Grand Prix of Abu Dhabi – Race

Hamilton is on pole, with Rosberg P2. Overtaking chances are limited, so if ROS finishes just behind HAM he’ll be World Champion. But how will it play out in Abu Dhabi?

HAM was quicker than ROS in each Qualifying session. Provisional grid: HAM, ROS, RIC, RAI, VET, VES, HUL, PER, ALO, MAS, BOT, BUT, GUT, GRO, PAL, WEH, KVY, MAG, NAS, OCO, SAI, ERI.

5 minutes to the start of the race; air temperature 26°C, track 29°C but it’ll drop as the sun sets.
Zero chance of rain, given the circuit is in a desert!

HAM leads everyone away on the formation

01/55: Clean start; HAM stays ahead of ROS in to Turn 1
Contact in the second turn – VES spins
PER attacking teammate HUL

02: HAM, ROS, RAI, RIC, VET, HUL, PER, ALO, MAS, BOT, PAL, BUT, KVY
MAG pits – new nose cone
RAI closing on ROS

03: HAM fastest lap 1:46.846
DRS enabled
VES fighting back after his spin – he’s P16
Side by side with GRO but the Haas is faster than the Red Bull in a straight line

04: HAM f/lap 1:46.339
Replay of the start – VES touched HUL as VES tried to recover from a poor start

05/55: HAM, ROS, RAI, RIC, VET, HUL, PER, ALO, BOT, MAS, PAL, BUT, KVY, VES, NAS, GUT, GRO, OCO, SAI, WEH, ERI, MAG
HAM f/lap 1:46.292
VES inside KVY to take P13 from the driver whose Red Bull seat VES took earlier in the season
Radio for MAG – have to retire the car

06: MAG pits, retires
Radio for BOT telling him to drive into the garage so they can look at the vibration issue

07: HAM f/lap 1:46.191
BOT, SAI and WEH all pit
VES past PAL for P10
Radio for HAM – box, box

08: HAM pits; soft tyres; has to wait as RAI passes the Mercedes box; rejoins P7 just ahead of VES
RAI pits, as do ALO, PAL and NAS
Radio for ROS – box, box

09: ROS pits; clean stop but has to wait as VET is passing the box; rejoins P5 behind VES
RIC f/lap 1:46.129

10/55: RIC pits to switch from super softs to softs; rejoins inches behind RAI
ROS making a move on VES but the Red Bull defends P2

12: Looks like a front right suspension failure for BUT

13: BUT pits, retires from his 305th and last Grand Prix
Sky Sports commentators begging the McLaren mechanics to fix his car and send BUT out, even if it’s just for the last few laps

14: Radio for ROS telling him to look after his front right tyre

15/55: HAM f/lap 1:46.107
HAM, VES, ROS, RAI, RIC, VET, HUL, PER, MAS, GRO, ALO, OCO, ERI, PAL, GUT, KVY, SAI, NAS, WEH; retirements: BUT, BOT, MAG

16: KVY is coasting; parks the Toro Rosso off the racing line

17: ALO lining up GRO; makes a move and takes P10

18: Radio for HAM – tyres temps front and rear are low

19: ROS is staying a little back from VES – he will still be World Champion if he finishes P3
RIC dives inside RAI; outbrakes himself; RAI keeps P4 but now VET is closing on RIC
Radio for ROS telling him to get on with passing VES
Radio for VES discussing his tyres

20/55: HAM, VES, ROS, RAI, RIC, VET, HUL, PER, MAS, ALO, GRO, OCO, ERI, GUT, PAL, SAI, NAS, WEH
ROS looks for a way round VES
VES defends but ROS makes a clean pass to take P2

21: Radio from VES talking about tyre damage; told to stay out a bit longer

22: ROS f/lap 1:46.022
VES pits; soft tyres – theoretically possible to go to the end of the race on them; rejoins P8
Radio for ROS telling him next couple of laps are critical as (they expect) VES is going to the end

23: ROS f/lap 1:45.975 – that’s 0.2s faster than HAM

24: ROS f/lap 1:45.942
RIC still the filling in a Ferrari sandwich

25/55: ROS f/lap 1:45.911
RIC pits from P4; more soft tyres; rejoins P8
VES closing on PER

26: RAI pits from P3; more softs; rejoins P8 behind RIC
VES dives inside PER and takes P5

27: ROS f/lap 1:45.822
GRO tries to pass SAI; a touch of wheels; GRO cuts the corner
RIC is all over the rear of PER, and RAI is right on the tail of RIC
RIC makes a move and PER gives up P5
PER fights back but RIC keeps P5
PER pits

28: VES f/lap 1:45.361
Radio for HAM – box, box

29: HAM pits; good stop; soft tyres again
Radio for ROS – box, box
RIC f/lap 1:45.058

30/55: ROS pits; more softs; rejoins P3, but VET will need to pit soon
RIC f/lap 1:44.889

31: MAS pits; rejoins P10 – he’s battling ALO for P10 in the Drivers’ Championship

32: Radio for HAM asking why he’s so slow! “Currently unsafe to VET”; no reply from HAM

33: Radio from HAM asking “how’s this pace?”; “we’d be happier with 1:45.3”
HAM posts personal f/lap 1:45.326

34: ROS is 1.1sec behind HAM
No sign of VET pitting – is he planning on going to the end? Or a late stop for ultra softs?

35/55: VET, HAM, ROS, VES, RIC, RAI, HUL, ALO, PER, MAS, GRO, GUT, ERI, NAS, OCO, PAL, SAI, WEH; retirements: KVY, BUT, BOT, MAG

36: Radio from VET – “these tyres are really starting to go now”
PER takes P8 from ALO

37: Debris on track after OCO and NAS make contact

38: VET pits; new super softs; rejoins P6
OCO and NAS both pit after their collision

39: RIC is 0.1sec/lap faster than teammate VES
PAL inside ERI for P13
SAI dives past ERI too

40/55: HAM, ROS, VES, RIC, RAI, VET, HUL, PER, MAS, ALO
VET f/lap 1:44.094
ERI pits – that’s his first stop!
HAM closing on the SAI/PAL battle to lap them

41: VET passes teammate RAI for P5 – VET is on fresher tyres, so he might be able to catch the Red Bulls

42: Radio from HAM asking for the times of other cars
SAI dives inside PAL for P13, just as they’re about to be lapped by VES
RIC is held up a little
Contact – both SAI and PAL off track; both recovering

43: PAL dives into the pits
Replay shows PAL locked up and ran into the back of SAI
Incident involving SAI and PAL under investigation – causing a collision
SAI is coasting round; he’s trying to stay off the racing line

44: VET f/lap 1:43.729
Radio from SAI – gearbox problem
Radio for HAM – need to pick up the pace; VET imminent threat; need high 1:44
SAI parks the Toro Rosso

45/55: HAM, ROS, VES, RIC, VET, RAI, HUL, PER, MAS, ALO, GRO, GUT, WEH, OCO, ERI, NAS, PAL; retirements: SAI, KVY, BUT, BOT, MAG
5sec penalty for PAL
HAM still trying to slow ROS enough for the Red Bulls and/or Ferrari to attack him

46: VET has almost caught RIC
RIC defends but VET has DRS and takes P4
If VET keeps P4, he’ll finish P4 in the Drivers’ Championship ahead of VES

47: Radio for HAM – “this is an instruction, we need 45.1 for the win”; HAM replies “I suggest you let us race”
Radio for RIC – “we’ll catch Max (VES) and the Mercedes at this pace”
Radio from ROS complaining “This is really slow pace; he’s quick in sector 1 so it’s difficult for me” – awww, poor thing
ROS suggests “maybe we can swap” – yeah, right!

48: Radio for VES encouraging him to keep pushing

49: VET now closing on VES

50/55: HAM, ROS, VES, VET, RIC, RAI, HUL, PER, MAS, ALO
HAM posting 1:45.9 – not exactly the 1:45.1 he was told to do
VET looking for a mistake from VES

51: VET has DRS now to help him attack VES
VES defending well
VET makes a great pass – cleanly takes P3
Radio from Paddy Lowe to HAM telling him to pick up the pace – “this is an instruction”; HAM replies “I’m actually in the lead right now, quite comfortable”
OCO and WEH, the two Manors, getting a bit pushy over P13

52: HAM dropping his pace to 1:46.2
VET closing on ROS
Radio for ROS reminding him he’ll still win the Championship if he’s P3

53: HAM continues to hold up ROS and let VET get almost within striking distance
Radio from HAM – “right now I’m losing the world championship so I’m not really bothered if I win or lose this race” — not clever Lewis!

54: VET makes his first move and ROS defends
HAM drops his pace even more

55/55 = final lap: Radio for ROS reminding him again that he only needs P3

HAM takes the chequered flag for the race win
ROS is P2 and World Champion
VET and VES very close behind

Provisional result: HAM, ROS, VET, VES, RIC, RAI, HUL, PER, MAS, ALO; GRO, GUT, OCO, WEH, ERI, NAS, PAL
DNF: SAI, KVY, BUT, BOT, MAG

MAS doing doughnuts 🙂
Radio from MAS – “thank you guys, I will never forget”
ROS now does doughnuts on the grid, and stops his Mercedes there instead of heading to parc ferme

ROS climbs through the pit wall fencing and lots of congratulations
ROS picks up Bernie and gives him a hug
They have to remind him to get weighed
HAM acknowledges ROS but no real congratulations
ROS and VET talking in German, cutting out HAM again

HAM takes the top stop but it’s ROS who’s happier, even if he does talk through his anthem
ROS is given the constructor’s trophy by mistake – has to swap it

David Coulthard asking the podium questions
HAM very grateful to the team; congratulates ROS
ROS says the last few laps were really tough – “not the most enjoyable race I have ever had”
VET – DC asks “where have you been?”; VET congratulates his team and says they’ve faced lots of criticism this year
HAM – “I did everything I could in those last 4 races”
ROS holding back the tears as he thanks the Mercedes team and his family

More celebrations back in the pre-podium room, including a selfie stick
ROS invites VET into the photo but not HAM

Sky Sports interview Paddy Lowe – “you don’t know the car’s pace if you’re not in it”
Johnny Herbert grilling Paddy – “why are you trying to dictate the racing?”

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