Lewis Hamilton took the victory at the Yas Marina circuit in Abu-Dhabi, but second place was enough to secure Nico Rosberg his first World Drivers’ Championship. The Mercedes AMG Petronas drivers finished in first and second for the eighth time this year, with Hamilton leading almost from start to finish. The Brit did everything he could to try and stop Rosberg taking the title but it just wasn’t enough. Hamilton tried to back Rosberg into the chasing pack in the hope that he would not finish on the podium but despite the top four being covered by only 1.685 seconds nobody could get past Rosberg. He finished five points ahead in the championship.
Rosberg made a fantastic move to pass Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen to reclaim second after dropping behind after pitting. This move proved to be crucial, this ensured he stayed ahead of both Red Bull drivers when he pitted for a second time. Max Verstappen found himself at the back of the grid on the opening lap after spinning on the exit of turn one after light contact with Nico Hulkenberg. The Dutchman made a one stop pit strategy work, running longer on his Supersoft tyres before changing for the Softs until the end of the race. unfortunately for the Red Bull driver he lost third place with just four laps to go as Vettel flew past the Dutchman.
Vettel had a completely different strategy than the others, he made the switch from the Ultrasoft tyres to the softs before a late switch onto the Supersoft until the flag, this saw him pass teammate Kimi Raikkonen and Red Bull’s duo of Ricciardo and Verstappen. Ricciardo was unable to maintain the pace his teammate had and finished the race in fifth. Raikkonen ended in sixth despite having run third during the early stage of the race after jumping Ricciardo into turn one.
Sahara Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg survived the opening lap clash with Verstappen to take seventh. Teammate Sergio Perez finished the race in eighth. Felipe Massa finished in ninth during his final Grand Prix before retiring. McLaren Honda’s Fernando Alonso rounded out the top ten at the flag. Haas’ Romain Grosjean finished the final race of the season in eleventh. Esteban Gutierrez brought his career with Haas to an end by taking twelfth.
Manor Racing ended the year with Esteban Ocon and Pascal Wehrlein finished in thirteenth and fourteenth. The race could have gone completely wrong after the two bashed wheels at turn eleven with three laps remaining. The French driver managed to take the place during his final race with the team before he departs and joins Force India for 2017. Wehrlein is still awaiting to see where he will be next year.
Marcus Ericsson finished the race in fifteenth for Sauber. Teammate Felipe Nasr ran a two-stop strategy and finished just behind in sixteenth. Renault Sport’s Jolyon Palmer was the only other driver to finish the race in seventeenth. The Brit enjoyed a tough afternoon, he was running in eleventh before having to do an unscheduled third stop after contact with Scuderia Toro Rosso’s Carlos Sainz. The two were allowing the front running cars to lap them when Palmer misjudged braking into turn seventeen, meaning he struck the back of Sainz and damaged his own front wing. The clash earnt the Brit a five second time penalty on top of everything else.
For Sainz his race was over not long after the incident as he suffered gearbox issues. This meant both of the Toro Rosso drivers had retired after Daniil Kvyat had to pull off the circuit on lap sixteen after also suffering gearbox issues.
McLaren-Honda’s Jenson Button’s final Grand Prix came to an early end after part of the suspension failed on the front right wheel of the car on lap thirteen. The Brit waved to the crowd and hugged family and team members as he said goodbye. Valtteri Bottas was another driver to retire early from the race as he had to pull into the garage after complaining about the rear dampers on the Williams car. Despite the team’s best efforts to fix the issue of the car being abnormally bouncy, they made the decision to retire the car.
Renault Sport’s Kevin Magnussen was taking part in his last ever Grand Prix with the team but unfortunately after just five laps he had to retire. The Danish driver had to pit after the opening lap for a new front wing after suffering contact before the team called him into the pits to retire with suspension damage.
©Fay Tilley 27th November 2016.