Nico Rosberg won the final race of 2015 in Abu Dhabi today ahead of teammate Lewis Hamilton and Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen.
The Mercedes driver was unflappable, taking his third straight race win in the desert for the team despite struggling with tyre graining. Hamilton was looking to challenge Rosberg’s lead in the latter stages of the race, however with the team concerned over tyre wear they elected to extend his second stint on the Soft tyre in order to do the last couple of laps again on the Soft, instead of switching to the Super Soft.
The two-stop proved to be a popular strategy amongst teams, although there were varying combinations of how it could be done. Rosberg went for the more conventional method, whilst Vettel went for the wildcard route and reversed the strategy by switching to the Super Softs towards the end. That turned out to be a crucial decision for Ferrari, as it meant he could maintain the gap to Raikkonen who finished third having employed a similar strategy to Mercedes, whilst finishing ahead of Force India’s Sergio Perez.
In the midfield we saw some scraps for position between Daniel Ricciardo, Nico Hulkenberg and Felipe Massa. The trio of drivers were all trying to undercut each other during the pitstop phase, however it looked like Ricciardo’s move on Hulkenberg in the opening stages of the race enabled him to stay ahead and not lose track position during the pitstop phase.
Dramas in the race include a first-lap collision between Fernando Alonso and Pastor Maldonado, when the McLaren driver nerfed into the side of the Lotus and broke its rear suspension. The stewards later ruled that Alonso was at fault, despite him arguing that he was tipping into the air by Felipe Nasr which he claims made him lose control over the team radio.
Other dramas include a coming together between the other McLaren driver Jenson Button and Williams’ Valterri Bottas. The Fin was released from his pit into the path of Button, who was pulling into his pit box when the right rear caught his front wing and caused significant damage. The stewards found the Williams driver at fault, adding insult to injury by giving him a five-second penalty when he rejoined the next lap with a new front wing. He ended up 13th behind Button.
Max Verstappen was also given a five-second time penalty and two penalty points on his Super Licence for overtaking Jenson Button off track in the last quarter of the race. The Toro Rosso driver also messed up his pit strategy in the second stint when he destroyed his tyres heading into the heavy braking zone of turn eight, forcing him to pit earlier than he wanted to.
The Toro Rosso duo seemed to be passing Sauber’s all race, with Sainz finishing ahead just outside the points in 11th, whilst Verstappen finished in 16th after switching to the Super Soft in the latter stages of the race and suffering similar graining problems.
Finally it was a good final race for Romain Grosjean, who finished 9th in his final race for Lotus. He also finished the race on the Super Soft tyre, although lost out in the final stint due to the graining the tyre suffered from, although still kept a healthy gap to Massa at the chequered flag.