Monthly Archives: November 2015

2015 Abu Dhabi Pre-Season Test Line Up

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With the 2015 Formula One season at an end, all eyes will be upon the 2016 season and getting in the best possible shape before the winter break.

Here’s the line up for the 2015 Abu Dhabi Pre-Season test line up this week as follows:-

Mercedes:- Pascal Wehrlein

Ferrari:- Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen

Williams-Mercedes:- Valtteri Bottas

Red Bull:- Daniil Kvyat and Daniel Ricciardo

Force India:- Nico Hulkenberg and Alfonso Celis Jr

Lotus:- Jolyon Palmer

Toro Rosso:- Carlos Sainz Jr and Max Verstapppen

Sauber:- Adderly Fong and Marcus Ericsson

McLaren-Honda:- Stoffel Vandoorne

Manor:- Rio Haryanto and Jordan King

Jones on F1 will be covering the pre-season test in Abu Dhabi and will be providing a report later on in the week.

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Classic #jonesonf1: The 1982 San Marino Grand Prix

The most iconic picture of the 1982 San Marino Grand Prix.

The most iconic picture of the 1982 San Marino Grand Prix.

The San Marino Grand Prix: Round 4 of 16 in the 1982 Formula One World Championship. Heading into the race, Renault driver Alain Prost led the Driver’s Championship by 18 points ahead of McLaren-Ford driver Niki Lauda in second place with 12 points and ahead of Williams-Ford driver Keke Rosberg in third place with 8 points.

Coming into the race, in a decision relating to the 1982 Brazilian Grand Prix, Nelson Piquet and Keke Rosberg were excluded for their cars’ crafty use of water tanks as ballast to keep them under the weight limit during race conditions. An immediate outcry from the Formula One Constructors Association (FOCA) followed and as the decision happened after the USGP West; it was decided that the next race would be boycotted and that race was Imola.

While most FOCA-aligned teams, such as Brabham, McLaren, Williams and Lotus boycotted the race, four teams who were Tyrrell, Osella, ATS and Toleman broke their stated boycott and started the race anyway.

Even with these teams defecting and starting the race, there were only 14 starters for the San Marino Grand Prix, of which at the time only the Ferraris and Renaults were considered competitive teams. This did not discourage the tifosi, maybe even the opposite; since it improved Ferrari’s chances, and the venue was full of spectators.

Rene Arnoux claimed Pole Position for the 1982 San Marino Grand Prix.

Rene Arnoux claimed Pole Position for the 1982 San Marino Grand Prix.

Qualifying saw Rene Arnoux claiming Pole Position for the San Marino Grand Prix ahead of his team mate Alain Prost in second place and Ferrari drivers Giles Villeneuve in third place and Didier Pironi in fourth place.

As we head into the latter stages of the grid, Michele Alboreto qualified in fifth place ahead of Bruno Giacomelli in sixth place, Andrea de Cesaris in seventh place, Derek Warwick in eighth place, Jean-Pierre Jarier in ninth place and Teo Fabi who rounded off the top ten qualifiers.

Giles Villenueve leading the 1982 San Marino Grand Prix.

Giles Villenueve leading the 1982 San Marino Grand Prix.

On race day on Sunday, the two Renault cars broke down on the circuit and this left Villeneuve and Pironi running first and second for Ferrari; to the delight of the local fans. It was a very dull race generally but in the closing stages Pironi closed right up on Villeneuve and the Canadian – believing that victory was his as the Ferrari team orders meant that Pironi would sit behind him – thought that the Frenchman was not fighting for the lead but merely putting on a show for the fans. Pironi got ahead, Villeneuve overtook him again.

Didier Pironi wins the 1982 San Marino Grand Prix ahead of Giles Villeneuve in second place and Michele Alboreto in third place.

Didier Pironi wins the 1982 San Marino Grand Prix ahead of Giles Villeneuve in second place and Michele Alboreto in third place.

On the last lap of the race, Villeneuve was not expecting any more moves from his teammate. But at Tosa Corner, Pironi outbraked him and took the lead. For the rest of the lap Villeneuve was stuck behind with Pironi not giving him the chance to pass. But it was who Pironi took the chequered flag. Villeneuve was furious. Alboreto took third place with Jarier fourth and Eliseo Salazar in fifth place. There were no other finishers.

The 1982 San Marino Grand Prix will always be remembered for what happened between Villeneuve and Pironi. Even though Villeneuve was irate at what he saw as Pironi’s betrayal, although opinion inside the Ferrari team was split over the true meaning of the order to slow down.

Villeneuve’s expression was sullen on the podium, enraged by Pironi’s actions. He was quoted afterwards as saying, “I’ll never speak to Pironi again in my life.” They proved to be prophetic words, as he was still not on speaking terms with his teammate when he died during qualifying for the Belgian Grand Prix two weeks later.

It is also worth mentioning that Manfred Winkelhock was disqualified from the race due to his car being underweight in post-race scrutineering.

With most of the FOCA aligned teams boycotting the race, it still counted towards the World Championship. This was a bone of contention with the FOCA teams as two previous races held during the war (the 1980 Spanish Grand Prix and the 1981 South African Grand Prix) which had seen all three manufacturer teams boycotting had been down-graded to non-championship races and had not counted towards the championship or official records.

And as the 1982 World Championship continued at the Zolder circuit in Belgium, Alain Prost still lead the Driver’s Championship with 18 points ahead of Niki Lauda with 12 points and Didier Pironi moving into third place with his win with 10 points in third place.

2015 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix Post-Race Press Conference Transcript

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Here is the official transcript from the Post-Race Press Conference from the 2015 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix as provided by the FIA as follows:-

DRIVERS

1 – Nico ROSBERG (Mercedes)

2 – Lewis HAMILTON (Mercedes)

3 – Kimi RÄIKKÖNEN (Ferrari)

PODIUM INTERVIEWS

(Conducted by David Coulthard)

Q: Nico, that must taste good?

Nico Rosberg (referred here after as NR):- Delicious! The best ever!

Q: It’s been an incredible end to the season. This was, to me, your most dominant win of the season, so tell us a little bit about the race and the hunger you took into this final race of the season.

NR:- No, I mean, yeah, Austin was sort of the low point of the season. It was a tough weekend and since then I’ve just come back a lot stronger and I’m very happy about that. I’m excited about how the end of the season went. Next year can come any moment. It could start tomorrow if it were for me, no problem, I don’t need any holidays! But, no, it’s great to end the season like this, go on holiday like this and thank you so much, you’ve been awesome again this weekend, for all your support and everything, thanks to my team, absolutely stunning car you’ve all given me again today – just unbelievable. Ecstatic.

Q: You mentioned Austin there. We could see the disappointment as the realisation the championship had slipped away at that race. Can you tell us a little bit, give the fans at home an insight. You’ve got the enemy within the team, you work together to develop this great product but your success is Lewis’ failure and his success is your failure. Can you give us an insight into how you manage that?  Because you guys have known each other since you were kids.

NR:- Yeah, it’s always tough to race Lewis, he’s doing an awesome job and he’s one of the best out there, so an even better feeling to win, definitely against such opposition. It’s a great battle internally all the time. That’s what I race for, such battles, and I look forwards to more next year.

Q: Does that mean you guys can go and have dinner together now and reflect on what was an amazing season for the team?

NR:- Let’s skip that part – maybe we’ll catch up in the Amber Lounge later on.

Q: Lewis, an amazing season for you – your World Champion Ladies and Gentleman – it’s been a great season for you, I couldn’t help but notice it doesn’t seem to have finished quite as strong as it started. We heard you mention that there have been some changed to the car and it hasn’t quite suited you but is it as simple as that or is there something else we need to know now the season’s over?

Lewis Hamilton (referred here after as LH):- Well, firstly it’s been an amazing – an amazing – year, and happy 44th UAE National Day. So happy to be here and celebrating it with the UAE, they’ve done an amazing job for this show – and what a great crowd we’ve had today. No man, it’s been a good year. I’m happy. I’m happy it’s over, for sure. So now we can really enjoy.

I really have to take my hat off to this team who once again did an amazing job in building this car. The pitstops today, the performance through the whole year, they’ve surpassed their own expectations, our expectations, and so we’ve truly shown that Mercedes-Benz is the best team in the world. I’m proud to be a part of it.

Q: Just to touch on strategy, we heard you again on the radio, asking the team “can I go the distance on these tyres?” We know the team have to deliver the one-two result. Nico earned the pole, he was leading the race – is that just the inner racer in you? Even though you probably know ahead of time that there’s nothing that can be done, that’s why you’re pushing your engineers, pushing the team.

LH:- No, I think in hindsight once Nico pitted I would probably have backed off a little bit and I would have made those tyres go a lot longer. The tyres were still fine at the end so I honestly felt that I could potentially have taken them to the end. But as that didn’t work out, going too long was probably not the right thing to do – but y’know, we gave it a try and did the best job I could with it.

Q: I’ll just come around to Kimi Räikkönen. Ladies and Gentlemen, statistically this is the most popular man in Formula One. You probably say less than any of the other drivers, so welcome back to the podium. It’s not been a great season for you but that was a World Champion’s drive today – so why has it taken so long in the season to deliver this great performance?

Kimi Raikkonen (referred here after as KR):- I think we started better this season but obviously not been ideal this year. That’s how it goes sometimes. And y’know, the speed has been there but mistakes and problems and stuff like that. So the end result hasn’t been great many times but today, or this weekend, was a bit better. Everything was working well and things were running smoothly, car handling well, so, it was good – but obviously not enough still to beat these two but, y’know we did our best.

Q: Nico, finally with yourself, the smile says it all. The World Championship is the one thing… this is your 14th victory. You can take pole positions, you can win grands prix – how are you going to attack the winter and come back next year and try and beat this man?

NR:- Well I look forward to it as I’m sure it’s going to be another great season next year. I’m sure the team is going to give us an awesome car again. Of course we’re aware of the threat from the red guys and we don’t them to come too close and we’ll give it everything over the winter. I’ll try to keep it going, the current form, starting next year.

PRESS CONFERENCE

Q: You knew what Lewis was doing, obviously, in terms of strategy in the final part of the Grand Prix, the offset on the tyres etc, and you responded. Are you pleased with the way you drove today?

NR:- Yeah, for sure, ecstatic with the way it went, because really master-managed… controlled the pace through the race and managed my tyres and used them optimally and pushed all the way through to the end, so had good pace there with tyres that’s for sure and had a lot more laps on them than Lewis’s so very pleased with that, definitely.

Q: I wonder which of the two of you goes into the winter feeling the happier?

NR:- I’m feeling very happy.

Q: Lewis, you’re a three time World Champion, it’s been a record-breaking year, which of the two of you goes into the winter feeling the happier?

LH:- I think being World Champion sounds a lot better than winning the race, so that’s good.

Q: Tell us a little bit about your race because we were let in on quite a lot of radio, partly, as David Coulthard just referred to there, your question whether or not there was an argument for staying out, but also in the final stages there to do with the engine modes and some quite firm instructions from your engineer, what they wanted you to do. Maybe you could just let us into that a little bit and also from a strategy point of view, you pitted after Vettel who went onto supersofts and you put softs on, so maybe you could just explain that?

LH:- Well, I just did what I was told pretty much, most of the time and then yeah, I tried as hard as I could in the first stint, I tried to keep a relatively decent gap to Nico, looking after my tyres and then my right front… or both fronts went off quite early and Nico was able to… in the clean air, was able to look after them.

In the second stint I was quicker and getting close and then… I could make the tyres last longer, yeah, of course, but after that it was really down to the team, whether or not we went to the option or the other tyre. I’m not sure which one was better but the prime tyre was quite good. I’m not sure whether or not I could have taken it to the end but some part of me just wishes I’d just given it a go.

But no, the engine modes were going up and down throughout the race, not really sure they were like that because they had lots of life left in my engine but I’ll ask when I get back to the debrief.

Q: Kimi, your third podium of this championship, you finished eleven seconds behind Lewis which is about 0.2s per lap over the Grand Prix distance here. Do you take encouragement from the way that Ferrari’s finished the last couple of races going into the winter and next year?

KR:- I think the whole year, as a team, has been quite good comparing last year and obviously not so good for myself but the speed has been there and it’s just not been able to produce the results and having some issues and mistakes but this weekend has been pretty OK, the car’s been handling well. I think in the race we could have been quite a bit closer but we had some issues at both pit stops so we lost some time and then I slowed down a bit.

But I think we had a reasonably good speed, they didn’t really pull away a lot from us. At certain points, I think we were catching them and then they were pulling out but not an awful lot in it. It’s never nice to finish third but I’ll take it after previous races. I guess it always could have been a better finish but OK, I think it was more or less what we expected to get.

QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR

Q: (Lennart Bernke – Bild) Nico, Lewis, will you get each other a Christmas present?

NR:- Hmm, maybe a Christmas card.

LH:- I don’t think we’ve ever done either so there’s no reason to change.

Q: (Rami Akhawi – Car on Web) Nico, about next year, are we going to see you as a World Champion, because already you entered the season with great victories, so is it the same way to start 2016?

NR:- Well, unfortunately 2016 is so far away. At the moment I’m just enjoying now, enjoying the wins. I’m going to party tonight, I’m enjoying the fun, enjoying that I progressed also a lot in the end of the season, too late for the championship of course, but so great now to have it and that’s it. I can’t tell you about next year unfortunately, but I’ll give it everything

Q: (Fadi Kallassina – Arab Shift) Lewis, what’s your feeling for not getting the first position with the 44 celebration national day?

LH:- I’m really grateful to have been associated with the UAE with the 44th national day. Yeah, I’m still going for that 44th win. I’m quite happy with the amount of wins I’ve had in my career. Of course, I always want more but I have to be grateful for the ones I do have. Hopefully we’ve got another three years with this team so I’m looking forward to next year, to come back fit and healthy and let’s see what we can do next year.

Q: (Heikki Kulta – Turun Sanomat) Kimi, does it now, afterwards, feel any better to finish the season fourth (in the Drivers’ championship)  instead of being fifth and especially after being 12th last season?

KR:- Not really. You guys have been asking between me and Valtteri for a long time and still it doesn’t make much difference to me. It’s not what you think, a Finnish championship, it’s a World Championship and there are winners it goes from there. If you don’t win, it doesn’t make an awful lot of difference if you’re second, wherever you finish. I’m happy to have had a kind of OK race in the last one but it doesn’t change anything really of how our season went, what to expect for next year. One of the better weekends but we’ll take it and go from here.

2015 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix Race Review

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On Saturday, we saw Nico Rosberg taking Pole Position for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix ahead of Lewis Hamilton and Kimi Raikkonen.

The start of the 2015 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. All rights reserved to Sutton Images.

The start of the 2015 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. All rights reserved to Sutton Images.

The Abu Dhabi Grand Prix is underway! Nico Rosberg gets a great start as Lewis Hamilton defends off Sergio Perez.

Fernando Alonso and Pastor Maldonado collide at the start of the Abu Dhabi GP. All rights reserved to Sutton Images.

Fernando Alonso and Pastor Maldonado collide at the start of the Abu Dhabi GP. All rights reserved to Sutton Images.

As we get into Turn 1, Pastor Maldonado officially retires from the race after colliding with the McLaren of Fernando Alonso. Carlos Sainz Jr has had a great start and is able to pass Daniil Kvyat.

Nico Rosberg leads the early stages of the Abu Dhabi GP. All rights reserved to Sutton Images.

Nico Rosberg leads the early stages of the Abu Dhabi GP. All rights reserved to Sutton Images.

In the next few corners, there are cars everywhere and Sebastian Vettel by Turn 9 is in eleventh place. By Lap 2, Rosberg leads his team mate Hamilton by 1.4 seconds. There is a battle between Nico Hulkenberg and Daniel Ricciardo for fifth place. At the chicane, Kvyat is able to pass Bottas for position.

The next lap sees Felipe Massa passing Carlos Sainz Jr for seventh place. The battle between Bottas and Kvyat continues and Kvyat is able to stay ahead of the Finnish driver. Lap 4 sees Felipe Nasr and Romain Grosjean battle for fourteenth place; with Grosjean winning the battle.

Nico Hulkenberg chasing Daniel Ricciardo in the early stages of the race. All rights reserved to Sutton Images.

Nico Hulkenberg chasing Daniel Ricciardo in the early stages of the race. All rights reserved to Sutton Images.

Lap 6 sees the stewards announce that Maldonado and Alonso will be investigated for causing a collusion at the first corner on the first lap of the race. But on the track, Daniel Ricciardo is finally able to pass Nico Hulkenberg for fifth place after Hulkenberg tries to defend.

It was then announced by the stewards that Alonso will receive a drive through penalty for his part in causing the collusion with Maldonado; which I think is very unfair; given the fact that Felipe Nasr had a big part in helping this.

Valtteri Bottas chasing Sainz Jr in the early stages in the race. All rights reserved to Sutton Images.

Valtteri Bottas chasing Sainz Jr in the early stages in the race. All rights reserved to Sutton Images.

By Lap 7, Rosberg has built his lead up to 2.1 seconds ahead of the field. There is a battle for fifth between Sainz Jr and Bottas; with Bottas gaining quickly. At the end of the lap, Sainz Jr and Hulkenberg pit.

As Bottas pits at the end of the Lap 8 for new tyres and is released by the Williams team, he made contact with Jenson Button who was coming into the pits also to get new tyres and has damaged his front wing. This incident will now be investigated by the stewards.

Lewis Hamilton takes the lead of the Abu Dhabi GP on Lap 11. All rights reserved to Sutton Images.

Lewis Hamilton takes the lead of the Abu Dhabi GP on Lap 11. All rights reserved to Sutton Images.

Lap 11 sees Lewis Hamilton take the lead of the race after Rosberg made his pit stop at the end of Lap 10.  On the track, Grosjean and Perez are having a great battle with each other for fifth pace; with Perez gaining the place and then Grosjean regaining the place back. The next lap saw Bottas receiving a five second time penalty for an unsafe release after colliding with Jenson Button a few laps previously.

In a great move, Ricciardo is finally able to pass Marcus Ericsson on Lap 12 for seventh place as Perez finally passes Grosjean for fifth place on the track. The next lap sees Massa passing Ericsson for ninth place and Kvyat passing Ericsson for tenth place.

Lewis Hamilton passes Sebastian Vettel on Lap 4 for second place. All rights reserved for Sutton Images.

Lewis Hamilton passes Sebastian Vettel on Lap 14 for second place. All rights reserved for Sutton Images.

Lap 14 saw Hamilton passing Vettel for second place in the race with good move which saw him having to get onto the marbles. The battle for eleventh between Ericsson, Sainz Jr and Verstappen intensifying; with both of the Toro Rosso’s able to pass the Sauber quickly. Lap 16 saw Vettel making room for Raikkonen and is now up to third place.

Nico Rosberg leading the first half of the GP. All rights reserved by Sutton Images.

Nico Rosberg leading the first half of the GP. All rights reserved by Sutton Images.

Lap 18 sees Rosberg leading the race by 6.4 seconds as Hulkenberg, Massa and Kvyat battle each other for eighth place. Three laps later, Grosjean finds himself under pressure from Ricciardo for sixth place; with Ricciardo catching him all the time.

Kimi Raikkonen before his slow pit stop on Lap 32 of the race. All rights reserved to Sutton Images.

Kimi Raikkonen before his slow pit stop on Lap 32 of the race. All rights reserved to Sutton Images.

By Lap 29, Rosberg still leads the race ahead of Hamilton by 1.5 seconds as Perez finds himself under pressure from Ricciardo for track position. As Raikkonen pitted at the end of Lap 32, he suffered a slow pit stop which has helped his team mate gain a position on him. Five laps later, we see a battle on the track between Grosjean, Hulkenberg and Kvyat for seventh place.

Daniel Ricciardo in the latter stages of the race. All rights reserved to Sutton Images.

Daniel Ricciardo in the latter stages of the race. All rights reserved to Sutton Images.

By Lap 40, a battle between Perez, Ricciardo and Vettel for fourth place is ongoing on the track. By the next lap, Vettel has passed Ricciardo in a good move for fifth place and will now want to catch Perez in fourth place as Hamilton pits for new tyres. We then see two laps later a battle between Grosjean, Hulkenberg, Kvyat and Massa for seventh place.

Nico Rosberg leads the race in the final stages. All rights reserved to Sutton Images.

Nico Rosberg leads the race in the final stages. All rights reserved to Sutton Images.

Lap 45 sees Rosberg leading Hamilton still by 10.6 seconds. Vettel is catching Perez for fourth place; with the gap being as close as 0.5 seconds behind and is able to pass the Force India for position.

The battle for twelfth saw Verstappen and Button battling each other for twelfth; with both drivers battling each other but Verstappen was able to retain his position ahead of the McLaren-Honda driver. The stewards are investigating the incident between the two drivers with Verstappen receiving a five second time penalty for leaving the track and gaining an advantage.

In the last three laps of the race, Grosjean finally passes Sainz Jr for the final point of the race. Lap 54 sees Grosjean passing Kvyat for ninth place as Bottas battles Button for thirteenth place.

Nico Rosberg wins the 2015 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix ahead of Lewis Hamilton in second place and Kimi Raikkonen in third place. All rights reserved to Sutton Images.

Nico Rosberg wins the 2015 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix ahead of Lewis Hamilton in second place and Kimi Raikkonen in third place. All rights reserved to Sutton Images.

Rosberg leads Hamilton on the final lap of the race by 8.4 seconds and wins the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix which is his sixth win of the season and his third win in a row and has dominated the race from start to finish.

Hamilton is a credible second 8.2 seconds behind Rosberg, Raikkonen finished in a brilliant third place 19.4 seconds seconds sbehind Rosberg, Vettel was a credible fourth 43.7 seconds behind Rosberg and Perez finished fifth 1.03.9 seconds behind Rosberg.

Ricciardo was a credible sixth 1.05 seconds behind Rosberg, Hulkenberg finishes seventh 1.33.6 seconds behind Rosberg, Massa finished in eighth place 1.37.7 seconds behind Rosberg , Grosjean finished in ninth place 1.38.2 seconds behind Rosberg and Kvyat picked up the final point in tenth 1.42.3 seconds behind Rosberg.

Lewis Hamilton has won the Drivers’ Championship with 381 points, Rosberg is second with 322 points, Vettel is third with 278 points, Raikkonen is fourth with 150 points, Bottas is fifth with 136 points, Massa is sixth with 121 points, Kvyat is seventh with 95 points, Ricciardo is eighth with 92 points, Perez is ninth with 78 points and Hulkenberg is tenth with 58 points.

Mercedes have won the Constructors Championship with 703 points, Ferrari is second with 428 points, Williams are third with 257 points, Red Bull are fourth with 187 points, Force India are fifth with 136 points, Lotus are sixth with 78 points, Toro Rosso are seventh with 67 points, Sauber are eighth with 36 points and McLaren-Honda are ninth with 27 points.

Conclusion

I feel that McLaren have had an terrible weekend. With both drivers struggling all weekend long, it is still clear that the McLaren team have a lot of work to do in order to try and extract performance from their car that they need in order to get back to competitive ways once again as quickly as possible and prepare for the 2016 season. And this has been brought to light this weekend despite Honda saying that the car as improved but this hasn’t translated on the track.

The biggest surprise this weekend for me was Perez getting fifth place in the race. I do feel that Sergio drove a superb race to gain fifth today despite a lonely race and it is very well deserved. And for Perez to secure Force India this result on their 150th GP shows that he did a brilliant job yesterday and has shown that despite not having the outright pace to challenge their rivals; he drove a great race to claim this result today and showed why he was signed by the team.

Kvyat did a brilliant job to get tenth place and had a great battle to get there after battling with Grosjean for most of the race. These points for himself and Red Bull are vital and only shows just how much promise he has as a driver if he has the car underneath him to do so and that he is a talented and promising racing driver.

Grosjean battled his way through today to get ninth place today. He battled his way through the field and created some great overtaking moves to get there. Grosjean may not have had the weekend that he wanted with Lotus this weekend despite what is going on in his home country at the moment, but he did the best that he could do and picked up some more points for the team and also ended his relationship with them in the best way that he could on the track.

Massa had a bit of a lonely race to finish eighth. But he managed to score some much needed points for himself and his team and even though he couldn’t beat his team mate, he still managed to get a result from the weekend and will help him prepare for the 2016 season.

Hulkenberg did a great job to get seventh place today after battling with Ricciardo yesterday. But in a race where many expected him to finish and keep his impressive record at the event, he has managed to gain some points for the team and put himself in good stead for the 2016 season.

Ricciardo did a great job to finish in sixth after battling with Hulkenberg for most of the race. Even though it is not the finish that he wanted to the season, this will only spur him on to achieve better for next season.

Vettel did a great job to get fourth place today and deserves a mention. He drove a solid race today and he did a great job to secure some much needed points for his team after a good performance this weekend and it is clear that the car was working well for them as a result. This will only help him prepare for the 2016 season.

Raikkonen did a credible job to finish third today especially after doing his best to challenge the Mercedes drivers. Raikkonen this weekend has managed to struggle to extract pace and performance from the car this weekend; and I feel that the results that Kimi achieved today will only spur him on to get better ready for the 2016 season.

Hamilton deserves a mention. He drove a solid race to second place. He may not have won the battle with his team mate; and didn’t have a chance to try and get past but he did a great job to secure a podium today. What a fantastic job from him and this will only give him a slight satisfaction heading into the winter break. But don’t forget he is Champion!

All that is left to say about this race is that Rosberg deserved to win at Abu Dhabi and he needed to in order to show that he cannot be discounted as a driver.  His driving was brilliant and controlled throughout the race. Mercedes has built on the results that they have gained so far this season with him and have shown that they are just the best team on the grid at the moment. All credit to Rosberg for doing a superb job this weekend and winning his sixth race of the season.

Well that’s another season over. This season saw Mercedes once again being dominant once again and we saw Lewis Hamilton winning his second consecutive Drivers Championship and Mercedes winning their second consecutive Constructors Championship. But we did see Sebastian Vettel at times taking the fight to them and winning races in his first season with Ferrari.

We also saw Max Verstappen showing his doubters wrong in his first season with the Toro Rosso team and showing what an amazing talent he is, Force India achieving fifth place in the Constructors Championship for the first time in their history and McLaren-Honda having a season to forget.

But with the pre-season test at the Abu Dhabi circuit this week, all eyes will be upon the 2016 season (which I will be covering) and all I can say is thank you to everyone for reading my F1 coverage this season and I hope you will join me next season.

Mercedes seek FIA clarity over Ferrari and Haas Partnership

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It was announced today that the Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team has written to the FIA asking for clarity over Formula One’s aerodynamic regulations amid suspicions the partnership between the Scuderia Ferrari team and 2016 new-comers Haas F1 Team who may have found loopholes in the regulations.

As a new team starting in the sport next year, Haas’ wind tunnel and CFD development has not been restricted in the same way as existing F1 teams and it has been using Ferrari’s wind tunnel and facilities extensively to develop its 2016 car.

Earlier this year, the rest of the current teams raised their suspicions over the relationship, believing Haas may be running a joint wind tunnel programme with Ferrari to help develop the current SF15-T, but a visit by the FIA’s F1 Technical and Sporting Co-ordinator Marcin Budkowski reported nothing wrong with the way the two teams are operating.

But Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff labelled the relationship “very intelligent” earlier this year, but on October 15 Mercedes technical boss Paddy Lowe wrote to the FIA’s race director Charlie Whiting regarding a number of ambiguities he believed now existed over Appendices 6 and 8 of the Sporting Regulations.

Appendix 6 lists the parts a team must own the intellectual property to in order to compete and Appendix 8 deals with restrictions over aerodynamic testing. Although Haas and Ferrari were not mentioned specifically, Lowe’s questions seek clarity on the relationship allowed between an existing F1 team and a potential new outfit such as Haas.

An FIA document released which has been released to the media in Abu Dhabi today added that “resolution of the ambiguities is of the utmost importance to Mercedes as it is currently considering the possibility of collaborating with third parties on its testing programme, including the sharing of staff and knowledge, which it believes could be permitted under the current Regulations as drafted”.

As the questions relate to F1’s sporting regulations, the matter has been referred to the stewards of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix for consideration, who met with Mercedes on Saturday and intend to reach a decision before Sunday’s race. However, any decision may be subject to appeal.

2015 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix Post-Qualifying Press Conference Transcript

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Here is the transcript from the Post-Qualifying Press Conference ahead of the 2015 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix as provided by the FIA as follows:-

DRIVERS

1 – Nico ROSBERG (Mercedes)

2 – Lewis HAMILTON (Mercedes)

3 – Kimi RÄIKKÖNEN (Ferrari)

TV UNILATERAL

Nico, six poles in a row at the end of the season – how have you done it?

Nico Rosberg (referred here after as NR):- Well, before it was close in the other direction and now its close in this direction. I’m quicker in the moment. I’m very pleased about that and enjoying the moment and happy to be in pole again.

Lewis, coming to you, obviously very string all weekend, strong in Q1, strong in Q2 but then in Q3 it sort of slipped away. Was there a reason for that in particular?

Lewis Hamilton (referred here after as LH):- Not really, I’ve generally been struggling with the car a bit all weekend. But we’ve been working really hard to make some changes; we’ve had to take something off the car but no, Nico was just really quick today and he did a great job in Q3.

OK, coming to you Kimi, close battle obviously with the Force India of Sergio Perez for the third place on the grid. You’ll start alongside him in the grand prix tomorrow. Your final lap, though, was the one that did it. You’ve been quick all weekend but did you feel the pressure from Perez and what was the secret in the end, particularly with your team-mate down in 16th?

Kimi Raikkonen (referred here after as KR):- No real secret. Obviously the car has been handling pretty well all weekend. The laps haven’t been ideal many times. Even the first run, it was OK the lap, but nothing like… I knew there was quite a lot of room to improve so I just tried to make one a bit better lap and it was enough. Obviously still a bit of a way off from what these guys can do but we did our best today.

Coming back to you Nico, a disappointing race last here in Abu Dhabi. The race tomorrow, though, a chance to end the season with a hat-trick of victories. How important is it to carry that kind of momentum into the winter.

NR:- Primarily I would just like to win the race, because it’s a great feeling to win and it would also give my whole crew and the team a great end to the season and a good reason to party then tomorrow night. That would be awesome, to all have a good time together. So that’s primarily on my mind. Of course, though, whatever we learn this year as well helps going into next year, so it would be great finishing on a high.

PRESS CONFERENCE

Nico, once again strategy starting to come into play during Saturday afternoon, noticeably that you saved new soft tyres for the race tomorrow, going out on supersofts in Q1. We’ve seen that a few times from your team, so fairly clear what you’re thinking about, but how important do you think strategy will be tomorrow in terms of the outcome of the grand prix?

NR:- Strategy is always important. I think we’ve done our homework really well here, practicing well on Friday for the race, so we pretty much know exactly what to expect and the soft tyre will definitely be the better race tyre, so that’s why we saved one of those for the race.

Lewis, coming to you, obviously you’ve been fairly relaxed about the situation at the end of this season in terms of qualifying and the pendulum as it has swung. Over the balance of the year then it’s 12-7 to you in qualifying in the battle with Nico. Maybe you could just give us your thoughts on the Saturday, how the year has gone for you and your thoughts on that over the course of the season?

LH:- It’s been good. It doesn’t really matter what that number is at the end of the day, what matters is the wins and obviously the championship, but you know, I’m happy because it has obviously been more in my favour. I’ve enjoyed it and in the last six Nico has done a great job. Areas to improve with the car, for me, on my side, but I’m sure we’ll get there.

Q: And for you Kimi, this is your fourth top three qualifying of the season. Do you feel going into 2016, with all you’ve said this weekend about hopes and aspirations for next year, that qualifying in particular is an area to work on?

KR:- I don’t think it’s going to be as simple as that and if you qualify well you’re going to have a good finish. We have had good speed but many times a problem or mistakes here and there. Obviously it makes qualifying more difficult and hurts your end result easily but today, this weekend, everything’s been running smoothly and obviously it’s a bit better starting grid tomorrow but we have to still make a good race out of it. It doesn’t change what we do this year for next year anything. We start from zero in January and try to do a good year next.

QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR

Q: (Heikki Kulta – Turun Samomat) Nico, how tempting is it to try to get your seventh successive pole in the beginning of next season as Lewis did this year and to charge yourself for the whole winter.

NR:- With all the respect, that’s not really a target of mine. Of course it’s great to finish the season on a high now and then yeah, I’ll be motivated to start next year in a way that this year has finished. That would be great. Unfortunately it’s not as simple as that but, as always, I’ll push and try and begin strongly next year.

Q: (Agris Lauzinieks – Kapitals Latvia) The question is what is the secret of your revival this season Nico? I mean two last races. Perhaps Mercedes is experimenting with new parts meant for 2016 and they are more suitable for your driving style. I mean new parts of the car.

NR:- It’s not a revival, I haven’t reinvented anything. It’s just progress and that’s it. Before it was always very, very close but Lewis had that one-tenth edge and at the moment it’s me that has the one-tenth edge. Today a bit more but it was very close lately in the last two races. That’s it. At the moment I’m just quicker.

Q: (Dan Knutson – Honorary) Lewis, you said you’ve been struggling with the car all weekend. What has been the problem and will it be worse in the race?

LH:- Generally it gets a little bit better in the race but it’s been for a while now. Generally just struggling on the edge with the car. It was a lot more comfortable at the beginning of the year for me and as I said, coming into this weekend I tried to make some changes. It disadvantaged myself a little bit maybe with one of the things I took off the car which was of benefit. I tried to get around it but at the end of the day it wasn’t good enough.

Q: (Heikki Kulta – Turun Samomat) Kimi, you seem to be quicker with the soft tyre in the practice. Does that mean the race is easier for you compared to qualifying.

KR:- I don’t think it’s going to be any easier. I mean, in qualifying the supersofts were working well and obviously yesterday and this morning wasn’t ideal. Couldn’t get the lap with those. Couldn’t get the lap with those but again in qualifying they were fine. Obviously conditions changed from daytime to this evening but no, both tyres seem to be working pretty well for me and we’ll see what we’re going to do tomorrow – which one we’re going to run and how it’s going to plan out in the first few laps.

2015 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix Qualifying Review

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But heading into Qualifying, it would seem that Mercedes are looking like the team to beat heading into the session that look set to gain Pole Position ahead of the race on Sunday. But Ferrari, Toro Rosso or Force India may spring a surprise and throw a spanner into the works based on their early pace and promise within the Practice sessions.

Let the battle for Pole Position begin…

Lewis Hamilton tops the timesheets in Q1. All rights reserved to Sutton Images.

Lewis Hamilton tops the timesheets in Q1 and Q2. All rights reserved to Sutton Images.

In Q1, Lewis Hamilton tops the timesheets with a time of 1.40.974, Nico Rosberg was second, Sergio Perez was third, Nico Hulkenberg was fourth and Daniel Ricciardo was fifth. Felipe Massa, Kimi Raikkonen, Daniil Kvyat, Jenson Button and Romain Grosjean managed to get 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th and 10th places for their teams. At the end of Q1, we lose  Sebastian Vettel, Fernando Alonso, Marcus Ericsson, Will Stevens and Roberto Merhi.

But we saw in Q1 Fernando Alonso picking up a rear left puncture on his McLaren-Honda and this hampered his process in the session.

In Q2, Hamilton tops the timesheets with a time of 1.40.758, Rosberg was second, Perez was third, Raikkonen was fourth and Ricciardo was fifth. Bottas, Hulkenberg, Kvyat, Massa and Sainz Jr managed to get 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th and 10th places for their teams. At the end of Q1, we lose Max Verstappen, Jenson Button, Pastor Maldonado, Felipe Nasr and Romain Grosjean.

During Q2, Nico Hulkenberg’s race engineer informs him that they have a deflating front left tyre and to “take it easy on the straights”. We also saw Romain Grosjean’s race engineer asking him to bring the car home as they have a problem with the hydraulics which led to him stopping in the final minute of Q2.

The battle for Pole Position is on…

Nico Rosberg claims Pole Position for the Abu Dhabi GP ahead of Lewis Hamilton in second place and Kimi Raikkonen in third place. All rights reserved to Sutton Images.

Nico Rosberg claims Pole Position for the Abu Dhabi GP ahead of Lewis Hamilton in second place and Kimi Raikkonen in third place. All rights reserved to Sutton Images.

In Q3, Rosberg takes his sixth Pole Position of this season, his sixth consecutive Pole in a row and his twenty-first Pole of his career at the Abu Dhabi GP with a lap time of 1.40.237 and showing that he can still challenge ahead of Hamilton who was 0.377 seconds behind Rosberg and also ahead of Raikkonen who did a super job to finish in third 0.814 seconds behind Rosberg.

Perez finished in fourth place 0.947 seconds behind Rosberg, RIcciardo finished in fifth 1.207 seconds behind Rosberg, Bottas finished in a credible sixth 1.419 seconds behind Rosberg, Hulkenberg finished in seventh 1.449 seconds behind Rosberg, Massa finished in eighth 1.522 seconds behind Rosberg, Kvyat finished in ninth 1.696 seconds behind Rosberg and Sainz Jr finished in tenth place 2.471 seconds behind Rosberg.

It would seem that Mercedes genuinely has the pace to challenge for the race win again this weekend despite their form in Qualifying. Both of the Mercedes drivers seem to have the cars underneath them to do this and have been consistent and fast throughout every session so far this weekend.

You cannot discount  Raikkonen, Perez, or Ricciardo even to be challenging also for the race win and could also be the dark horses to take the win away from Mercedes (and also Ferrari in Mercedes’ case) that could see gaining some points on their rivals to leapfrog in the Constructors Championship.

Kvyat, Hulkenberg, Massa, Bottas or Sainz Jr could also have a decent race tomorrow and pick up some much needed points for their respective teams. Will it rain tomorrow? I do not know. Who will win the Grand Prix on Sunday? I really don’t know.

Let’s see what happens tomorrow on the Yas Marina circuit on race day today…