Tag Archives: Abu Dhabi GP

Button: DNF won’t spoil my fantastic career

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In an interview with the media Jenson Button tells his fans not to feel sorry for his DNF in his final Formula One race at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, as the Briton feels happy and content with his “fantastic career”.

Despite having a contract through 2018 with the McLaren team, the 2009 world champion announced earlier this week that he expected this Sunday’s contest to conclude his journey as a full-time competitor.

Button started from 12th on the grid at Yas Marina Circuit, Button was fighting on the fringes of the points-paying positions with Force India’s Sergio Perez when he suffered a suspension failure and limped back to the pits and into retirement.

In an interview with the media, Button stated that he didn’t know what the problem was and that he can’t change what happened and has accepted that. Button stated the following:-

‘I really don’t know what the problem is. Something failed on the car, which never happens to us. It’s a massive strength of our team, things don’t fail, but it did today of all days! But it’s done. I’ve always said you can’t change the past so live in the moment which is right now and I’m going to get a nice cold beer after this interview.’

When suggested to him further by the media that he had perhaps gone over the kerb too high, Button added the following:-

‘No. I didn’t with that tyre I don’t think, it was the left and it was the right that had that problem. I didn’t do anything different to what I’ve done in 17 years so it’s a surprise but there you go.

‘I’m glad I was able to figure it out before I hit the brakes for Turn 11. But anyway, it’s done. I enjoyed today massively. The race was short obviously, but I enjoyed everything else. It’s just sad for my fans and supporters really that I wasn’t able to finish.’

After 305 race starts, 15 wins, 50 podiums and one world title, Button then concluded his interview with a farewell message to his fans as follows:-

‘I’ll try and not get too emotional doing this but a massive thank you for your support since 2000 when I was a baby at 20 years old. I’ve had so many messages of support on social media saying they’ve watched me since I was a spotty teenager when I was 19 and thank you so much for the support. It’s been a rollercoaster ride obviously through the years.

‘People will go ‘Oh it’s so sad that Jenson didn’t get to end on a high’ but it’s not. I’m happy, I’m content and I had a fantastic career in F1 so thank you so much for that support.’

2016 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix Post-Race Press Conference Transcript

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Here’s the official transcript of the 2016 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix Post-Race Press Conference Transcript as provided by the FIA as follows:-

DRIVERS

1 – Lewis HAMILTON (Mercedes)

2 – Nico ROSBERG (Mercedes)

3 – Sebastian VETTEL (Ferrari)

PODIUM INTERVIEWS

(Conducted by David Coulthard)

Q: Lewis, you’re 53rd victory in Formula One but I suspect this is a slightly different feeling to some of the others?

Lewis Hamilton (referred here after as LH):- Honestly, I feel great. Firstly, I want to say a big thank you to everyone that came out to support us. I’ve got so many British fans out here this weekend. Thank you so much, I love you guys. Thank you to all my family for all their support and especially to  the team for doing such a great job. It’s been a real privilege being part of this team and achieving the success we’ve had this year.

I never would have thought when I joined this team that I would have that many wins. I think that’s 32 wins with this team so a big thank you to everyone here and back at the factory. And a big congratulations to Nico, of course, his first world championship. Good job, man.

Q: Allow me to get out of the way when you are doing the handshake. Well done [Nico] you’re nice and wet. I don’t want to force anything but maybe you could do the handshake again. There you go, there’s the love. Nico, just another day at the office?

NR: Hell, no! That was definitely not the most enjoyable race I’ve ever had. With Max in the beginning and then with those guys coming up in the end, really not very enjoyable those last few laps. Very, very glad it’s over and unbelievably ecstatic. What do you call it when you give the win to my wife, to you [Vivian], amazing, thank you for all the support and to our daughter Alaϊa…

Q: Don’t you cry on us, Nico!

NR: Oh, I’ll thank everybody else afterwards… unreal.

Q: I can see the tears and we understand why. We do have to wait until a week on Friday until you are announced as champion but this time 34 years ago this was a similar time for the Rosberg family?

NR: Yeah, very, very proud to have done the same feat as my dad achieved, he’s going to be coming in about half an hour I think, so it will be exciting to see him.

Q: Fantastic, well Nico, we’ll come back to you. We;’ll leave you with those thoughts. Now, Sebastian Vettel – it’s been a while, you’ve not been here since Monza.

Sebastian Vettel (referred here after as SV):- Yeah, we’ve aged!

Q: I have, you look wonderful. Where have you been? Why has it taken this long? That was an amazing strategy and you really came back and pushed these guys hard.

SV: Well, before I answer your questions, congratulations [Nico]… it was tough out there in the last couple of laps. I didn’t want to be in his shoes. I was trying to get close and have another go because I was thinking to, why not pass both of them, if Lewis is going that slow in front? But it was difficult because my tyres were also dropping more to the end.

But you mentioned the strategy obviously. Bit stuck at the beginning of the race, couldn’t really unfold my pace, I was starting to get a bit frustrated but once I had clean air I could really also on the old tyres unleash the pace we had today. The whole team deserves the podium today. I think we have worked so hard. We have had so much criticism this year – sometimes right, sometimes not justified – but that’s how it goes, it’s a tough game, we’re fighting really tough opponents.

It’s been a tough year but it’s nice to finish on a high and I think we take that momentum into next year. There is a lot of work going on back in Maranello, so big thanks also to everyone there.

Q: Just coming back in, Lewis, you’re a man who wears his heart on his sleeve, your face doesn’t lie. We’ve seen you celebrate some victories… tell us a little bit your thoughts, your emotions right now on where you are today?

LH: Well, I did everything I could these last four races and that’s really all I could ask of myself. I leave here… I’m going to have a lot of fun tonight, celebrating with the team and everyone and you can’t win them all. Obviously we had a lot of problems this year, and that’s inevitably why I’m in this position but I’m still grateful for all the success and the ups and downs we had as a team.

Q: Well, congratulations on this victory. Nico, coming back to you: you’re holding it but you want to unleash those tears don’t you?

NR: No, it’s OK. I also want to say congrats to Lewis, you did a great season, great competitor, massively quick always. Congrats, always tough to beat you. Guys, at the team Mercedes, please put the music on, I’m coming down in one second. And my mom, I’m really looking forward to seeing her, she’s going to be coming with dad in a second, so whole family together it’s going to be wonderful.

PRESS CONFERENCE

Q: Lewis, congratulations on the strong end to your season. Fairly straightforward grand prix for you really until the final laps when obviously… you were saying in the press conference earlier in the weekend that it was difficult to back the pack up but tell us your thinking in the final part of the grand prix?

LH: Yeah, obviously happy with the win, it was relatively easy to get the win in the end. Great job by the team throughout the weekend and through the year so big thank you to everyone there. I knew being in the lead I knew I was losing the world championship, I was hoping that Sebastian… I heard the pace he was on and I knew I could do that pace exactly, so I was hoping that he would close up, but I guess he said his tyres were going off towards the end and Nico drove well to not make mistakes.

Q: How do you feel then about the season, looking back?

LH: Good. I did everything that I could, particularly towards the end and obviously Nico had a very, very clean year without any real issues to be honest and that’s why we sit in this position right now. But he did a fantastic job, so big congratulations to him, it’s a great feeling to win the world championship and I look forward to fighting with him next year.

Q: Thank you. Coming to you Nico, many congratulations. Obviously a critical point in the race for you was the overtake on Max Verstappen. You were told by your engineer it was critical to pass him and it was very, very close. A heart in the mouth moment for you?

NR: For sure. The feelings out there in that battle with Max… unreal, really unreal. I hope I don’t experience that again any time soon. And the same again at the end, you know: pressure on from behind, Lewis driving slow at the front. It was a tough one.

Q: You’ve had your emotions and your whole psychology so locked down, you’ve talked about going one race at a time. Now it’s all over, what was it like? Really, on the inside, mentally?

NR: It’s crazy. The thing is it was so intense – the race – it’s still going to take some time I think to settle it and come out because it was really intense out there and so tough in the end. Those last couple of laps with those two guys behind. If I dropped being them it’s over so not enjoyable.

Q: Very well done. Sebastian, Ferrari have been criticized a number of times on the strategy front but today they absolutely aced it. Brilliant tactic – long second stint, attacking on the supersofts, tell us your feelings and particularly your decision-making process in the last couple of laps?

SV: Well, in the last couple of laps it was clear. It was clear we would be able to make big progress but before it was difficult. Obviously with Max coming back, staying out so long, coming back to fight for the last podium spot, or the same positions as the group of Kimi, Daniel, myself, made it tricky. Then Max pulled in very early.

That was one way to do it and the other way was to go long. When I was behind the two cars of Kimi and Daniel I was trying to save my tyres and trying to stay in reach but still having enough tyres to make it longer and once they pulled in it was clear that we would go long. Then I think those laps were really critical. Fortunately I had some tyres left and I could really make that count with consistent laps.

I didn’t lose too much versus the group that had pitted already. Once I came out the question was ‘how long are these cars going to last’ and it proved to be just enough. Daniel was fairly straightforward to pass, but then when I arrived behind Max, the problem is that you have car after car after car and you begin to slide, so my tyres got worse. Then I was behind Nico and I was faster, but I think also due to the fact that Lewis was slowing down.

I tried everything but they were very, very quick down the straights. I think with the Red Bulls it was a little bit easier. I think also, Max didn’t have DRS, whereas at the end I think Nico had DRS. The second straight was the spot I was having a look, but Nico defended well and closed the inside so I couldn’t really go anywhere.

I couldn’t try something really stupid because Lewis was just ahead, so if I really dived down the inside or down the outside then I have a risk of hitting Lewis at that point. It as critical and I also saw Max coming back in the mirrors but for sure the last laps were intense, I was thinking also at some point to win the race as well, because I think the chance was there, but both of them did their job well at the end. Nevertheless, as you said, happy with the podium.

QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR

Q: (Ysef Harding – Xiro Xone News) Lewis this season you took your fans and everyone on quite a rollercoaster of a ride. For the millions of fans that watched you along the way, you had some incredible drives and you also achieved quite a few goals, with that are your able to take those positives heading into the off-season?

LH: Most definitely. There have been a lot of great things that have happened this year. One in particular is the bond and relationship I have with my mechanics and engineers – my new mechanics – that joined my side of the garage. They did a fantastic job all year long. I think the working relationship has been better than ever, particularly going through all those experiences. There’s that and I was generally quickest most of the year, so it’s definitely been a positive, a lot of positives to take from it. So I take that into next season.

Q: (Andrea Cremonesi – La Gazzetta dello Sport) How much was [it] annoying [you] the box asking you to improve your pace and aren’t you afraid that the relationship with the team now is a little bit more cold?

LH: Not really. I don’t know why they didn’t just let us just race. There was never a moment where I felt I was going to lose the race. It’s a shame that they wouldn’t but it’s quite clear their through process and yeah I mean I don’t really have much to say.

Q: (Michael Schmidt – Auto Motor und Sport) Lewis you said there was never a moment you were afraid of losing the race but you probably knew Sebastian was on different tyres, were you not afraid that maybe it could catch you out with his tyre advantage?

LH: There was never a moment that I felt that I was risk, so no.

Q: (Michael Schmidt – Auto Motor und Sport) Lewis, you just said there was never a moment you were afraid of losing the race – but you probably knew that Sebastian was on different tyres. Were you not afraid that maybe it can catch you out with his tyre advantage.

LH: As I said, there was never a moment that I felt I was at-risk, so no.

Q: (Jerome Pugmire – AP) Question for Lewis. To follow up on that, do you find it an inconvenience… do you find it a bit annoying that you receive instructions like that a few laps from the end when you’re under intense pressure in a title race? Could you do without that?

LH: Not really – because it wasn’t really intense to be honest. It was pretty chilled at the end. There was not much… maybe intense for you but it wasn’t intense for me. No. For me it’s… I’m in a position where I’ve obviously had a lot of points lost during the season so for me, I’m out there fighting and I generally never try to do anything to harm the team or the brand or anything like that.

But we’ve won the Constructors’ Championship so it was down to me and Nico today. And however, they still felt they needed to make comments and so… well, y’know, we’ll discuss it afterwards as we always do as a team and pull back in. But we can’t let that overshadow the fact that Nico’s just won a Championship and the team has dominated all year long, we’d had more wins than any other team I think in the past maybe. So, we cannot ignore that fact that it’s been an incredibly successful year.

Q: (Jens Nagler – Bild) Question to Sebastian. Could you have even more pushed on Nico in the last couple of rounds?

SV: Well I did what I could, obviously. At that point, you follow two cars, you slide, the tyres start to go too hot. I was struggling with my fronts at that point so it was difficult to stay close. So I did what I could. As I said, Lewis was probably a bit too close otherwise I could have had a better look. Nico defended well.

Turn 11 was the spot where maybe I could have had a chance, and then maybe I could have had a chance and then towards the last laps he had always the tow also from the car in front, from Lewis. Without the tow, I think I could have had a better chance but that way it was impossible. My interest as soon as I passed Max was to win the race – but bearing in mind obviously that they are fighting for the Championship and… I mean we could all feel and see what was going on. Lewis was trying to back Nico up into the rest of the pack…

LH: Just trying to help you out buddy!

SV: Yeah, I’m sure you would have waved me past as well. As I said, my main interest was in winning the race but I couldn’t get past both of them.

Q: (Livio Oricchio – Globoesport.com) Lewis, when you realised that Nico had difficulties to overtake Max, did you think maybe you have more chance to win the Championship?

LH: Not really. I think that that point I didn’t really know… I didn’t have a lot of information from the team in terms of what I was supposed to do so I pushed a little bit, got a little bit of a gap. I was obviously just take care of my race – but I didn’t know if I needed a ten second lead or less. So, I just tried to look after my tyres and get to my target, which I did. And then I saw that Nico had passed and picked up his pace which was good, and at that point I tried to pick up my pace also.

Q: (Andrea Cremonesi – La Gazzetta Dello Sport) Question to Lewis. Lewis do you really think it’s fair to slow down the race on purpose only to push you team colleague into troubles. Only in terms of being fair.

LH: I don’t think I did anything dangerous today. So, I don’t feel I did anything unfair. We’re fighting for a championship, I was in the lead, I control the pace. That’s the rules.

Q: (Ysef Harding – Xiro Xone News) Sebastian, in a different condition, without the Championship deciding this last race, you could try something else? And when, during the race, when said by radio “it’s four laps that I’m asking to do something,” because in that moment you didn’t have clear picture of the race? You change something in the strategy during the race?

SV: Well, you have a plan but then, to be fair, you never know how the race unfolds. Obviously we are all starting from the grid, you might change position first corner, first lap. So the plan is flexible. I think you know what to do, you know where you can go with which tyre, etcetera, but from where I was obviously I was stuck. It was very difficult to make progress because the car in front of me had a tow from another car, so obviously Daniel was behind Kimi and therefore it was difficult for me to really get close and overtake.

I was probably a bit quicker but not enough – and it’s also not the easiest track to overtake. And then I was asking to do something and at the same time Max dived into the pits and then that opportunity was gone, because it was really going for an aggressive undercut, going very long on the harder tyres, or the soft tyres.

When that door closed obviously it was clear that Kimi will come in next, and Daniel, because they were battling each other and then I decided, we decided to go on the supersoft tyre, try to do something different which turned out to be the right thing. And at the end, could I have done more? I don’t think so.

As I said, I was running out of tyres, I think. I have also one comment to make. I think, in my point of view, you don’t win the Championship by luck. Nico won the Championship today. He’s a deserved champion. You collect a lot of points throughout the season, sometimes you might have, yeah, fortunate situations, unfortunate situations with your car but I think there’s been other situations in the past with other drivers, that’s the way it goes. Sometimes you have better years in this regard, sometimes worse years but I think today is Nico’s day and it’s a sign of respect and greatness to give him that. I think we owe it to him, he’s a deserved champion.

QUESTIONS TO NICO ROSBERG

Q: (Ysef Harding, Xero Xone News) Nico, now that you’ve won this championship, can you convey to your fans, who was driving you, who was pushing you, who was giving you the energy and the strength to get through this season and win this championship?

NR: It’s everybody who’s supporting me in the world. It’s all the people watching on TV who support me, all the people who come to the races, even this weekend, a lot of Germans out there and from the whole world, supporting me through the whole weekend. That’s really, really special. It’s a special feeling, a very unique feeling. I’m very thankful to all of them.

And then of course the people closer to me. It’s my whole team, which is my racing family. I joined Mercedes in 2010 and it was a rough ride initially and now it’s come good in the last years and now it’s come good for me today – and that’s very, very special also. So, big thanks to my racing family, to Mercedes, to my family, to all of my team around me, working around me. Everybody has there part in this. It’s such a long way to get to today, really.

My go-karting engineer from when I was ten was writing me last night, memories from ten years old, fighting for the French championship, stories of motivation he was sending me yesterday, so it’s just all the way from there, every year it builds up to this success today. Even all those people through my career. I had a lot of important mentors in that sense. All the way through. If this is the moment to mention them, I will.

It’s Serge Dino in go-karting, then in cars it was Team Rosberg and Peter Sieber and Erich Baumgärtner in Formula 3. Arno Zensen, Team Rosberg. After that came GP2 where it’s Nicolas Todt, Fred Vasseur, big thanks to them for getting me into F1, and Steve Marcel who unfortunately passed away. After that F1, Williams, Frank Williams, Sam Michael, Patrick Head, to get me into F1. And after that, what come after that? The people that took me to Mercedes, that was Norbert Haug and Ross Brawn, Nick Fry, thanks to all of you to get me into Mercedes. That was the beginning of the story, and then of course Toto, massive thanks to Toto and Paddy and Niki for continuing it on and taking me to where I am today.

Q: (Frederic Ferret – L’Equipe) Congratulations Nico. On Thursday Lewis said that the last night of 2014 was awful for him and he didn’t sleep. How was that weekend for you and how did you live with all that pressure?

NR: If it’s OK maybe you can understand that maybe I wasn’t completely transparent the whole weekend. Of course I need protect myself a little bit also from your world which is pretty intense, the world media world. So yes it was a very, very tough weekend for me. Many moments not so enjoyable of course, like especially the race, for example. Very, very tough with Verstappen in the beginning there and then in the end of course. Not nice!

Q: (Heikki Kulta – Turun Sanomat) Nico, massive congratulations. I know that Germany right now is celebrating their new champion, but how much glory of that achievement will you give to your Finnish side and your Finnish father?

NR: Heikki Kulta, if I can give you a new statistic: two Rosbergs are World Champions now! That’s just a statistic for you – if I got my statistics right, so that’s quite a nice new one. What was the question? Sorry.

I have a Finnish passport as well, so I would love to know that everybody in Finland that was supporting me is also very very happy. That would be great and thanks for all your support back in Finland. Of course a part of me is Finnish and always will be and I’m very proud of that.

Q: (Livio Oricchio – GloboEsporte.com) Nico, Lewis said he was leading the race, he has…

NR: Gerhard Berger also, for his support this year. Sitting right there.

Q: (Livio Oricchio – GloboEsporte.com) Nico, Lewis said he was leading the race, he had the right to conduct the pace of the race…

NR: That’s a pretty simple discussion. You can understand the team’s perspective and you can understand Lewis’s perspective so there’s no… that’s it.

Q: (Kevin Eason – The Times) Nico, did you sleep last night?

NR: I managed to get a few hours in, yeah. I didn’t know what to expect but it worked out OK, yes.

Q: (Kevin Eason – The Times) And where have you been hiding your family, your parents?

NR: My wife is right there and my daughter is back in the hotel.

Q: (Kevin Eason – The Times) And what about your Mum and Dad?

NR: Mum was in the garage just now and Dad, well, he’s going to be here as well.

Q: (Kevin Eason – The Times) Where have they been?

NR: I’ve no idea. They’re here now, they were hiding.

Q: (Kevin Eason – The Times) Have they been hiding then? Did you not want them around? How did it work?

NR: I hope my Dad survived that race actually. I haven’t seen him yet. I’m sure it was pretty intense for him so I hope he’s OK and I can’t wait to see him in a while, because I’ve only seen my Mum for now so I don’t know where he is.

Q: (Kevin Eason – The Times) So was he hiding from you?

NR: No, no, they were not here. They just came now, after the race.

Q: (Jerome Pugmire – Associated Press) Nico, do you think that one of your biggest achievements if not your biggest achievement this year was your mental strength, your focus? You don’t seem to have been distracted by pretty much almost anything this season, even when there were incidents earlier in the season you seem to have managed to keep your focus. Would you say that’s your biggest achievement alongside your title?

NR: For sure it’s a key ingredient, yeah, to why I’m here now. It’s continual, yeah, it’s just my approach that I’ve taken from myself. Everybody does his own way; for me that feels best and I’ve really learned to focus hard. It takes a lot of sacrifice also to stay so focused during a whole year. For sure that helped, yeah.

Q: (Jon McEvoy – Daily Mail) Congratulations on your win today, Nico. Your father’s obviously been in the background. He hasn’t been seen in the last few days but hasn’t been seen either for the last few months. What’s been the level of involvement with your father? Are there any words of wisdom or has he really been at arm’s length over the few weeks and months and days as well?

NR: Every Saturday night I get a message from him and most of the time it’s like ‘pedal to the metal tomorrow, full stop, exclamation mark.’ So that’s his words of advice every weekend. But my Dad and my Mum both have such a big part in this, my Mum on the private side of course and my Dad for the career steps and all the support all the way. It was massive. I think it’s been good how’s he’s let me get on with it and taken a step back. I think it’s been very very good and it’s worked well for us and for me, it feels right, so I’m very very thankful for that. It’s his way of stepping back a bit for sure.

Q: (Saher Soukar – Saneou Al Hadath ) Congratulations Nico, my question is, what will change in your life after winning today?

NR: OK, that’s a question. I’m sure it’s going to be pretty crazy now for the next few days but I look forward to all that, it’s going to be special. Tonight is going to go absolutely nuts, I mean tonight is going to be insane. I think I’m going to be not available for a few days after that and… I don’t know.

Q: (Michael Schmidt – Auto, Motor und Sport) Sometimes attack is the best form of defence; once you realised what games Lewis was playing, did you ever think about attacking him or vice versa, in the end, using Sebastian Vettel to put pressure on him, by letting Vettel past?

NR: Lewis was using all his skill to do it perfectly, so there was absolutely no way for me to manage to get by, so of course I thought about it but it was just pointless so there was no way. He did it in a very good way, in a perfect way.

Q: (Graham Caygill – The National ) Congratulations Nico, you had a really strong inter last season, you won here 12 months ago and you won the last few races and the last six pole positions of the season. How important was that strong inter-season after a difficult earlier time in the year, to building to this season? Did it play a part, was it important to have a good winter?

NR: For sure that was a big turning point, it was Austin, because Austin was a horrible experience for me and I really spent two days just on my own thinking and I said I didn’t ever want to experience that again and then I went and won the next seven races on the trot, so for sure it was a big moment for me and one of the key moments for being here today.

Q: (Heikki Kulta – Turun Sanomat) Nico, do you think you can use number one next year or are you going to carry on with the family number six?

NR: I have no idea. I love number six of course, my Dad won the World Championship with number six as well, so it’s a very lucky number for us. Don’t know, that’s it.

Q: (Ysef Harding – Xiro Xone News) Nico, what’s the flight home going to be like and what do you have planned for the off-season?

NR: I’m going to Malaysia for Petronas to celebrate there with them, so that’s the first flight and then I just want to spend as much time with my family as possible. But it’s going to be completely crazy, it’s going to go all over the place now but that’s a part of it and I look forward to that. I’m making the most of this moment.

Q: (Andrea Cremonesi – La Gazzetta dello Sport) Complimenti, Nico, bravissimo. I would like to ask you something about your passion for our country (Italy) because we feel that you are a little bit Italian. Do you think, sometimes, in Italian? Which is the first language that you think in your mind and which is the most beautiful place that you have (visited) in Italy? Third question is – and then I stop for the rest of the season – if you think that becoming the number one can change you, you can race next year more relaxed to achieve even more than this season?

NR: Well, you will see in videos afterwards that my first celebration dance with my family was actually ‘campione del mondo’ just now down in the garage because all my friends are Italian. I love the culture and thank you for all the support as well, from Italy, that’s amazing to see so many people supporting me in Monza, so very special. Yeah, so big connection from me to Italy.

Ah, for sure I’ll do a better performance than today or yesterday because it’s just difficult with the pressure on like that, it definitely is more difficult.

Q: ( Autofocus, Slovenia) Compliments to Nico from Slovenia. But I have another idea: you are a multicultural person, you speak in each press conference in a different language, you speak to every television in a different language. When you are alone in the car, which language do you think in?

NR: English, today it was English.

Q: (Livio Oricchio – GloboEsporte.com) Lewis, what’s the meaning of this victory against Lewis considering…

NR: Easy to confuse us, we look very similar but my name is actually Nico.

Q: (Livio Oricchio – GloboEsporte.com) I called you Lewis?

NR: Yup, it’s not a problem. It’s OK.

Q: (Livio Oricchio – GloboEsporte.com) I would say it’s a compliment!

NR: It’s OK, it’s OK. It’s been an intense day for everybody.

Q: (Livio Oricchio – GloboEsporte.com) Well, the question is, you beat Lewis and he’s considered one of the best in the history of Formula One and the numbers prove that. What does this mean for you, also considering the history you have with him?

NR: Yeah, for sure, it feels like I’ve been racing him for ever and always he’s just managed to edge me out and get the title even when we were small in go-karts. And he’s just an amazing driver and of course one of the best in history so it’s unbelievably special to beat him because the level is so high and that makes this even more… for sure, so much more satisfying for me because the benchmark is so… and I took the World Championship away from him which is a phenomenal feeling.

It’s been a great year as well, for sure he drove at an extremely high level, he’s done some incredible racing so he’s been a very very tough competitor and I don’t know how many points we are apart at the end, you know, five points, which is unbelievable. With the same car.

Q: (Graham Caygill – The National) Given the circumstances and the pressure you were under, do you consider that pass on Max that you did, wheel-to-wheel going through two corners together, one of the best of your career?

NR: Yeah, for sure, yeah, it was great, definitely a great one. Fair play to him, also. He went full-on aggressive of course, he didn’t given an inch, as usual but fair play, we didn’t collide and I got by, so that felt amazingly good. It was an awesome feeling at the time, really, very relieving and so intense, unbelievably intense really, in the car. I’ve never felt something like that in the car before.

Q: (Jerome Pugmire – Associated Press) Nico, Alain Prost was saying that you haven’t been given the credit you deserve as a driver. Do you agree with that and think that now you will be seen in a different light?

NR: I don’t drive for credit, I drive to win the World Championship and I have achieved that and it was my childhood dream to win the World Championship and that’s done and that’s what I’m excited about and I look forward to celebrating with all the people who have been supporting me.

Q: (Sandor Meszaros – Autosport Es Formula) Nico, congratulations, what did Mr Ecclestone say to you?

NR: He didn’t have much time to talk, he was up in the air before he could say something.

NR: Thank you very much, thank for this year, thank you.

2016 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix Race Review

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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.

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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.

Lewis Hamilton leads the opening laps of the Abu Dhabi GP. All rights reserved to Sutton Images.

Lewis Hamilton leads the opening laps of the Abu Dhabi GP. All rights reserved to Sutton Images.

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.

Lewis Hamilton leads after his pitstop. All rights reserved to Sutton Images.

Lewis Hamilton leads after his pitstop. All rights reserved to Sutton Images.

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.

Daniel Ricciardo catching Kimi Raikkonen on Lap 19. All rights reserved to Sutton Images.

Daniel Ricciardo catching Kimi Raikkonen on Lap 19. All rights reserved to Sutton Images.

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.

Nico Rosberg now catching his team mate for the lead of the race. All rights reserved to Sutton Images.

Nico Rosberg now catching his team mate for the lead of the race. All rights reserved to Sutton Images.

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.

Kimi Raikkonen running in third place in the first half of the race. All rights reserved to Sutton Images.

Kimi Raikkonen running in third place in the first half of the race. All rights reserved to Sutton Images.

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.

Lewis Hamilton leading the final stages of the race. All rights reserved to Sutton Images.

Lewis Hamilton leading the final stages of the race. All rights reserved to Sutton Images.

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.

Nico Rosberg and Sebastian Vettel in the latter stages of the race. All rights reserved to Sutton Images.

Nico Rosberg and Sebastian Vettel in the latter stages of the race. All rights reserved to Sutton Images.

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.

Lewis Hamilton wins the Abu Dhabi GP ahead of Nico Rosberg in second place and Sebastian Vettel in third place. All rights reserved to Sutton Images.

Lewis Hamilton wins the Abu Dhabi GP ahead of Nico Rosberg in second place and Sebastian Vettel in third place. All rights reserved to Sutton Images.

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.

Conclusion

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.

Sarah

2016 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix Post-Qualifying Press Conference Transcript

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Here’s the official transcript of the 2016 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix Post-Qualifying Press Conference Transcript as provided by the FIA as follows:-

DRIVERS

1 – Lewis HAMILTON (Mercedes), 2 – Nico ROSBERG (Mercedes), 3 – Daniel RICCIARDO (Red Bull Racing)

TV UNILATERAL

Q: Lewis, congratulations, a fantastic lap, your 12th pole position of the year – that’s something you’ve not done before in your Formula One career, big number there – and what a time to do it?

Lewis Hamilton (referred here after as LH):- Yeah, well, I can’t believe I have 61. That’s four more to go to try and catch Ayrton. It’s been strange coming here this weekend, realising that these are going to be the last practice sessions, the last qualifying sessions with this car, which has been so incredible. You never know when you’re going to have a car like this ever again. I hope we have another one in the near future, maybe next year.

It’s been such a privilege driving this car. This weekend so far I’ve got the car in a real sweet spot, great work done by my engineers, faultless mechanics again; they have done an incredible job. Everybody back at the factory I just want to thank everyone. I wouldn’t have the 61 poles I have now if it wasn’t for them, so a big thank you to them. Yeah, perfect position for tomorrow.

Q: Same pattern both laps in the final part: a tiny bit slower than Nico in the first sector and then a good but quicker in the middle sector. Tell us how that came about?

LH: Yeah, first section… I knew I had pace throughout the rest of the lap, so I was relatively cautious… well, not cautious, but I didn’t overcook it into Turn One, so that’s really where the little bit of time was to Nico. Otherwise, the rest of the lap I had it really under control, so I just made sure I maximised those areas.

Q: Very well done. Coming to you Nico, as we say you were a tiny bit quicker in sector one, but a little bit down in sector two, but clearly, as long as you are sitting here tomorrow you will be world champion, so how disappointed can you feel about the outcome of this qualifying session?

Nico Rosberg (referred here after as NR):- Well, as I’ve said, I’ve come here to try to be on pole and try and win the race tomorrow. That’s what I love to do, so I’m not ecstatic about today. Lewis just did a great job and was a couple of tenths quicker. It just wasn’t possible for me to do that time today, even though I gave it everything. But as we know there are still opportunities tomorrow and for sure I’ll try and go for the win.

Q: You came running out of the team office wearing you headphones, singing as you went to the garage, so you were obviously feeling relaxed, but was it a rather tense first lap in Q1? There were a couple of mistakes there. And have you felt the tension this afternoon?

NR: Adrenalin is always there in qualifying, you know, for sure. But that’s what great about it, to really go on the edge, go to the limit, push flat out. And it was feeling good out there. I had a good balance and everything, so I was quite pleased. As qualifying went on it felt better and better and I got a good lap in in the end in Q3, but not good enough.

Q: Very well done. Coming to you Daniel, great lap in Q3 to get yourself up among the top three and starting tomorrow on the supersoft tyre. You were hedging your bets a little bit at the end of Q2 but you decided to stick with it. It’s not necessarily been the most successful tactic this year, but what makes you think it’s going to be a winner tomorrow?

Daniel Ricciardo (referred here after as DR):- We’ve got to try something. It seems to be a bit of a trend this year: if we are in a position to qualify on a different tyres, then we’ll try and see if it gives us an opportunity. Yeah, we’ll see what it does tomorrow. Hopefully it puts us in the fight. Beyond that I think Q3 was good. It was a pretty slow-starting qualifying session for me but we sort of chipped away at it and then in Q3 when it matters I felt like I had put in some good times. Happy – third was the target, hopefully we can be somewhere up here as well tomorrow.

Q: Very well done Daniel. Back to Lewis. A thought about the race then: You’ve been totally in control all weekend but you can’t control the outcome as far as Nico getting on the podium tomorrow. What’s the game plan for the race?

LH: Well, so far this weekend has just been solely focused on getting to this position, which I truly believed I could. And obviously it worked. I guess this evening and tomorrow we’ll sit and work with my engineers and strategist to full understand the scenario and what I’ve got to do. Obviously I want to get away and try and win this race. Yeah, I’m hopeful… when he [Daniel] was just talking there… he usually says ‘winner, winner, chicken dinner’… is that right, is that your saying? I kind of want him to be saying something similar to that tomorrow.

DR: You want me to win?

LH: No! Second, second, chicken… what’s the second one!?

DR: It doesn’t exist!

PRESS CONFERENCE

Q: Lewis, as you were saying a moment ago, half the job done in your stated target of dominating this race weekend. I just wonder how you’ve been feeling. You were here on Thursday, you were very philosophical, you were reflective and very relaxed. You seem to have carried that all the way through the weekend.

LH: Yeah. I tried to solely focus on doing myself proud, doing my team proud, doing my family proud – and doing Aki proud. I’ve come here with good energy. A lot of positive people around me and I’ve felt great in the car – as I have done really this latter part of the season. I actually felt great earlier on in the season. It’s kind of crazy to think I have 12 poles considering I didn’t even compete in three of them, so could have been the ultimate year of pole positions – but still I’m very, very grateful for the ones I have and I will hopefully continue to be driving like this in the future.

Q: Nico, we were talking a moment ago with Daniel about this decision to start on the supersofts. I guess from your point of view, given that you want a nice, clean start tomorrow, the fact that you should have that little bit of extra bite off the line with the ultrasoft in comparison, does that give you a little bit of comfort as you go to bed tonight?

NR: I hadn’t thought about that yet in that sense. I was still thinking about qualifying at the moment. But yeah, I guess, better to start the race and then we have to see how the ultrasofts hold up. But we’re very confident that we’ve chosen the right tyre for the best possible race tomorrow. So… optimistic.

Q: Daniel, one thing was clear yesterday from the long run pace, that you’re in the game when it comes to the race – perhaps more than you were in qualifying. So, is that the way it looks from your side of the garage?

DR: Yesterday it did. I think as sort-of predicted, Mercedes would pull a little bit more on us today in qualifying but we’ll see how the race comes back to us. I think that’s why we wanted to do something a little bit different as well and try the supersoft. Might just give us a bit more range at the start and then might put us more in the race towards the end. But yesterday, yeah we were strong on long runs, looks good. I think it’s going to be fun tomorrow. Obviously there’s the title on the line with these guys here, so it’s going to be interesting. Hopefully it’s fun throughout the pack and we can do something to make it even more exciting than it already is.

QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR

Q: (Viktor Bognar – Magyar Szo) Lewis, would you be satisfied with your own performance throughout the season if you win tomorrow but lose out to Nico in the Championship. And to Nico, would you be satisfied with your own performance throughout the season if you lose out to Lewis again tomorrow but win the Championship in the end.

LH: For me I guess I have no choice. Ultimately I came here to drive like I have been and I’ve always said, if I’ve performed at my best in these races and I can leave here knowing that I gave it everything and I performed at my best, then I can walk away being proud. Obviously had other things come in the way but managed to battle through all the different types of adversity that I’ve faced this year and I’m really proud of it.

NR: If it’s OK, let’s just do tomorrow’s race first. We’ll see how that goes and then we can talk as much as you want about all these kind of things – but for now I just want to stay focused on tomorrow.

Q: (Jerome Pugmire – Associated Press) Lewis, you mentioned that on the eve of the 2014 title decider, I think you said it was the only time you haven’t slept all night and it was the worst night’s sleep you’d had. You seem very zen, almost chilled and mellow. How are you approaching tomorrow? Are there any nerves or are you just taking it in your stride?

LH: I feel amazing. I’m sitting on pole right now so… I feel energetic, I feel confident, confident of  what I’ve been doing in the car. It’s a much different scenario to 2014. Obviously the reasoning of not being able to sleep then was because I’d worked so hard during the year and again, faced lots of different challenges throughout the year and I had more wins and yet that double points system could have just thrown everything into the wind.

It wasn’t really deserving, so that was really the only thing, and having lost the championship in 2007, knowing what that feels like, so it just played on my mind, but I have everything to gain tomorrow so it’s just the complete opposite in the spectrum  and yeah, super-excited about it.

Q: (Heikki Kulta – Turun Sanomat) Nico, in qualifying, 27 times in a row you have been in the top two without penalties. How would you explain that kind of consistency: 27 times in a row?

NR: I didn’t know that, yeah, of course, sounds good and for sure that’s one of the reasons why I am sitting here at the moment. I’m fighting for the championship at the last race. I’m sure it has been one of the key ingredients. In general, yeah, I’m proud of the season, proud of the season I’ve been able to do until now. It’s been a great year, my best so far but one race to go so let’s see.

Q: (Ysef Harding – Xiro Xone News) Daniel, when we talked yesterday, I asked you are you going to bring it tomorrow? Now you’re right there, behind these guys. Are you going to bring it tomorrow? Are you going to bring some energy? You have surprises. Don’t think about the question, no calculated answer. Are you going to bring it tomorrow?

DR: No. I wasn’t feeling your energy so… I don’t know. We’ll see. The question is, if I bring it tomorrow on track, are you going to bring it tomorrow night?

Q: (Livio Oricchio – GloboEsporte.com) Nico, if there is one moment where you have everything to lose it is at the start of the race. Do you reflect about that? Are you being more conservative? And if you are happy that third on the grid is Daniel instead of Max, in spite of Max’s fair but sometimes aggressive…

NR: Again, it’s something that’s a bit too much thinking. I like to stay on the positive side or on the optimistic side. The whole weekend counts. It’s never easy to try and win a race in F1. So yeah, I just want to keep it simple. Don’t think about what if or all these kind of things you were just mentioning now. That would be the wrong approach to do a good performance tomorrow.

Q: (Dan Knutson – Auto Action and Speed Sport) On a different subject, it looks like there will be standing starts next year after the safety car. What do you guys think about that and there could be a lot of marbles on the line for the drivers?

LH: Marbles where? It shouldn’t be much different to now, I should imagine. Yeah, they should clean it up for the start so generally not marbles there, but I guess for the restart maybe. That would be interesting.

NR: Is it confirmed? Teams agreed to it? Come on, let’s talk about that on Monday, come on, seriously. Afternoon; in the morning I’m not available.

DR: It’s terrible if you’ve got a 40s lead but great if you’re in second place. So, we’ll see. I think it will be… obviously it creates more variability again so if the race is looking a little bit stationary then that could definitely spice it up. There’s pros and cons. I think for fans it’s going to be more exciting.

Hamilton “super excited” with nothing to lose

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In an interview with the media today, Lewis Hamilton says he is “super excited” for the final race of the 2016 Formula 1 season, knowing he has nothing to lose and everything to gain.

The Briton heads into the race starting from pole position knowing he must win, but even that won’t be enough as he needs team-mate Nico Rosberg to encounter trouble and finish fourth or lower, therefore the championship is out of his hands.

In his interview with the media, Hamilton is happy with what he has achieved so far and is happy with how the weekend is shaping up. Hamilton said the following:-

‘It has been a great weekend so far. Today, this weekend, I got the car in the sweet spot and faultless mechanics again.

‘I knew I had pace throughout the rest of the lap. I didn’t overcook it into Turn 1, that was where there was a little bit of time [to gain], otherwise the rest of the lap I had it under control, so maximising those areas.

‘I am sitting on pole here right now. I feel energetic, I feel confident. Having lost the championship in 2007 – I knew what it felt like. But I have everything to gain tomorrow so I am super excited about it.’

No matter the outcome, Hamilton further says in his interview that he will be proud of what he’s achieved this season, with many of his lost points a result of reliability problems rather than driving errors, and knowing he’s done his best is what counts. Hamilton added the following:-

‘I came here to drive like I have been doing. If I perform at my best in these [last few] races I can be here knowing I gave everything and can walk away feeling proud.

‘I have other things coming away but managed to battle through all of the adversity I faced this year and I am proud of it.’

2016 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix Qualifying Review

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But heading into Qualifying, it would seem that Mercedes are looking like the teams to beat heading into the session that look set to gain Pole Position ahead of the race on Sunday. But Ferrari, McLaren, 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, we saw Lewis Hamilton topping the timesheets with a lap time of 1.39.487, Kimi Raikkonen was second, Sebastian Vettel was third, Max Verstappen was fourth, Nico Rosberg was fifth, Sergio Perez was sixth, Nico Hulkenberg was seventh, Daniel Ricciardo was eighth, Felipe Massa was ninth and Jenson Button rounded off the top ten finshers.

At the end of Q1 we lose Daniil Kvyat, Kevin Magnussen, Felipe Nasr, Esteban Ocon, Carlos Sainz Jr and Marcus Ericsson.

In Q2, we saw Hamilton topping the timesheets with a lap time of 1.39.382, Rosberg was second, Raikkonen was third, Verstappen was fourth, Vettel was fifth, Ricciardo was sixth,  Hulkenberg was seventh, Perez was eighth, Massa was ninth and Alonso rounded off the top ten finshers.

At the end of Q2 we lose Valtteri Bottas, Jenson Button, Esteban Gutierrez, Romain Grosjean, Jolyon Palmer and Pascal Wehrlein.

Let the battle for Pole Position begin…

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

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

At the end of Q3, it was Hamilton who secured Pole Position for the Abu Dhabi GP with a lap time of 1.38.755. Rosberg qualified in second place 0.303 seconds behind Hamilton, Ricciardo is in third 0.834 seconds behind Hamilton, Raikkonen is fourth 0.849 seconds behind Hamilton and Vettel is fifth 0.906 seconds behind Hamilton.

Verstappen is sixth 1.063 seconds behind Hamilton, Hulkenberg in seventh 1.746 seconds behind Hamilton, Perez is eighth 1.764 seconds behind Hamilton, Massa is ninth 2.458 seconds behind Hamilton and Alonso rounds off the top ten finishers.

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; even if Hamilton has a challenge on his hands to get a result this weekend.

You cannot discount Ricciardo, Verstappen or Raikkonen 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 kick start their Constructors Championship.

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

But let’s see what happens on the Yas Marina circuit on race day on Sunday…

2016 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix Practice Review

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Lewis Hamilton wins the Brazilian GP ahead of Nico Rosberg in second place and Max Verstappen in third place. Sauber, Williams, Ferrari and Force India all managed to score some much needed points at the event.

This is the last race of the 2016 season and also the last race weekend that Jones on F1 will be covering for at least a year due to myself deciding to focus on my F1 and Formula E coverage for Driving for Pleasure for 2017.

The Yas Marina Circuit is located on Yas Island, about 30 minutes from Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates. Approximately 50,000 spectators can view the action on the circuit from permanent, covered grandstands that protect visitors from the desert sun. It is the only F1 motorsports venue in the world where all of the grandstands are covered.

The Yas Marina Circuit is 5.55 kilometers long and can be split into two smaller tracks of 3.1 kilometers and 2.4 kilometers, which can operate simultaneously where desired. A total of 21 corners with 9 right turns and 12 left turns. The width of the circuit fluctuates from 12-16 meters. The direction is anti-clockwise. The track has a lot of hairpins and long straights and there is few potential overtaking places. The pit lane entry is very challenging, as is the exit, which runs underneath the track in a tunnel.

At 2009 Abu Dhabi Grand prix, for the first time in Formula 1 history, a race was scheduled to start in daylight and end during night-time. The race was started approximately one hour before sunset. The permanent lighting system was turned on from the start of the race to ensure a seamless transition from daylight to dark.

The world’s largest indoor theme park, Ferrari World Abu Dhabi, is also located on Yas Island. The park hosts more than 20 rides and attractions. One of the attractions, Formula Rossa, has the same G force one would feel driving in an F1 car and braking at maximum speed. It is the world’s fastest roller coaster, powered through the 2.07 km track at speeds up to 240 km/h, reaching 0-100 km/h in less than two seconds. It is so intense that passengers have to protect their eyes with goggles.

Practices 1, 2 and 3

The main headline from the Practice sessions is that Mercedes look to have the driver-car package to beat this weekend as weather conditions and tyre management which will test the drivers, teams and the cars throughout Friday and Saturday practice sessions.

Lewis Hamilton tops the timesheets in FP1 and FP2.

Lewis Hamilton tops the timesheets in FP1 and FP2.

Practice 1 saw Lewis Hamilton tops the timesheet with a time of 1.42.869 followed closely by Nico Rosberg with a gap of 0.374 seconds behind, Max Verstappen was in third with a gap of 0.428 seconds behind, Daniel Ricciardo in fourth with a gap of 0.493 seconds behind and Sebastian Vettel in fifth with a gap of 1.136 seconds behind Hamilton.

Sergio Perez was in sixth with a gap of 1.286 seconds behind, Kimi Raikkonen was in seventh with a gap of 1.687 seconds behind, Carlos Sainz Jr was eighth with a gap of 1.816 seconds behind, Felipe Massa was ninth with a gap of 2.170 behind and Marcus Ericsson was tenth with a gap of 2.299 seconds behind Hamilton.

During FP1, Romain Grosjean was unhappy with his Haas and reported that he lost the car three times on left-handers before a spin at Turn 1, which damaged his tyres and ended his session early.

Also Toro Rosso’s Daniil Kvyat was bottom of the timesheets after completing just four laps having had his running cut short when he picked up a left-rear puncture and had to park on track.

Practice 2 saw Hamilton tops the timesheet with a time of 1.40.861 followed closely by Rosberg with a gap of 0.079 seconds behind, Vettel was in third with a gap of 0.269 seconds behind,  Verstappen in fourth with a gap of 0.528 seconds behind and Ricciardo in fifth with a gap of 0.529 seconds behind Hamilton.

Raikkonen was in sixth with a gap of 0.603 seconds behind,  Bottas was in seventh with a gap of 1.098 seconds behind, Perez was eighth with a gap of 1.180 seconds behind, Hulkenberg was ninth with a gap of 1.403 behind and Massa was tenth with a gap of 1.407 seconds behind Hamilton.

During FP2, Toro Rosso drivers Carlos Sainz Jr and Daniil Kvyat completed only nine laps between them and sat out much of the 90-minute session. This followed Daniil Kvyat suffered his second left-rear puncture of the day, having suffered a similar fate in practice one, and spinning at Turn 17.

At the latter part of the session, Vettel suffered a gearbox failure on his Ferrari and had to stop on the track with the marshals safely recovering the car from the circuit.

He returned to the pits, with F1 technical delegate Jo Bauer and the team inspecting Kvyat’s wheel, and neither Toro Rosso returned to the track again.

Sebastian Vettel topped the timesheets in FP3.

Sebastian Vettel topped the timesheets in FP3.

Practice 3 saw Vettel topping the timesheet with a time of 1.40.775 followed closely by Verstappen with a gap of 0.137 seconds behind, Raikkonen was in third with a gap of 0.224 seconds behind,  Hamilton in fourth with a gap of 0.290 seconds behind and Rosberg in fifth with a gap of 0.393 seconds behind Vettel.

Ricciardo was in sixth with a gap of 1.056 seconds behind,  Perez was in seventh with a gap of 1.110 seconds behind, Hulkenberg was eighth with a gap of 1.292 seconds behind, Bottas was ninth with a gap of 1.301 behind and Gutierrez was tenth with a gap of 1.579 seconds behind Vettel.

During FP3, Toro Rosso returned to the track after stopping running in yesterday’s session amid concerns it and the FIA had about safety following two punctures believed to be car-related.

You would be stupid not to bet against the Mercedes drivers of Hamilton and Rosberg to gain pole position again this weekend. As the Mercedes drivers seem to be performing brilliantly at the moment and the momentum is with them from all the track mileage and their strong form from the last race. Vettel, Raikkonen, Ricciardo, or Verstappen also cannot be discounted for the pole also as they are consistently within the top ten places at the moment.

However, I think that Williams, Force India or even McLaren have shown that they could throw themselves into the mix and could qualify well here to be in the hunt for some decent points this weekend. We all look forward to the qualifying session of the Grand Prix with excitement…