The final weekend of the 2015 Formula 1 season was dominated by off-track politics, but once again Nico Rosberg delivered on the track where it counted to chalk up his third win in a row to close out the year in strong style.
Sunday night’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix will hardly go down as a classic, although at least this time Mercedes allowed its drivers some strategic freedom to actually have a crack at racing each other. Braver pit and tyres calls might have delivered a grandstand finish we were hoping for, but once again the Silver Arrows were in a class of their own.
Who were the winners and losers in Abu Dhabi’s race? Our own Chandni Patel picks her list here…
Six consecutive pole positions and three wins in the last half-dozen races of the year will give Nico Rosberg plenty of confidence heading into the off-season. The German dominated from the off, keeping just enough of a gap over Lewis Hamilton throughout the race so he was never truly threatened.
Conversely, Lewis Hamilton once again found himself beaten in the fight, but will still feel like he won the outright battle. Another second-placed finish is nothing to be sneezed at, and you certainly can’t doubt his hunger to win when he again challenged his engineers’ calls to pit for a second time when he was running in the lead.
The Ferraris finished third and fourth, although a long way behind, with Kimi Räikkönen completing the podium in what was one of his better performances of a very underwhelming season. Kudos should go to his teammate Sebastian Vettel, who recovered from his qualifying mistake to finish fourth after starting fifteenth.
Force India’s Sergio Pérez also had a great race after starting fourth. He kept consistent pace and was able to finish in fifth with his teammate Nico Hülkenberg finishing seventh to get a double points finish for the team. Fifth place in the Constructors’ Championship standings is a richly deserved result given the team’s rather dire position at the beginning of the year.
The list of losers started with McLaren-Honda’s Fernando Alonso, who had contact at the start of the race with Pastor Maldonado which sent the Lotus driver straight into retirement. Alonso was able to continue, pitting for a new front wing and then curiously copping a five-second pit lane penalty for his role in the accident when the replays clearly showed Alonso was pushed into Maldonado after being hit by Felipe Nasr’s Sauber.
Williams’ Valtteri Bottas was hopeful of a big points’ finish in the season-ending twilight race. It certainly didn’t go to plan after he fluffed the start and lost a bundle of places before Turn 1, and then further blotted his copybook when he damaged his front wing hitting Jenson Button’s McLaren as he exited his pit bay. He too earned a pit lane penalty for his troubles and sank to a thirteenth-placed finish.
Scuderia Toro Rosso held out slim hopes of overhauling Lotus in the Constructors’ Championship standings, but its two rookie drivers delivered the messiest weekend of their brief Formula 1 careers. Both Carlos Sainz Jr and Max Verstappen started well, overtaking a number of drivers in the early phases before switching positions under instruction from the team.
Almost immediately, Verstappen then badly flat-spotted his tyres and had to make an unscheduled pit stop, ruining his hopes of another giant-killing performance. The Dutchman added to his woes when he gained an unfair advantage by exceeding the track limits when overtaking Button (and blatantly failed to redress it) and then held up Lewis Hamilton in the closing laps of the race. Separate penalties sent him tumbling down to a 16th-placed finish.
Images via Scuderia Toro Rosso and XPB Images