November 28, 2016 @ 06:17 PM

2016 F1 Season finale: Of Donuts and slow laps

Here’s the final race of the year and everybody is on the edge of their seats about it

It was all down to the wire, Nico Rosberg will need just third place and he will clinch the world championship but he has 55 laps to complete and rivals to keep behind. Bad news is that those are not the only things he has to worry about because almost everybody on the grid warned him that team mate and championship rival Lewis Hamilton would pull some dirty tricks on him to prevent him from winning the championship.

 

The tension was thick in the paddock because it wasn’t just the title showdown that was on the line. Take Sebastian Vettel for instance, a mix of bad luck and reliability issues meant that Vettel was in danger of ending the season behind Red Bull’s Max Verstappen on the championship standings. It’s the same story for the Sahara Force India team and the Williams team as well.

The pressure to finish their final race is also on Jenson Button and Felipe Massa as well. Since both will be retiring after this race (for Jenson it’s a sabbatical year but we wonder who bought the story). 

 

As it turns out, the Sahara Force India team could breathe a sigh of relief when Williams had to retire Valterri Bottas’ car in the early stages of the race. Jenson Button on the other hand suffered a wishbone failure and had to retire the car much to the disappointment of many fans. Sebastian Vettel though is a different story.

At the start of the race the Ferrari driver was caught behind the melee of the first corner. When Verstappen had spun at the first corner and saw himself re-joining down in last place, Red Bull had decided to swap strategies and put the young Dutchman on a one stop strategy upsetting the pecking order at the top. 

 

The upset started a string of nail biting moments. Rosberg’s team had demanded it was crucial to get pass Verstappen’s Red Bull as Hamilton was flying off into the distance while Verstappen suffered from degrading tyres. The crowd was on their feet as they cheered Rosberg into the final DRS corner with a millimetre perfect overtaking move. 

While the second pitstop session shook out, Sebastian Vettel, in an effort to counter Verstappen’s track position, had taken the opportunity to extend a lead going longer on his second stint. This allowed Ferrari to put on a set of unused Super Soft tyres on Vettel’s car come his time for a pitstop and sent the German back out to pull fastest lap after fastest lap. Lapping his team mate Kimi Raikkonen had proved easy, Ricciardo gave Vettel a bit of a fight but thanks to Vettel’s new tyres he was no match to defend. 

 

Challenging Verstappen, though, is tougher, as the group was held up by a slow moving Lewis Hamilton who was suspected for holding up Rosberg to allow Verstappen and Vettel to catch up. But Vettel was not going to allow that to deter him, the German pulled a spectacular overtaking amidst sparks coming from underneath the car to get to third place and immediately caught up with the leaders.

Hamilton was lapping, nine seconds off his qualifying time and was constantly reminded that Vettel was catching up and he might lose the race win but Hamilton was determined to drive slowly and even snapped back at Paddy Lowe to “just let them race”.  

 

Thankfully for Rosberg, there was only five more laps to the end of the race, and though Vettel made a few attempts to overtake, the Ferrari looks to have been unable to keep up at the straights. 

Hamilton’s efforts to allow the Ferrari and Red Bull to attack his team mate was proven futile, but he did prove that the entire paddock’s anticipation that he will pull, in Gerhard Berger’s words, “something dirty” to win the world championship right. 

 

What is your opinion on Hamilton’s reluctance to go faster? Do you think Lewis Hamilton deliberately held up his team mate in the hopes he will lose the championship? Or even if he was, do you think he had the right to do so like so many legends that has done the same before him? Sound off below!

On another note, congratulations to Nico Rosberg on your first ever World Championship! Another Rosberg clinches the title 34 years later!

Jerrica Leong 

Most spectacular overtaking move Who pulled the most spectacular overtaking manoeuvre at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix?
 
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