Nico Rosberg continued to dominate the last phase of the Formula One season with a comfortable victory in Sunday’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, his third straight win to go with his six successive poles.
For the world champion Lewis Hamilton, it was another disappointing outing; he was second best to his Mercedes team-mate this weekend, just as he has been since securing his third title in Texas a month ago. But his fighting spirit was still intact in the night desert air.
After coming in for a late second change of rubber he emerged 13 seconds behind with 12 laps remaining and immediately began to cut swathes of time into the German’s lead. But then his lap gains began to decrease and Rosberg knew he had the race won, his sixth victory of the season to Hamilton’s 10. The margin was 8.2 seconds.
The Ferrari team of Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel were third and fourth and they were followed by Sergio Pérez (Force India) and Daniel Ricciardo (Red Bull) in a disappointing race.
Rosberg got off to a flyer from pole and the slower Hamilton was immediately under threat from Raikkonen. When Rosberg stopped early for new tyres, on lap 11, he was followed in by Hamilton. Rosberg did not stop again until lap 31, but this time Hamilton remained out for almost another 10 laps, by which time his race lead was being cut by Rosberg. By now Hamilton wanted to go to the end of the race, though his tyres were beginning to show obvious signs of wear. A Mercedes engineer told him: “Lewis, it won’t work.” But neither did coming in.
Jenson Button was 12th, five places ahead of his McLaren team-mate Fernando Alonso, who took Pastor Maldonado out at the start and wanted to retire his car at the halfway stage.