The Abu Dhabi Grand Prix was not a winner-take-all event, Lewis Hamilton needed help if he was ever going to wrest the title from his teammate, Nico Rosberg, who held a 12-point lead heading into the season’s final race.
Lewis knew that a podium finish for Rosberg was going to cost him the title and while reliability issues with his own car earlier in the season may have been the reason he was trailing in points; he wasn’t banking on Nico’s car having issues as it has been relatively bullet-proof all season long. Hamilton needed help from the Red Bull or Ferrari cars to win the title and he tried his best to keep Rosberg in the clutches of the competition.
While Lewis Hamilton secured his 53rd race victory and tried his best to back his teammate up into the clutches of Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel, Nico Rosberg managed to stay in second place and secure his first world driver’s championship just as his dad had done 34 years ago making him them second father/son champions behind Graham and Damon Hill. Vettel came in third to complete the podium.
Win A win for Nico Rosberg who secures his first title despite efforts of his teammate to keep him in constant threat from either Red Bull or Ferrari. Nico managed his race and his car to take second and just as he had done all year, he took it a race at a time and played the long game looking for pace, car sympathy, resource management and damage limitation. All metrics a head’s up driver uses to maximize his results. He won the Drivers Championship by five points.
A win for Lewis Hamilton who did everything he could to claw the title away from his teammate. Lewis won the race and aggressively backed his teammate up into competitive traffic where anything can happen and nearly did with a charging Ferrari of Sebastian Vettel. Lewis knew he needed help and did the best job he could, even ignoring team directives to pick up the pace, to alter Nico’s race and get him dislodged from the podium.
A win for Ferrari and Sebastian Vettel for their podium result and head’s up performance in strategy and driving from the 4-time world champion. Vettel had the pace but also understood the situation and wasn’t going to ruin the race and title aspirations of his countryman by colliding with him in the waning laps of the race. Had it been Max Verstappen behind Rosberg, perhaps things would have ended differently.
A win for Force India by securing 7th and 8th giving them a massive constructor’s championship points haul which secured 4th in the championship standings. That’s worth millions of dollars in Formula 1 and the team did a fantastic job all season long beating Williams F1.
A win for both Felipe Massa and Fernando Alonso by finishing in the points. What better way to end a career than by giving Williams a point finish and closing the chapter on the Felipe Massa era? For Alonso, another points finish in a car that has conspired to work against him all season is yet another sign the Spaniard is still one of the best in the business.
A big win for Sauber who held off the Manor Racing cars to secure 10th in the constructor’s title race which means millions in prize money for a team that desperately needs it.
Fail A fail for Toro Rosso who had more tire issues this weekend and a dual retirement in the grand prix. Admittedly it was the clouting Carlos Sainz received from Renault’s Jolyon Palmer that ended his race but to be fair, it was a relatively ragged race up to that point anyway.
A fail for McLaren’s Jenson Button who ended his race with a damaged front right wheel suspension after running over the larger orange curbing. Not a successful way to end your career with a DNF but then again, David Coulthard did the same in Brazil and he’s still as loved as Button will be in the coming years.
A fail for Jolyon Palmer who ran up the backside of Carlos Sainz ruining the Spaniards race. Palmer looked good early in the race but drifted backwards over the balance with worn tires finishing last in the official classification.
A fail for Williams F1 and Valtteri Bottas who ended their race early with a suspected rear suspension issue.
WTH A WTH moment for the Manor drivers who were clashing with each other and others in a race that had a decent amount of attrition and this could have been their chance to score some points to re-claim 10th in the constructors’ championship.
It will be interesting to see if anything is said about Lewis Hamilton ignoring team orders to pick the pace up. The team said they would pit Lewis early if they felt he was backing Nico Rosberg. Team boss Toto Wolff didn’t look too pleased after the race and one wonders if that was due to Hamilton’s blatant disregard of team instructions or his missing the world title. Regardless, you would expect Lewis to try every trick in the book and surely his backing Rosberg up couldn’t have been a surprise nor would his ignoring team instruction.
Final Drivers' Championship: POS DRIVER POINTS 1 Nico Rosberg 385 2 Lewis Hamilton 380 3 Daniel Ricciardo 256 4 Sebastian Vettel 212 5 Max Verstappen 204 6 Kimi Raikkonen 186 7 Sergio Perez 101 8 Valtteri Bottas 85 9 Nico Hulkenberg 72 10 Fernando Alonso 54 11 Felipe Massa 53 12 Carlos Sainz 46 13 Romain Grosjean 29 14 Daniil Kvyat 25 15 Jenson Button 21 16 Kevin Magnussen 7 17 Felipe Nasr 2 18 Jolyon Palmer 1 19 Pascal Wehrlein 1 20 Stoffel Vandoorne 1 21 Esteban Gutierrez 0 22 Marcus Ericsson 0 23 Esteban Ocon 0 24 Rio Haryanto 0