On Saturday, Lewis Hamilton took Pole Position for the Abu Dhabi GP ahead of Nico Rosberg in second place and Daniel Ricciardo in third place.
Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg both get good starts, but it is Hamilton who leads going into Turn 1. As we get into Turn 1, Max Verstappen spins and rejoins the race in last place. With places changing up and down the grid, positions were changing all the time within the first lap.
Lap 2 sees Hamilton leading Rosberg by 0.6 seconds. Into Turn 1, Hulkenberg passes Perez for sixth place. The next lap sees Verstappen’s rapid rise through the grid and passes Romain Grosjean with a beautiful move into the back section of the Yas Marina circuit. At the end of Lap 5, Kevin Magnussen is told by the Renault team that he has to officially retire from the race in his final race with the team before moving to the Haas team for the 2017 season.
Lap 7 sees Valtteri Bottas officially retire from the race. Meanwhile at the end of the Lap, Hamilton pits for new tyres and hands the lead of the race to Rosberg. At the end of the next lap, Rosberg then pits for new tyres and hands the lead of the race to Ricciardo. But with Vettel stopping hindering Rosberg, he now is behind Verstappen on the circuit with Raikkonen closing up behind.
Lap 10 sees Hamilton regaining the lead of the race ahead of Verstapen by 1.5 seconds; with Rosberg in third place. Raikkonen and Ricciardo are now battling for fourth on the track as Ricciardo tries to get past Verstappen as quickly as possible.
Lap 12 Jenson Button suffers a steering failure on his McLaren and has no choice but to retire the car and the end of his final F1 race. This is not what he would have wanted to give his fans or end his final race. I did have tears in my eyes watching this as I said goodbye to my hero.
On Lap 16, Kvyat is suffering a problem with his Toro Rosso and has no choice but to retire from the race. Hamilton still leads the race on Lap 18 by 2.6 seconds ahead of Verstappen. The next lap sees Ricciardo trying to make a move on Raikkonen but he goes in too deep and Raikkonen is able to maintain the position.
Rosberg and Verstappen on Lap 20 go wheel to wheel and it is Rosberg who manages with some beautiful moves to pass Verstappen to take second place and is now going to want to catch his team mate for the lead of the race.
By Lap 23, there was a battle between Raikkonen, Ricciardo and Vettel for third place as Hamilton leads Rosberg by 4.3 seconds. In the next few laps, Ricciardo and Perez were battling each other on the circuit for position, with the Red Bull driver getting the position. Hamilton then stopped again on Lap 28, handing the lead of the race to Rosberg.
Lap 30 sees Hamilton leading the race ahead of Rosberg still despite the latter just pitting for new tyres. But the last part of the race was starting to catch everyone’s attention with what Hamilton was doing on the track.
Vettel’s pitstop on Lap 37 elevated the Mercedes pair back into a 1-2 position with Vettel emerging in sixth place behind Verstappen, Ricciardo and Raikkonen. Six laps later, Hamilton then got another message on Lap 43 saying that Vettel who was ten seconds down the road was an “imminent threat” to the lead.
But ten laps later the Mercedes team was instructing Hamilton to up the pace, with the world champion replying “I suggest you guys let us race,” as Vettel continued to close in for Ferrari. But Vettel then became a bigger concern as he caught and passed Ricciardo in fine style, with Hamilton’s pace dropping even further as the Ferrari got closer and closer.
Hamilton’s tactics set up a grandstand finish, with Verstappen and Vettel edging ever closer to the leading Mercedes drivers. Executive Director (Technical) Paddy Lowe even got on the radio to instruct Hamilton to speed up to which Hamilton replied back that he was doing the only thing he could to win his fourth title.
As the remaining laps ticked down, Vettel got past Verstappen and found himself catching Rosberg very quicjly. With third place enough for Rosberg securing the championship, Tony Ross reminded him not to do anything stupid if Vettel did get close to him, even though he didn’t.
But Hamilton leads Rosberg on the final lap of the race by 11.4 seconds and wins the Abu Dhabi GP, the 53rd win of his career. This result means that Hamilton has not won the championship.
Rosberg is a credible second 11.4 seconds behind Hamilton and becomes the 2016 F1 drivers Champion. The title win means that Rosberg now follows in the footsteps of his father Keke who won the title in 1982 and makes him the second second-generation world champion after Damon Hill. Yas Marina’s dramatic finish capped a season which as ebbed and flowed between the Mercedes drivers and means that Hamilton was won the final four races of the year without winning the title.
Verstappen finished in a brilliant third place 0.8 seconds behind Hamilton, Verstappen was a credible fourth 1.6 seconds behind Hamilton. At the chequered flag, the top four were covered by 1.6 seconds. This then makes it one of the closest finishes in recent memory and a fitting climax to a close season between the Mercedes drivers who have shared 19 of the 21 victories this season.
Ricciardo finished fifth 5.3 seconds behind Hamilton. Raikkonen was sixth 18.8 seconds behind Hamilton, Hulkenberg was a brilliant seventh 50.1 seconds behind Hamilton, Perez was eighth 58.7 seconds behind Hamilton, Massa was ninth in his 250th GP and final race 59.4 seconds lap behind Hamilton and Alonso was tenth 59.8 seconds behind Hamilton.
Nico Rosberg is the 2016 F1 Driver’s Champion with 385 points, Lewis Hamilton is in second place with 380 points, Daniel Ricciardo in third place with 256 points, Sebastian Vettel is in fourth place with 212 points, Max Verstappen is in fifth place with 204 points, Kimi Raikkonen is in sixth place with 186 points, Sergio Perez is in seventh place with 101 points, Valtteri Bottas is in eighth place with 85 points, Nico Hulkenberg is in ninth place with 72 points and Fernando Alonso is in tenth place with 54 points.
Mercedes are the Constructors Champions with 765 points, Red Bull is in second place with 468 points, Ferrari is in third place with 398 points, Force India is in fourth place with 173 points, Williams is in fifth place with 138 points, McLaren is in sixth place with 76 points, Toro Rosso is in seventh place with 63 points, Haas is in eighth place with 29 points, Renault is in ninth place with 8 points, Sauber is tenth with 2 points and Manor is in eleventh with 1 point.
I feel that McLaren have had an disappointing weekend with Button could not end his final race they way he deserved to and wanted to. And I am extremely sad that Button will not be racing next season as I have supported him straight from the beginning of his career in 2000, grew up watching him and I have been blessed to watch one of the best drivers on the grid.
I cannot thank Jenson for everything he has done for me personally and also for the sport that I adore. You will be missed.
But they managed to score a point with Alonso in tenth place. This is the best the team could have hoped for and I am not happy with their performance this weekend. But McLaren have shown that despite their best efforts that the McLaren team have a lot of work to do in order to try and extract performance from their car but they are making small gains that are paying off for them in the last few races and they need to use this as inspiration for next season.
Massa and Perez had some battles to finish in ninth and eighth places on Sunday. They both battled with each other for most of the race and they both deserved to get a point for their efforts on Sunday. And with Massa scoring his final points in his 250th GP start and his final race, this is the most fitting way to end his career in the sport as Perez can build upon this result for the 2017 season.
Hulkenberg had a bit of an action packed yet defensive race to finish seventh, but he scored more points for the Force India team who seem to be extracting a little bit more pace and performance out of their package. But there is still a lot of work to be done but the fact that Hulkenberg scored points again shows that he can deliver on the track.
Raikkonen did a good job to get sixth place and had a battle to get there. He drove a solid race despite 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 next year.
Ricciardo did a good job to get fifth place. He drove a solid race despite what’s happened after the race 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 next year.
Verstappen had a credible race to finish in fourth. It is a result that Verstappen needed after a challenging race and he should be happy; especially gaining the position during the race. He drove superbly but in a race where many expected him to finish and to maintain the momentum he has so far, he has managed to gain some points for the team and put himself in good stead for the 2017 season.
Vettel deserves a mention. He drove a solid race to third place and battled his way through to get these points. Just a damage limitation performance and the Mercedes team and showing that he cannot be discounted on putting in the best performance on the track, even when the odds are against him.
Rosberg drove a solid race to finish second on Sunday and has to be my driver of the day. He may not have had the race he wanted; and didn’t have a chance to try and get past but he did a great job to secure a podium on Sunday but gave him what he wanted which was the title.
All that is left to say about this race is that Hamilton deserved to win at Abu Dhabi, even if his tactics was questioned. He needed to in order to show that he cannot be discounted as a driver. He controlled the race and did everything that he could do to try and win his fourth title.
But all I can say is that Rosberg didn’t put a foot wrong and drove the race he needed to do on Sunday to win his first word title. Rosberg celebrated the win by performing Vettel-esque donuts for the fans and has managed to win the title just like his father did in 1982. After watching his team mate win for the last three years, Rosberg has finally got the reward he deserved and simply did the job when it mattered the most.
Big Congratulations to Nico for winning the title and Congratulations to Mercedes to also winning the Constructors- you all did an brilliant job.
And that is the final race report that I will be writing for Jones on F1 until at least the 2018 season. I have in the last four years wrote about some memorable races and thank you for sharing and reading them.
I will be discussing a goodbye statement in the next few days as I move on to the next journey of F1 writing career.