Rosberg makes it six poles in a row despite old engine

2015 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix qualifying

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Nico Rosberg took his sixth consecutive pole position – and his second in a row in Abu Dhabi – despite running an older engine than his team mate.

It seemed Lewis Hamilton was on course to halt Rosberg’s run of pole positions after heading the first two parts of qualifying, only for his team mate to wrench his grip from the top spot in Q3.

Kimi Raikkonen saw off a challenge from Sergio Perez to take third place after his team mate’s Ferrari dropped out in Q1.


Ferrari were stung in the first part of qualifying as Sebastian Vettel failed to make it into Q2 for only the second time all year. This was despite Ferrari deciding to play it sake and send Vettel out on a set of super-soft tyres having initially sent both drivers out on the harder rubber. Vettel began to push for a lap but backed off – and regretted he had when Jenson Button produced a flying lap in his McLaren which relegated Vettel to 16th.

Fernando Alonso’s hopes of joining his team mate in Q2 were dashed when he picked up a puncture on his last lap, leaving him out. Marcus Ericsson was also stymied by a technical problem and failed to make the cut.

They joined the two Manors in elimination with Will Stevens ahead of Roberto Merhi, although those positions will be reversed on the grid by the former’s grid penalty.

Drivers eliminated in Q1

16Sebastian VettelFerrari1’42.941
17Fernando AlonsoMcLaren-Honda1’43.187
18Marcus EricssonSauber-Ferrari1’43.838
19Will StevensManor-Ferrari1’46.297
20Roberto MerhiManor-Ferrari1’47.434


Hamilton was on top in the second part of qualifying as he had been in the first, lowering his best to a 1’40.758 with Rosberg two-tenths behind him. However the scrap for third place behind them was close: Sergio Perez edged Raikkonen and Daniel Ricciardo with a late effort.

Romain Grosjean’s final qualifying session for Lotus ended in frustration On his first run he was told to pit without changing gears due to a technical problem, and although the team got him out again at the end of the session he came to a halt after just seven corners.

The other Lotus also failed to reach Q3, as did the sole remaining Saubers and McLarens. “Ouch”, Button remarked after being told the gap to Q3 was less than two-tenths of a seconds.

The final driver to miss the cut for Q3 was Max Verstappen, while his team mate progressed to the top ten shoot-out.

Drivers eliminated in Q2

11Max VerstappenToro Rosso-Renault1’42.521
12Jenson ButtonMcLaren-Honda1’42.668
13Pastor MaldonadoLotus-Mercedes1’42.807
14Felipe NasrSauber-Ferrari1’43.614
15Romain GrosjeanLotus-Mercedes


Hamilton couldn’t repeat his pace from the first two sessions at the start of Q3, a steady 1’41.016 handing Rosberg an opportunity which he did not waste. The pair embarked upon their final qualifying runs of the year with Rosberg’s the time to beat.

Hamilton duly produced the fastest time of anyone so far through the middle sector, where two long straights make the greatest demands on engine grunt. But Rosberg, running after his team mate and benefiting from the improving track, was a few thousandths of a second quicker even here.

But it was a blistering run through the stop-start final sequence of corners which clinched it for Rosberg. He took pole by almost four-tenths of a second and that gap could widen if Hamilton is stripped off his fastest time for leaving the track with al four wheels. His second-fastest time would still be good enough for second place in that case, however.

Perez held third after the first runs, which would have been Force India’s best qualifying performance of the year had he not been beaten by Raikkonen on their next runs. Ricciardo held his fifth place ahead of Valtteri Bottas.

Top ten in Q3

1Nico RosbergMercedes1’40.237
2Lewis HamiltonMercedes1’40.614
3Kimi RaikkonenFerrari1’41.051
4Sergio PerezForce India-Mercedes1’41.184
5Daniel RicciardoRed Bull-Renault1’41.444
6Valtteri BottasWilliams-Mercedes1’41.656
7Nico HulkenbergForce India-Mercedes1’41.686
8Felipe MassaWilliams-Mercedes1’41.759
9Daniil KvyatRed Bull-Renault1’41.933
10Carlos Sainz JnrToro Rosso-Renault1’42.708

2015 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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50 comments on “Rosberg makes it six poles in a row despite old engine”

  1. Mega lap to close qualifying for this season, wow!

  2. Rosberg could quite possibly retire with more poles than anyone else apart from Senna/Schumacher/Vettel/Hamilton (he is currently only 11 behind Clark and Prost). For a guy who will probably never win a WDC, that’s pretty impressive.

    1. It shows nothing more but a racecraft weakness. He’s got to change his philosophy for sundays to challenge Lewis.

      1. @antoine-de-paris

        It shows nothing more but a racecraft weakness.

        It shows that he was one of the fastest F1 drivers ever. That’s not nothing.

        1. It most certainly does not show “he is one of the fastest F1 drivers ever”. It shows that he won whatever number of pole positions he ends up having won. Any assertions and conclusions beyond that are baseless.

          1. …Though pole is basically and totally about being the fastest driver in an F1 car, of course. Proper assertion and conclusion. Just not on the race session.

          2. It maybe shows that he has a fast car. Not that he’s faster than 18 drivers, only that he was faster than 1 driver.

  3. Great job from Rosberg. Sure Hamilton is a quick driver but overrated. There are many drivers on the grid given the same machinery that could match him.
    Ricciardo prob the most under rated driver.
    Put him in a merc or Ferrari and he would be unbeatable more often than not.

    1. Like the way VET crushed RIC in the ROC.

      1. Guybrush Threepwood
        28th November 2015, 21:45

        Apparently Johnny Herbert crushed Hamilton in a sand dune buggy event a few days ago, so obviously Herbert must be a better F1 driver than Hamilton.


    2. Hamilton has built a reputation since 2007. I don’t think a few races after he’s already won the championship is going to reverse that, unless you have a very short memory.

      1. I have to inform you that according to 99% of formula 1 fans believe the WDC started in Singapore. ANything that happened before that fails to serve there agendas.

  4. Peppermint-Lemon (@)
    28th November 2015, 14:31

    Good old boy Nico, good effort. Glad Hamilton was beaten again.

  5. WOW!! That pole lap was amazing..I never thought ROS could pull it off after HAM went quicker in his final run.

    1. And by quite a margin too; best part of 4/10ths with a less powerful engine, he must have monstered it through the turns; after all, he did go purple in S2 and S3!

  6. The quality of the coverage was awful today. Far too much emphasis on wide angles to show all the colourful car parks and outlandish architecture surrounding the tarmac and nowhere near enough emphasis on making the cars look dynamic or exciting. Granted it’s pretty tough to make a car look exciting on this pancake of a circuit, but there was a distinct lack of onboards and inspired angles from sector 1, the only place that the cars actually look like proper racing cars on the track.
    In the end, I found it very hard to actually get interested in the session and only Rosberg pulling out a stunner at the end prevented me from falling asleep completely.

    1. And far too many shots of random female members of the crowd (even more than usual). This TV director is more than a little creepy, but perhaps that’s what 70-year-old Rolex wearers like to see (as opposed to seeing F1 cars).

      1. I think the director wanted to highlight the new faces on the pitwall. The lady from SFI I think it’s her first year on the wall and the other lovely lady at RB, who’s not featured that often is also new on the pitwall, I think. Women working on F1 is on the rise and we were coincidently on a modern Muslim country. In the end you are promoting the country, FOM also managed to pick a couple ladies from the marina, add the hotel and the lights and the crowd and you get what Abu Dhabi is trying to sell. Anyhow I agree with you, the coverage for the past 2 qualifying sessions and this session in particular hasn’t been focused in f1 at all, the camera angles, the onboards and the off time made it very little good action for the people that only watch the cars on the weekend.

  7. Alonso, Button and Vettel were faster than you. Again!

    1. Annoying!

      1. @coldfly these guy with his camera only appears to bully Fernando, I’m not his fan, but yes, it has become annoying. I don’t know what Fernando has done to him personally!

        1. Omarr-pepper, it’s more a case of slightly desperate vindictiveness, as if he cannot get through the day without trying to find a reason – however irrational – to attack Alonso in some way or another.

          Setting aside the individual performances of the drivers, it is clear that the SF-15T is a vastly superior package to the MP4/30 – the fact that Vettel is 20mph faster in the speed traps than Alonso rather underlines how pointless the comparison is when the two cars are not even remotely in the same performance bracket.

        2. Ask Piquet Jr. what kind of “sportsman” is your heroe alonso…

          1. Everyone has heard your constant whining about that, why wouldn’t you try to find something more interesting to say, for a change, @jorge-lardone ?

          2. Ask a proven cheat about the sportsmanship of a driver who was almost certainly kept in the dark? That’s like asking a thief to secure your home.

  8. Mega lap from Nico! Especially the final sector was amazing, where he gained 0.3 on Lewis.
    Kimi and Checo did solid jobs too. It’s just a shame that Kimi (or the Ferrari) was too slow in the final sector. He lost 0.6 there, in every session of the weekend. Seems like this twisty last part isn’t suiting the SF15-T. Maybe the tyres get too cold towards the end of the lap.
    Ricciardo did a great lap too. He was just 0.25 off the 2nd row in his RB. Great final sector on his last run, 2nd quickest, just 0.2 slower than the mighty Rosberg.
    Seb was simply too slow on the softs in Q1. Kimi was 0.4 faster than him and the finn isn’t known as a qualy-specialist.
    The team should’ve either called him into the pits earlier or he should’ve completed at least on flying lap on the SS.

    1. ROS is one of the best qualifiers we have right now..but I wouldn’t call him “mighty”. In a few years maybe..if he can keep up.

  9. So the BBC aren’t even showing the post qualifying press conference now?

    1. Was it not on the Red Button? It doesn’t seem to be on the website or the BBC Sport app. I know it wasn’t on TV, because apparently it’s more important to watch two blokes hitting a yellow ball over a net.

  10. ROS is definitely doing something different now..considering the fact that he doesn’t fight for P1 in Q1 & Q2, but still nails Q3, when it matters. Reminds me of Vettel during his Red Bull days, and HAM in ’14.

  11. What effect has reliability had on the championship this year? What would it be like going into this race?

    1. It is hard to tell how exactly the final races would have played out, but if we work with the results we can be reasonably sure about, Rosberg would have still already lost the title before Abu Dhabi.

      Let us take the following retirement list:
      Rosberg: Monza (in 3rd place at the time) and Russia (leading at the time)
      Hamilton: Singapore (4th place at the time, with Rosberg behind him in 5th)

      Now, let us assume that reliability had not played its part in those races and the drivers held those positions to the finish. Rosberg would have therefore gained 25 points from a victory in Russia and another 15 points in Italy, but would have seen his points total in Singapore reduced by two points if Hamilton held onto 4th and demoted Rosberg to 5th – the net gain is therefore 25+15-2 = 38 points.

      Hamilton would have seen his points total reduced by 7 points if he’d finished 2nd in Russia, but would have gained 12 points from a 4th place finish in Singapore, resulting in a net increase of 5 points.

      If we therefore recalculate the points totals, we would have the following sums:
      Hamilton: 368
      Rosberg: 335

      The points difference in that situation would therefore be 33 points – so, even under more favourable circumstances for Rosberg, Hamilton would have already most likely won the title by now.

      1. Pretty much a fair assessment.

        Also interesting that, reliability aside, it would be down to the two muscular starts by Hamilton in JAP and USA, and the Rosberg mistake in USA. Add that 28 points swing to your math and it makes for a really nice what-if exercise about tomorrow.

        1. Wow. That’s interesting. If that had happened and Rosberg won the race in Abu Dhabi, he would have been the champion! Hehe.

  12. Don’t know why my comment was removed? But I will scale my comment down and instead simply ask for the Q3 speed trap figures to be shown for today please.

      1. Very interesting only the McHondas were slower than DanRic who still managed 5th. I think Rosberg is running more wing than Lewis.

  13. I think Lewis may have been distracted by the rap-DJ spinning discs.

    1. Is it really the case that Hamilton is “distracted”, or is it really more of a case of Rosberg performing strongly at circuits where he has tended to perform well?

      In 2014, Rosberg picked up podium positions in Japan, the US, Brazil and Adu Dhabi – all the same circuits where he has managed to pick up four of his pole positions in the tail end of this season, and Hamilton was certainly not taking it easy in the closing races of the 2014 season.

      The gap between Hamilton and Rosberg for qualifying in the 2014 Abu Dhabi GP is almost identical to the performance gap this weekend (0.386s in 2014 and 0.377s today), and given that Hamilton knew that the title was on the line in 2014, he wasn’t holding back in qualifying that year – equally, Rosberg was also able to out qualify Hamilton in Brazil and Abu Dhabi in 2013 as well, and nobody questioned Hamilton’s motivation then either.

      All in all, to say that Rosberg is only getting pole positions because Hamilton is distracted is, if anything, an insult to both drivers. It simply looks more like the characteristics of the circuits at the tail end of the season tend to favour Rosberg’s driving style, at least over a single lap – rather than Hamilton under performing, I think that people are underrating how well Rosberg is performing at those venues.

  14. Nico (Rosberg) is faster than you. Can you confirm you understand that message?

    1. Jorge, is that you?

  15. Maybe both cars were in different engine modes..that might explain the huge gap between them..

  16. Two years = 38 Grandprix

    36 Poles for MGP, 1 for Williams and 1 for SF. Now that is the most dominant for any team car, in not only any one year but in consecutive years as well. The front row lockouts are also a record. RBR 10 – 13 looks mediocre

    1. What about McLaren in 1988 and 1989? They racked up 30 poles in 32 races (a 94% success rate), which was just as dominant as Mercedes are now (95%).

      1. I think you proved his point, in percentages MGP are more dominant. 18/19 vs 15/16. Those years were ultra dominant, but MGP shades it due to longer season. Think it was also a good point that these cars have a much greater advantage than RBR ever did. RBR great cars, but never “dominant” in two consecutive years, 2010 they were the best car, but not by much (11 other teams were on front row and 4 others got poles), 2012 the McLaren was statistically the fastest car.

        One must look at reliability as well, Renault had many alternator and engine DNFs in 2010 -2013, that evened up things. Think on SKY they were saying that not one MERC customer has taken a single PU related penalty yet, that’s astonishing. Yes, CAN last year and this year ROS lost an engine in ITA, but he was running it past it’s operating life. Even his Pole, old engine he is still quicker than 3rd by some margin.

  17. One thing from the Spanish broadcast: Roberto complained that Vettel blocked him in his Q1 last lap. Of course, no sanction for Sebastian was even discussed anywhere.

    Btw, Sainz edged Max 10 to 9 in qualifying. Not bad.

    1. @cuesta I think STR has the most even pair nowadays.

  18. Brilliant performance by Rosberg! Six poles in a row! Despite an old and under-powered engine!
    Big shame for Vettel though.

    What to watch-out for:
    1. Vettel’s charge through the field.
    If their is anyone who can win a race from the back of the field, its Sebastian Vettel. Winning is probably out of the question but a podium is very possible! Vettel has a lot of Super Soft tyres remaining so i think Vettel might attempt a 3 Stop Strategy?

    2. The Firy Mexican
    On Friday i believed that his pace was Not Real but i was proved wrong! I can see Perez trying to do something very different from the others!
    A 1 Stopper? – Possible, but Unlikely (But if anyone can make a one stop work, it’s Sergio Perez, he’s done it many times before. And i am sure they will atleast try a 1 stopper?
    Watch out for Perez at the Start! He’s made a few good starts this year!

    3. Can Raikkonen challenge the Mercedes?
    Is this going to be a straight Mercedes fight or can Kimi Raikkonen make it a 3 way fight. If Raikkonen and get a good start and possibly jump 1 or even both of the Mercedes, we have a great race!
    But to me i dont think that Kimi has the pace to challenge the Mercedes?

    4. A point for Button and McLaren?
    If they can manage it, it would be a nice way to end the year!

    5. Can Rosberg make it 3 in a row?

    1. Ros (Pole)
    2. Ham
    3. Per
    4. Vet (FL)
    5. Rai
    Jenson Button – 9th

    Over to you? any thoughts on what may happen?

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