Nico Rosberg saw off Lewis Hamilton’s challenge to win the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix to record his fifth win of the 2015 season. Kimi Raikkonen took the chequered flag 19 seconds adrift in third, ahead of Sebastian Vettel who started the race from fifteenth on the grid.

Rosberg’s win meant that he denied his teammate a victory after he won his world championship in Austin.

Having started the race from pole position, Rosberg benefitted from a slow starting Hamilton, which allowed him to create a gap of 1.5 seconds and escape the threat of DRS. Hamilton was then left to fend off Raikkonen and a fast starting Sergio Perez into Turn One.

Most of the field made their way through the first corner cleanly and without any trouble except for Fernando Alonso and Pastor Maldonado. The Venezuelan was collected by Alonso’s McLaren which put the Lotus driver out of the race. Alonso pitted for a new front wing the following lap and was then handed a drive-through penalty by the Stewards.

During the first round of pit stops, Valtteri Bottas was released into the path of Jenson Button where he lost part of his front wing after he hit the rear of the McLaren. The incident essentially ruined the Finn’s race, as he was required to pit again for a new front wing and handed a five-second time penalty for the unsafe release.

Despite making pit stops within two laps of each other on the first round, Hamilton opted to extend his second stint in the middle of the race to run longer on the soft tyre, even radioing back to the pit wall to see if running to the end of the race on his current tyres was an option.

Throughout his second stint, Hamilton continually closed the gap to Rosberg from six seconds down to one before Rosberg made for the pits. The Briton then stayed out 10 extra laps before making his last stop on Lap 42, where he opted to take another set of soft compound tyres rather than gamble on the supersofts and run to the end of the race.

Once Hamilton emerged from the pits he set about hunting Rosberg down again, although he couldn’t make up the required six seconds and had to settle for second best for the third consecutive race.

Force India capped off their 2015 season on a high after Sergio Pérez finished in fifth position ahead of Daniel Ricciardo’s Red Bull, while Nico Hülkenberg came home in seventh.

Max Verstappen provided some much-needed entertainment late in the race when he engaged in a late tussle for twelfth with Jenson Button. The Dutch youngster went for a pass but ran out of room and was forced off track but still made the position over Button. The Stewards didn’t take kindly to Verstappen gaining an advantage off the track and awarded him a five-second time penalty.

The penalty would have still seen the teenager keep his position ahead of Button as he created a gap larger than five seconds, however he found himself in the Stewards’ naughty books again when he failed to acknowledge the blue flags and impeded Hamilton’s Mercedes in the closing laps. Verstappen was handed a drive-through penalty as a consequence, which was converted into a 20-second time penalty as the race had finished.

Romain Grosjean was able to finish his career with Lotus on a positive note, as he managed to pass both Carlos Sainz Jr. and Daniil Kvyat on the penultimate lap to finish the race in the points in ninth position.

Image via XPB Images

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Josh Kruse

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