Abu Dhabi was the final pit-stop for the Formula 1 teams and fans. After a very long season, the longest in Formula 1 history, and 21 races, the 2016 season belongs to the past. After a dramatic finale, Lewis Hamilton took the last chequered flag of the season, but Nico Rosberg was the big winner.
The German finished second and celebrated his first world title, but he decided to retire a few days after the race. Rosberg’s decision to retire from Formula 1 surprised the majority of the fans and the press. Nico decided to retire from F1, before the final race, but he kept it secret between him and his family.
How did everything start
As I said earlier, 2016 was a long season, we saw the five lights for 21 times and some of these races were very dramatic and emotional. From the beginning it was clear the Mercedes will dominate once again, hence the title would be decided between Hamilton and Rosberg.
The odds were with the Brit, as he won the 2014 and 2015 title and he was in a top form, whilst Nico didn’t seem able to challenge him.
Everything changed in the kangaroos’ land, at the Australian Grand Prix Nico Rosberg made a strong and a very promising start, but he didn’t stop there. The German won the first four Grands Prix, whilst at the same time Lewis Hamilton had to fight for points due to mechanical issues.
In Russia, Hamilton had a problem with the MGU-H unit in Q2 and he qualified tenth. Despite the problems that Lewis faced, he managed to climb up to the second position and finish ahead of Kimi Raikkonen.
After the Russian Grand Prix Mercedes’ drivers scored 157 scored combined, Nico Rosberg was leading with 100 points and Hamilton scored only 57 points.
Max Verstappen, The magic Dutch
Rosberg’s winning streak stopped in Spain, a collision between him and Hamilton on the opening lap, forced both drivers to retire and allowed to Max Verstappen to shine and become the youngest driver who wins an F1 race.
The Dutch had been promoted from Toro Rosso to Red Bull Racing after the Russian Grand Prix, and he had the pleasure to win his first Grand Prix in F1 in his debut with Red Bull. After a thrilling racing, Max showed a very mature side of his personality and with his great driving skills, he managed to stay ahead of Kimi Raikkonen and take the chequered flag in Spain.
After Spain, Hamilton made his first attempt to comeback in the championship. The Brit won two consecutive races in Monaco and in Canada respectively. Nico Rosberg struggled in Monaco and the heavy rain allowed him to finish only seventh.
In Baku, it was Rosberg’s turn to take the chequered flag and win the European Grand Prix, whilst Hamilton made a mistake on the qualifying session and started the race from tenth place and finished fifth. That gave the chance to Nico to increase his gap in the championship.
In Baku, Hamilton released his hammer and he won the four remaining races before the summer break. Lewis won in Austria, Great Britain, Hungary, and Germany. After an amazing comeback, the three times world champion had the chance to enjoy his summer holidays as he was now leading the championship. The scores were Hamilton 217 and Rosberg 198 points.
In Spa, Hamilton started from the back of the grid, after massive grid penalties, but he managed to recover and finished third, while Rosberg had a quiet evening and took the chequered flag.
The German won in Monza and in Singapore as well, these results moved him up to the first place in the championship, just eight points ahead of his team-mate.
In Malaysia everything was under control for Lewis Hamilton, he was leading for 40 laps, but on the 41st lap, his engine suffered a bearing failure and had to retire the race.
That was a big hit for Hamilton’s chances to win the title. Daniel Ricciardo took advantage of Hamilton’s retirement and won the Malaysian Grand Prix.
The final countdown
In Japan, Rosberg won for the last time in 2016. After a thrilling race and a bad start from Hamilton, Nico increased his championship lead to 33 points. Max Verstappen finished second, behind the German followed by Lewis Hamilton.
The scores after the Japanese Grand Prix were: 313 for Rosberg and 280 for Hamilton.
The German had the upper hand and the only thing that he had to do in the four remaining races was to finish in the top 3. That was what exactly happened, Lewis Hamilton won in USA, Mexico, Brazil and Abu Dhabi.
That was not enough as Nico Rosberg finished second in all these races and celebrated his first world title in Formula 1.
Get Ready for 2017
A few days after the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix the world champion decided to retire and focus on his family. Now Mercedes are looking for Hamilton’s new team-mate, which will probably be Wehrlein.
The 2016 season was not very exciting, the sure thing is that 2017 will not be the same. Massa, Button and Rosberg will be watching the new season from their sofa or from their ex-teams paddocks.
The new regulations will shake the things up, wider tires, more downforce, and fastest cars will make the 2017 season more interesting and fascinating.
Enjoy the break and wish you Merry Christmas.
Victor Archakis – @FP_Passion
(Images Courtesy of Pirelli F1 Media)