Prior to the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix at the Yas Marina Circuit the permutations required made it seem like it would be a ‘cakewalk’ for Nico Rosberg to seal the Formula 1 title. A third place finish regardless of what Mercedes AMG F1 teammate Lewis Hamilton did sounded easy given grand prix racing’s dominant team’s grasp on the front of the F1 grid. But neither Hamilton, Max Verstappen and even Sebastian Vettel had any intention to make things too easy for Rosberg as he attempted to become the 33rd driver in history to be crowned the F1 champion.
In the end however, the German supremely held his nerve while passing Verstappen early in the race and with Hamilton purposely slowing down at the end to try and give Vettel and Verstappen to pass him and put him out of podium contention.
Rosberg, however, resisted a last lap attempt by Vettel to do so, as the former four-time world champion had made his way up the field on super-soft tyres, which included a pass on Verstappen, with whom he has had plenty of history of on-track battles this year.
The end of the 55-lap race around the 5.554km, 21-turn circuit saw the top four of Hamilton, Rosberg, Vettel and Verstappen covered by just 1.685 seconds on account of Hamilton’s tactics of purposely slowing down.
Rosberg was just 0.439 seconds behind Hamilton with Vettel’s Ferrari just 0.404 seconds behind his compatriot and Verstappen’s Red Bull-Tag Heuer (Renault) a further 0.842 seconds behind in fourth place.
Daniel Ricciardo in the other Red Bull was fifth ahead of Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen who finished ahead of the Force India-Mercedes cars of Nico Hulkenberg and Sergio Perez. The result saw the end to a season for Force India where they finished fourth in the constructors’ championship ahead of Williams-Mercedes for whom Felipe Massa was ninth in his last ever F1 race.
It was also the last race in Force India colours for Hulkenberg who will move to Renault next year and also quite possibly the last ever race for McLaren-Honda’s Jenson Button who was forced to retire early in the race after his right-front suspension upright broke while going over a kerb. His teammate Fernando Alonso still managed tenth place, though, as McLaren continued their improvement over 2015.