Rosberg denies Hamilton a winning end to his championship year

2015 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix review

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Lewis Hamilton had already won the war in 2015 by clinching the championship.

But as the season came to a close his team mate Nico Rosberg was winning the battles: the season-closing Abu Dhabi Grand Prix was his third consecutive race victory.

Bottas hits trouble early on

Start, Yas Marina, 2015
Rosberg easily held his advantage at the start
The two Mercedes lined up on the front row just as they had 12 months ago, when a sluggish getaway from Rosberg put Hamilton on a course for victory and the championship. But this time it was Hamilton who started slowly. His team had urged him to point his car to the right from his grid slot in order to get onto the grippier side more quickly, but even so he found himself having to fend off Kimi Raikkonen’s third-place Ferrari.

But even once that was done Hamilton could only watch his team mate edge away. On Friday Rosberg had been able to make the super-soft tyre work far better than his team mate, and little seemed to have changed since then. Fortunately for Hamilton both would discard it after a single stint.

Rosberg and Hamilton, along with the pursuing Raikkonen, remained on the super-softs for a few laps longer than most of the other drivers who used it for the first stint. Ninth-placed Daniil Kvyat was the first of the two-stopping drivers to come in, Red Bull as usual playing to their strength in being able to make the tyres last over the longer subsequent stints.

The cars ahead of him followed over the next laps, and on the eighth tour Valtteri Bottas was among those in. The Williams driver was outmanoeuvred by his rivals at the start and fell to tenth place, but it was this pit stop which truly ruined his race. His crew sent him out just as Jenson Button was arriving, the pair collided and Bottas lost his front wing. As well as making an extra pit stop to replace it he was slapped with a five-second time penalty, and any chance of protecting his fourth place in the championship from Raikkonen was now gone.

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Alonso’s unhappy race

Fernando Alonso, McLaren, Yas Marina, 2015
Alonso had a last blast on super-soft tyres
Fernando Alonso was another driver enduring a difficult day, though his was largely self-inflicted. At the start he squeezed Felipe Nasr, ricocheted off the Sauber and skidded into Pastor Maldonado, ending the Lotus driver’s race. Despite protesting Nasr had been at fault, Alonso was handed a drive-through penalty.

On a weekend when his team owner had suggested to the media Alonso might not race next year, his subsequent radio comments gave further indication that his dissatisfaction with F1 has reached new heights. “If we don’t have a Safety Car I will retire the car,” he said, though he did not make good on his threat having been given a set of super-soft tyres to wield in the final few laps during which time he set the third-quickest tour of the race.

His mood can’t have been improved by being lapped again by the two drivers from the team he quit last year, Ferrari. “He must really hate me,” sighed Vettel after losing a second behind the McLaren.

Vettel recovers to fourth

Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari, Yas Marina, 2015
Vettel obliging pulled over for Raikkonen – twice
Three years ago Vettel had begun his Abu Dhabi Grand Prix in the pit lane and still made it onto the podium. He doesn’t have the same kind of car advantage these days, of course, and nor were there any fortuitously-timed Safety Car periods.

Nonetheless having failed to progress beyond Q1 following a Ferrari blunder and starting from 15th on the grid, he quickly worked his way forward. What was most remarkable about this was he did it with very few overtaking moves after lap one, which he completed in 12th place.

Vettel began the race on the soft tyres and vaulted to fourth as early as lap nine when most of his rivals made for the pits. By the time his tyres had begun to fade on lap 23 he was able to make it in and back out again having only lost two places to Sergio Perez and Daniel Ricciardo.

After a brief stint on the soft tyres Ferrari spied the opportunity to bring him in for a set of super-softs, get him out right on the tail of the pair and use the tyre advantage to pass them. That done he was able to manage the graining on his tyres until the chequered flag fell.

Sainz unrewarded after flying start

Carlos Sainz Jnr, Toro Rosso, Yas Marina, 2015
Sainz had to settle for 11th
Perez was able to control his tyre degradation sufficiently to keep Ricciardo behind, but his team mate had already fallen victim to the Red Bull earlier in the race. Despite being able to re-pass the Red Bull in the DRS zone, Ricciardo was able to brake far deeper at turn 11 and reclaim the spot.

Kvyat’s sister Red Bull was compromised in the second half of the race. “Almost every lap we had to do something about our electronic issues,” he explained after being pushed down to tenth place by Felipe Massa and Romain Grosjean. The latter had started near the back on soft tyres like Vettel, and in the final stage had Hulkenberg, Massa, Kvyat and Carlos Sainz Jnr bottled up behind him before being passed by all four when pitted for super-soft tyres. He was able to re-take the latter pair.

This meant a battling drive by Sainz went unrewarded with a point-less 11th place. He had passed the Williams pair around the outside of turn four at the start and briefly held seventh, but he was easily overtaken by Massa and then lost time at his first pit stop.

At one stage he had to let his team mate past too, but Max Verstappen was destined to finish behind him after locking up his tyres at turn eight, necessitating an extra pit stop. He made matters worse by picking up two penalties, both of twice were applied post-race leaving him 16th.

The two Toro Rossos were separated by Jenson Button, who was pleased to have held off the Williams of Bottas, followed by the two Saubers. Alonso took 17th with the Manors behind him.

Hamilton gives chase

Nico Rosberg, Mercedes, Yas Marina, 2015
Hamilton had to be ordered to turn his engine down
Hamilton’s wish for an alternative strategy that might help him take on Rosberg had gone unrewarded in Mexico and Brazil. But in Abu Dhabi, with less pressure from Ferrari behind, Mercedes granted him more leeway. The gap Rosberg had built during the super-soft stint was erased by Hamilton in their first run on soft tyres – he was just poised to get DRS when Rosberg headed for the pits.

However Hamilton wasn’t sure which way he wanted to go on strategy. He asked his team if he could avoid pitting altogether and simply nurse his current set to the end, but by that time even if he had been able to sustain his existing pace there’s little doubt Rosberg would have caught him well before the end of the race with enough of a performance advantage to pass him with ease. “It wouldn’t pay off,” his race engineer Peter Bonnington insisted, “I guarantee it.”

He eventually pitted with 14 laps to go. “This is the optimum lap for our stop,” Bonnington told him. “The gap will be eleven seconds but we’ll have ten-lap newer tyres.”

But his fresher tyres only gave modest returns compared to Rosberg’s. “We need mid-to-low 44s,” urged Bonnington. “Well I can’t do that, Bono,” he replied. He only made it as low as 1’44.5 once, even as he tested his team’s patience by running in a higher engine mode than he was supposed to.

“Strat mode ten,” said Bonnington firmly, “if you do not comply then we’ll just let Nico have strat mode six.” It seems he did not – Bonnington was soon back on the radio insisting “strat mode ten, that is an instruction,” while Rosberg was given the instruction to use mode six. If Hamilton was hoping this would overtax his team mate’s older power unit it did not – although Rosberg reported a vibration at the back of his car as he began his final lap.

Rosberg ends 2016 on a high

Nico Rosberg, Mercedes, Yas Marina, 2015
Rosberg clinched his sixth win of the year
Since Hamilton clinched the title in Austin, Rosberg has managed to achieve something which eluded his team mate this year – win three consecutive races from pole position. And this latest triumph will have been all the sweeter for doing it with an engine disadvantage, however slight, and at the track where he lost the championship last year.

Afterwards he beamed he was “ecstatic” with the result. “I really master-managed, controlled the pace through the race and managed my tyres and used them optimally and pushed all the way through to the end – and had a lot more laps on them than Lewis’s.”

Rosberg unsurprisingly added he would be happy to begin the 2016 season tomorrow. Hamilton, however, cannot afford to ignore the fresh threat from his team mate.

Competing theories for Hamilton’s three straight defeats abound: Post-championship fatigue? A change in the car, possibly relating to tyre rules change in September?

Whatever the explanation, Rosberg’s season-ending form offers hope that even if the opposition don’t turn up with better cars next year we could still see a closer championship fight next time.

Author information

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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66 comments on “Rosberg denies Hamilton a winning end to his championship year”

  1. Have to give credit to Rosberg, he’s really turned things around, and with sheer pace. Suddenly he’s a contender.

    1. Yes, full credit to Rosberg, he won because he put the effort in before the race, and it paid off.

  2. IMO a more fitting title would “Mercedes denies Lewis a winning end to his championship year”, also Rosberg should thank Lewis for having thrown that cap on him in Austin, it seems to me that such event pushed him to win more and more.

    1. @abdelilah Let’s stop that nonsense of Hamilton not winning because of his team. His team gave him the car that let him got 2 WDCs in a row. If Lewis had tried to end with the same tyres, he would have suffered what happened to Raikkonen in China years ago, when Kimi tried to stretch life from the rubber and became a sitting duck in the end of the race.

      1. @omarr-pepper That’s not the point, why did his team left him too long on the soft ? (second stint).

        1. @abdelilah This brings us back to the point I made in one of the articles linked above.

          Some people keep going on about how there must be some magic alternative strategy Hamilton could have used to beat Rosberg. But the second he departed from the standard strategy it becomes immediately obvious to everyone that there was no such thing. And it wouldn’t have helped him pass Rosberg any more than it did in Brazil two weeks ago.

          So let’s put this ‘Mercedes denied Hamilton’ silliness to bed, shall we?

          1. This race if any showed in practice exactly that. Alternative strategies are not as good as main strategies they pick. Net result of strategy nitpicking was 10-12 seconds off-pace by final stint. Leaving Nico firmly safe.

            A more traditional Mercedes strategy of pitting on next lap would at max leave Lewis behind 1-2 seconds before final stint.

            But Lewis knew he is not going to get past on that strategy. And All other strategies were inferior anyhow.

            One could say Nico has beaten Lewis Comprehensively like the last few weekends, his win was pretty much done by… superior pace on Friday, sticking a pole on Saturday and doing a good start on Sunday. After that controlled the race from front brilliantly, brilliantly being a flattering word for flawlessly.

            Nico is good enough, that Lewis can only beat him over a season, but on a good day there is nothing he can pull out of the bag that would be greatly better.

            And before Lewis fans go how team is helping Nico… please. If Nico only needed 2 tenths help then they would have helped him secure two titles rather than Lewis. Lewis just droped the ball, after winning WDC he went in to “party” mode, selecting STRAT10 on his jet-life controller. It is taking a tole on him.

            There are also hints that he might be ill with some disease, who knows. I hope for good of him, he will take better care of himself, after-all he gets paid incredibly well to be a top athlete. We shall see next year where his act is.

            Should provide an exciting start of the season, relentless Nico, talented partyboy Lewis… and potentially resurrecting Ferrari. Can we imagine McLaren gaining 300 bhp? Maybe if Honda starts lubricating engine with wingy Redbull instead of oil.

          2. Can people please stop ignoring stuff and using other prices of irellevant information to back up their points it’s so bad. Hamilton took 7SECONDS OUT OF ROSBERG WHEN ON SOFT TIRES AND GOT WITHIN DRS! Then the team told him they were staying out. lewis DID NOT choose to stay out at this point he was told we are going to extend the stint. ONLY THEN LATER ON did Lewis start to ask what he could do should he stay out etc etc. BUT the point is and no one seems to be listening is that the ONLY strategy that would have seen him have a CHANCE of wining would be to put next lap! He had the pace to close 7seconds due to his poor pace on super softs. And was was within Drs when Nico pitted. WATCH THE ONBOARD he was going to pass round this type of track. But all that is irrelevant as the point is he was never going to win without a safety car on that strategy. Please please don’t ignore this because I’ve written it like ten times. Soft tires or the same tires are never put on after extending a stint because you will never get the same use from them as the opposing car due to THERMAL DEGREDATION. When Hamilton pushes his tires hard they were always going to drop off hense why he dropped back again at the end. Super softs were never even a option because his were three laps old and Hamilton was not the best this weekend at making them last or being quick on them as his first stint showed. There is NO MAGICAL STRATEGY. It was simply a dud strategy that I have just proven to you with logical facts that was never going to work. If you think those men earning God knows what didn’t see this then wow they are overpaid. Mercerises have a 100% commercially based agenda and don’t care who wins. They ONLY want to see a 1-2 the strategy they chose for Hamilton only ensured the two cars would spend as little time as possible next to each other on track. Please check your sources and analyse the time of the source before you use it to back up your points. Anything said on the radio after the decision not to put him is irrelevant because that’s where the race was lost.

          3. @keithcollantine I’ll wait for the radio re transcript, but if it turns out that staying longer was a team decision then it will confirm what I said, anyway Lewis himself said that he left his strategy to his team as you said in the title :
            http://www.f1fanatic.co.uk/2015/11/29/hamilton-says-he-left-strategy-choice-to-his-team-2/

        2. Maybe for this?
          “However Hamilton wasn’t sure which way he wanted to go on strategy. He asked his team if he could avoid pitting altogether and simply nurse his current set to the end.”
          The “moral” of this story, at least for Hamilton, is that when a driver chooses the strategy on the go, it takes time, precious time, and then when things don’t go his way, it’s to late to return responsibility to the team so they fix his misjudgement. Oh wait, now Lewis will accuse, again, his team was unfair with his strategy, when actually it was his own indecision which put him in that situation.
          That, and the fact that Rosberg adapted to this track better yesterday. Can Lewis accept one day it was ROSBERG who beat him, not “the team not allowing him to win”. I’m not asking for Lewis to admit it publicly, but just to say “congratulations to Nico and the team”, without trying to put shadows of doubt on the team’s decisions.

          1. Seriously Guys stop making things up!

            When Rosberg pitted when did Lewis ever request to stop out.
            Answer: He Didn’t

            I’m disappointed even the respected owner of this site is twisting this.

          2. Thanks Keith and Omar for saying it how it is, those conspiracy comments are getting really annoying to read. Agree totally OMAR, it would be nice to one day hear Lewis just admit when he has been beaten instead of the library of insinuations and excuses and questioning the team etc. The whole James Allen ‘who will go into the break happier’ response was just rude on his part too, all Nico said is ‘I will go into the break very happy’ and then Lewis got all prickly and defensive, grabs his shirt in a ‘look at me i’m the man’ gesture and and starts up with about how ‘Champion sounds better than race winner, so i’m going into the break happier etc’.. Poor form from a champion and when he acts like this unfortunately it rubs off even worse on his fans, as we see on pages like this whenever he doesn’t win.

          3. @Neil Lewis asked specifically if he could stay out on that set until the end, for several laps talking options with team what kind of alternative strategy to pick. Team radio transcript will sort that for you.

            Also it was plainly broadcasted on SkyF1 broadcast.. (not sure about others since i didnt watch those…)

          4. When Rosberg pitted when did Lewis ever request to stop out.
            Answer: He Didn’t

            As it says in the article, Hamilton did ask his team at one stage during his second stint whether he could back off his pace, preserve his tyres and stay ahead of Rosberg without pitting again. He was advised it was impossible and that appears entirely correct from the data.

          5. Also it was plainly broadcasted on SkyF1 broadcast

            It was on the BBC broadcast as well (they both use FOM’s world feed).

          6. You know, normally I am in complete agreement with the thought that often the conspiracy theory is in the head of the public. I am on this occasion as well, pending the radio transcripts, but there is just one little point that niggles at me, that throws doubt on the idea that Mercedes did not keep Lewis out that long deliberately. I’m not saying they deliberately ruined his race nor that they put Nico’s interests ahead of his, but I definately heard at one point in the race, during that stint after Nico had pitted and a lap or two before Lewis pitted the following: (and forgive me, this is paraphrased from memory, so take it as a request for clarification not evidence to support any riddiculous theory)

            Driver: Can I come in yet
            Team: No, you need to stay out one more lap for your optimum strategy

            Taken in context of Nico’s ludicrusly short stint on those tyres, this to me says that when Lewis was catching Nico, Nico requested an early pit stop – his tyres had gone, he was a sitting duck. I think this may be evidence that Nico had planned to come in when Lewis came in, but changed his strategy, as we know he had an agreement with his team that he would, as leader be able to do. He changed it to keep himself ahead of Lewis.

            And this is really the point for me, Mercedes, by putting the decisions on strategy with the lead driver may feel that on the face of it, this is fair, however, Lewis was 3/4 of a second quicker per lap. Mercedes gave Nico the option to dodge having to defend a faster car for two thirds of the race. Of course he took it, who wouldn’t. However this robbed us, the viewers of a battle, and it is this, I think that rankles with us. Unfortunately, so much nonsense by Nico and Lewis fans has been written and read that it is difficult to seperate either driver from these, quite pointless and at some points excessively bitter arguments. So a Lewis fan feels hard done by, they can’t appreciate the skill of Nico during that last quali lap, all they see is a race decided in Q3. A Nico fan who has been stung all season by the same Merc policy will quite naturally be delighted when it works in their drivers favour, sure, Lewis won the title, but Nico provided the very best result he could, by wining every race since – however they are not going to really care much that the Lewis fans are being subject to the same blocks that they have been having to cope with all year. And us neutrals tend to look on at the LH/NR debates and decide that we would rather stick our hand in a bee’s nest than get involved with a balanced point of view, because the reception would be far less painful.

            In truth though – and this is a (remembered) quote from Keith – “What more can Mercedes do?”. Well, putting aside that they quite literally do not need to do anything and in fact, could make things a lot worse in terms of racing, I still don’t think that their current agreement with the drivers is fair – now I’m not talking about whether it is fair for the drivers here, I’m talking about whether it is fair for the fans – and again, I’m not talking about fans of the drivers, I’m talking about fans of the sport.

            Mercedes let the driver in the lead have priority on strategy calls, and they have one strategy team who works for Mercedes and directs both drivers. Obviously when this singular team work out the optimum strategy, it is pitting on the same lap for both drivers, and the driver in the lead gets the choice of whether they stop on the optimum lap let their teammate stop then. As I understand it, it’s no more complicated than that, with Mercedes allowing deviations from this only when another team threaten their position. But it is clear that the Merc strategy team is working for a 1-2 at the expense of either drivers personal goals.

            This is, essentially team orders. It’s not as on the nose as letting one team mate past to secure the drivers championship – Merc know that one of their drivers will secure it, and don’t particularly care which one it is. They only want that 1-2 in any order. However, it is still team orders, it is still the team telling the driver what they can and cannot do on track and it still affects the order the cars cross the line in and where they are in relation to each other on track. They have lied to drivers to force them to follow their orders, and lied quite openly, with no attempt to cover it up. Side point, any team who cites a safety issue on the radio during a race should be subject to very rigourous scrutiny, it is a very dangerous path when a team can cite a safety issue, where none would be expected, and that scrutiny should be in public – You tell your driver that he needs to pit because his tyres are on the canvas (after only a few laps), pit now, it’s a safety issue – then the FIA should be impounding that car and taking it apart to understand what part of that car caused the issue and what regulations need to be put in place to prevent risk to drivers.

            I understand the desire to defend Mercedes from inaccurate and wild theories. I don’t see the need to celebrate their particular brand of team orders though, and my ideal situation would be to give each driver their own strategists, employed directly by the driver as they would their manager, and allow them to race, properly. The lead driver still gets the marmite, if he dives into the pits on the lap the other had chosen, then the other can only pit if he stacks, or he is forced to stay out one more lap. So from that point of view, not a lot changes, but at least the driver would be able to trust his hand chosen team who work for him and we, the viewers can trust that we will be seeing the best of each driver, with no team interference.

            I mean, my ideal would be to have each driver employed by FOM, not a team and drive each car through a season, then we would have a meaningful drivers championship, but snowballs have a better chance in hell :)

        3. Had Hamilton not lost as much as he did in the first stint, on the supersofts, or maybe if he had thought about sparing his tyres earlier on in the second stint, he could have had a better chance at getting Rosberg.

          But he didn’t. This is not about the team not giving chances or even somehow trying to hurt their own champions race @abdelilah. Its a race, the drivers are close on pace and in the last few races Rosberg just has done the better job, where Hamilton had done the better job in the majority of the races earlier in the year.

          1. No it wasn’t a race, merc stopped that and destroyed any chance of it.

          2. Of course it was a race. And Nico earned the upper hand. And Merc is managing two roosters on the team and succeeded in going into the off-season with Nico on a bit of a high note, while Lewis has the WDC and the team with the Constructors title, and Nico in second place in the WDC. And Nico needn’t feel like the team favoured LH by trying to get him to duel him when it wasn’t necessary other than to placate LH’s ego, when he hadn’t earned it with pole and an initial lead. LH will calm down and hopefully go back to respecting the teams’ decisions because they are his boss. This is more about LH not being able to handle not having the upper hand to the point of asking for preference from the team, and them deciding how to manage two roosters based on the season’s circumstances and the point they were at in the season.

        4. The team wanted Hamilton to pit soon after Rosberg did, it was Hamilton who argued, he thought he could win the race without having to pit, but Rosberg was catching him too quickly, so he’d have overtaken Hamilton anyway. The only question was did Hamilton want Kimi to overtake him as well?

    2. Rosberg gate crashed Lulu’s party with number 2 ICE which had already clocked 3600km and made certain that he blow-out the candles on Lulu’s championship cake.

  3. “If we don’t have a Safety Car I will retire the car,”
    Where is Nelson Piquet Jr. when Fernando needs him??!!!

    1. @omarr-pepper …not that any of the armco at Abu Dhabi is anywhere near close enough for someone to spin off and hit it…

    2. This is an example of how broadcasting bits and pieces of radio messages distorts things.
      I was upset with Alonso’s message about SC or retire the car. But in the post-race interview he said the team was telling him to save tyres, fuel etc. He said he would go all out and race and if that got them in trouble and there was no SC to save them, he would retire the car.
      Totally different perspective on the whole thing and makes sense

      1. Exceptional observation thank you for sharing:D

      2. in the post-race interview he said the team was telling him to save tyres, fuel etc…

        Did he say the team were telling him to save tyres and fuel to a greater degree than normal, or did he remark that he was having to save tyres and fuel as drivers always have to? Because it seemed to me it was the latter.

  4. Yes (@come-on-kubica)
    30th November 2015, 0:05

    If I could borrow the review name of last year’s world championship, ‘It was fair’.

    1. @come-on-kubica Hope they come up with something better than that this year.

      I’d call it ‘Rosberg can’t stop Hammertime’.

      1. Yes (@come-on-kubica)
        2nd December 2015, 12:50

        @keithcollantine

        It’ll be something along the lines of ‘It was fair: Part 2!’.

  5. Ian Laidler (@)
    30th November 2015, 0:29

    Oh dear, what am I going to do now …. gotta wait 4 months until Australia 2016.

  6. What’s in a number?

    Hamilton has chosen 44 as his car’s number. He stands now at 43 Victories.

    Would it be possible that he superstitiously believes that he faces danger
    if he gathers 44 victories?

    He certainly did not look as if he wanted to challenge Nico. Suddenly after his 43rd
    victory he doesn’t seem to want to win anymore.

    He didn’t start at Abu Dhabi as a drag racer. He seemed to be more intent on slowing down the pursuers than in challenging Nico. He did not make the right choice of strategy. Why didn’t he try
    the super softs for the last 12 or 13 laps? He let himself be held up by much slower traffic. In other words, he just did not fight for the win.

    We will know next year if he refuses a 44th win. The situation could arise that while running second at the end of a race, with the leader faltering before the finish line, he would have to inherit the victory.

    What will he do, then?

    1. Would be a fun story, but I am sure Lewis was hungry for victory.

      His start was better than Nico, reaction time faster.. but his wheels slipped more on dirty side of the track so he did not gather speed at same rate in second part of start. So much so he had to defend by first corner.

      And arguing with team for alternative strategy hardly indicates a driver who is happy with second and affraid of getting 44th victory.

      Infact opposite is true probably, Lewis is very good on believing victories come naturally to him and any other form of race result is somewhat like an injustice.. We all know Nico dislikes comming second to Lewis… But look at Lewis on the podium,… geez It is as if someone crashed his Zonda or something.

      Makes him a poor looser but very motivated to Win :) Should be a stellar season 2016.

  7. I won’t give credit to Rosberg. He might have the upper hand here, but what does it matter? sure, he enters the winter break in a better mood… yeah, but compared to what? a better mood than being absolutely destroyed on and off the track by Hamilton.

    This is just a bit “less worse” for Nico. It’s not better, it’s less worse. Hamilton dominated when it mattered: be it because of the tyre pressures, the development of the car or whatever.

    This just doesn’t matter. If it mattered, Nico would be champion. But he isn’t, how can we pretend that he did good when he only came alive in the last 3 races?? It’s a year long championship, not the Chase for the Cup thing they do in NASCAR.

    Roll on 2016. It’ll be hard to wait 4 full months for more… Fingers crossed someone manages to catch Mercedes… I don’t hold too many hopes to be entirely honest.

    1. The thing is last year Rosberg was challenging for the Championship because of Hamilton’s reliability woes. Hamilton started 25 points down and every time he clawed it back got hit with another set back. It made it look closer than it was when in truth only on Brazil did Rosberg convincingly beat Hamilton.

      This year despite Hamilton seemingly dominating, it’s been by the smallest margin, usually from having qualified ahead or won out on the opening lap tussle. But Rosberg has been more convincing when he has been winning, it’s not down to Hamilton having bad luck he’s just being beaten. It’s been a trend towards the end of the season so it could well be that Rosberg has gotten on top of things.

      We saw last season and we’re saw again at the end of this one that Rosberg can beat Hamilton in qualifying. And given the difficulty passing when in equal machinery if he can keep ahead during the opening lap he can leave Hamilton with no answer.

      I think it bodes well for a real fight next year.

      1. Yes If qualifying was like last year… Nico would have done it this year. But over a season Hamilton was much better in qualifying… Only last 5 races Nico was a championship contender. Potentially only because L.H. had already won and was under less pressure to deliver.

    2. Oh, come on @fer-no65 why not give credit for being on it for 5-6 races now? As @philipgb mentions, this year the margin between the two has generally been small, certainly not “being destroyed” like Kimi was at Ferrari. And Rosberg has been close to Hamilton far more on merit instead of profiting from better reliability.

      And he has upped his pace for the last 6 races, not just the last 3. He would have likely won Sochi if not for the car giving up, and he was close enough in Austin. I think that it makes a huge difference for him if he goes into the winter with the positive feeling of that run instead of feeling deflated by seeing his last chances slip away with a bad start and then car issues like he had last year.
      And its a timely wake up call for Hamilton to step up another step if he wants to make it 3 championships in a row with a fast teammate. You do both a disfavour if you think they do not push eachother along to up their pace. And it helps both of them get better.

      1. @bascb I know all that, but I cannot take it the same way. We have nothing to fight for now, it’s certainly not the same. The pressure of a championship fight can change everything.

        Maybe he was close during the year, but he hardly challenged Lewis. He was 11-1 in qualy until Monza, 7-3 on wins (which was really 8-2 but Lewis Monacoed himself) so he was being dominated. Maybe not destroyed, I’ll change my words. But certainly dominated, he had nothing to ocunterattack Lewis. Appart from Bahrain, he was quite soft with Lewis too, not as fightly as last year.

        So yeah, I don’t think he deserves that much credit. He didn’t put pressure on Lewis championship and only revived when things were quite done.

        As I said, it’s not positive, it’s less negative, and that’s quite a difference!

        1. I think the lack of agressivity in the racing should be put on the shoulders of the team (and maybe all fans asking for draconic pentalties for Rosberg) at least in part. And its not true that he only started to put pressure on when the championship was done. He started with still 6 races to go and without the sochi DNF that could have made it tight enough.

          I do agree that he found his form too late to be able to give us the feeling anyone could beat Hamilton this year. But to me that is more about Hamilton having shown a consistency and run of form that we haven’t seen from him yet.

    3. So what`s your idea? To cancel all the remaining races after we have a Driver`s Championship winner? Because a driver who is 2nd in overall standings is now suddenly “not worth” of winning GPs?
      Funny.

      1. @lepondo No? I never implied that!

        He’s worthy. But this isn’t a massive worry for Lewis nor it’s all positive for Rosberg. It’s less negative por Nico and almost the same for Lewis that still had a super year and won what was at stake: a world championship.

        1. I think this recent form for Nico is significant because it shows how close he actually is to LH and that with this current gen of car’s pole is as important at every track as it used to be mainly at Monaco. LH has shown us how detrimental it has been for NR to lose the pole battle this year. Nico has shown us he can adapt, keep working, keep improving, beat LH on Saturdays, beat him off the line and beyond the first corner or two on Sundays, and hold and control the lead for the whole race, just as LH has shown.

          Nico still has to prove he can be a WDC and I think the last three races gave us a hint that he can.

  8. If Hamilton doesn’t make a change next year could be very interesting. Especially if Ferrari bring a solid car.

    If Nico starts strong, and Vettel is a threat, will Hamilton submit to team orders? Could Merc team fighting lead to #5 for Vettel?

  9. I wonder if Mercedes would tell the world if they found out that vibration was actually the beginning of the end of Rosberg’s well-worn engine. That it wouldn’t take even one more lap.

    Of course, Rosberg even had power to do a doughnut with it (and a rather beautiful one to boot).

  10. Awesome recap, missed the race and it’s like it played out in my head when I read your post … well done!

  11. “Perez was able to control his tyre degradation sufficiently to keep Ricciardo behind, but his team mate had already fallen victim to the Red Bull earlier in the race. Despite being able to re-pass the Red Bull in the DRS zone, Ricciardo was able to brake far deeper at turn 11 and reclaim the spot.”

    This does not compute. What the hell does this mean? Do I not understand English?

    1. What’s up? It just means Ricciardo was able to get alongside the Force India of Nico Hulkenburg, and even though the Hulk was able to get back past the Red Bull in the 2nd DRS zone, Ricciardo was able to re-overtake at the end of the straight there thanks to braking much later than the Force India and re-overtaking it into the entry of the corner. Hope that helps to clear it up for you. :-)

  12. Is that really true about the Strat modes on Lewis’ car?

    Didn’t the commentators say that Mercedes was just trying to compensate for Vestappen not giving way under blue flags?

    1. I don’t recall hearing anything in the Mercedes radio messages which indicated it was somehow related to Verstappen.

    2. Nope just the idiotic David Croft asking if they slowed Nico down because Lewis was held up in traffic. As if that would be a fair thing to do???? Was painful to listen to, but hilarious none the less. Especially when it was actually the opposite of what David Croft thought it was, it was Hamilton being told to turn his engine down as he had been using too much extra power mode. David Croft is a joke and its sad that Martin Brundle doesn’t have the freedom to just laugh in his face when he says stupid things like this. You can almost hear Brundle cringing sometimes, before he politely tries to steer Croft in the right direction, often without much success.

      1. ResultantAsteroid
        1st December 2015, 12:50

        Totally agree with u here. I also was partially shocked at Croft’s immediate and weird interpretation of the message. I do not know why they keep him honestly. Next to Brundle, Hill, and Herbert who all have huge experience and who are mature enough as humans to keep any personal biases they have at bay, he looks really useless. Maybe they keep him because he is relatively funny (though the others, especially Herbet have this covered, in my modest opinion), or has the capacity to talk continuously.
        If next year’s season is a close three-way battle, I’m afraid I predict his mistakes/biases would be more embarrassing.

  13. Promising end to a mediocre season. Though most races were boring, 6 poles and 3 wins in a row for ROS makes us wait eagerly for next season. Hopefully Nico will not let us down and will emerge as a championship contender next season. With Ferrari improving, we could see a 4 way battle for title.
    I am very impressed with Force India who have definitely finished the season as the 3rd best car on grid. Had they been able to get the new chassis from the start of season, they could have given stiff competition to Redbull and Williams for the 3rd place in championship.
    2016 – hope it will be a better season with a 3 or 4 way battle for championship, mercs and ferraris battling for lead, Williams red bulls and force India’s fighting for podiums and points, tororossos and McLarens fighting for points..

  14. Rosberg ends 2016 on a high

    Come one @keithcollantine

      1. @davidnotcoulthard How is winning three races from pole in a row anything else?

        1. @keithcollantine maybe he refers you have predictes the end of 2016 season!!!

        2. @keithcollantine A great end to 2015 rather than 2016?

    1. @davidnotcoulthard @omarr-pepper
      He inadvertently predicted the future twelve months beyond, LOL.

  15. And that’s great indeed for the sake of F1 in my opinion. I’m happy ROS dominated the last races and was also good to see RAI on the podium again too.

  16. Enough this chit-chat lads, we will look at the Radio Transcript to prove the truth.

  17. The comments and theories are more exciting than the race. (No great compliment given the boring races.)
    As someone above pointed out, Mercedes use of a single strategist means that they’re implicitly engineering a race result.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if in 3 years, Hamilton returns to McLaren which will finally have a competitive engine.

    1. Or Mercedes hires a second strategist. Which, let’s be honest, is a simpler and quicker solution; it could be done today in fact.

      1. Personally I think Merc is making the right decision to have one strategist. They are, fortunately for us, managing two roosters on the team and allowing them to race it out on the track, but they have to do it without appearing to favour any one driver, since they don’t, so it comes down to the drivers earning their way by firstly taking pole and secondly keeping the lead in the initial stages. It is in their hands to control their own destiny on the track, within reason of course and barring the unpredictable which happens quite often…weather, crashes, safety cars, tires performing differently than expected.

        I think that separate strategists would result in harder feelings on the team and between the drivers, and in their minds, the risk of opening the door to competitors who might take advantage of two Merc drivers out there driving a little more for themselves and a little less for the team.

        Nobody was complaining about one strategist and ‘team orders’ for the first 16 races, including Nico fans as far as I can surmise, and it has only become a topic since LH decided to blame the team for not allowing him his way over theirs in terms of strategies…after they had won both titles, and while Nico was still trying to secure the only other thing left for the team to do…see him come second in the standings. LH decided for himself that he knew better, the team saw no advantage in risking Nico’s feelings nor his chances of securing second, and Nico earned what he got in the last 3 races. To have done anything differently to what they did in the last 3 races would have been to show Nico and the world that they favoured LH, but they are trying to be impartial while looking at the overall bigger picture. If LH wanted the preferential treatment he was asking for mid-race, he shouldn’t have partied so much and should have kept up the momentum and won the last 3 poles and races. But really even moreso he should have less selfishly respected the team and their goes-without-saying desire to see Nico come second in the standings, and not asked for the team to risk that just so he personally could put another notch on the win column, after all they already did for him.

        1. Nobody was complaining about one strategist and ‘team orders’ for the first 16 races, including Nico fans as far as I can surmise, and it has only become a topic since LH decided to blame the team for not allowing him his way over theirs in terms of strategies

          And the more devoted LH fans are lapping it up and crying wolf as a result.

  18. I have a theory as to Nico’s sudden surge of pace and Lewis’ slump and yes, it is the tired old ‘Mercedes helped Nico’ but not for biased reasons.

    Their is a simple question important to this theory: What does Mercedes want to do in F1? They want to dominate. They want to flatten the opposition and get 1-2 every time and really couldn’t care less what order they’re in. However, coming towards the end of the European season there was a weak link in the armor that seemed to be getting wider and that was Nico Rosberg.

    Earlier on in the season he’d been keeping up with Hamilton and occasionally winning when his team mate wasn’t quite able to get things together, but as the Ferraris started to become a threat they realized they needed both drivers performing and Nico simply wasn’t performing as consistently as Lewis was and if he fell into the Ferraris’ hands then he’d lose (see Belgium and Hungary 2014 for good examples of Nico falling apart once caught/fighting for position).

    They didn’t need to worry about Lewis, he was well on his way to the championship but by the end of the European season Sebastian was catching Nico in the points table. In order to keep their dominance they had to do something to help Nico.

    So came the car upgrades. Lewis wasn’t quite able to put in the same blistering performances he had but he didn’t really lose out as Nico was still low in moral. As the car was tuned more his way he regained his confidence as the car responded better to him then Lewis and he was suddenly able to edge ahead in qualifying, where Lewis had dominated previously. Lewis, being more adaptable, was able to keep up better pace in the race but not enough to mount any serious offensives.

    With their dominance secured, Mercedes weren’t bothered who won so left it as it was. Their race strategy hasn’t changed from what I can see, but I can see it being their weakness if Ferrari does set up next year as they’re not willing or able to adapt accordingly. If they are under threat and need to back a drive, they’ve got no reason to back Rosberg as he simply doesn’t have the additional killer edge he needs.

    1. Personally I think Merc recognized Ferrari as more of a threat this season from the getgo. I also think they are always trying to do the best for both drivers. Once the WDC was secured their only remaining goal was to secure Nico’s second place standing over Vettel, and LH would have instinctively known without anybody needing to say anything, that the team thing to do would be to not necessarily help NR, but certainly not to hinder him. Nico didn’t need wins to take second in the WDC but he earned them anyway. For me this is all about LH being unable to accept a team role and rather thinks that he is owed preferential treatment even when Nico earns his place in a race, and even when LH has nothing more to prove in a season other than he has the ability to selfishly put the team second for the sake of more wins for his own record book. Without us being allowed to hear only very specific radio comms of LH suggesting his own strategies, people wouldn’t be focused on the concept of team orders or of Nico getting ‘extra’ help, or of LH being somehow held back. There was never anything in it for Merc to promote hard feelings within the team by going out of their way to help LH beat NR when he hadn’t gotten pole and hadn’t beat Nico in the first corner or two nor led him at all during the race. To suddenly change things up mid-race to feed LH’s ego was never on, other than in LH’s mind.

  19. It says “Rosberg ends 2016 on a high”.

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