Rosberg wins Formula 1 title at Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

Nico Rosberg has clinched his maiden Formula 1 world championship by fending off Sebastian Vettel to finish second in the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix as title rival Lewis Hamilton won the race.

Rosberg entered the twenty-first and final Grand Prix of the season with a 12-point lead and simply needed to be third or higher to take the title no matter where Hamilton finished.

Hamilton kept the pace slow in the final stint when leading Rosberg, backing his Mercedes team-mate into the pack, despite persistent calls from his team to up speed.

But the tactic failed to pay off, with Rosberg soaking up the pressure from Vettel to guide his car home second.

As a result, Rosberg won the world championship by five points at Yas Marina to become the sport’s 33rd world champion, 34 years after his father Keke achieved the feat.

Hamilton led Rosberg away at the start but the Silver Arrows duo did not pull away from Kimi Raikkonen, who jumped Daniel Ricciardo, and Vettel.

Rosberg pitted a lap after Hamilton, ditching the ultra-softs for the softs, and like Hamilton was held in his box while a Ferrari entered the pits.

He rejoined behind Max Verstappen, who had spun at the first corner after contact with Nico Hulkenberg and had cut his way back through the field on the super-softs and was looking to extend his stint.

Mercedes told Rosberg he needed to pass Verstappen because the Red Bull driver was going purposefully slow, setting up a tense couple of moments as the two went wheel-to-wheel with Max holding firm.

After backing off for a few laps, Mercedes told Rosberg to attack again and this time, Nico made a pass stick through Turns 8 and 9 before covering the line into Turn 11 to retake second.

The second stops for both Hamilton and Rosberg were smooth, with the duo retaining formation as they rejoined second and third behind Vettel, who was running a long second stint, until Rosberg pitted.

The gap hovered around the one-second mark for much of the remainder of the race, with Hamilton appearing to attempt to back Rosberg into the chasing pack.

The main threat was Vettel, who was last of the frontrunners to make a final stop and took on fresh super-softs. He passed both Red Bulls and closed in on the two Mercedes, bringing Verstappen with him.

Rosberg complained Hamilton was too slow while Mercedes instructed Hamilton to up the pace, including a message from technical boss Paddy Lowe, but the reigning champion replied at one point “let us race”.

Ultimately, it didn’t pay off as Hamilton crossed the line to win his tenth race of the season, compared to nine wins for Rosberg, with his team-mate second.

Vettel, Verstappen, Ricciardo and Raikkonen completed the top six.

Force India’s Hulkenberg and Sergio Perez were seventh and eight respectively, securing fourth position in the constructors’ championship for the outfit for the first time.

Felipe Massa finished the final race of his Formula 1 career in ninth, with Fernando Alonso completing the top ten.

McLaren team-mate Jenson Button had a disappointing final race before his likely retirement. Button hitting a kerb at Turn 10 hard, causing damage to the steering and forcing him out.

Carlos Sainz retired with a gearbox problem, moments after he was hit by Renault’s Jolyon Palmer, while his Toro Rosso team-mate Daniil Kvyat also failed to finish.

And so ends a tense and dramatic season of Formula 1 racing. Hamilton put on a brave fight but it was his Mercedes team-mate and rival Rosberg who achieved the dream result. Congratulations Nico Rosberg. 2016 world champion.

Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, race results after 55 laps:
1    Lewis Hamilton    Mercedes
2    Nico Rosberg    Mercedes
3    Sebastian Vettel    Ferrari
4    Max Verstappen    Red Bull-Renault
5    Daniel Ricciardo    Red Bull-Renault
6    Kimi Raikkonen    Ferrari
7    Nico Hulkenberg    Force India-Mercedes
8    Sergio Perez    Force India-Mercedes
9    Felipe Massa    Williams-Mercedes
10    Fernando Alonso    McLaren-Honda
11    Romain Grosjean    Haas-Ferrari
12    Esteban Gutierrez    Haas-Ferrari
13    Esteban Ocon    Manor-Mercedes
14    Pascal Wehrlein    Manor-Mercedes
15    Marcus Ericsson    Sauber-Ferrari
16    Felipe Nasr    Sauber-Ferrari
17    Jolyon Palmer    Renault
–    Carlos Sainz    Toro Rosso-Ferrari
–    Daniil Kvyat    Toro Rosso-Ferrari
–    Jenson Button    McLaren-Honda
–    Valtteri Bottas    Williams-Mercedes
–    Kevin Magnussen    Renault

Final drivers’ standings:
1    Nico Rosberg    385
2    Lewis Hamilton    380
3    Daniel Ricciardo    256
4    Sebastian Vettel    212
5    Max Verstappen    204
6    Kimi Raikkonen    186
7    Sergio Perez    101
8    Valtteri Bottas    85
9    Nico Hulkenberg    72
10    Fernando Alonso    54
11    Felipe Massa    53
12    Carlos Sainz    46
13    Romain Grosjean    29
14    Daniil Kvyat    25
15    Jenson Button    21
16    Kevin Magnussen    7
17    Felipe Nasr    2
18    Jolyon Palmer    1
19    Pascal Wehrlein    1
20    Stoffel Vandoorne    1
21    Esteban Gutierrez    0
22    Marcus Ericsson    0
23    Esteban Ocon    0
24    Rio Haryanto    0

Final constructors’ standings:
1    Mercedes    765
2    Red Bull-Renault    468
3    Ferrari    398
4    Force India-Mercedes    173
5    Williams-Mercedes    138
6    McLaren-Honda    76
7    Toro Rosso-Ferrari    63
8    Haas-Ferrari    29
9    Renault    8
10    Sauber-Ferrari    2
11    Manor-Mercedes    1

Hamilton strikes with Abu Dhabi pole

Lewis Hamilton scored a vital pole position at Yas Marina in his quest to win his fourth world championship over his Mercedes rival Nico Rosberg.

The reigning world champion held provisional pole after the initial runs in Q3, just over three tenths quicker than Rosberg, and eventually completed two laps good enough for pole by breaking into the one minute, 38 seconds on his final run.

Championship leader Rosberg also improved on his second Q3 run, but ended up more than three tenths behind Hamilton.

If Hamilton wins Sunday’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Rosberg only needs to finish third to clinch his first Formula 1 world title.

Daniel Ricciardo qualified his Red Bull third fastest, ahead of Kimi Raikkonen’s Ferrari by just 0.015 seconds on his final Q3 run.

Ricciardo and his Red Bull Racing team-mate Max Verstappen, who qualified sixth fastest, will both start the race on the super-soft tyre, after progressing through Q2 without using the ultra-soft favoured by Mercedes and Ferrari.

Sebastian Vettel was fifth quickest for Ferrari, less than a tenth slower than Raikkonen.

Vettel suggested he lost time in Turns 16, 17 and 18, and that he went the wrong way on set-up for qualifying.

The Force Indias of Nico Hulkenberg and Sergio Perez locked out row four, just 0.018 seconds apart, while Fernando Alonso qualified his McLaren a tenth faster than Felipe Massa’s Williams, which rounded out the top ten.

Massa’s team-mate Valtteri Bottas just missed out on making Q3, finding time on his final Q2 lap but narrowly losing out to Alonso, who was quicker than Bottas by just 0.040 seconds.

Jenson Button qualified P12 for McLaren, dropping two tenths to Alonso in the middle sector and suggesting his car picked up understeer.

Esteban Gutierrez beat Haas team-mate Romain Grosjean to P13  by just under a tenth of a second, while Jolyon Palmer was P15 in the best of the Renaults, 0.175 seconds clear of Pascal Wehrlein, who put his Manor into Q2 for the fifth time this season.

Both Toro Rosso drivers fell in Q1, after losing most of Friday’s second practice to FIA safety checks to its cars, following punctures suffered on Daniil Kvyat’s car.

Kvyat was only P17, a tenth slower than Wehrlein, while Kvyat’s team-mate Carlos Sainz qualified on the last row of the grid.

Renault apologised to Kevin Magnussen after he failed to go quicker on his final Q1 run and wound up P18, ahead of Sauber’s Felipe Nasr, who complained of an ERS problem exiting Turn 14.

Esteban Ocon was P20 for Manor, after a slow first sector, while Marcus Ericsson qualified last, the Sauber driver apologising to the team for locking up under braking for Turn 17 and ruining his final flying lap in Q1.

So an important qualifying session for the Mercedes drivers. Hamilton has been quickest in every session so far but the one that counts will decide the championship. Rosberg just need to bring the car home in the race to win the title.

Qualifying positions, Yas Marina:
1    Lewis Hamilton    Mercedes    1m38.755s
2    Nico Rosberg    Mercedes    1m39.058s
3    Daniel Ricciardo    Red Bull-Renault    1m39.589s
4    Kimi Raikkonen    Ferrari    1m39.604s
5    Sebastian Vettel    Ferrari    1m39.661s
6    Max Verstappen    Red Bull-Renault    1m39.818s
7    Nico Hulkenberg    Force India-Mercedes    1m40.501s
8    Sergio Perez    Force India-Mercedes    1m40.519s
9    Fernando Alonso    McLaren-Honda    1m41.106s
10    Felipe Massa    Williams-Mercedes    1m41.213s
11    Valtteri Bottas    Williams-Mercedes    1m41.084s
12    Jenson Button    McLaren-Honda    1m41.272s
13    Esteban Gutierrez    Haas-Ferrari    1m41.480s
14    Romain Grosjean    Haas-Ferrari    1m41.564s
15    Jolyon Palmer    Renault    1m41.820s
16    Pascal Wehrlein    Manor-Mercedes    1m41.995s
17    Daniil Kvyat    Toro Rosso-Ferrari    1m42.003s
18    Kevin Magnussen    Renault    1m42.142s
19    Felipe Nasr    Sauber-Ferrari    1m42.247s
20    Esteban Ocon    Manor-Mercedes    1m42.286s
21    Carlos Sainz    Toro Rosso-Ferrari    1m42.393s
22    Marcus Ericsson    Sauber-Ferrari    1m42.637s

Hamilton victorious in wet Brazilian Grand Prix as Verstappen stars

Lewis Hamilton was victorious in a chaotic rain-affected Brazilian Grand Prix to take the Formula 1 championship battle to a title decider in Abi Dhabi.

The reigning world champion crossed the line 11.4 seconds ahead of his Mercedes team-mate and title rival Nico Rosberg and reduced the points gap to 12 with 25 available.

Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen pulled off a sensational display – making up 13 positions in 16 laps to snatch third at Interlagos in a race that included two red flags and required the safety car on five occasions.

Heavy rain delayed the start by ten minutes, with the conditions so treacherous that Romain Grosjean, who was due to start seventh, crashed on the way to the grid.

FIA race director Charlie Whiting elected to start the race behind the safety car, which stayed out for seven laps.

Hamilton pulled out a big lead over Rosberg immediately at the start proper, with Verstappen passing Kimi Raikkonen into the Senna S to snatch third.

Several drivers switched to intermediates but conditions remained tricky, as fifth-placed Sebastian Vettel proved by touching the white line at Juncao and spinning.

The safety car was called back out when Marcus Ericsson aquaplaned into the wall after touching the kerb on the inside of the final corner.

At the next restart on lap 20 of 71, Raikkonen aquaplaned on the main straight and slammed into the wall, prompting an almost immediate red flag.

After a 35-minute delay, the race restarted behind the safety car only to be red-flagged again eight slow laps later as the conditions failed to improve, leading to boos from the race crowd.

It finally got back under way following a 27-minute stoppage and this time ran to the finish.

As it resumed, Verstappen pulled off a sensational pass around the outside of Rosberg at Turn 3 to take second.

The youngster also held a high-speed half-spin at the final corner without even losing a place to Rosberg. That was an epic save from Verstappen.

But soon afterwards Red Bull chose to switch to intermediates, first with Daniel Ricciardo and then with Verstappen.

It proved the wrong call – Rosberg demonstrating how bad the weather still was as he had a half-spin out of Juncao without losing second place – and when the safety car came out again following a crash for Felipe Massa, Red Bull chose to bring its drivers back in for wets.

Massa was in tears as he walked back to the pits, a Brazilian flag draped around his shoulders, in what will be his final home race.

The safety car came in for the last time with 15 laps to go, setting up a frantic finish as Verstappen fought his way up the field and the race finished just inside the two-hour limit.

A series of outside-line passes brought Verstappen from P16 to the podium, while Hamilton pulled clear of Rosberg up front to seal a third-straight win.

Sergio Perez finished fourth, followed by the recovering Vettel, who felt Verstappen pushed him off the track in the closing stages, and Carlos Sainz.

Nico Hulkenberg was seventh, ahead of Ricciardo and Felipe Nasr, who scored Sauber’s first points of the season and moved the team ahead of Manor into tenth in the constructors’ championship. Manor ran in the points with Esteban Ocon for much of the afternoon but he eventually slipped to P12.

Fernando Alonso completed the top ten having been another spinner out of Juncao.

So the longest race of the season. Just over three hours with plenty of stoppage for safety reasons. The championship will go down to the wire between Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg.

The reigning champion has to win while Rosberg just needs to finish on the podium to land the title. All to play for at Abu Dhabi.

Brazilian Grand Prix, race results after 71 laps:
1    Lewis Hamilton    Mercedes    3h01m01.335s
2    Nico Rosberg    Mercedes    11.455s
3    Max Verstappen    Red Bull-Renault    21.481s
4    Sergio Perez    Force India-Mercedes    25.346s
5    Sebastian Vettel    Ferrari    26.334s
6    Carlos Sainz    Toro Rosso-Ferrari    29.160s
7    Nico Hulkenberg    Force India-Mercedes    –
8    Daniel Ricciardo    Red Bull-Renault    –
9    Felipe Nasr    Sauber-Ferrari    –
10    Fernando Alonso    McLaren-Honda    –
11    Valtteri Bottas    Williams-Mercedes    –
12    Esteban Ocon    Manor-Mercedes    –
13    Daniil Kvyat    Toro Rosso-Ferrari    –
14    Kevin Magnussen    Renault    –
15    Pascal Wehrlein    Manor-Mercedes    –
16    Jenson Button    McLaren-Honda    –
–    Esteban Gutierrez    Haas-Ferrari    –
–    Felipe Massa    Williams-Mercedes    –
–    Jolyon Palmer    Renault    –
–    Kimi Raikkonen    Ferrari    –
–    Marcus Ericsson    Sauber-Ferrari    –
–    Romain Grosjean    Haas-Ferrari    –

Drivers’ standings:
1    Nico Rosberg    367
2    Lewis Hamilton    355
3    Daniel Ricciardo    246
4    Sebastian Vettel    197
5    Max Verstappen    192
6    Kimi Raikkonen    178
7    Sergio Perez    97
8    Valtteri Bottas    85
9    Nico Hulkenberg    66
10    Fernando Alonso    53
11    Felipe Massa    51
12    Carlos Sainz    46
13    Romain Grosjean    29
14    Daniil Kvyat    25
15    Jenson Button    21
16    Kevin Magnussen    7
17    Felipe Nasr    2
18    Jolyon Palmer    1
19    Pascal Wehrlein    1
20    Stoffel Vandoorne    1
21    Esteban Gutierrez    0
22    Marcus Ericsson    0
23    Esteban Ocon    0
24    Rio Haryanto    0

Constructors’ standings:
1    Mercedes    722
2    Red Bull-Renault    446
3    Ferrari    375
4    Force India-Mercedes    163
5    Williams-Mercedes    136
6    McLaren-Honda    75
7    Toro Rosso-Ferrari    63
8    Haas-Ferrari    29
9    Renault    8
10    Sauber-Ferrari    2
11    Manor-Mercedes    1

Next race: Abu Dhabi. November 25-27.

Hamilton achieves his sixty career pole at Brazil

Lewis Hamilton recorded his sixty career pole position in Formula 1 with an important qualifying session at the Brazilian Grand Prix.

Championship rival Nico Rosberg put on a brave fight to wrestle that pole from his Mercedes team-mate but had to settle for second place.

With rain threatening, but never arriving beyond a few spots, throughout qualifying, Hamilton had the advantage after the first runs in Q3.

While Rosberg did make a small improvement on his second run, Hamilton was fast enough to defend top position – with his pace in the long middle sector particularly strong.

Kimi Raikkonen capitalised on the Red Bull drivers and Ferrari team-mate Sebastian Vettel failing to improve on their second runs to jump to third late on, 0.668 seconds off pole.

Max Verstappen shaded Vettel for fourth by just a hundredth of a second, complaining about losing rear grip mid-way through his second flying lap, with Ricciardo aborting his final quick lap in the middle sector and not able to do better than sixth.

After qualifying last in Mexico, Romain Grosjean equalled the Haas team’s best grid position of the season as he went seventh fastest.

Nico Hulkenberg had the edge in the Force India battle, lapping half-a-tenth quicker than team-mate Sergio Perez, with the pair in eighth and ninth place.

McLaren-Honda returned to Q3 after a three-race absence, Fernando Alonso ending up tenth.

Williams pairing Valtteri Bottas and Felipe Massa were both eliminated in a late flurry of improvements in Q2 as some spots of rain fell.

Bottas missed out on the top ten by just 0.060 seconds to Hulkenberg, while Massa had a poor first run then was unable to make a big enough improvement to do better than P13.

The Williams cars sandwiched the Haas of Esteban Gutierrez, with the Toro Rossos of Daniil Kvyat and Carlos Sainz P14 and P15, and Renault driver Jolyon Palmer P16 after several lock ups on his only Q2 lap on fresh rubber.

Jenson Button was the highest-profile casualty in Q1 in P17, lapping almost six tenths slower than team-mate Alonso and complaining of a lack of front grip having failed to improve his time on his second attempt.

Kevin Magnussen did improve on his second run having been slowest on the first, but that was only good enough to jump up to P19, ahead of the Manors of Pascal Wehrlein and Esteban Ocon.

Ocon complained about Wehrlein holding him up on his final run, while Wehrlein complained about being overtaken by his team-mate.

But Ocon was the only driver to get in trouble with the stewards, who will investigate whether or not he impeded Palmer as the Descida do Lago downhill left-hander during the session.

Sauber drivers Marcus Ericsson and Felipe Nasr take the back row, with the former finding a bigger improvement on his second run to jump ahead of his team-mate by just 0.058 seconds having earlier been over three tenths slower.

Nasr complained about traffic during his second run, although he was still able to improve on his first-run time by over four tenths.

Brazilian Grand Prix, qualifying positions:

1    Lewis Hamilton    Mercedes    1m10.736s
2    Nico Rosberg    Mercedes    1m10.838s
3    Kimi Raikkonen    Ferrari    1m11.404s
4    Max Verstappen    Red Bull-Renault    1m11.485s
5    Sebastian Vettel    Ferrari    1m11.495s
6    Daniel Ricciardo    Red Bull-Renault    1m11.540s
7    Romain Grosjean    Haas-Ferrari    1m11.937s
8    Nico Hulkenberg    Force India-Mercedes    1m12.104s
9    Sergio Perez    Force India-Mercedes    1m12.165s
10    Fernando Alonso    McLaren-Honda    1m12.266s
11    Valtteri Bottas    Williams-Mercedes    1m12.420s
12    Esteban Gutierrez    Haas-Ferrari    1m12.431s
13    Felipe Massa    Williams-Mercedes    1m12.521s
14    Daniil Kvyat    Toro Rosso-Ferrari    1m12.726s
15    Carlos Sainz    Toro Rosso-Ferrari    1m12.920s
16    Jolyon Palmer    Renault    1m13.258s
17    Jenson Button    McLaren-Honda    1m13.276s
18    Kevin Magnussen    Renault    1m13.410s
19    Pascal Wehrlein    Manor-Mercedes    1m13.427s
20    Esteban Ocon    Manor-Mercedes    1m13.432s
21    Marcus Ericsson    Sauber-Ferrari    1m13.623s
22    Felipe Nasr    Sauber-Ferrari    1m13.681s