Noth­ing but pride left to race for in Abu Dhabi

CityPress - - Sport - MICHELLE FOS­TER sports@city­press.co.za

With both ti­tles de­cided, there is a slight an­ti­cli­max to the Abu Dhabi GP, as there is lit­tle but pride to play for, al­though pride is one thing both Mercedes driv­ers have in abun­dance.

Although Lewis Hamil­ton is the de­served 2015 world cham­pion, it is his team-mate, Nico Ros­berg, who is end­ing the cam­paign on a high.

The Ger­man ar­rived at the Yas Ma­rina cir­cuit af­ter a run of five pole po­si­tions and two race wins. How­ever, if you were to ask Hamil­ton, it was Mercedes who helped his team-mate to those vic­to­ries.

Falling be­hind Ros­berg at the start in Mex­ico and Brazil, Mercedes re­fused to put Hamil­ton on an al­ter­nate strat­egy, mean­ing he spent both races trail­ing the sis­ter W06 with no hope of pass­ing.

A bor­ing Brazil­ian 1-2 that was in Ros­berg’s favour led to Hamil­ton and oth­ers say­ing teams needed to shake up their strate­gies.

But whether Mercedes – with noth­ing to lose and noth­ing to gain – will be open to do­ing so to­day re­mains to be seen.

The board may want the 1-2, and Mercedes does have to an­swer to the pow­ers that pay, but fans want rac­ing. Isn’t it time to an­swer to them? Although the Yas Ma­rina cir­cuit is yet an­other track on which the all-con­quer­ing W06 should ex­cel, the use of the soft and su­per­soft Pirelli tyres could help Fer­rari en­ter the mix. All three of Se­bas­tian Vet­tel’s 2015 vic­to­ries have come us­ing that tyre com­bi­na­tion. Fer­rari will be hop­ing to take the fight to Mercedes so that it can con­tinue to build a solid plat­form on which to launch a 2016 ti­tle bid.

There is, how­ever, one small mat­ter of po­si­tion four for the Scud­e­ria’s Kimi Räikkö­nen to race for.

He may say that noth­ing but first counts, but fourth is still bet­ter than fifth – just ask his ri­val Valt­teri Bot­tas. The Finns have pro­vided some of the best en­ter­tain­ment in re­cent races, as they have twice clashed on the track. With just one point sep­a­rat­ing them in the stand­ings, they may take chances to­day that could end in joy for one and heart­break for the other.

A top-10 fin­ish in the cham­pi­onship is also up for grabs, with three points sep­a­rat­ing Nico Hülken­berg, Ro­main Gros­jean and Max Ver­stap­pen. All three have good cause for want­ing the 10th po­si­tion, but only one will be smil­ing af­ter to­day’s 55 laps.

As the sun sets on Abu Dhabi this evening, the 2015 For­mula 1 sea­son will draw to a close.

It was a year of Mercedes dom­i­na­tion, Fer­rari re­vival, Red Bull angst, teenage rev­e­la­tions and a vic­to­ri­ous Hamil­ton.

TEAMtalk Me­dia

PHOTO: DAVID DAVIES / AP

ON TOP OF THE WORLD Mercedes’

Lewis Hamil­ton cel­e­brates his sta­tus as

world cham­pion

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