Nico Rosberg claimed his first world title after a brilliant finale, in which Lewis Hamilton tried to back him up into the onrushing Vettel.
From pole, Hamilton got off to a good start. Crucially, the championship leader Rosberg also got off to a good start and remained 2nd. All he needed was to finish on the podium to secure the world championship. Unfortunately for Hamilton, one of the main contenders Verstappen span and was down to 16th. Raikkonen jumped Ricciardo who started on the super soft tyres.
The race then settled down. Hamilton had around a 1 second gap ahead of Rosberg, clearly not going at full speed. Raikkonen, however, was not getting close enough to make a move on Rosberg. After a lap 1 collision, Kevin Magnussen became the first retiree of the race. On lap 7, race leader Hamilton came in for the soft tyre. He just got out ahead of Verstappen who was still on his original set of super softs.
On the next lap, Rosberg came in. Sadly for him, Vettel was a few seconds behind and therefore had to wait for him to enter his box. This very nearly proved costly for the German but he stayed ahead of Raikkonen, but behind Verstappen. Rosberg then tried to make the move on Verstappen but he couldn’t quite do it.
In his final race of his career, Jenson Button sadly had to retire from the race. A wonderful career including a stunning world title in 2009.
Suddenly, the top 5 were covered by just 3 seconds. It had emerged that Verstappen was in fact on a 1 stop so the order was Hamilton, Verstappen, Rosberg, Raikkonen, Ricciardo. Lower down, Kvyat and Bottas were out of the race while Alonso passed Ocon to move into 10th.
The whole race seemed to stop when Rosberg went down the inside of Verstappen. Max fought back but Nico got clear, making what would be a big move for his championship hopes. 2 laps later, Verstappen came into the pits for his 1 and only stop. Rosberg then went on a surge of fastest laps to remove any possibility of an undercut from the Dutchman.
Ricciardo, and Raikkonen 1 lap later followed him in. Amazingly, Ricciardo used the undercut to perfection, he was behind Verstappen but ahead of Raikkonen. Max swiftly moved passed Perez for 5th and on lap 28, Hamilton came in for his final stop onto the soft tyre. Rosberg followed the next lap and came out in 3rd, easily ahead of Verstappen. Out in front, Vettel was still out on 1 pit stop.
Keeping Rosberg just outside the DRS zone, Hamilton started to use tactics. He was extremely slow in sector 3, the twisty section backing Rosberg up. When it got to sector 1, he burst clear and didn’t allow Rosberg to get DRS. Vettel came in for the pits for super-soft tyres and wasn’t as far behind the lead as he could have been. Then, he went on a supreme charge of fastest laps and quickly closed down the Red Bull’s after being let through by teammate Raikkonen.
Just after being lapped, Palmer and Sainz collided which ended up with Palmer getting a 5 second penalty.
The radio messages to Hamilton started coming in. After being told to set laps in the high 1 minute 44’s, he declined to do so and set high 1 minute 45’s. Rosberg was getting very frustrated behind. Vettel made a lovely move past Ricciardo and set about catching the top 3.
With 5 laps to go, Hamilton, Rosberg and Verstappen were separated by 2 seconds with Vettel closing fast. The pace was now very slow, tip toe pace through the final sector. Vettel then made a daring pass on the inside of rival Verstappen into 3rd.
Hamilton was getting very frustrated with the radio calls from his team to speed up. He knew that he needed to get Rosberg into 4th place and going at full speed was not going to do that. We went onto the final lap with Vettel within DRS of Rosberg. However, he couldn’t make the move.
Crossing the line to win his 4th in a row and 10th win in 2016, Lewis Hamilton won the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. However, teammate Nico Rosberg crossed the line in 2nd to claim his first world title by just 5 points. Emotional scenes followed for the German, who followed in his father’s footsteps.
Hamilton was gracious in defeat, and looks onto next season to try and claim his 4th world title.
Lower down, in his final race Massa finshed 9th. Force India secured a brilliant 4th in the constructors by finishing 7th and 8th. In their final race as teammates, Ocon finished ahead of Wehrlein.
So, after one of the most exciting seasons in recent memory, Nico Rosberg came out on top. Despite having more mechanical problems, a lot of credit has to be given to runner up Lewis Hamilton who won 10 races to Nico’s 9. Ricciardo had a brilliant season and finished 3rd. One of the stories of the season was Max Verstappen. Winning his debut Red Bull race, he provided a brilliant level of excitement that F1 may have been lacking.
- Sainz (DNF)
- Kvyat (DNF)
- Button (DNF)
- Bottas (DNF)
- Magnussen (DNF)
- Rosberg 385
- Hamilton 380
- Ricciardo 256
- Vettel 212
- Verstappen 204
- Raikkonen 186
- Perez 101
- Bottas 85
- Hulkenburg 72
- Alonso 54
Featured Image: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/formula-1/2016/11/27/abu-dhabi-grand-prix-2016-live-lewis-hamilton-vs-nico-rosberg/