Lewis Hamilton concluded his 2016 campaign with a 10th race victory as he took the chequered flag after a fiesty end to the Abu Dhabi GP while Nico Rosberg’s P3 handed him his first F1 World title.
It was all about the championship rivals in Abu Dhabi with cameos from Ferrari and Red Bull’s Max Verstappen, both of whom caused a bit of niggle for the Mercedes drivers – especially Rosberg.
Kimi Raikkonen forced Mercedes to have hold Hamilton in his pit box a second longer than wanted as the Finn came down the pit lane. A lap later Sebastian Vettel did the exact same to Rosberg, who was stationary for 4.8s.
They emerged from the first round of stops with Hamilton P1 and Rosberg P3 having been overhauled by Verstappen. The Dutchman was out of sync with the rest after a spin at Turn 1 on the opening lap dropped him to the back of the field.
Rosberg lapped behind Verstappen for 10 laps before being told that it is “critical now that we start passing Verstappen.” It was a heart-in-the-mouth moment as Rosberg and Verstappen went wheel-to-wheel, almost touched, with the German eventually pulling ahead through Turn 11 to run P2 behind Hamilton.
As pit stops played out the Mercedes drivers raced in the 1-2 through to the chequered flag but with 10 to go, it all got a bit fiesty as Hamilton finally did the backing up that was his only shot at the title. He was 1.3s ahead of Rosberg, who had Verstappen 2.5s behind him with Vettel, on his much fresher tyres, just 6 seconds behind the race leader.
Rosberg asked Mercedes to let him through on Hamilton. Mercedes instructed the Brit to up his pace with Hamilton replying: “You should just let us race.” As the laps counted down Rosberg again urged Mercedes to help him through especially as Vettel had overtaken Verstappen for third.
Hamilton was told that it was an “instruction” to up his pace in order to “win this race”. He told Mercedes that he is “actually in the lead right now.”
Onto the final lap Hamilton strolled to the chequered flag, slowing down the field at every corner, but still claimed his 10th win of this season. Rosberg held off Vettel to finish second, taking the 2016 World Championship title.
Verstappen, having done 34 laps on his soft tyres, was unable to get involved and finished P4.
Daniel Ricciardo was fifth ahead of Raikkonen, Nico Hulkenberg and Sergio Perez.
Felipe Massa, in his final grand prix, finished in ninth place while Fernando Alonso took the season’s final point.
Kevin Magnussen’s final grand prix with Renault ended early as he retired with crash damage while Valtteri Bottas also called it quits after reporting that there is “something wrong with the rear damper or something…the car’s bouncing a lot.”
Jenson Button’s last grand prix ended on lap 12 with a suspension failure. “I don’t think we’ve ever had a failure like this,” he said as the crowd gave him a massive cheer as he pulled into the pits to park his McLaren.
Daniil Kvyat added his name to the list of retirees on lap 16 when he parked his STR11. His team-mate Carlos Sainz retired on lap 44 after being hit by Jolyon Palmer with the rear impact damaging his gearbox. Palmer ended his season as the last driver penalised for 2016, handed a five-second penalty for causing the contact.
1 Hamilton Mercedes 1:38.04.013
2 Rosberg Mercedes 0.4
3 Vettel Ferrari 0.8
4 Verstappen Red Bull 1.6
5 Ricciardo Red Bull 5.3
6 Raikkonen Ferrari 18.8
7 Hulkenberg Force India 50.1
8 Perez Force India 58.7
9 Massa Williams 59.4
10 Alonso McLaren 59.8
11 Grosjean Haas 76.7
12 Gutierrez Haas
13 Ocon Manor 1 lap95.1
14 Wehrlein Manor 1 lap
15 Ericsson Sauber 1 lap
16 Nasr Sauber 1 lap
17 Palmer Sauber 1 lap
Did not finish
18 Sainz Toro Rosso gearbox
19 Kvyat Toro Rosso mechanical
20 Button McLaren suspension
21 Bottas Williams rear damper
22 Magnussen Renault crash damage