Ros­berg fo­cused on next year’s ti­tle af­ter end­ing sea­son on high

The Herald - Sport - - FORMULA ONE - PHILIP DUN­CAN

NICO ROS­BERG wants to be­gin his quest for a maiden For­mula One cham­pi­onship im­me­di­ately af­ter bring­ing down the cur­tain on his 2015 cam­paign with vic­tory in Abu Dhabi.

Ros­berg will go into the win­ter hop­ing his strong fin­ish is a sign of things to come next sea­son.

“Austin was a tough week­end and since then I have just come back a lot stronger and I am ex­cited how the end of the sea­son went,” the Ger­man said.

“Next year can come any mo­ment – it could start to­mor­row, I don’t need any holidays – and it is great to end the sea­son like this.”

Ros­berg’s fel­low Mercedes driver, world cham­pion Lewis Hamil­ton at­tempted a dif­fer­ent strat­egy to his team-mate who was con­trol­ling the race at the Yas Marina Cir­cuit.

But his best ef­forts came to no avail with Ros­berg ul­ti­mately cruis­ing to a hat-trick of con­sec­u­tive vic­to­ries for the first time in his grand prix ca­reer.

Ros­berg crossed the line 8.2 sec­onds clear of Hamil­ton with Kimi Raikko­nen tak­ing to the fi­nal step of the podium for Fer­rari.

Raikko­nen’s team-mate Se­bas­tian Vet­tel, who started the race from 14th af­ter a tac­ti­cal gaffe in qual­i­fy­ing, fin­ished fourth.

Last time out in Brazil, a frus­trated Hamil­ton be­moaned a “bor­ing” race af­ter fol­low­ing Ros­berg home and be­ing de­nied a dif­fer­ent strat­egy to that of his team-mate from the Mercedes pit wall.

His boss Toto Wolff sub­se­quently claimed Mercedes would not adapt their policy of run­ning their drivers on iden­ti­cal strate­gies. Yet here, at the fi­nal race of a sea­son in which the Sil­ver Ar­rows have dom­i­nated, Hamil­ton was al­lowed to try some­thing dif­fer­ent.

The Bri­ton, who claimed his third world cham­pi­onship in Austin last month, pit­ted for a sec­ond time 10 laps later than Ros­berg in a bid to be on fresher tyres than his team-mate in the clos­ing stages. But the decision back­fired and Hamil­ton, who as in Mex­ico and Brazil pre­vi­ously, was forced to set­tle for sec­ond.

It marked the 12th one-two fin­ish for Mercedes this sea­son, eclips­ing the record they set last year.

Hamil­ton’s for­mer team-mate Fer­nando Alonso has been forced to fend off sug­ges­tions from his McLaren boss Ron Den­nis that he will take a sab­bat­i­cal next year.

But while the Spa­niard said ahead of Sun­day’s race that he will be on the grid next year his mind ap­peared to be else­where on the run down to turn one af­ter go­ing in too deep and crash­ing into the side of Pas­tor Mal­don­ado.

Alonso was handed a drive-through penalty and spent the re­main­der of the race plod­ding around in 17th. At one stage the Spa­niard, who won the first of his back-to-back cham­pi­onships a decade ago, hinted he would park his un­com­pet­i­tive McLaren, but he did not and fin­ished the race one lap down and ahead of only the Manor pair of Will Stevens and Roberto Merhi.

His McLaren team-mate Jen­son But­ton, who was in­volved in a mi­nor prang with Valt­teri Bot­tas in the pit lane af­ter the Wil­liams crew re­leased their man rather pre­ma­turely, crossed the line in 12th.

But­ton ended the sea­son with five more points than Alonso, the first time the Spa­niard has been outscored by his team-mate in his 14-sea­son ca­reer.

Ser­gio Perez ended his im­pres­sive sea­son on a high by fin­ish­ing fifth ahead of Daniel Ric­cia­rdo’s Red Bull and Nico Hulken­berg in the Force In­dia.

Wil­liams driver Fe­lipe Massa crossed the line in eighth ahead of Ro­main Gros­jean, in his last ap­pear­ance for Lotus, while Daniil Kvyat claimed the fi­nal spot in the top 10.

Hamil­ton added: “It has been an amazing year. I re­ally have to take my hat off to this team. They have sur­passed our own ex­pec­ta­tions and we have truly shown that Mercedes-Benz is the best team in the world and I am proud to be a part of it.”

Picture: Getty

HIGH NOTE: Nico Ros­berg lifts the tro­phy on the podium af­ter win­ning the Abu Dhabi For­mula One Grand Prix

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