 season, Nico Rosberg has emerged into the light after the United States Grand Prix taking both races in Mexico and Brazil. With the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix starting in daylight and ending in the darkness of night under artificial lighting, another Mercedes AMG front row result in qualifying, neither driver wanted to be eclipsed in the final race of the season.

Twenty cars on the grid of the 2015 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix were led by Nico Rosberg for the sixth consecutive time this season. As the lights went out to start 55 laps at the 21-turn, 5.554-kilometer race track the pole-sitting Mercedes AMG of Rosberg shot to an early lead. Among the top-starters, positions remained unchanged into the first lap. Deeper in the field, misfortune met Lotus F1 Team driver Pastor Maldonado early in the event in a chain reaction collision. After contact with the Sauber-Ferrari of Felipe Nasr, Fernando Alonso's McLaren-Honda hit the Lotus-Mercedes. While Maldonado faced retirement for an incident not of his making, Alonso was assessed a drive-through penalty for the contact with the Lotus F1 Team vehicle. In post-race, Alonso expressed unhappiness with the penalty placing blame on Nasr for hitting him.


On a lap 8 pit stop, the second McLaren race car was involved in another collision. As the McLaren-Honda of Jenson Button was entering his pit, Williams' Valtteri Bottas came contact with the car as he was released by his team. An immediate, unscheduled pit stop on the next lap for a new nose and a five-second time penalty took Bottas out of contention for points in the final 2015 race. The fault for the Finnish Bottas would result as costly in the season-end standings.

For parts of this season, Ferrari led by four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel had demonstrated an ability to effectively counter the pace of the Mercedes AMG squad. However, after a difficult qualifying on Saturday, Vettel started 16th place and would have to fight feverishly Spending an extended time on his first set of Pirelli race tires pitting more than 10 laps later than the leaders. Climbing to fourth place by lap 29, this would be the endpoint of the Ferrari's recovery from a poor qualifying spot. Finishing a full 20 seconds ahead of 5th place, Vettel crossed the finish line more than 24 seconds later than the driver who took the last podium spot.

In the final for the 2015 season, Formula 1 spectators were treated one last battle between the Mercedes AMG teammates. At the front, Nico Rosberg controlled of the pace for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix but was challenged by Lewis Hamilton through the midway portion of the race. Extending his period on track after his first pit stop, Closing on Rosberg's #6 car, Hamilton was hovering outside the one-second DRS range of his German teammate just before the lead car pitted. For 10 laps, Lewis Hamilton led the race but his older Pirelli tires gambling he could preserve a large enough gap to obtain the lead following an upcoming pit stop. When Hamilton pitted on lap 41, Nico Rosberg retook the top position maintaining a sizeable gap that eventually led him to victory. Crossing the finish line 8.271 seconds ahead of second-place Hamilton. His third win, Nico Rosberg reflected on the end of his 2015 season. "This is the perfect ending to the season for me - something I hoped for so much after a tough year. To finish with six poles and three wins in a row is awesome. I am so happy that I found some performance at the end of the season. I also made my peace with this track after the toughest moment of my career here last year, which is a nice feeling." said Rosberg. Scoring 7 points more than Hamilton in the each of his three race wins, Rosberg narrowed the first-second place gap in the World Drivers' Championship to 59 markers.


Though Hamilton had to play runner-up to his teammate for a third-straight event, the Brit finishes 2015 in a familiar place of honour after the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. With second place at the Yas Marina Circuit, Lewis Hamilton's second-consecutive title-winning season ended with him missing the podium on only two occasions. Replying that he wasn't able to finish the season as strong as he started, Hamilton is still grateful to his Mercedes AMG team for propelling him to the 2015 championship and pledges to come back stronger next season.

Joining the Mercedes AMG teammates on the podium for the final 2015 grand prix celebration is the 2012 winner of the Abu Dhabi event. For what has been an up-and-down year for Kimi Raikkonen, 2015 concluded as a better season than 2014 where the former Formula 1 world champion settled with a 12th place in the overall standings. Benefiting with the use of a better Ferrari race car in 2015, the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix was Raikkonen's third podium of the season. Climbing substantially in the final drivers' point tally, Kimi Raikkonen ended 2015 in a strong claiming fourth place thanks partly to Williams Valtteri Bottas' struggles in the final race. The before-mentioned finish of Sebastian Vettel in the other Ferrari in Abu Dhabi allowed the Italian race team to symbolically end the season in the position better than almost every team with exception to Mercedes AMG.  

In 5th and 7th place, the Force India concluded the season strong on the Yas Marina Circuit. Sergio Perez led the team effort in the final race while Nico Hulkenberg fended off 8th through 11th place that finished within 10 seconds to second Force India-Mercedes racer. Force India teammates sandwiched a respectable effort of Daniel Ricciardo driving his Red Bull-Renault to sixth. Ricciardo as well as Daniil Kvyat displayed some brilliance this season that is considered an overall disappointment for Red Bull Racing. Garnering headlines mainly on a feud with engine supplier Renault and possible 2016 engine options that included Honda, Mercedes-Benz as well as Ferrari, Red Bull Racing's on track effort was not without some moments of worthy spotlight. However, the season ends without a Red Bull Racing team victory (first time since the 2008 Formula 1 season).

Two final Mercedes-Benz powered machines rounded-out the top-10 finishers. Williams Martini Racing's Felipe Massa ended with an 8th place run at Abu Dhabi. Last season, Massa placed in the runner-up spot at this final race on the calender. The Williams-Mercedes showed strength at times in 2015 but seemed to have lost some ground with the factory-supported Mercedes AMG operation.

After a very weak 2014 season, Lotus F1 Team's switch from Renault to Mercedes-Benz power for 2015 gave the outfit a better comparison. Not a breakthrough season, the latter part of the season led to concerns whether the team would be able to finish the year in competition. With a likely buyout by Renault pending for 2016, the team is also bidding farewell to Frenchman Romain Grosjean. Having started his career with the team when it was previously the Renault factory team, driver Grosjean ended his season with an 8th place result. Romain Grosjean will drive for the newly-formed Haas F1 Team next year,

The upcoming 2016 Formula 1 is set to start in its customary kick-off in Australia on March 20th.

2015 Formula 1
Abu Dhabi Grand Prix
Race Results

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

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