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Race highlights - Abu Dhabi 2015 - F1 winds to a close under the darkening skies of the desert

Published by Christine

Rosberg wins the final race of the year
Credit: Mercedes AMG Petronas

With the Mercedes pair on the front row, it looked set to be just another 2015 race - domination from the German team from start to finish. And whilst that was the case, it was a surprisingly chaotic start to the race, that led to a tense waiting game towards the finish. Strategy calls were made and lost, unsafe releases spotted in the pit lane, and a handful of overtaking moves with varying degrees of success.

Follow the lap by lap action as the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix unfolded, from build up to the formation lap to the moment the winner crossed the chequered flag. Enjoy reliving the final race of the 2015 season.

As it happened: Abu Dhabi 2015 - The race

Event Highlights

  • Nico Rosberg wins the race, after an untroubled start from pole position
  • Hamilton recovers from a slower getaway to take solid second place
  • Vettel misses out on podium to Räikkönen but secures fourth after poor qualifying
  • Pastor Maldonado is knocked out on the first lap by Fernando Alonso
  • Unsafe release for Valtteri Bottas sees the Williams swipe into Jenson Button's McLaren
  • Max Verstappen picks up two penalties - overtaking off track, and ignoring blue flags
  • 12:45

    Hello F1 friends and fans, it's Abu Dhabi race day, the final round of the 2015 season - and what a long season it has been!

  • 12:46

    This is also the final round of the inter-team Mercedes battle - Nico Rosberg has scooped another pole position, his sixth in a row. But Lewis Hamilton is right there on the front row looking for a fight.

  • 12:47

    The big news from yesterday was Sebastian Vettel failing to get out of the first session of qualifying - Ferrari just mistimed their run and that's left him way down the grid.

  • 12:48
    Factbyte Factbox image

    The tyres on offer today are the soft (yellow) and supersoft (red). Pirelli boss Paul Hembery said on the grid: "Two stop, maybe Kimi’s got an extra option having that new set of supersofts. He’s very good here, maybe that will make the difference for him."

  • 12:49

    Romain Grosjean enters into his final race with the Lotus team, as he moves to Haas next year. Qualifying couldn't really have gone worse, as he stopped out on track with a broken car. He's picked up a gearbox penalty as well which puts him right at the back.

  • 12:51

    There's already been some drama at the Abu Dhabi track, with the last round of the GP2 race essentially cancelled after one lap. A huge crash on that first lap saw damage to the barriers and Charlie Whiting called it a day there. Hopefully we'll get more out of the F1 race!

  • 12:53
    Top ten grid positions
    1N RosbergMercedes
    2L HamiltonMercedes
    3K RäikkönenFerrari
    4S PérezForce India
    5D RicciardoRed Bull
    6V BottasWilliams
    7N HülkenbergForce India
    8F MassaWilliams
    9D KvyatRed Bull
    10C SainzToro Rosso
  • 12:53

    QuoteKvyat on the grid: "We’re hoping to be in the mix again, try to look after our tyres, make our strategy work and hopefully get some good points."

  • 12:54

    TweetTweet from @SkySportsF1: 'Today is about how you enter the winter, prove a bit of a point,' says Toto Wolff of the Nico v Lewis fight

  • 12:55

    Weather icon

    Wind speed2.2mps
  • 12:56

    Roberto Merhi appears to still be in the pit lane, as the rest of the grid settles in ahead of the formation lap.

  • 12:59

    Alterations to the suspension for Merhi, who is starting from the pit lane. Stevens is also down in 19th, which means Grosjean doesn't start right at the back. That's a bonus already for him!

  • 13:00

    Tyre blankets come off, mechanics clear the grid, and the formation lap is go. Nico Rosberg leads the field down the long straight to the first corner.

  • 13:01

    TweetTweet from @pirellisport: As we thought, Vettel will run on the soft tyre from 15th on the grid. Expect a long first stint. Can he get on the podium?

  • 13:01

    Ericsson, Grosjean, Stevens and Merhi are also starting on the softs, everyone else has the red supersofts on.

  • 13:03

    Rosberg rounds the final corner and slows the pace drastically to close up the pack. He pulls to a halt at the front of the field to wait for the lights.

  • 13:03

    Green flagRace started.

  • 13:03 Lap 1

    Hamilton is really slow away off the line, Rosberg nips forward to lead easily into the first corner. Hamilton manages to retain second.

  • 13:04 Lap 1

    AccidentBig crash at the back, looks like it involved a Lotus.

  • 13:05 Lap 1

    Lots of jostling for position in the midfield, Verstappen hustling Massa for position, the Williams just about staying ahead for 10th.

  • 13:06 Lap 1

    It was Maldonado in that collision at the first corner, he's out of the race. Fernando Alonso comes into the pits for a new front nose and a puncture on the front right.

  • 13:06 Lap 2

    The top four have not changed position then, but Hülkenberg has improved up to fifth place, ahead of Ricciardo and Sainz who has jumped from 10th to 7th.

  • 13:07 Lap 2

    Vettel is already up to 12th, he's got ahead of Button and has Verstappen next in his sights.

  • 13:07 Lap 3

    Race controlDRS enabled.

  • 13:08 Lap 3

    Felipe Massa sets the fastest first sector so far, and he dives to the inside of Sainz to attempt an overtake. They're side by side for a couple of corners, until eventually Massa outdrags the Toro Rosso to take the place.

  • 13:09 Lap 4

    Behind them Bottas overtook Kvyat, but couldn't slow it down in time, and Kvyat makes an aggressive move to get the place back.

  • 13:09 Lap 4

    TweetTweet from @milesey70: Alonso "does a Maldonado" on Maldonado #BBCF1

  • 13:10 Lap 5

    Romain Grosjean does a carbon copy of Massa's move to try and get past Felipe Nasr, the pair are side by side, corner for corner, until the Lotus eventually ends up ahead. That's the fight for 14th place.

  • 13:11 Lap 5

    Replays of the start show Alonso and Vettel squeezing Nasr, there was contact between the McLaren and the Sauber. The out of control Alonso then sailed into the back of Maldonado, knocking the Lotus out of the race.

  • 13:12 Lap 5

    Race controlTurn 1 incident involving Alonso and Maldonado under investigation - causing a collision. Drive through penalty for Alonso.

  • 13:14 Lap 7

    Ricciardo made the best use of DRS to overtake Nico Hülkenberg, the Australian hustling his way into fifth place.

  • 13:15 Lap 7

    The pit window is now officially open, a little bit earlier than anticipated. Pérez, Ricciardo and Massa all come in for their first stops of the afternoon.

  • 13:16 Lap 7
    One to Watch
    C Sainzvs.V Bottas
  • 13:17 Lap 8

    Sainz ruined that battle by coming into the pit lane, and it's a slow stop - the rear wheels were off the ground as Carlos tried to accelerate away.

  • 13:17 Lap 8

    Hülkenberg also in the pits, and he rejoins ahead of Felipe Massa.

  • 13:18 Lap 9

    Bottas is in for his pit stop. A beautiful clean stop from the Williams, but Bottas collides into the back of an incoming McLaren!

  • 13:19 Lap 9

    Front wing endplate flies off the Williams, and now he's got to do a whole lap minus half a front wing.

  • 13:19 Lap 10

    It was Button that was incoming, and it doesn't look like there was much damage to the McLaren. Meanwhile, Alonso comes in for his drive through penalty.

  • 13:20 Lap 10

    Race controlIncident involving Bottas and Button under investigation - unsafe release.

  • 13:21 Lap 10

    The Williams mechanics are waiting with a new front wing and Bottas heads in, that's a huge delay for the Finn.

  • 13:21 Lap 10

    Team radioTeam radio to Button: "Bottas ahead has front wing damage."

    "Yea, I KNOW, do we have rear wing damage?"

  • 13:22 Lap 11

    Alonso is complaining on his radio that he doesn't understand why he's been penalised for the first lap collision.

  • 13:23 Lap 12

    Sergio Pérez is hunting Romain Grosjean for fifth place, they're dipping back and forth as they circle the track.

  • 13:23 Lap 12

    Race control5 second time penalty for Bottas - unsafe release.

  • 13:24 Lap 12

    TweetTweet from @pirellisport: The 'undercut' could be a key factor here: pitting earlier than your rival and taking advantage of the extra speed on fresher rubber

  • 13:25 Lap 12

    Both the Mercedes drivers have pitted from up front. Sebastian Vettel is all the way up in second place now, but hasn't stopped yet, obviously. He started on the different tyre to the top runners.

  • 13:25 Lap 13

    Pérez did get that place on Grosjean, he's up to fifth now with Räikkönen seven seconds further up the road.

  • 13:25 Lap 13

    Team radioTeam radio to Daniel Ricciardo: "Time to get stuck into it, tyres are going to be fine."

  • 13:26 Lap 13
    Driver Positions
    10N Rosberg1
    213S Vettel0
    3-1L Hamilton1
    4-1K Räikkönen1
    5-1S Pérez1
  • 13:27 Lap 13

    Grosjean is sitting in sixth place, having lost that place to Sergio, but he also hasn't taken his first stop of the day.

  • 13:27 Lap 14

    Ericsson, also on the different tyres, is getting in the way of a few drivers, but Kvyat makes short work of him and moves into 10th.

  • 13:28 Lap 14

    Vettel locked up and ran wide in the hotel section, which allowed Hamilton to close the gap and pass the Ferrari with ease. Up to second again for the Brit.

  • 13:29 Lap 15

    TweetTweet from @WilliamsRacing: Shame about @ValtteriBottas's pit collision, he was starting to show great pace

  • 13:30 Lap 15
    Battle for 11th
    11M Ericsson-
    12C Sainz+0.371
    13M Verstappen+0.752
  • 13:31 Lap 16

    Sainz easily heads past Ericsson and disappears into the distance. It can't be long until Max also makes a move.

  • 13:31 Lap 16

    No need, Ericsson pits and releases Verstappen to chase after his teammate.

  • 13:32 Lap 16

    The two Ferraris are also now in battle, with Räikkönen close up behind Vettel - they are on two completely different strategies so Vettel doesn't make it hard for the Finn to get past.

  • 13:34 Lap 17

    All eyes on Vettel and Grosjean - when will they pit? Stevens and Merhi have also yet to stop, they are sitting at the back in 17th and 18th.

  • 13:34 Lap 18

    Vettel asks the team whether it was the right thing to do to let his teammate past, which is perhaps a question he should have asked beforehand. Thankfully, they confirm it was.

  • 13:35 Lap 18
    Gap Analysis
  • 13:36 Lap 19

    Verstappen gets past Sainz remarkably easily, was that a teammate thing too?

  • 13:37 Lap 19
    Driver Analysis
    DriverR Grosjean
    TeamLotus F1
    Last lap1:49.048
    Best lap1:48.823
  • 13:38 Lap 19

    Alonso has come into the pit lane again, technically his third visit of the day thanks to penalties and repairs and whatnot.

  • 13:38 Lap 20

    Blue flags for Merhi, as Rosberg starts to catch the cars at the back.

  • 13:40 Lap 20

    QuotePastor Maldonado after his first lap exit: "It’s racing, it can happen, we are already in next year. We work really hard to try to get better and better. I think we have all the tools and all the chances as a team to be stronger next year."

  • 13:40 Lap 21

    Daniel Ricciardo has moved up to within a second of Grosjean, but the Lotus has still yet to pit.

  • 13:41 Lap 21

    After flat-spotting his tyres, Verstappen dives into the pit lane for a fresh set of yellows, that's a short stint for the Toro Rosso driver.

  • 13:43 Lap 23

    The dusk is really setting in now, and the floodlighting is starting to take effect.

  • 13:44 Lap 23

    Fernando is told on the radio that his pace is much better and he's now going the same pace as Vettel. That'll cheer him up! His target is Roberto Merhi. That probably won't.

  • 13:45 Lap 23

    Hamilton is closing the gap to Rosberg now, it was five seconds but has now dropped to 3.6.

  • 13:45 Lap 24

    Vettel finally comes into the pit lane. It's another set of yellow softs going on the Ferrari, so he'll definitely be coming in again at some point.

  • 13:46 Lap 24

    Romain Grosjean also pits, leaving just the two Manor drivers yet to come in.

  • 13:47 Lap 25

    Vettel rejoined in sixth place, behind former teammate Daniel Ricciardo.

  • 13:47 Lap 25

    Will Stevens comes in for his first pit stop, whilst Manor teammate Merhi runs off track briefly.

  • 13:48 Lap 26
    Driver Positions
    10N Rosberg1
    20L Hamilton1
    30K Räikkönen1
    40S Pérez1
    50D Ricciardo1
    69S Vettel1
    71F Massa1
    81D Kvyat1
    91C Sainz1
    108R Grosjean1
  • 13:50 Lap 27

    Halfway through the race now, I'm calling it - moon o'clock.

    Weather icon

    Wind speed1.2mps
  • 13:52 Lap 28

    Hamilton has closed up once more, just 1.5 seconds between the two now.

  • 13:53 Lap 28

    The Force India guys dash into the pit lane, and Sergio Pérez comes in for his second stop. He rejoins in front of Ricciardo.

  • 13:55 Lap 29

    Team radioTeam radio to Daniil Kvyat: "We're expecting the same front left limitation, we think that was a result of the brake balance issues we had. Should be more under control this stint."

  • 13:56 Lap 29

    I missed Merhi coming in for his stop, so at least all the runners have been in to the pit lane at least once now. Plenty have been in for their second stops as well.

  • 13:56 Lap 30

    The top four have yet to make their second stop, and Hamilton is still hunting his teammate down for the lead.

  • 13:57 Lap 30

    Bottas pits, and he'll have to take his five second penalty at the same time. It seems like a neverending pit stop but eventually he gets going again - cleanly this time.

  • 13:59 Lap 32

    Team radioTeam radio from Sergio Pérez: "We are pulling away from him, right? I am not happy with the balance."

    He's talking about Daniel Ricciardo, who would be happy to take fifth place from him.

  • 13:59 Lap 32

    Rosberg dives in to the pit lane from the lead of the race. It's a supreme stop, quick and clean, and he's on his way again.

  • 14:00 Lap 32
    Pit Stop Analysis
    DriverN Rosberg
    Pit lane21.580s
  • 14:00 Lap 32

    Hamilton is released into the lead, at least temporarily, so he's put the hammer down. Fastest first sector straight away, as Rosberg rejoins in third.

  • 14:02 Lap 33

    Räikkönen comes in and there's a problem in his pit stop! Right front is delayed coming off, and it's a 6.6 second stop for the Ferrari.

  • 14:02 Lap 33

    Kimi has rejoined behind Vettel again, will their mix of strategies mean he gets another easy pass?

  • 14:04 Lap 33
    One to Watch
    S Vettelvs.K Räikkönen
  • 14:05 Lap 35

    Team radioTeam radio to Sebastian Vettel: "Alonso in front of you."

    "He must really hate me, I don't know what's wrong with him. I'm losing a second just because of that."

  • 14:08 Lap 36

    Ferrari radio suggests that Sebastian has been told to move aside, and there we go, he pulls over on the straight and Kimi goes sailing past.

  • 14:08 Lap 36

    TweetTweet from @ManorF1Team: Lap 34/55 | Will-I-Am heads in for his second stop of the day.

  • 14:10 Lap 38

    StopwatchFastest lap of the race so far, Kimi Räikkönen with a 1:45.352.

  • 14:12 Lap 39

    Hamilton gets information in his ear about the gap to Rosberg and what stopping now would mean. He asks how long he has to keep this up, and doesn't really get an answer - they're going to stick with the prime tyres for now, is all we learn.

  • 14:14 Lap 40
    Battle for 7th
    7R Grosjean-
    8N Hülkenberg+1.061
    9D Kvyat+0.629
    10F Massa+0.793
  • 14:14 Lap 40

    Grosjean has yet to come in for his second stop, and he's holding up a train of feisty drivers behind him.

  • 14:15 Lap 40

    Vettel comes in to the pits, from fourth place. Much better stop for Sebastian than for Kimi. He rejoins in sixth place, losing out to Pérez and Ricciardo once more.

  • 14:15 Lap 41

    Button is sitting in the middle of a Sauber sandwich in 13th. Ericsson is holding him up, which is allowing Nasr to close in.

  • 14:16 Lap 41

    On the fresher tyres, Vettel hunts Ricciardo down, looking to immediately snatch 5th place.

  • 14:17 Lap 42

    Huge discussions between Hamilton and his engineer on what the best strategy would be - come in, stay out, what tyres. He does one more lap and then the mechanics dash out into the pit lane.

  • 14:17 Lap 42

    Soft tyres are bolted on the champion's car, a 2.5 second stop and off he goes again.

  • 14:19 Lap 43

    Kvyat is getting frustrated, two cars behind Grosjean. All the cars have the DRS, so no one has any advantage and they are all just stuck following that Lotus.

  • 14:19 Lap 43
    Gap Analysis
  • 14:21 Lap 44

    Team radioTeam radio to Daniil Kvyat, with a serious voice on: "This is critical, and I mean it mate. You have charge 14 for one straight. You're going to have to commit."

  • 14:23 Lap 45

    Grosjean has just pitted, freeing up that train, and Kvyat to do his thing - if he hasn't done it already. It's Hülkenberg that he's eyeing up, and 7th place.

  • 14:23 Lap 45
    One to Watch
    S Pérezvs.S Vettel
  • 14:25 Lap 46

    Vettel easily dispatches Pérez and sweeps into fourth place. Looking on in the Ferrari garage, Rubens Barrichello gives a lazy wave to the camera.

  • 14:25 Lap 46

    Verstappen made a very late move on Jenson Button, catching the McLaren by surprise. He gives just enough room, and they are inches away from touching. He holds the inside line into the first corner, but round the next one, Verstappen makes ground off track.

  • 14:26 Lap 46

    Verstappen is ahead at the moment, but will the stewards be looking into that?

  • 14:27 Lap 47

    Team radioTeam radio from Daniil Kvyat: "Something is wrong with the brakes at turn eight. Really strange."

  • 14:28 Lap 48

    Race controlTurn 9 incident involving Button and Verstappen under investigation.

  • 14:28 Lap 48
    Max off track

    Verstappen ran out of room round the second corner but made the pass anyway.

  • 14:30 Lap 48

    Up front, Hamilton has closed the gap to just under eight seconds. He's told to go flat out to the end of the race, but there surely aren't enough laps for him to do anything special.

  • 14:31 Lap 49

    Race control5 second time penalty for Max Verstappen - leaving the track and gaining an advantage.

  • 14:32 Lap 50

    TweetTweet from @toomuchracing: Verstappen 5sec penalty for passing off track. Rather pointless as the gap to Button is 8.3 seconds.

  • 14:35 Lap 52

    Four laps to go. Rosberg looks comfortable in the lead, seven seconds gap to Hamilton, who is trying all different settings on the car.

  • 14:36 Lap 52

    TweetTweet from @cmckinleyF1: Hamilton turning the engine up against orders so Rosberg is given permission to change his mode

  • 14:37 Lap 53

    Shows insight into the mind of the champion, that he has won pretty much everything this year but is still looking to get the advantage over his teammate right to the last.

  • 14:38 Lap 54

    Grosjean has passed Carlos Sainz to squeeze into the top ten, looking good to pick up a point on his last race with Lotus. Not bad from starting at the back, either.

  • 14:39 Lap 54

    Huge respect to Vettel, though, maximising his strategy and tyre wear to soar to 4th place after such a poor qualifying.

  • 14:40 Lap 54

    Grosjean makes it one place better, outbraking Kvyat to move into ninth. We know Dany had a brake issue earlier, and he'll have to settle for tenth.

  • 14:41 Lap 55

    Race controlIncident involving Max Verstappen will be investigated after the race - ignoring blue flags.

  • 14:42

    Chequered flagNico Rosberg wins the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix!

  • 14:42

    Hamilton crosses the line for second place, with Kimi Räikkönen securing third place and a spot on the podium.

  • 14:43
    Race Winner
    DriverN Rosberg
    Race time1:38:30.175
    Race distance305.355km
    Average speed185.997km/h
  • 14:44

    Fireworks burst into the night sky as the cars complete their cool down laps.

  • 14:45

    Donuts and all sorts going on now the drivers have no need to protect their cars.

  • 14:46
    Driver Positions
    10N Rosberg2
    20L Hamilton2
    30K Räikkönen2
    411S Vettel2
    5-1S Pérez2
    6-1D Ricciardo2
    70N Hülkenberg2
    80F Massa2
    99R Grosjean2
    10-1D Kvyat2
  • 14:46

    Race controlDrive through penalty for Max Verstappen - ignoring blue flags. That'll convert into a post-race time penalty.

  • 14:46
    Race winner
  • 14:48

    QuoteToto Wolff: "I’m very happy, the numbers don’t count… this is just sensational. The numbers are going to make up in books, it’s not so important. It’s a fantastic end of the season, the final. What a great result for us."

  • 14:49

    Rosberg and Hamilton acknowledge each other in the podium green room, but it's fair to say Hamilton has looked happier. Toto Wolff confirms that the tyre choices were Hamilton's.

  • 14:50

    The drivers head out onto the podium, big cheers for all three and then the national anthems play out.

  • 14:51

    TweetTweet from @WilliamsRacing: There will always be races that don't go our way, but let's celebrate the achievement of finishing P3 two seasons in a row! #WeAreRacing

  • 14:53

    Trophies, champagne, and that's it! The 2015 season is done and dusted!

  • 14:59

    QuotePodium interviews - Nico Rosberg: "Austin was a low point of the season, it was a tough weekend. Since then I’ve come back a lot strong. I‘m happy about that, I’m excited about how the end of the season went. Next year could start tomorrow, I don’t need any holidays. It’s great to end the season like this, go on holiday like this. Thanks so much for the support, thanks to my team, a stunning car you’ve given me all weekend.

    "It’s always tough to race Lewis, he’s doing an awesome job, he’s one of the best out there. Even better feeling to win, such opposition. That’s what I race for, such battles, and I’m looking forward to next year."

  • 15:00

    QuotePodium interviews - Lewis Hamilton: "Firstly, it’s been an amazing year. What a great crowd we’ve had today. It’s been a good year, I’m happy. Now we can really enjoy, but really have to take my hat off to this team, who’ve done an amazing job building this car. The pit stops today, through the whole year, have surpassed our expectations. We’ve truly shown that Mercedes Benz is the best team in the whole world and I‘m proud to be a part of it.

    "I think in hindsight, once Nico pitted, I probably would have backed off a bit and made those tyres go a lot longer. The tyres were fine at the end… as that didn’t work out, going too long was probably the wrong thing to do, but we gave it a try."

  • 15:00

    QuotePodium interviews - Kimi Räikkönen: "I think we started better beginning of the season, but not been an ideal year. That’s how it goes sometimes and you know, the speed has been there but mistakes and problems and stuff like that, so the end result hasn’t been great many times. But today, or this weekend, was a bit better. Everything was working well and things were running smoothly, car handling well, so was good but obviously not enough still to beat these two, but we did our best."

  • 15:02
    Gap Analysis
  • 15:05

    So that's it, all races completed, championship standings decided, holidays to go on. Today's was a better race than Abu Dhabi usually serves up, particularly as there was very little at stake. Great job by Mercedes as per usual, but Ferrari showed they do have good pace on occasion.

  • 15:06

    Force India put on a good show, as did Verstappen, although a couple of mistakes meant he was a familiar face on the stewards replays! Scrappy race a bit further down the order, but overall solid performance by everyone.

  • 15:11

    Now there's just time to put your feet up for the festive season, before 2016 begins in earnest: testing, launches, and before you know it, Australia!

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