In F1, the first person you have to beat is your team-mate.
Nico Rosberg 4 – Lewis Hamilton 15
Rosberg convincingly put paid to Hamilton’s pole position chances with two laps better than anything Lewis could manage in Q3. But as everyone always says (but particularly Jenson Button) you don’t get any points for Saturday. Lewis’s fatal flaw could have been a start where he got bogged down (as Bottas did) or where he got jumped by the Genius of Starts, Felipe Massa, but neither happened. In fact as the cars barrelled towards Turn 1 it was Rosberg who came under pressure from Massa while Lewis was clean away.
In the first stint the two cars looked pretty evenly matched, but it’s hard to know whether Hamilton was just biding his time and listening for strange noises behind him. Most of his pit radio messages seemed to be about maintaining a lead with the least exertion of the machinery. That’s how his idol Ayrton would have done it – win by the slimmest margin you can get away with.
Everyone agreed it was the fairest result, that a driver who won 11 races got the Championship win, rather than the driver who got five, but having concentrated so hard on preparing both cars to bullet-proof perfection for Abu Dhabi, Mercedes were exceptionally lucky that the glitch happened to the No.6 car and not the No.44 car, because the other way round would have produced some pretty negative headlines.
Lewis was very fulsome in his praise of God in his post-race interviews. And maybe he was right.
Daniel Ricciardo 14 – Sebastian Vettel 5
Daniel signed off the season with…well… a signature performance. Hard racing, demon overtakes, the fastest lap of the race and another wet fish slapped in the face of his departing team-mate.
Fernando Alonso 16 – Kimi Raikkonen 3
Alonso lost out to Raikkonen in Quailfying for once, but come the race it was back to Groundhog Day. Raikkonen has won at this track before and wasn’t too far behind the man James Allen described as “the Captain Haddock of F1″*. It is one of F1’s super-rich ironies that Ferrari never do well close to Ferrari World.
Jenson Button 15 – Kevin Magnussen 4
Considering he got so little running on Friday, Button hauled his weekend together with the aid of a verboten front wing on the Red Bulls. This meant he could start P6 not P8 and by Turn 1 he was up to P4. Kevin Magnussen lost out in the Qualifying battle, and at season end it was 10-9, but it’s still been a fantastic debut for the Dane. This race was curious, not just from the fact that Kevin couldn’t make progress, just that he was so average in the middle stint on SuperSoft tyres. Too much pressure, too little pressure? Given Magnussen’s overall speed you can’t think that it was the driver.
Valtteri Bottas 9 – Felipe Massa 10
Felipe Massa was indeed “in with a sniff of something high up on the podium” (Allan McNish); his first race win since 2008. And it could have happened. A storming race and one of the season’s best stories, the Williams resurgence is complete. Valtteri Bottas recovered from a poor start to make the podium. Last year he was 15th and Pastor Maldonado was 11th.
Jean-Eric Vergne 9 – Daniil Kvyat 10
Yet another brilliant qualifying performance from Kvyat, and more brilliant on-track duelling from Jean-Eric Vergne in his battle with former team-mate Dan Ricciardo. Surely JEV has done enough to retain his drive for 2015…
Nico Hulkenberg 12 – Sergio Perez 7
A strong race for Hulkenberg and Perez, aided by the perfect strategy for the occasion. The opening lap was full of drama in complete contrast to the rest of the race, but Nico managed to recover from a pretty marginal call for forcing a car off track, to stretch out his lead over his team-mate.
Romain Grosjean 12 – Pastor Maldonado 7
To quote Romain Grosjean “bloody engine”. Grosjean edged Maldonado by fractions in Qualifying, but then had so many engine penalties slung at him he might as well have started the race in Dubai, so it wasn’t an even contest.
Esteban Gutierrez 10 – Adrian Sutil 9
Gutierrez and Sutil finished their Sauber careers as bit-part players in the main event.
Marcus Ericsson 3 – Kamui Kobayashi 13 – Andre Lotterer 1
Kobayashi would have been in big trouble had he been slower than an F1 debutant. But he wasn’t. Fantastic to see Caterham back, though, and you have to say that Finbarr O’Connell would be a great addition to the roster of team principals and far more welcome than Colin Kolles.
Max Chilton 4 – Jules Bianchi 11
Star of the race
Lewis Hamilton 8, Daniel Ricciardo 4, Sergio Perez 2, Jules Bianchi 1, Valtteri Bottas 1, Jenson Button 1, Nico Rosberg 1, Felipe Massa 1
Overtaking Move of the Race
Lewis Hamilton 5, Daniel Ricciardo 3, Jean-Eric Vergne 2, Valtteri Bottas 2, Jenson Button 2, Nico Rosberg 1, Kamui Kobayashi 1, Sebastian Vettel 1, Nico Hulkenberg 1, Fernando Alonso 1
Sat on the Naughty Step
Kevin Magnussen 4, Pastor Maldonado 3, Ecclestone 2 (for suggesting it would be no problem to lose cars off the grid – twice), Max Chilton 2, Christian Horner 1, Kimi Raikkonen 1, Charlie Whiting 1 (safety issues in Germany), Perez 1 (the totting up system), Nico Rosberg 1 (Proving-a-point-gate).
“Willims are hoping they can have a sniff of something high up on the podiumAllan McNish
Jenny Gow “Where are you Allan?”
Allan McNish “I’m actually just entering the second last corner.”
Which considering it was still the middle of free practice was a shock to everyone…
“Historically speaking the tyres work better…and by historically, I mean yesterday.” Allan McNish