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Featured Abu Dhabi GP Debrief: Rosberg Withstands Hamilton Chicanery to Take the Title

Discussion in 'Formula 1 Race Comments' started by Ben Stevens, Nov 28, 2016.

  1. Ben Stevens

    Ben Stevens

    rosuae.JPG Despite the best efforts of Lewis Hamilton, Nico Rosberg was able to make history in the UAE

    He may not have won their showdown in the desert, but it was Nico Rosberg to whom went the spoils on Sunday.

    Needing at least third should teammate Lewis Hamilton take the victory, Rosberg proved up to the challenge, taking second despite Hamilton’s concerted attempt to back him into the chasing pack.

    The better of the two Mercedes drivers all weekend, Hamilton knew he’d need a minor miracle to steal the title out from under Rosberg, but neither Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel nor either Red Bull driver would oblige him. Taking matters into his own hands with a noticeable drop-off in pace despite some pointed objections from the pit-wall, Hamilton was able to get Vettel well within DRS range by the final lap, but never close enough to pass. Finishing with only 1.246s separating Rosberg and fourth-placed Max Verstappen, Rosberg had taken the title by just five championship points.

    A race that served up a memorable end to the season, read on for a look at all the big stories from the 2016 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

    roshamuae.JPG Hamilton’s Gamesmanship Not Enough to Deny Rosberg

    After 206 races, 23 wins, two driver’s titles to his teammate, Nico Rosberg is finally a world champion.

    The title-winning permutations may have been strongly in his favour, but make no mistake: Rosberg did it the hard way. Whether it was Max Verstappen, Sebastian Vettel or indeed Lewis Hamilton, Rosberg’s P2 was constantly under siege. After conceding pole to Hamilton for the fourth-straight race, both Mercedes drivers were able to avoid any problems at the start, but a delayed release at his first pit-stop brought the German out behind an unstopped Verstappen, the Red Bull going longer on its super-soft tyres. Not being able to afford the hold-up if he wanted to guarantee himself the championship, Rosberg found himself with a “critical” need to pass Verstappen – a challenge to which he responded almost immediately with a fearless lunge into turn 8, setting up a pass on the straight to relieve the pressure, albeit temporarily.

    Still 1-2 out of their final pit-stops, with the pack’s best efforts having failed to help him, Hamilton decided to take matters into his own hands by backing-up Rosberg with pace that was Carmen Jorda-levels of slow. Where earlier Verstappen had brought the potential of a threat from behind, it was Hamilton’s driving that made it a reality, ensuring a down-to-the-wire finish that brought Vettel back into play and caused fits on the Mercedes pit wall. In the end Rosberg was able to survive, but it meant that even on what should be one of the most positive days for Mercedes, they couldn’t escape controversy.

    However, considering the circumstances it’s hard to criticise Hamilton. The pace of their rivals clearly not enough, Hamilton had no other recourse in a race that only affected his standing to Rosberg. Having sewn-up the constructor’s title in Japan, the Brit was well within his rights to try and push Rosberg off the podium, and had it worked, would have been a masterful bit of gamesmanship. Furthermore, with the influx of regulation changes for 2017, Abu Dhabi might have been the last race the two were able to fight without a legitimate threat to their constructor’s dominance. It was exactly what to have expected from Hamilton, and a fitting way to cap the last three years of their rivalry.

    Of course, having won nine races to ten for his teammate, the role of reliability will inevitably colour much of the discussion around Rosberg’s championship. It undoubtedly played a part, but it doesn’t make the German any less deserving. The Rosberg of 2016 was a significant improvement on the 2015 and 2014 versions, driving with the composure of a champion that he had lacked in previous seasons, and while Hamilton may have won the last-four races, when the championship was truly in balance coming out of the summer break, Rosberg was the better driver. This was the realisation of a dream Rosberg has been working towards his entire life, and rightfully so.

    fiuae.jpg Force India Seal Team-Best Fourth in Constructor’s, Manor Unable to Recover Tenth from Sauber

    While Nico Rosberg is sure to grab all the headlines, that wasn’t the only championship battle decided on Sunday.

    Beating Williams 10 points to 2, Force India were able to secure a best-ever fourth-place in the constructor’s standings, while further downfield Sauber managed to hold off Manor for the tenth and final prize-paying spot 2 points to 1. Considering the latter three teams are operating on a financial playing field less level than the Himalayas, such results could potentially be the difference between survival and extinction, given their financial difficulties in recent times have been well documented.

    Taking P7 and 8, Force India finished 35 points ahead of Williams, who could only manage P9 in a result that confirmed the Silverstone outfit’s place as the surprise package of the season. A result that is a testament to the team’s development in the V6-era, they finished 2014 well behind Williams, but particularly since the second-half of 2015, have made remarkable gains to develop what is an all-round superior car. Deputy team principal Bob Fernley deserves full credit for bringing the team to the front of the midfield, and every dollar they get is sure to prove crucial in their fight with not just Williams but a resurgent McLaren-Honda in 2017.

    Finishing 13th and 14th to Sauber’s 15th and 16th, Sunday’s result has to be a frustrating one for a Manor team that had been largely the better of the two over the course of the season. Set to change ownership for the third time in as many years, the team seems to be constantly hanging on by a thread, and the lack of prizemoney won’t change their reputation as a money-sink. In essentially the same boat, Sauber must’ve felt like they’d won the world title on Sunday, as with Felipe Nasr dropped by Banco do Brasil, the team might be saving every penny to keep afloat in 2017. Whether these two teams survive into next season and beyond could entirely come down to these last two races, proof that F1 can be utterly ruthless.

    butuae.jpg Button, Massa Ride-Off into the Sunset

    So long, Jenson Button. Adeus, Felipe Massa. We’re gonna miss ya.

    Each calling time on a remarkable career after Sunday – Massa with P9, Button DNF – Formula 1 certainly won’t be quite the same without them.

    Both coming into the sport before their 21st birthday, F1 fans have been able to watch Button and Massa grow-up before their eyes (well, perhaps not literally in Massa’s case), becoming certified stars of the sport. Whether it was their maiden wins in 2006 (Massa in Turkey, Button in Hungary), Massa’s inner-strength after the double-whammy of Brazil ’08 and Hungary ‘09, or Button’s unlikely triumph at Brawn, to name a few, both drivers have given us some remarkable memories that will live on well after their results on Sunday are forgotten.

    Perhaps with the fortunes of McLaren and Williams neither man got quite the ideal send-off, but that won’t matter when we look back at the entirety of their careers. With 555 races, 26 wins and 1.5 titles between them, there’s no denying that in Button and Massa, Formula 1 is losing two of its most significant figures in the 21st century. Individually they were some of the most universally respected and well-liked drivers on the grid, with personalities impossible to replace. We can only hope that whoever steps into their shoes can be half the ambassadors for the sport they were. To both Jenson and Felipe, best of luck for the future.

    Thanks for reading the GP Debrief in 2016. I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I did writing it. For one final time, let us know what you made of Sunday’s race. Here’s to bigger and better things in 2017! - Ben
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  2. k_badam

    Yer Nan Premium

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  3. While I won't miss Button, because he overstayed his welcome and I'm a huge Vandoorne fan, it was extremely sad to see him retire from the race. Wish him luck to whatever he plans on doing next :)

    Massa I won't miss for the same reason of staying in the sport too long. However nice to see him put in a good performance to end the season. Wish him luck to whatever awaits him in the future.

    Right, now onto the actual title fight. Extremely happy to see that all of Rosberg's hard work has paid off this season and he capped the best season of his career with the title, and he fully deserves it. Luck is a part of motorsport and it doesn't make anyone anymore or any less deserving. Full credit to Hamilton though. It was extremely smart to back Nico into the pack. It didn't work for him though. Firstly because he was trying way too late and he was doing it in the last sector where you can't really overtake easily.

    The reports that Mercedes may suspend or even SACK Lewis is completely ridiculous. Did Mercedes win the race? Yes. It was a silly request because Mercedes KNEW that Hamilton wanted to win that world title, and this was his last way of costing Nico the title. He disobeyed team orders which is not an unusual thing. To think that Nico and Lewis can take each other for the past three years with the worst punishment Mercedes could think of was team orders, but they might sack someone for disobeying team orders is ridiculous.

    Also, was it just me or was Hamilton and Rosberg shaking hands completely forced ;) :D Neither wanted to do it and Coulthard was there like "I'll get out of the way so you two can shake hands and do it properly

    More Downforce is a bad thing. I'm not looking forward to next years regulations. I think the races will be very boring
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  4. "One thing i really don't understand is why people were complaining about the fact the Hamilton was slowing Rosberg down, has no one heard of the concept 'overtaking' or is it just me? In my eyes Rosberg was using his own inability to pass as an excuse to whine to the team about the fact that Hamilton was slow"

    Nico didn't need to overtake Hamilton so why take the risk? :D ;)
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  5. @k_badam & Andy 'Mars Bar' Graham

    It's a matter of being fair or not, you are racing to go fast...
    In Interlagos Lewis was wearing "The Senna Colors" on his Helmet, does Ayrton would have done something like this...?

  6. GTSpeedster


    What Lewis Hamilton did was disgraceful. That was not racing. Period. And just to be clear I couldn't care less about Rosberg or any of those drivers to be perfectly honest.

    One has to be a pretty biased not to see how wrong this sort of tactic is.

    Additionally, don't they have any kind of leadership in that team?

    I can't imagine anyone ignoring team orders - on a constant basis at that - from Todd, Brawn, Dennis, Head, Ligier and so on. Toto Wolff strikes me as a spineless type who pretends to talk a big game but is the first one out of the door if the opposition is not intimidated by his facade.
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  7. GTSpeedster


    I agree with your point entirely. But actually Senna would most definitely do something like that if not worst.

    Most people either didn't really watch him race or prefer to look back through rose-colored glasses but the truth of the matter is that Senna was an extremely dirty driver.
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  8. If you look back over f1 history there are very few examples of it being between two team mates where the naturally more racey driver is on pole, the Championship leader is 2nd and for the pole sitter they need team mate to finish 4th to win the seasons points total. Coupled with the car being a clear favourite to be able to gain places back if lost (such the advantage the car has) and car reliability another unusual factor not expected to enter the equation, it was an unusual set of circumstances. Go fast and prove...well nothing really..or try to make it interesting?

    I thought both drivers handled the situation well , both had to drive with skill, both wanted to end the points winner, both in my opinion drove superbly under pressure.

    Congratulations to both the Mercedes drivers.

    There are many reactions I have seen from lots of differing perspectives and more commonly biased position comments, but the general feel among many, is that it was a fair race and it was interesting. I enjoyed it, I want to see racing of all kinds, I sit down to watch a sport, not a predictable outcome or for a team to decide which of its own 2 drivers finish where. In a sport where margins between teams can be quite significant I want to see the sporting spirit upheld my the management.

    I saw nothing from both Lewis Hamilton slowing Nico Rosberg, or Nico Rosberg asking the team to intervene that I have not seen in countless other sports be done, like in football players looking for fouls, running clock down etc etc.
  9. @GTSpeedster
    About Senna, I'll don't debate on this as I think none of us will change his point of view...
    Anyway I jump on this occasion to thank you for your youtube channel... long time with no new post over there... whistling...
    Thanks again.
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  10. I hate Hamilton. I'm fine with what he was doing.
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  11. samcar304

    Staff Premium

    As a big fan of both drivers it was great final laps. I was sweating buckets hoping Nico would hold on, and that he did! Very happy with the result fully deserved it after the year he has had.

    Unlucky for Hamilton but that is the nature of the sport, If anyone still wants to say Lewis should be champion because of the reliability issues probably forget Lewis only won the 2008 season because Massa's engine failed in Hungary and his team let him down in Singapore.
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  12. Benutzername

    The Will to Death is what keeps me alive Premium

    I don't get all the discussions...

    Rosbergs target: Win the title. Achieved it.

    Hamiltons target: Win the title
    -> How to achieve that? Winning isn't enough, Rosberg will most likely be 2nd. He is a good driver and the car is a class better thaan the rest. What to do? Slow down to give him pressure from the back, as the Mercedes seem to be hard to overtake with another Mercedes due to dirty air. Also it would've worn Rosbergs tyres, or he had to go into a battle. Which would worn his tyres aswell.

    So i claim, as a racing driver you want to win. You want to drive fast. But you more likely want to win the title instead of just a race. You won't drive fullspeed the whole race anyway because of the tyres these days. They have to drive clever. And in Hamiltons position he needed to do that more extremely.
    + He didnt overdo it. he could have slowed down way more

    Mercedes target: Win both titles. Check. But they are also a brand, they don't want negative publicity. And they want to sell cars. Does it sell good if the drivers drive slowly on purpose? No. And its bad publicity. Mercedes also is doesn't need one specific driver to win the title. Just race normally and its fine. Hamilton disobeyed, of course they arent that happy. And as a team manager, ordering his driver 15 times (read that somewhere, dont know if its true) that he should drive faster and he still disobeyed.

    Could you as a normal guy at work disobey the commands from your chef that many times without forcing ANY consequences?

    Different targets, obvious reactions.
    Where is the problem?

    I saw a race that wasnt that interesting til the last laps. The game could have changed brutally for Rosberg during the last laps. Interesting end to a season.

    Congratulations to Rosberg, he deserved a title. Hats of to Hamilton, who also would have been a deserving champion.
    To the ones saying that LHamilton lost because of bad luck, well, Rosberg had bad luck in the past seasons aswell. I remember Singapore in 2014 i believe to name an example, which could have been a huge step forward for him. And a mental boost instead of a mental hit. Which makes a huge difference.

    Im excited for the new season, which i wasnt the last years. the cars should be interesting and a guy who achieved his main goal can drive more freely now.

    Im done.
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  13. I understand your fair racing but yes Senna would have done worse as he did in suzuka 1990
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  14. Why are we comparing what Hamilton and Senna would have done?

    Hamilton is not Senna.
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  15. Thats what happens when a name gets thrown in the mix
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  16. Mercedes had the title in the bag since some races ago. Only Mercedes drivers could win the drivers championship. I wouldn't act like Hamilton did but I think that in those circumstances Mercedes team orders were favoring Rosberg over Hamilton in the championship fight. Hamilton didn't respected them because he thought he was being denied a chance to fight for the title. You cannot ask I driver to go against his own interests when the team is already champion.
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  17. I remember that race all to well, I watched it at what ever time in the morning it was aged 20 (f1 fan often wakes to go to sleep again or waits to sleep to watch, as every now and then magic happens).
    It's why I don't put either Senna or Prost amoung the greatest the media talk about, as it just wasn't Japan that season.

    On the subject of sporting/gentlemanly conduct we have seen very little over the years in F1 and some behaviour that is more business man than sportsman.

    My hat still gets tipped to respect though to drivers like Juan Manuel Fangio, Jim Clark and this guy whom put up with so much from Ferrari and also is only person to win top series in motobikes and cars John Surtees.
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  18. And for this reason The Padock call him "The Magic"....
  19. Put the young wonderkid Verstappen , with his amazing overtaking abilities ( inside , outside , on bends , anywhere on the track basically :p ) , in a Mercedes and he'd leave both Hamilton and Rosberg in the distance . I truly believe this young lad has the potential to be the best F1 driver since Schumacher . If he'd had the Red Bull since the start of the season he'd have beaten Vettel in the standings . If Red Bull are a bit closer in performance to Mercedes next season then both Verstappen and Ricciardo are good enough to give both Mercedes drivers a real run for their money .
    • Agree Agree x 3
  20. I'm the opposite. I'm expecting the worst season in terms of on track action in history potentially. Downforce could become this sports worse nightmare