Lewis Hamilton took a straightforward victory in the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix yesterday, securing his second world title in the process.
For the 11th time this season, Hamilton was beaten to pole position by his Mercedes teammate and title rival, Nico Rosberg. Hamilton was fastest in the first two sessions, but a couple of errors on his last attempt at pole relegated him to second on the grid.
Williams pair Valtteri Bottas and Felipe Massa started third and fourth. Daniil Kvyat put in his best qualifying performance of the season in seventh, which must have assured the bosses at Red Bull they have done the right thing, partnering the young Russian with Daniel Ricciardo next season.
Speaking of Red Bull, Ricciardo and Vettel set the fifth and sixth fastest times respectively. But their new front wings were deemed illegal, forcing the team to change them whilst in parc ferme. Since no work is allowed on the cars in parc ferme, the pair’s times were disallowed. They started from the pit lane as a result.
With Red Bull’s exclusion, everyone behind moved up two spots; Kvyat to fifth, followed by Jenson Button, Kimi Raikkonen, Fernando Alonso, Kevin Magnussen and Jean-Eric Vergne. Debuting Brit Will Stevens lined up 18th.
With 17 points separating Hamilton and Rosberg in the championship standings, Nico needed to win with Lewis no better than third. That prospect went out of the window when the lights went out at the start of the race.
Hamilton got a perfect getaway and shot past Rosberg, who bogged down and struggled to get going. Hamilton opened his lead over Rosberg to 2.7 seconds by the time he pitted on lap 10.
As the stops cycled through, Hamilton held his margin, but it was all over on lap 23 when Rosberg’s energy recovery system failed. Lacking over 160bhp for a third of the lap, he gradually slipped back through the field.
Brake issues compounded Rosberg’s problems. His engineer told him to retire the car two laps from the end, put he valiantly pushed on to the end, crossing the line a lap down in 14th place.
It was a poor end to a championship-quality year. Five wins and ten second place finishes is a fine return, and let’s not forget Rosberg comprehensively out-qualified the man most believe to be the fastest over a single lap.
The troubles on the other side of the garage prompted Hamilton’s engineers to switch his car to conservative settings, so the rest of the race became an exercise in winning as slowly as possible.
Ten laps from home, second-placed Massa was closing Hamilton down, but deteriorating tyres stymied his progress. He crossed the line two and-a-half seconds in arrears.
Bottas made it a double podium finish for Williams, helping the team secure third in the Constructors’ Championship. Ricciardo made fantastic progress through the field after his pit lane start, finishing fourth.
Jenson Button finished fifth in what could be his last Formula 1 race – he was spied later on chatting with his McLaren team boss, Ron Dennis.
The two Force Indias of Nico Hilkenberg and Sergio Perez were sixth and seventh, ahead of Vettel and Alonso, both in their last race for their teams. Raikkonen rounded out the top ten.
Hamilton’s triumph makes him the fourth British driver to take multiple championships. He joins Graham Hill (’62, ’68), Jim Clark (’63, ’65) and Jackie Stewart (’69, ’71, ’73).
He’s also the first works Mercedes champion since Juan Manuel Fangio took back-to-back titles in ’54 and ’55. And his tally of 11 wins in a season is only bettered by Michael Schumacher and Sebastian Vettel.
There will be much to discuss over the winter. Hamilton has a contract to negotiate, McLaren and Ferrari have to announce their drivers, and there are the on-going arguments about costs. Only Motors will keep you abreast of the developments.
The 2015 season kicks off in Australia on 15 March. For more information click here.
Abu Dhabi Grand Prix results after 55 laps
- Lewis Hamilton — Mercedes — 1h39m02.619s
- Felipe Massa — Williams-Mercedes — +2.576s
- Valtteri Bottas — Williams-Mercedes — +28.880s
- Daniel Ricciardo — Red Bull-Renault — +37.237s
- Jenson Button — McLaren-Mercedes — +1m00.334s
- Nico Hulkenberg — Force India-Mercedes — +1m02.148s
- Sergio Perez — Force India-Mercedes — +1m11.060s
- Sebastian Vettel — Red Bull-Renault — +1m12.045s
- Fernando Alonso — Ferrari — +1m25.813s
- Kimi Raikkonen — Ferrari — +1m27.820s
- Kevin Magnussen — McLaren-Mercedes — +1m30.376s
- Jean-Eric Vergne — Toro Rosso-Renault — +1m31.947s
- Romain Grosjean — Lotus-Renault — +1 lap
- Nico Rosberg — Mercedes — +1 lap
- Esteban Gutierrez — Sauber-Ferrari — +1 lap
- Adrian Sutil — Sauber-Ferrari — +1 lap
- Will Stevens — Caterham-Renault — +1 lap
- Kamui Kobayashi — Caterham-Renault — DNF (Vibration)
- Pastor Maldonado — Lotus-Renault — DNF (Power unit)
- Daniil Kvyat — Toro Rosso-Renault — DNF (Power unit)
Drivers’ Championship standings after 19 races
- Lewis Hamilton — Mercedes — 384 points
- Nico Rosberg — Mercedes — 317
- Daniel Ricciardo — Red Bull-Renault — 238
- Valtteri Bottas — Williams-Mercedes — 186
- Sebastian Vettel — Red Bull-Renault — 167
- Fernando Alonso — Ferrari — 161
- Felipe Massa — Williams-Mercedes — 134
- Jenson Button — McLaren-Mercedes — 126
- Nico Hulkenberg — Force India-Mercedes — 96
- Sergio Perez — Force India-Mercedes — 59
- Kevin Magnussen — McLaren-Mercedes — 55
- Kimi Raikkonen — Ferrari — 55
- Jean-Eric Vergne — Toro Rosso-Renault — 22
- Romain Grosjean — Lotus-Renault — 8
- Daniil Kvyat — Toro Rosso-Renault — 8
- Pastor Maldonado — Lotus-Renault — 2
- Jules Bianchi — Marussia-Ferrari — 2
- Adrian Sutil — Sauber-Ferrari — 0
- Marcus Ericsson — Caterham-Renault — 0
- Esteban Gutierrez — Sauber-Ferrari — 0
- Max Chilton — Marussia-Ferrari — 0
- Kamui Kobayashi — Caterham-Renault — 0
- Will Stevens — Caterham-Renault — 0
- Andre Lotterer — Caterham-Renault — 0
Manufacturers’ Championship standings after 19 races
- Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team — 701 points
- Infiniti Red Bull Racing — 405
- Williams Martini Racing — 320
- Scuderia Ferrari — 216
- McLaren Mercedes — 181
- Sahara Force India F1 Team — 155
- Scuderia Toro Rosso — 30
- Lotus F1 Team — 10
- Marussia F1 Team — 2
- Sauber F1 Team — 0
- Caterham F1 Team — 0
Images courtesy of: McLaren; Red Bull Racing; Caterham F1