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Abu Dhabi Grand Prix: All eyes on Mercedes again as F1 season concludes

Photo courtesy: thecheckeredflag.com
Photo courtesy: thecheckeredflag.com

The end of the 2015 Formula 1 season finally approaches as the spotlight moves to the Middle East, with teams and drivers all looking to finish on a high at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix on Sunday.

Last season, Hamilton secured the win at Abu Dhabi with a time of 1:39:02.619, 2.5 seconds ahead of Williams’ driver Felipe Massa, with the Brazilian’s teammate Valtteri Bottas claiming the final place on the podium.

Hamilton’s teammate Nico Rosberg had a realistic shot at the title ahead of the final race last season despite the German’s championship aspirations being dependent on a number of factors, including Hamilton’s result.

However, none of that mattered in the end as the German finished in 14th place, following mechanical problems with his car.

This time around, Rosberg has no chance of winning the title as his teammate Hamilton has already been crowned the 2015 F1 champion following his triumph in the United States Grand Prix in late October.

However, the German will still be looking to win at Abu Dhabi and end the season on a high.

And, he has already taken a big stride towards doing that by securing the pole position at the Yas Marina circuit on Saturday.

The former Williams driver clocked a time of 1:40.237 to finish ahead of his teammate Hamilton and Ferrari’s Kimi Räikkönen, who finished second and third with times of 1:40.614 and 1:41.051 respectively.

Force India’s Sergio Perez and Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo claimed the fourth and fifth position on the grid with a time of 1:41.184 and 1:41.444 respectively, followed by Williams’ Valtteri Bottas and Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg, who managed times of 1:41.656 and 1:41.686 respectively.

Williams’ Felipe Massa, Red Bull’s Daniil Kvyat and Toro Rosso’s Carlos Sainz, who were the last three drivers to progress to Q3, finished eighth, ninth and tenth.

Vettel surprise

In the surprise result, Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel was unable to progress beyond Q1 during Saturday’s qualifying, finishing in 16th place.

There were speculations that the four-time F1 champion’s car had severe mechanical problems, but Vettel dismissed the rumours saying that there were “no issues” with his SF15-T, and he had simply miscalculated and made a wrong decision.

Vettel had a slight chance of finishing second above Rosberg in the championship table (if he could either win or come second, and the Mercedes driver failed to make a top ten finish on Sunday), but now those prospects look bleak following his dismal qualifying performance.

However, Vettel is no stranger to making his way up the field from the back rows; he managed to make a podium finish in Abu Dhabi in 2012 despite finishing 24th during qualifying. And the Ferrari driver isn’t giving up hope.

“It is possible to overtake here,” he told PlanetF1 after the qualifying sessions. “I think we have the speed to make progress. How much we will see tomorrow.”

Even if Vettel fails to finish above Rosberg in the Championship standings, it would still be a successful campaign for him and Ferrari considering the woeful beginning to their season.

Ferrari’s Räikkönen and Williams’ Massa will also be going all guns blazing on Sunday, with both drivers, separated by only a point, furiously competing for the fourth position.

However, Räikkönen will have the upper hand as he will be starting the race four spots ahead of Massa on Sunday.

Mercedes, as usual, are again expected to dominate the Abu Dhabi Grand PRix, but one can always expect surprises in Formula 1, especially on the final day of the season.

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