#F1 Race Review: 2016 FORMULA 1 ETIHAD AIRWAYS ABU DHABI GRAND PRIX

Race review
Brought to you by TheJudge13 contributor @F1TheaJ

 

Well, well, well. Hamilton started on pole with Rosberg taking P2. Raikonnen was pipped to P3 by Ricciardo, with Vettel in P5 next to Verstappen in P6. The Red Bulls started on supersofts while the remainder of the top ten started on Ultrasofts.

Either Hamilton or Rosberg would be 2016 Driver Champion by the end of the race but who would it be? Did Rosberg have the easier job (only had to finish on the podium to clinch the title) being 12 points ahead of Hamiilton or does he have more to loose (for the same reasons?)

The race got off to a pretty clean start with Hamilton and Rosberg getting into turn1 in P1 and P2. Ricciardo lost P3 to Raikonnen after a small lock up. Vettel held P5 but Verstappen dropped like a stone to the back of the pack after a minor collision with Hulkenberg which sent Verstappen into a spin and allowed Hukenberg to move up a place.

By L2, Magnusen was in the pits for a very slow pitstop as the front wing just wouldn’t budge. He was the first retirement of the race (L5)

There was a flurry of early pitstops with Sainz and Wehrlein coming in on L6, followed by Nasr, Palmer, Alonso, Hamilton and Raikonnen on L7. Hamilton’s pitstop was slowed by the incoming Raikonnen who had to be allowed past Hamilton’s garage before Hamilton could be released (no risk of a penalty for unsafe release in this race.)

Rosberg swiftly followed suit on the next lap and was covered by Vettel in a remarkably similar move: Rosberg’s stop was also compromised by Vettel coming into his garage. With Hulkenberg, Massa, Gutierrez, Kvyat, Ricciardo and Perez also pitting, Verstappen (having made a couple of overtakes) found himself back at the front of the pack. In fact by L10 Verstappen was in P2 behind Hamilton but ahead of Rosberg, who in P3 was still in a WDC winning position.

By Lap 11 Hamilton was running a good 8 seconds per lap slower than qualifying pace, so it seemed he was taking Christian Horner’s advice and trying to back up the pack leaving Rosberg vulnerable to loosing P3.

The question on everyone’s lips, as Verstappen continued lap after lap on the supersoft tyres, was how deep can he go into the race and was he on a one stop strategy?

Sadly L12 saw a front suspension failure and we lost Button from the race, followed shortly thereafter by Kvyat on L16.

L19 saw a brave but ultimately failed overtake attempt by Ricciardo on Raikonnen which had the unfortunate effect of slowing him enough to make him vulnerable to the chasing Vettel.

By L20 Rosberg was told to get on with it and overtake Verstappen who was (having not pitted) clearly on a one stop strategy. Rosberg duly obliged and after a bit of a scrap took P2. Verstappen made his first (and only) pitstop the following lap, emerging in P8 on a brand new set of soft tyres.

At this point the front runners were Hamilton, Rosberg, Raikonnen, Ricciardo , Vettel, Hulkenberg, Perez, Verstappen, Massa and Alonso.

On Lap 22 Rosberg was told his next three laps were crucial, as it was likely that Verstappen was going to go to the end of the race on his current set of soft tyres.

Having tried and failed to overtake Raikonnen, Ricciardo then pitted on Lap 24 onto a fresh set of soft tyres. Raikonnen coverd him the following lap but crucially came out behind Ricciardo, so Red Bull’s strategy of using the undercut to get Ricciardo ahead of Raikonnen worked nicely, with Ricciardo now in P7 ahead of Raikonnen in P8.

Hulkenberg and Perez pitted over the next two laps, followed by Hamilton on L28 and Rosberg on L29. All this left Vettel leading the race for the next nine laps until he pitted for a fresh set of supersoft tyres on lap 37, emerging into P6. By L41 Hamilton had caught up with the back markers and quickly made short work of Sainz and Palmer. Vettel, on new tyres, was much faster than his teammate and quickly took P5. Verstapen, then Ricciardo also lapped Sainz and Palmer, who unfortunately had a collision (or rather Palmer ran into the back of Sainz and received a five second penalty for his efforts which came as little consolation to Sainz who subsequently retired with gear box failure.)

Vettel continued his charge and by L44, having set the fastest lap, was within three seconds of Ricciardo. By this time Mercedes realized they wouldn’t be having it all their own way and told Hamilton that Vettel was an ‘iminent threat.’ By L46 Vettel had made short work of Ricciardo and taken P4. Hamilton had been lapping around 1:46.2 (slow) and by L46 was given a clear ‘instruction’ by the team that he needed to be lapping at 1:45.1. He responded by telling them to ‘let us race’ and started backing them up even more. By lap 51 Vettel had overtaken Verstappen and was on for the third podium position and at the rate Hamilton was dawdling home, possibly the win.

By now Rosberg had been on the radio saying he could go much faster than the current pace which resulted in Paddy Lowe getting on the blower to Hamilton with ‘a clear instruction’ to Hamilton to pick up the pace. Hamilton’s response? He slowed it down even more and actually said he was loosing the World Championship and didn’t care if he won or lost this race.

By this time Rosberg was less than 0.8s behind Lewis and had even less of a lead over Vettel: Verstappen wasn’t too far behind either. Rosberg was looking very vulnerable now to both Vettel and possibly Verstappen (and if he came 4th he would loose not only the race but the WDC as well.)

With two laps to go there was a bit of a dog fight between Rosberg and Vettel, with Rosberg defending gallantly (in fact his engineers came on the radio and reminded him that he only needed to come home third to clinch the WDC.)

However Vettel’s progression through the ranks was not to be. The race ended with Hamilton (very narrowly) taking victory ahead of Rosberg who was ahead of Vettel followed by Verstappen.

Hamilton won the race but lost the WDC. Rosberg won the WDC and Vettel won Driver of the Day and DHL fastest lap award.

Rosberg and Vettel seemed happy with their lot. Hamilton was not.

So, that’s it for this year folks……

1. Lewis Hamilton GBR Mercedes-Mercedes 1hr 38m 04.013s 55 laps
2. Nico Rosberg GER Mercedes-Mercedes +0.439s
3. Sebastian Vettel GER Ferrari-Ferrari +0.843
4. Max Verstappen NED Red Bull-TAG Heuer +1.685s
5. Daniel Ricciardo AUS Red Bull-TAG Heuer +5.315s
6. Kimi Raikkonen FIN Ferrari-Ferrari +18.816s

7. Nico Hulkenberg GER Force India-Mercedes +50.114s
8. Sergio Perez MEX Force India-Mercedes +58.776s
9. Felipe Massa BRA Williams-Mercedes +59.436s
10. Fernando Alonso ESP McLaren-Honda +59.896s

11. Romain Grosjean FRA Haas-Ferrari +1m 16.777s
12. Esteban Gutierrez MEX Haas-Ferrari +1 lap
13. Esteban Ocon FRA MRT-Mercedes +1 lap
14. Pascal Wehrlein GER MRT-Mercedes +1 lap
15. Marcus Ericsson SWE Sauber-Ferrari +1 lap
16. Felipe Nasr BRA Sauber-Ferrari +1 lap
17. Jolyon Palmer GBR Renault-Renault +1 lap

Not Classified

Rtd.Carlos Sainz Jr ESP Toro Rosso-Ferrari
Rtd. Jenson Button GBR McLaren-Honda
Rtd. Daniil Kvyat RUS Toro Rosso-Ferrari
Rtd. Valtteri Bottas FIN Williams-Mercedes
Rtd. Kevin Magnussen DEN Renault-Renault

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28 responses to “#F1 Race Review: 2016 FORMULA 1 ETIHAD AIRWAYS ABU DHABI GRAND PRIX

  1. Congrats to Nico Rosberg on a well deserved WC. He won it fair and square.

    “He slowed it down even more and actually said he was loosing the World Championship and didn’t care if he won or lost this race.”

    There’s been a lot said of #44’s tactic of backing the field up. I suppose with Rosberg in 2nd, #44 was grasping at straws to retain the WC. The problem with what #44 did was it only worked if both Red Bulls were behind Rosberg, as Rosberg still had the luxury of dropping to 3rd. With Vettel in 3rd it wasn’t going to happen. Vettel wasn’t never going to overtake Rosberg and potentially cost him the WC. In effect Vettel protected Rosberg from Verstappen.

    The bigger issue for M-B is a driver saying he doesn’t care whether he wins or loses. That’s an all about me attitude and why #44 is widely disliked.

    • Fully agree and I doubt 44 will have another championship with Merc, a total own goal by the ex world champ

      • Fully agree – I want to be a fan but the petulant teenager act puts me off – he would have done his cause more good if he had just disappeared of into the distance as I am sure he could have done – “see I am the fastest”

  2. Nice one, Thea.

    Congratulations to Nico. Well deserved.

    Lewis not only lost the WDC to his team-mate yesterday, but also his integrity.

    Vettel, in the end, was Karma made manifest.

    • Woops, think the included Twitter-link got me in mod. Comment again, without link:
      —-
      Nice one, Thea.

      Congratulations to Nico. Well deserved.

      Lewis not only lost the WDC to his team-mate yesterday, but also his integrity.

      Vettel, in the end, was Karma made manifest.

      @WTF_F1

    • Lewis couldn’t say before the race what he was gonna do. Any suggestion of backing up Nico would’ve lead to a strict order against it from Mercedes. So in order to be as much in control of his destiny as he could be, he had to deny any plans beforehand.

      Schumacheresque ruthlessness. Entertaining to watch.

      • Ruthless to his rivals and rival teams, no doubt… never to his own team, putting a GP win in danger. Malaysia ’99 etc. Also, intra-team ruthlessness was out in the open and clear Ferrari policy. Hamilton has form in self-serving intra-team deception.

      • Lewis didn’t have to say he wouldn’t do it either.

        “Tactics? Umm … not sure just yet. I’ll speak with my crew and let my actions on the track do the talking. Speak to me after the race”

  3. Thanks, @F1TheaJ

    What I saw was how far ahead of the field MB still are – able to quickly skip away or go as slow as they like and still keep the lead. That bollocks about RBR’s long run pace during the FP sessions was obviously just MB sandbagging (again).

    It all makes me fear for next year and the new regulations. RBR and Ferrari are still a long way off. Boredom in 2017 yet again?

    Take into account the ridiculously slow pace at the front and all the interest of the race (how “close” is looked) was bollocks, too – just Lewis pulling the strings. Props to Nico for not making a mistake under a lot of pressure and so not chucking it away. NR’s comments after the race along the lines of “no surprises, no blood, no foul” put him up in my estimation.

    I’m cool with LH’s slow-motion brake check tactic. Whatever. All the drivers would do the same thing in the same situation.

    I’m not cool with LH pretty much saying pre-race that he wouldn’t do what he did – even though he every intention of doing so. Gutless.

    LH’s other self-preening comments in the lead up to the race and afterwards haven’t changed my opinion that he’s a miserable, petulant, entitled man-child. All of the drivers are largely the same, of course. Lewis is near the top of the class though.

    • “I’m not cool with LH pretty much saying pre-race that he wouldn’t do what he did – even though he every intention of doing so. Gutless.” – Roger

      Exactly. Pre-finale article for reference in my above comment. Click for exact quotes.

  4. Mercedes employs Hamilton predominantly to be part of a team effort to score as many points as possible. Which driver wins the World Championship is of secondary importance to Mercedes.
    Hamilton’s actions amounted to trying to assist Ferrari and Red Bull to score points at the expense of Mercedes.
    It would be similar to a footballer scoring a blatant own goal. In this case he would face severe sanctions and may not play for the team again.
    Maybe Mercedes should give Hamilton the boot!

    • Mercedes employs Hamilton predominantly to be part of a team effort to win the Constructor’s Championship. Whether they win this by a 243 point margin or a 297 point margin is surely of no interest or importance to anybody? Not even Mercedes. And whilst no doubt good for their egos, surely there also comes a point where they don’t want to seem to be too dominant? What value victory if nobody seems capable of putting up any fight?

      Oh, and the other thing Mercedes want from their drivers is column-inches (or these days, clicks!). Of which they have rather more as a result of yesterday’s race being run the way it was…

  5. So will Wolff now call Vettel’s dad?
    Vettel will now go in the history books as the man who inlfuenced the title and you don’t want be remembered for that reason, right?

  6. let’s be honest – #44Marmite is very talented. I would’ve preferred him to walk away from the field as that would’ve been classy – but with great talent can come great petulence and arrogance, both characteristics displayed by him yesterday. He blew his own chances in Baku and Singapore so he has no one else to blame but himself. Congrats to Nico – but will he ever attract the attention of Hamilton? or that cheating bastard Shumi? Nah – completely forgettable but still WDC. The next bit of toast with yeasty spread is Verstappen – arrogant and talented so I look forward to some heated conversation about him too over the coming years.,

    • Agreed the classy thing to have done is won by 30,40 or more seconds to show off his talent.
      Judging by Toto’s comments after the race Lewis will get off with a slap on the wrist.

  7. What can I say? Haters are going to hate. If Lewis had disappeared off into the distance then you would all be complaining he hadn’t even tried to win the championship. Lewis’s backing up plan would probably have worked if Verstappen hadn’t had his spin on the first lap. It is possible he would have passed Nico and backed him up into his team mate or the Ferraris. Nico couldn’t have risked tangling with the Red Bulls to have any chance of winning the championship.
    Anyway, congratulations to Rosberg and to Mercedes, they now have a German driver winning the drivers championship in a German car, albeit designed and built in the UK.

  8. Yadda yadda yadda….
    I’m no Hamfoso, but enough with the holier-than-thou pronouncements from the pulpit.
    – We bemoan the media-friendly anodyne clonebot test-pilots, then cite imaginary standards from a nonexistent ‘Sportsperson’s Guidebook To Life And Morals’ when they display the slightest Hunt-like tendencies. Different people have different personalities, tastes, and interests, at different times of their lives. Get over it. Screeching about how someone spends their life, via the internet, typing furiously away, changing precisely nothing… Ch…Ch…Chiggedy Check Yourself!
    – We demand unprecedented levels of access to these protagonists pre-, during, and post-race, then act surprised when they display signs of being an actual living, breathing, thinking, feeling, emotional creature beneath all of that kevlar & carbon fibre. I’ve seen boxers, footballers, and, yes, even racing drivers be magnanimous in defeat. I’ve also seen them ‘shell shocked’, crying, and in denial, as well as devastated, angry, and resentful. Especially in the immediate aftermath of their loss, still coming down off the adrenaline.
    – We expect to be entertained, commentators and fans alike disappointed at the prospect of a damp squib finale as both silver arrows look to be disappearing off into the distance, then berate the defending world champion for providing a pocket of possibilities (doing the only thing left in his armoury, and applying some pressure to the proceedings in the hope that something pops) immediately after having goonishly watched one of the most exciting endings to a (somewhat predictable) championship. I see no reason why an intra-team battle should be any less intense than an inter-teams battle. At least he kept it clean, unlike a Senna, or a Schumacher. It’s naïve for Toto to expect to be able to control absolutely every element of his drivers behaviour. FFS, after 3 straight constructors and drivers titles, you’d think he’d have relaxed his sphincter by now. We get it. It’s the car, not the driver. Can we have some fun now?
    – We are all guilty of facilitating the polarisation of everything that is good in our world. Good or Bad. Hero or Zero. Gentleman or Villain. When did subtlety, nuance, and debate become such dirty words? We should demand more of ourselves, and the media that purports to reflect us. We should challenge lazy, reductive journalism that swings between sycophancy and shitstirring, constantly fanning the dimmest of sparks into a new ‘crisis’, to feed the headline machine.

    • Hi, Dobzizzle. Nice comment. I understand where you are coming from and I can only speak for myself.

      With respect — and I mean that sincerely as opposed to when one says it to preface something disrespectful — I feel what Hamilton did late-race was shitty, but entirely legal. Former F1 WDCs feel the same way, including some who support Hamilton. That’s not insignificant.

      Late-race tactics to one side, which aren’t the primary issue, in my fanlike opinion — and I’m just a fan on a “for the fans, by the fans” site — what was more noteworthy, for me, were Lewis’ impassioned pronouncements prior to the race, probably also expressed to his team internally, and the evident intent to act otherwise.

      To fool the team, and us, and place the GP win at risk – irrespective of Lewis’ assurances that he had the win under control. Autosport article snapshots above of said pronouncements. If you read it, fully, the disingenuity and farcical nature of it all becomes apparent. Some won’t care; some will.

      That’s worth calling out, in my opinion, on a “for the fans, by the fans” F1 site.

      Own it like a Senna or a Schumacher might’ve. Own the Hunt-like life, like a Kimi did/does. All your examples. When they haven’t owned it, they’ve been hammered in kind. Such is the general human response to deviousness, not ruthlessness.

      My two cents, and, again, I understand where you are coming from. I do. +1 comment, but, I’m eating my Schadenfreude cake; a cake of Brobdingnagian proportions. I’m barely half full.

      Cheers,

      @WTF_F1

      • Hi WTF_F1, been a while…

        With respect… and that is a central theme, I suppose. With respect, for each other’s opinions, thoughts, loyalties, moods, and emotions, we can have the fiercest of discussions, the liveliest of sparring sessions, and still emerge enriched by the experience, maybe with new insights, a changed opinion, at the very least a deeper understanding of rival positions. All part of the process of enhanced self-awareness through reflecting one’s ideas off as many surfaces as possible.

        With regards to your response, I kind of agree… Not so much for the on track action – I believe Lewis showed respect (and a good dollop of skill) by racing as hard (slow) as he could without resorting to dirty tactics – nor even for the pre-race bluster – I doubt Schumacher, Senna, or Prost knew, or would have admitted to knowing, exactly what they were going to do the next day when the lights went out – but for his initial response on the podium, which was a bit brattish. That was disrespectful. Took a DC intervention to smooth that over! Half an hour later, he was more accepting. Half an hour later, Nico was a lot more relaxed and reflective, too. That adrenaline really does supercharge the emotions…

        I guess we’d all be a little more forgiving if they were doing something a bit more normal, like competing for the attentions of a woman, instead of for a big gold cup. Although, if they had the race/championship prize money on a pallet on the top step of the podium I think the audience would accept far more dramatic displays of ecstasy/devastation.

        +1 yourself, and enjoy the Schadenfreude Cake, with a goodly spoonful of brandy cream!
        #nevertoosoon4brandycreamonyourspoon

  9. No, the classy thing would have been to hand the race win to Nico on the last corner, but without risking losing second place. That would have shut everyone up. The guy is a racer, there to win or bust, and I could tell just by looking that Nico would have done the same, as would 90% of the paddock. Nico ultimately wasn’t quick enough to beat a guy dragging an anchor around behind him, which speaks volumes.

    End of the day MB have two recent world champions on their books, champions who won using a MB car, and only Ferrari can lay claim to anything close to that. And by the end of the finale day you could see the feeling towards LH softening through the interviews, every driver understood exactly why the race went the way it did and none out there condemned him.

    It made a potentially boring race exciting, so no complaints from me.

  10. We watch races not to see which team is going to win, but which individual. We scrutinise their every move, expect to know the intricacies of their private lives and get to see them when they are at their most exposed and vulnerable, thrust into the spotlight with the adrenaline still coursing through their veins, with every word rtecorded and every nuance examined.

    It was good to see Nico relaxed yesterday after the interviews were all done, good to see him look human and not so robotic, his explanations of the last twenty laps complete with scrunching his face into his hands was enjoyable and he became a different person on screen as a result of release of the pressure of the long-awaited WDC win. Personally I thought he drove a stellar race, especially overtaking “Crazy Max” [can anyone imagine him saying that over the last six months?] and the last five laps, and he deserved his prize.

    • Yeah that was splendid tv: “Max, of all people… I never felt so bad” (paraphrased)

      If we get to see this Nico more, he will get a massive gathering.

      • In ten years of watching him second-guessing the interviewer, remembering what he said he would say, like it’s all planned out, I’ve never seen him be real, just this commercially-invented robot. I hope he sees this as a chance to show a little more warmth and become what we already see in some of the other drivers. Ultimately we have our favourites for a variety of reasons, and I suspect his attitude towards the fans at Spa when he accused them of knowing nothing took a lot of wearing away. I’m no fan but he made me smile on Sunday for the first time ever, and I don’t begrudge him a single point this season, which might not have been the case had he stuck a Schuey-esque nose in the air and started to look down on the rest like he seemed to before.

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