Rosberg reigns ahead of Hamilton at Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

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November 29, 2015
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November 29, 2015


Nico Rosberg beat Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton to win the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

The victory was the German’s third in a row, giving him a boost ahead of 2016 after Hamilton won the title last month with three races still to go.

Hamilton tried an off-set race strategy in an attempt to beat his team-mate but Rosberg had sufficient pace in hand.

Kimi Raikkonen finished third, his Ferrari team-mate Sebastian Vettel taking fourth from 15th on the grid.

The result easily secured the Finn fourth place in the championship behind Hamilton, Rosberg and Vettel after Raikkonen started the race a point behind his countryman Valtteri Bottas of Williams.

Hamilton had been determined coming into this final race to try to beat Rosberg and stop the German’s run of five consecutive poles and two wins.

But experimenting with the car’s set-up and tweaking an aspect of the suspension ahead of qualifying backfired and Rosberg beat him to pole by more than 0.3 seconds.

Rosberg built up a five-second lead before his first pit stop on lap 10 but Hamilton came back at him in the second stint, closing the gap to just over a second before Rosberg’s second stop on lap 31 of 55.

Hamilton then rolled the dice – he and engineer Peter Bonnington decided to delay his second stop to enable him to run harder for a shorter distance on his final set of tyres.

The decision was based on Hamilton’s inability to pass Rosberg when following closely behind in the previous two races in Mexico and Brazil.

The idea was to allow Hamilton to have fresher tyres than Rosberg for the closing laps and therefore have a better chance to overtake. Hamilton asked Bonnington before his final stop whether it was worth trying not to stop again and hold off Rosberg if he caught him. But he was told it was a “gamble that I guarantee would not pay off”.

Hamilton made his final stop on lap 41, and rejoined 11.5 seconds behind his team-mate with 14 laps to go. Although the world champion took more than a second off Rosberg on some laps in an initial burst of speed, his gains dropped off as the tyres wore out.

Rosberg was able to measure out his tyre life and pace and comfortably held Hamilton at arm’s length to take his sixth victory of the year to Hamilton’s 10.