Nico Rosberg wins F1 title as Lewis Hamilton wins in Abu Dhabi
Lewis Hamilton of Mercedes found victory at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, the final race on the Formula 1 calendar. Hamilton went from pole to victory in the race, but he also lost the Drivers Championship, as he needed both a win and a poor finish from teammate Nico Rosberg to win the title.
He didn’t get that, as Rosberg finished the race in second place, despite Hamilton intentionally pushing him back into the other cars by slowing his pace. Sebastian Vettel of Ferrari took the third podium place while Max Verstappen of Red Bull took fourth.
Verstappen spun around in the first corner and was sent to the back of the pack. He managed to make it 22 laps on his set of tires, and when he finally did stop, he was firmly in the discussion for one of the podium places. Rosberg’s team communicated to him over the radio that it was critical he pass Verstappen, which he did just before Verstappen broke away for his pit stop.
Hamilton quickly put himself out of DRS range to his teammate, but Rosberg was driving well and kept his pace. Rosberg was held up by Vettel in his pit stop, and he barely came out of the pit lane ahead of Kimi Raikkonen. Had he come out behind Raikkonen, it may have been a huge difference-maker for the Drivers Championship.
Jenson Button of McLaren retired from the race on lap 13 when there was some kind of car failure. Not only did he retire from the race, but this being the final event on the Formula 1 calendar, and this being his final year, he’s retired from the sport. Daniil Kvyat of Toro Rosso retired shortly after with car problems.
Hamilton came in for his second pit stop on lap 29 after being several seconds clear of his teammate. It looked like Hamilton wasn’t going as fast as he could because he wanted to be able to influence the race. But he wasn’t given any significant opportunities to slow Rosberg.
Vettel led the race briefly as he stretched his soft tires to their limit. He then took a pit stop and fit the ultra soft tires to his car, and by lap 51, he was pushing Verstappen for third place. Vettel wound up passing Verstappen with a brilliant move. At that stage, Hamilton was pushing Rosberg far, far back into the cars behind him. Vettel was within DRS range of Rosberg due to Hamilton holding him up purposefully.
Hamilton was instructed by his team to pick up the pace, but it was clear he was going to do no such thing. He continued backing Rosberg up into the other cars, but Vettel was unable to make a push on Rosberg at the end. Hamilton crossed the line first but was unable to win the title.