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Featured Abu Dhabi GP Debrief: Rosberg Completes Hat-trick in the Desert

Discussion in 'Formula 1' started by Ben Stevens, Nov 30, 2015.

  1. Ben Stevens

    Ben Stevens
    Staff

    rosberguae.jpg Besting his teammate for the third time in as many races, Nico Rosberg made his intentions for 2016 clear in the UAE.

    The overall result may have been the same, but Nico Rosberg leaves Abu Dhabi this year with a lot more to smile about. Whereas last year’s finale was the culmination of the German steadily losing his grip on the world championship, 12 months later the same race put the final emphasis on his statement that he is still a force to be reckoned with.

    Having played second fiddle to teammate Lewis Hamilton for the first two-thirds of the season, the final six races have been a remarkably different story, with Rosberg constantly matching – if not besting – Hamilton for pace. In Abu Dhabi, the German was dominant once more, enjoying a comfortable 0.377s margin in qualifying that translated into an equally impressive 8.271s victory on Sunday.

    Rosberg’s detractors will point out that if it is not too little, his efforts have certainly been far too late, but it certainly sets up an interesting dynamic heading into 2016. Read on for a look at that, and some of the other key talking points from the 2015 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

    mercedesuae.jpg Rosberg Finishes on a Hot Streak

    As far as Nico Rosberg is concerned, the 2016 Formula One season can’t start soon enough.

    Saying as much in the post-race podium interviews, it would be hard to blame Rosberg for spending the next few days extensively googling current developments in time warp technology, given his recent run of form. His confidence is clearly sky-high, and that’s made a world of difference for the German.

    For us fans, the tricky part now is figuring out just how real Rosberg’s recent run of dominance actually is. As much as Rosberg might wish for the next season to begin right now, he’ll have to endure one final low-note as he watches Lewis Hamilton hoist a second-straight championship trophy at the FIA’s annual awards gala.

    What makes things especially difficult is that there’s a case to be made for both for and against Rosberg. The aforementioned stance is the one that favours Hamilton, as it seems more than a little coincidental that Rosberg starts winning the moment the championship has been decided. Those with short memories might forget Hamilton absolutely trounced Rosberg while the title was still at stake, leading their qualifying head-to-head 12-4, and their races 10-3 (where both drivers finished). Even on the rare occasions Rosberg did match Hamilton for pace, he usually lacked the composure to take victories, most memorably spinning out of the lead in Hamilton’s championship-sealing race in Austin. There’s no way to know for sure this isn’t Hamilton in third gear – he’s admitted to “heavy partying” in recent weeks, and really, who can blame him?

    For Rosberg, the argument is a fairly straightforward one: six straight poles is no fluke. That run includes three do-or-die championship races in Japan, Russia and the US, showing that he upped his game when it mattered most. Sure it turned out to be too late, but the associated hat-trick is Rosberg finally syncing up with the car, and Hamilton’s excuses of “changes since Singapore” prove that he’s ruffled some feathers. If Hamilton can be lauded for working on his driving over the 2014 winter break, why can’t the same be said for Rosberg since the start of 2015’s summer one?

    Regardless of where you fall, it’s fair to pencil in Hamilton as the favourite for 2016, but Melbourne is set to matter a lot more than your standard season-opener. Even if we don’t get a different name on top at the end of next year, all signs point to next year’s title fight being a lot closer than this one.

    P-20151129-00481_News.jpg Verstappen Edges Closer to One-Race Ban

    If there’s such a thing as too much youthful exuberance, Max Verstappen may soon find out what that limit is.

    Penalised for two separate incidents on Sunday – the first for “leaving the track and gaining an advantage” during a duel with McLaren’s Jenson Button, the second for ignoring blue flags – Verstappen picked up a further three points on his superlicense. Taking his tally to eight penalty points since Monaco, Verstappen will be forced to sit out a race should he accrue four more prior to that race next year.

    Just two months past his eighteenth birthday, Verstappen’s performance in his first F1 season has gone a long way to answer critics who suggested the Dutchman was too young for the sport. However, he’s done himself no favours through earning such straightforward penalties.

    Of course, he wouldn’t be in such a situation were it not for the three points he received in Hungary for speeding under the safety car, which was due to a miscommunication with the team. Especially given his age and reputation as an extremely aggressive driver, could this be an instance of the stewards looking to make an example of the driver purported to be the sport’s next big star? Being handed a one-race ban would put him in the same sentence as Romain Grosjean, who did far more to earn one with repeatedly dangerous driving. Whatever the case, he can look forward to starting the 2016 season firmly under the stewards’ microscope.

    alonsouae.jpg Does a Sabbatical Make Sense for Alonso?

    For someone with a Samurai tattoo on his back, it seemed there was little fight left in Fernando Alonso on Sunday.

    Surrounded by rumours of a self-imposed sabbatical from the sport throughout the weekend, Alonso had to endure one more tortuous race before his season could come to a merciful end. Caught in a first-corner incident with Lotus’ Pastor Maldonado, the two-time world champion was handed an early drive through penalty, after which he was heard on team radio asking to retire the car. The Spaniard eventually finished 17th, two laps down on the leading Mercedes.

    After the race he was vocal in his criticism of the stewards’ decision, and used the opportunity to negatively contrast F1 with Moto GP and the World Endurance Championship. His close friend and former driver Mark Webber had earlier labelled Alonso a “ticking time-bomb” should McLaren struggle again next year, something backed up by his race-day performance.

    Alonso certainly didn’t go out of his way to quash the rumours, but even if he doesn’t take any sort of sabbatical come the start of next year, don’t be surprised if things change during the season, should his team’s struggles continue. The two-time world champion has clearly had a discouraging 2015, and there’s no guarantee the light at the end of the tunnel will be reached at any point next year. Particularly with McLaren itching to get current GP2 champion Stoffel Vandoorne some race experience, it wouldn’t be out of the question for Alonso to step aside temporarily if it means less time dealing with a woeful car. After all, this is a long-term project for Alonso as much as it is McLaren – at least from his side, maybe 2016 isn’t a necessary part of the equation.


    Thanks for reading the GP Debrief this season! Keep it locked to RaceDepartment for plenty more F1 coverage over the winter break, and here’s to a great 2016!

    Does Rosberg’s streak make him a serious threat for the 2016 title? Is Verstappen being unfairly targeted by the stewards? Could you see Alonso sharing his seat should McLaren continue to struggle? Sound off in the comments below.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 1, 2015
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  2. Ah, Nico, always choosing to deliver the most when it matters least. Hamilton is just letting your ego build until next season.
     
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  3. FIA is Targeting Verstappen.

    The second incident with JB wasn't worth a penalty.

    If lewis Hamilton had done that with nico rosberg he wouldn't have a penalty for sure.
     
  4. Timmieturner12

    Timmieturner12
    Premium Member

    Why did the FIA for godssake penalise Max. I mean c'mon, I think we could all see that wasn't his fault. Shame for Lewis, but at least he tried a different strategy this time. Still a dumb move he didn't go for the supersofts at the final stages of the race.
     
  5. Once again, off topic, but Vettel had a great year and is nicely set up for next season. If Ferrari delivers, he will be the one to catch. Bet on it!
     
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  6. Chris Stacey

    Chris Stacey
    Ted Kravitz Appreciation Society Staff Premium Member

    I don't think Max should have been penalised with a time penalty, rather he should have just had to give his position back to Jenson because it looked pretty clear that he completed the overtake while he was off the track which is considered an illegal overtake (Ala Vettel and Jenson in Hockenheim 2012).

    Max would've overtaken him eventually anyway as the Honda may as well have been in reverse.
     
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  7. Tbh i dont enjoy it at all, i just prefer multi class always . from what i cant tell from other F1 fanatics is that its going in the complete wrong direction.
     
  8. Sam Hill

    Sam Hill
    #00

    Hamilton once again proving why Mercedes employ intelligent, qualified people to do the strategy... Pretty sure he wouldn't like it if one of the guys from the factory decided they were driving. The fanboys will say he's brilliant for it but the fact of the matter is; it's just downright disrespectful. He should shut up, do his own job and stop thinking he's a one man team, because as here, and Monaco, proved: he doesn't know a thing when it comes to strategy.
     
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  9. Keith_G

    Keith_G
    Premium Member

    Another fine article and a great deal of food for thought! Thanks Ben for the updates, insight and excellent reporting over the season. Your work and your time are both appreciated:thumbsup: Now I'm just looking forward to having a US team to report on, although it may be much the same as McLaren-Honda:confused: Thanks again and have a great Holiday Season.
     
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  10. Because he went off track and gained an advantage and didn't give the position back. I saw the penalty coming.

    Honestly glad the season is over. It was the worst season by a mile. Rosberg and Hamilton are annoying and make excuses left, right and centre. From gust of winds to tyre pressures to inabilities to make independent strategic calls
     
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