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#956 2016 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

2022-12-31 23:00

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#2016, Fulvio Conti, Translated by Giulia Montemurro,

#956 2016 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

2016 Abu Dhabi GP On Sunday the 27th of November 2016, the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, the twenty-first and final race of the Formula 1 World Championship,

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On Sunday the 27th of November 2016, the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, the twenty-first and final race of the Formula 1 World Championship, will take place on the Yas Marina circuit, located on the island of the same name. Destiny has intertwined the careers of Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg : starting with karting, the two have always fought to finish ahead of each other. The debut in Formula 1 saw the two follow totally different paths, with Hamilton immediately protagonist in McLaren and Rosberg instead forced to carve out places in the sun with the little Williams. During the press conference on Thursday the 24th of November 2016, reserved for the two contenders for the title, Lewis Hamilton talked about the relationship that now exists between the two:

 

"Our relationship was very good when we were kids, clearly when you race in karts first of all you want to have fun and clearly after the race you play play, you race with bicycles, we have various passions in common, we ate cereal in the box together, we went on tours on mountain bikes. I still do several of these things, while Nico has changed from this point of view, he's much more focused on himself, and then it's also true that we separated in the past, he at BMW and I at Renault, however we always talked of our childhood past. Then we had some ups and downs, but let's say that especially in the last year, considering our age - we are quite old compared to when we met - we managed to manage our relationship quite well, I'm very happy for him and for his family, we managed to maybe take a step back from our competitiveness on the track, in general it was a pleasure to have him as a teammate and I'm sure he will continue like this in the future as well".

 

On the other hand, Nico Rosberg is less analytical and more generalist, who does not notice major changes in his relationship with Lewis by not overreacting to romanticisms of the past. Hamilton is the first of the opponents, and as such he must be faced:

 

"What still hasn't changed compared to the past and we continue to have is the basic respect that has always been also in the last 3 years. I certainly respect him a lot both in and out of the car. We've had some difficult moments there have also been some good times and this year in particular I think we've made some progress, it's a neutral report, but it must be remembered that F1 is a very difficult environment".

 

Lewis Hamilton, asked about the exchange of mechanics with Nico Rosberg that took place before the start of the season, refers all journalists to buy a book by him in ten years' time, in which he will try to explain exactly what happened.

 

"I won't look back, one of the reasons that led me to grow in recent years was not dwelling too much on the past. I have certainly learned a lot this year, I have had new engineers, new mechanics with whom the relationship has grown a lot, and therefore there have been several positive aspects. The older we grow, the fewer championships we can win, so it's better to enjoy every moment".

 

Precisely on the chat story of the exchange of mechanics, Lewis suggests that not all of the story is known to the public and journalists:

 

"You will have to buy my book… In ten years, when I publish it, I will explain to you exactly what happened. It will be interesting to read".

 

The British champion focuses above all on the technical problems which, according to him, were the true true arbiter in the contest:

 

"There have been some negative episodes, such as engine failures… Many cars have not had any problems, they all happened to me. But Mercedes did everything to sort things out. It was a season with ups and downs, a bit unfortunate from this point of view, which however allowed me to strengthen my ability to transform negative things into positive things. I'm back in the fight for the championship despite the many things that had happened to me and this makes me very proud".

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Hamilton also says he hasn't made too many mistakes during the championship:

 

"Can you remind me of the bad races I've done? There must have been, but at the moment I don't remember… Maybe Singapore, yes. In Baku it wasn't my fault, but a matter of engine settings that let me down. In Japan and also in other races there was a problem at the start but, despite all these bad starts, I was able to react thanks to my fighting spirit". 

 

No doubts, however, about the best race of the season: 

 

"Monte-Carlo. I was in a difficult condition, first it rained, then the track dried... Staying in front of Ricciardo was really difficult".

 

And there is also a jab at Nico Rosberg, first in the standings but without ever having been the protagonist of particular exploits:

 

"I haven't watched his races, I don't remember. He was certainly very fast on various circuits but I don't think there is one victory that stands out from the others".

 

And again, in relation to the memory of the ending (with parts reversed) of 2014: 

 

"This year is different. I totally believe in my side of the garage, they've worked hard and we're not in the position we fought for and that we deserve. But we are still in a strong position, we push, we are motivated to achieve victory and our work ethic is greater than it has ever been".

 

Finally, responding to the possibility of imposing a race strategy aimed at making life difficult for his teammate, perhaps slowing down to help overtake the Red Bulls, the British driver says.

 

"I don't know, I'll think about it directly on Sunday. But if I'm in the lead, I'll try to gain as much advantage as possible, because if you have an advantage of 18-20 seconds it's the most painful blow you can inflict on your opponent. The most valuable scenario for me would be to get an important victory also from a psychological point of view. Slowing Nico down to get the others back into the fray? It wouldn't even be too practical, there are two DRS zones and it wouldn't be wise or easy to slow it down on purpose".

 

For his part, Nico Rosberg says:

 

"Certainly the fact that I've already experienced a similar situation helps. It's the third time we've been fighting for the championship, the second time that comes to the last race, it helps me feel more relaxed obviously. I'm aware of how the season went for both of us. First of all, the season isn't over, there's still one race left, it's premature to have this type of discussion. These are certainly not thoughts that are in my head at the moment, I am absolutely focused on myself this weekend, I am excited and enthusiastic on the eve of this last race in which I will be back to fight with Lewis once again for the title, I am very concentrated, I would like really win this race, ending the season with a win would be great".

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The two Mercedes drivers are also asked to look at their teammate, to establish on which occasion one of the two could have been the favourite, but Nico Rosberg prefers to underline which was his most brilliant and probably decisive weekend for the standings:

 

"One of the high points was Singapore, on a certainly important weekend of the season, because up to that moment things weren't positive for me and instead I did very well throughout the weekend, both in qualifying and in the race".

 

Although he has always supported his mechanics, Lewis Hamilton has never really accepted Mercedes' decision to change teams, as the group with which he had won two titles had thus fallen apart. Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff says the team's decision was for the good of the team.

 

"I find it admirable how (Lewis and Nico, ed) have managed the relationship between them for the good of the team. That was a sentence taken from a press conference and it is clear that if you change a group that is directly involved with the rider, such as the mechanics or a number one the rider relies on when he gets out of the car, this can have a psychological effect, we knew this and it was part of our reasoning when we did a shuffle. But there are 1500 people between Brixworth and Brackley and it's a question of people development. It is our task and obligation, towards those 1500 people and the brand, to make the right decisions and not only on the individual, even if we must remember what is important for the rider. What you see here on the track is just the tip of the iceberg".

 

Wolff reiterates that the team has a dynamic structure and this was also reflected in the teams of mechanics of the two drivers, also joking about a possible book written in ten years' time in response to that of Lewis Hamilton.

 

"Someone who was working on part of the car as a mechanic tomorrow can be number one and can have more power in the team. In a way, we do the same thing throughout the organization and don't stay static. We are a dynamic structure and the same is true for the garage. I appreciate the effect on the individual rider and it has been taken into consideration. Maybe I too will write a book in ten years and put things in it".

 

Speaking in the classic press conference on Thursday, Jenson Button greets the Formula 1 circus, almost shying away from the opportunity to return to the wheel as owner already in 2018.

 

"I approach this weekend thinking it will be my last race. I think that's the best way to approach things at the moment but other than that, in the end my idea is that I really don't want to race in F1 anymore. I will ride as if it were the last race, but I don't want to think it won't be the last if I actually don't come back. It's true that I have an option for 2018, but right now I don't think I want to race in 2018".

 

The Briton explains the reason for such a particular contract which, in addition to providing for a commitment as third driver and as ambassador of the McLaren brand, would allow him - if the choice is shared by the team - to return to racing as a starter:

 

"The idea behind an agreement of this type is that, in the first three months after retiring, I might realize that I still need Formula 1. But that's not the case right now, so it's my last race . Of course, who can say now how things might change in a few months or a year?"

 

In the last press conference of his career, Felipe talks about the feelings experienced in that interminable walk:

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"When I got back to the pit lane at Interlagos it was an incredible feeling. In the moments following the accident, I obviously wasn't happy because I wanted to finish my home race, I had also prepared a flag for the lap of honor and therefore I was very disappointed to have finished that way. Then I started walking and passing under the grandstand I felt an incredible sensation. I started crying, I couldn't stop. That walk I took was eternal, sensations impossible to describe. When I entered the pit lane there were all the team members outside, I couldn't believe it. And we were still halfway through the race, although it had been neutralized. It's impossible to describe it all, and I'm grateful for everything I've experienced this season. I have to thank everyone, all the people who have been around me in this period in Formula 1".

 

Jenson Button is also making his last appearance in Formula 1, and Felipe hopes he too can receive the well-deserved tributes:

 

"I hope Jenson can experience the same sensations here, in this race. I'm proud of my career, even though he hasn't won a title like him, and I only missed a single point. We can have a good race here, two years ago I finished second".

 

Being present at the press conference, the media cannot fail to ask Kimi Raikkonen for an opinion on his feelings on seeing two (moreover younger) colleagues greet the circus:

 

"Well, I mean, I still don't know what sensations you feel, I've never felt like it. It's their choice, I'm sure they will have a great time, I clearly wish them the best whatever they do. As usual, things will change in the future in F1, we will all leave one day. That's how things go. Both have had a very long career and will certainly be happy with what they have done".

 

Then, speaking of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Kimi Raikkonen says:

 

"Obviously I can't know what will happen on Sunday, we'll see over the course of the weekend, but in a race of this type there's nothing to lose, as happened to me. We need to try to have a strong weekend, Lewis had a very positive last part of the year and so I think he shouldn't do anything different, approach the weekend normally and try to do his best. For me, the only option was to try to win and see what the others would have done. We as a team did a great job and this allowed us to win the World Championship, also because all the pieces of the puzzle fell into the right place. Whatever happens, however, will be a deserving winner".

 

Daniel Ricciardo draws a positive balance of the season that is about to close in Abu Dhabi. With Red Bull he is third in the standings in the World Drivers' Championship, thanks also to the clear improvements made by Red Bull Racing and Renault during 2016.

 

"I honestly think that our frame has improved a lot compared to last season. Performance on corners at low speed is much better, and it was one of our weak points in 2015. But the engine and the updates on which they have been working throughout the year have also worked, ever since the Canadian GP update. Last year we were told every time we would get X increase in engine power but that was never the case. But this year everything they promised us proved true, and it worked. So I'd say that we're satisfied in both respects".

 

Daniel has no problem identifying the most important passages of his season:

 

"The biggest result was probably the pole in Monaco, my first pole in Formula 1, and doing it in Monaco like this was very rewarding. And then the joy of climbing again to the top step in Malaysia, in the place where I could never have foreseen to do it. It was definitely not one of my favourite tracks in the past, now I love it. I didn't expect it, and it was really good".

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As for the season finale in Abu Dhabi, Daniel Ricciardo says:

 

"I hope I have the speed to do something against Lewis and Nico. Last year the car wasn't bad here, but in 2015 it wasn't as good a car as this year. I think a podium will be possible, I hope better than third but I don't know".

 

After having gone from an aggressive driver to the new Ayrton Senna, I had won the Brazilian Grand Prix, Max Verstappen arrives at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix with greater vigour and desire to win:

 

"It's difficult to say if and how my reputation has changed after the Interlagos race, it doesn't depend on me, I can only do the best possible races, I certainly had a lot of fun in Brazil, but I don't know what has changed for me at a level personal as far as my reputation is concerned".

 

In Abu Dhabi, the Red Bulls and Ferraris will play the role of impartial judge in the world race involving the two Mercedes drivers, Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton.

 

"We'll try, however they'll be very strong in the dry and therefore it will be difficult to beat them, but we can be very close and this would already be very positive for us".

 

When asked about his wet driving skills Max Verstappen says:

 

"Together with dad we train a lot in the wet, he always helped me even when I was 6-7 he was on the track and showed me how to ride to look for different trajectories in the wet and this helped me a lot in Brazil".

 

After Abu Dhabi it will be time to look to 2017, a season in which Mercedes' opponents hope to overturn the balance:

 

"My goals for 2017? It will depend on the package available. If ours were the fastest car on the grid, we would certainly like to win other races, we'll see. We are certainly very optimistic about next year, but we must first see how the car will behave once on the track, at the moment it is very difficult to say what can be achieved next year because we do not yet know which packages we will have available and which others our adversaries".

 

However, before starting the race weekend, Sauber announced on Monday 21 November 2016 that Marcus Ericsson will continue his career with the Swiss team. A partnership between the Swedish driver and Sauber, which will thus reach its third consecutive year.

 

"It is great news that I will be racing for Sauber for another year. I spent two years with them and I really feel at home. A big thank you goes to the whole team for trusting me. From a personal point of view, I have grown a lot as a driver during my time at Sauber. We've had ups and downs, but we've always stuck together and worked hard. Since the new ownership has arrived, there has been a positive boost to the team. Many motorsport experts are joining Sauber which is a good sign for the future".

 

Sauber team principal Monisha Kaltenborn adds:

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"We are very pleased to announce that Marcus will remain our regular driver in 2017. Over the current season he has shown that he is willing to go that extra mile to make progress. He has gone through very difficult moments with us, but he has dealt with them very well. In the last two years he has made significant steps in terms of his personal growth, demonstrating his abilities even off the track, especially when circumstances have not been simple. He is not only a good driver but also an important team man who understands how to work with the team and how to motivate everyone with his positive attitude. Formula 1 enters a new era in 2017 and I am confident we can count on Marcus to bring the team back to the heart of the competition".

 

Meanwhile, the Malaysian minister of tourism and culture, Nazri Abdul Aziz, announces that the contract with the organizers of the F1 Championship, for the holding of the Malaysian Grand Prix, will no longer be renewed, at the end of its natural conclusion, in 2018. The cause is the excessive cost of organizing the event, given the ever-decreasing number of tickets sold. Instead, the presence in the calendar of the Canadian Grand Prix for 2017 is confirmed. The German Grand Prix, however, will not be held and could return in 2018, while that of Brazil remains in doubt. For this race, Pirelli, sole supplier of tyres, brings the Soft, Supersoft and Ultrasoft compounds. An additional set of these tires will be awarded to drivers promoted in Q3; it will be returned at the end of the qualifications. The FIA confirms two zones in which drivers can use the DRS: the first is set on the long straight between turns 7 and 8, with the detection point established at turn 7. The second zone is set between turns 10 and 11, with detection point of the gap between drivers established at turn 9. Tom Kristensen, multiple winner of the 24 Hours of Le Mans, was appointed assistant commissioner for the race by the FIA. The Danish driver has often performed this function in the past, most recently at the Monza Grand Prix. Nico Rosberg comes into the final race of the season leading the World Championship in the drivers' standings, with a margin of 12 points over his teammate and World Champion, Lewis Hamilton, in second. Both drivers won nine races, but Rosberg finished second four times to Hamilton's three, while the Briton finished third four times to the German's two. As in 2010 and 2014, the Abu Dhabi race awards the title. Also in this last edition, it was the German and the British driver who fought for the title. If Rosberg scores no points and Hamilton finishes fourth, the two would be level on points (367). In that case Rosberg would prevail for the highest number of second places. If Hamilton finished second, with Rosberg seventh, the two would still be level on points (373). In this case Hamilton would tie the number of second places, but win the title for the most third places. Friday 25 November 2016, we begin. Lewis Hamilton is the fastest driver during FP1. 

 

The World Champion is the only rider who manages to get below the 1'43"0 limit. The Briton outdistances his teammate, Nico Rosberg, by 0.374 seconds and Max Verstappen by 0.448 seconds. Lewis Hamilton, who is also the author of a spin, scores his best lap time using the harder compound he brings from Pirelli, namely the Soft tyres. Red Bull Racing also concentrates its work on this type of compound, as does Ferrari: the device called Halo is tested again on Sebastian Vettel's car. On Jenson Button's McLaren technical problems occur at the ERS, while, due to a puncture, and the impossibility of returning to the pits, Daniil Kvyat completes only four laps. During FP1, the British Jordan King took over from Esteban Ocon at Manor, while Alfonso Celis Jr. took over from Nico Hülkenberg at Force India. Lewis Hamilton manages to be the fastest even during FP2. On this occasion, the Englishman again precedes his teammate, Nico Rosberg, while Sebastian Vettel follows in third place. In this case, however, the gap suffered by Nico Rosberg is limited to a few thousandths of a second, while Sebastian Vettel is 0.269 seconds behind Lewis Hamilton. The German Ferrari driver, in the last few minutes of the session, was forced to stop due to a gearbox failure. In this session all the drivers start testing the Ultrasoft tires more frequently; this allows to considerably reduce the lap time. On Daniil Kvyat's car there is another puncture in the rear left tyre, probably still due to the rubbing of the brake baskets on the tyre. Scuderia Toro Rosso thus decides to stop the other driver, Carlos Sainz Jr., as a precaution. In the pits, while the mechanics try to figure out what caused the double puncture, for which Pirelli claims it's not a problem with the tyre, the presence of FIA technical delegate Jo Bauer is noted. 

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However, the investigation into the problem risks lasting all night since Franz Tost, Team Principal of Scuderia Toro Rosso, admits that the causes are not fully understood.

 

"Today, after having two rear wheel failures on Daniil's car, it was decided not to send Carlos back out on track, because we are not yet 100% clear on the nature of the problem. We will work hard tonight, together with the engineers in Faenza, in the hope of solving it for tomorrow".

 

But the focus is entirely on Lewis Hamilton, who absolutely must win and hope that his teammate, Nico Rosberg, 12 points ahead of him in the standings, does not get on the podium if he wants to win his fourth world title.

 

"It was a great day, generally without a hitch, so without any real problems. The first run of FP2 wasn't ideal due to the traffic and I wasn't able to set a fast lap, but later I was able to set a fairly fast time, not what I wanted, but still good enough. We worked a lot on both short and longer runs. I'm very happy with the car and we're in a good position for tomorrow. Pole position is the main objective. I haven't been able to do it on this circuit for a while, but I know I'm fast now and the car gives me good sensations. Furthermore there is still potential to be extracted and this ensures that the absolute objective remains the same".

 

Lewis Hamilton was the fastest driver in Abu Dhabi. While Nico Rosberg focused on the set-up and operation of his tyres.

 

"Friday went quite well, I like the setup of the car".

 

Nico explained to the journalists who were waiting for him in the paddock. A third place would give him the world championship, but Rosberg wants to focus only on the race:

 

"We are very close to Lewis on the flying lap, and for the grand prix I think we are in fairly good shape. We have a good car here and I appreciate the circuit. I'll have to do a good job with my team to find the tenths I'm missing. I know we can do better. The tires on a single lap are fine, but managing them in the race will be very difficult. Lowering the temperature could create some problems and we will have to think about a very specific setup, as well as graining. However, today our car worked well in both hot and cold conditions, and also with different fuel loads. I feel very good, in a special form. I want a weekend similar to the others, it's the best way to do well".

 

Despite the technical problem, Sebastian Vettel is not worried, and indeed reassures the fans of the Maranello team, saying:

 

"I'm not worried, obviously it's not ideal on Friday, but it shouldn't have an impact on the weekend. I think it was a better Friday than the last for us, I'd say it was a very good Friday. This morning was a bit complicated, we struggled a bit with the hot track, this afternoon things went a little better in our direction, including the car. I struggled a bit on long runs with the front. With the tyres, at the start, maybe I was a little too aggressive, but overall the car gave good sensations and I think we should have a good pace, so we hope tomorrow to have similar sensations in qualifying, to bring the single-seater where it should be and have a good race".

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The history of this championship has returned a very different truth than initial expectations. However, the German driver defends the proclamations made at the beginning of the year, made primarily by the president of Ferrari, Sergio Marchionne:

 

"Obviously, if you've won three races and finished the season in second position, you want to take the step forward the following year, and we had every reason to be confident ahead of 2016. For some reason, what we predicted didn't materialize. Others probably made more progress and we weren't able to close the gap fast enough. But even if it may seem a little different from the outside, many things have happened within the team for his good. Which means we are definitely in a better position than a year ago and for next season the plan is for things to go according to plan".

 

Next year, a new technical regulation will revolutionize single-seaters. A novelty that for Vettel could have two diametrically opposed effects:

 

"The new rules will be an opportunity but also a threat, for everyone. Of course, if things had remained the same as they are now, whoever is in front would have an easy life and there wouldn't be many possibilities for whoever is behind, even if experience has shown that if things remain the same, the gap is increasingly small every year. But with these changes my guess is that once again we will see the gap grow, although there is the potential to take a huge step forward if you do things right. We are all here to become champions, no matter how many titles you already have. This is an issue that is somehow more important than life. Everything revolves around it. Of course, winning my first title was something very special, because I was able to prove to myself that I could do it. With the following titles I was a little more relaxed, but the ambition remains, it never dies".

 

Compared to his teammate, Kimi Raikkonen is already synthetic, and speaking of the tests carried out on Friday, the Finn says:

 

"It went pretty well, a very normal Friday, we tried some things, we have to work a little bit here and there, well... always the same thing. Clearly we hope to close 2016 well but it's only Friday, let's keep working and see how it goes. I simply didn't manage to put together a lap properly, but overall it was a normal day. Some graining problems on the tyres, but for the first day it's normal, it wasn't a big problem and in the race it will be different. We just have to work on a few things and then we should be fine".

 

For his part, Daniel Ricciardo says he is satisfied with the tests carried out.

 

"On the flying lap we can still find a few tenths of a second, but I'm confident we can take a small step forward from where we are now. The long runs were very good, but there is room for improvement here too. The race simulation this morning looked promising and we confirmed that we were sufficiently competitive again in the afternoon. The car can still be improved and tomorrow we can be strong. By doing everything right, we can battle for third place. The Mercedes, as we expected, are ahead. But not too much. Looking at today, maybe we can fight them on Sunday. I'm confident for the grand prix, today I had good sensations and I can't wait for the next two days to arrive".

 

Finally, Daniel Ricciardo also talks about the fight between Rosberg and Hamilton:

 

"Maybe Nico was a little more conservative, and he didn't want to show his full potential to Lewis, it will be interesting. Everyone is betting that Lewis will take pole".

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Even Max Verstappen, defined by his opponents with the nickname of loose cannon, is satisfied with the work done:

 

"This day was not bad, I think it was positive. The track is always complicated due to the different temperatures we find, but all in all it was a positive Friday. We have to improve in some respects, but we're not far off".

 

In particular, the race pace was pretty good:

 

"Yes, it wasn't bad, if we can control the balance better, we'll go even better. I think it showed, with the Ultrasofts we lapped quite a bit, because the tires deteriorated a lot. With the Softs, on the other hand, we lapped a little better".

 

On Saturday 26 November 2016, during FP3, the two Ferraris of Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Räikkönen set the first and third fastest times. Max Verstappen sets the second fastest time, while Lewis Hamilton does not go beyond the fourth fastest time. The cars from Maranello appear to be the most competitive, albeit with a hotter asphalt, while the Dutch Red Bull Racing driver takes advantage of the last moments of the session, with a more rubberized track, to set his best time. The Mercedes team, on the other hand, does a job more focused on the race pace. In this session, the FIA technical stewards check the modifications made by Scuderia Toro Rosso, in order to avoid the punctures suffered on Friday. In the first phase of qualifying Lewis Hamilton sets the fastest time. Sebastian Vettel follows in second place, while Max Verstappen is third; Nico Rosberg is only fourth, more than a second behind his teammate. In the final part of the session, Jolyon Palmer enters the qualifiers, while the two Sauber drivers, Felipe Nasr and Marcus Ericsson, the two from Scuderia Toro Rosso, Carlos Sainz Jr. and Daniil Kvyat, Kevin Magnussen and Esteban Ocon are excluded. Also in the second session Lewis Hamilton immediately takes the lead in the standings. In this stage however Nico Rosberg is second, while Kimi Räikkönen follows in third place. The best riders give up trying to further lower their times in the final phase of Q2. Pascal Wehrlein, Jolyon Palmer, the two Haas drivers, Esteban Gutierrez and Romain Grosjean, Jenson Button and Valtteri Bottas are eliminated. Even in the decisive phase, Lewis Hamilton was immediately the fastest, with Nico Rosberg second, while Kimi Räikkönen was still third, ahead of the two Red Bull Racing teams of Daniel Riccardo and Max Verstappen, and Sebastian Vettel. With the second and last attempt, the two Mercedes drivers improve their times, but Lewis Hamilton takes pole position. Daniel Ricciardo rises to third place, ahead of Raikkonen. Lewis Hamilton takes the twelfth pole position of the season, the fourth in a row, the number 61 in his career. Nico Rosberg conquers the twelfth consecutive front row. This is the fifteenth consecutive pole position start for Mercedes. The Anglo-German team conquers the twentieth pole position in the same season, a new record in the history of the World Championship. At the end of the official tests, Lewis Hamilton is radiant for yet another milestone achieved, above all because the memory of Ayrton Senna's pole position is getting closer and closer:

 

"I'm only four poles away from Ayrton's record, incredible. It's been a really great weekend so far. It's strange to come here and realize that this is going to be the last free practice and qualifying with this car, it just feels incredible. Who knows when I'll get to drive a car like this again, we hope to have one in the near future too. But it was a great privilege to drive such a single-seater".

 

The Briton pays tribute to all the men of the Mercedes team:

 

"Today and throughout the weekend I managed to get the car to perfection with my engineers, and I thank my mechanics who once again did an incredible job. So I have to thank everyone, including those who work in the factory: I wouldn't have 61 poles if it weren't for them, thanks to them I got the best position for tomorrow".

 

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Lewis Hamilton explains the difference he made against Nico Rosberg in the first intermediate:

 

"I didn't want to exaggerate, I'm not saying I went cautious, but I wanted to preserve the lap, and that's where I lost maybe a little time from Nico. Apart from that, the rest of the lap was under control and I tried to make the most of it".

 

Finally, the British driver admits:

 

"I have everything to gain. I'm not leading the World Championship, Nico has it easy and can finish second or third tomorrow and win the title".

 

The outsiders who could affect the outcome of the World Championship are the two Red Bull Racing drivers, Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen, and the two Ferraris of Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen. In particular, the Red Bull Racing drivers, who will start on the Supersoft tyres, could take the lead positions after the first stop of the drivers using the Ultrasoft tyres.

 

"They don't expect the Ultrasoft to last long, we arrived here hoping to do at least 11 laps but probably with graining the delta can vary so we can think of riders who stop earlier. If that were to happen then there won't be time to open a gap and therefore an opportunity opens up for them and that's a good sign for me".

 

Hamilton, however, assures that he will not try to lure Rosberg to Red Bull and Ferrari:

 

"We haven't discussed anything for the race, we are out there on our own, I have to go hunting. I'm sure we'll talk about it and it will come out, but I'll be out there racing, I've always been a rider and I'm on track to prove my worth".

 

And Paul Hembery, Pirelli Motorsport director, warns:

 

"The track and ambient temperatures decreased throughout the session and we arrived at 11 °C cooler on the asphalt than in FP3 in the morning. In these unique conditions, the ultrasoft is king, but there was an interesting strategic change for Red Bull, which decided to start the race with the supersoft. How much these different strategies will count will be a key aspect in tomorrow's race and potentially also for the outcome of the championship".

 

Nico Rosberg tried, he didn't spare himself in qualifying at Yas Marina, but he didn't manage to conquer the pole position. Considering that a placement in the top three could mathematically guarantee him the world title, Nico will have to beware of the pitfalls of second row, and in particular by Daniel Ricciardo, who will start from third position with Supersoft compound tyres, a more conservative compound than the Ultrasoft used by the two Mercedes drivers.

 

"I came here to start on pole and win the race tomorrow. So it's not like I'm over the moon. Lewis did a fantastic job, he was a couple of tenths faster than me. I'm not able to repeat his time even if I gave everything".

 

Nonetheless, Nico Rosberg does not seem to want to settle for a podium finish:

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"We know we still have opportunities tomorrow, I will certainly try to get to the win. There is always pressure in qualifying. But that's the beauty of it, because you are on the edge and push everything from start to finish. However, I'm quite satisfied, because we found a good balance. During practice I felt better and better and in the end I did a good lap in Q3, unfortunately not enough for pole position".

 

Mercedes team principal, Toto Wolff, is definitely satisfied with the result of qualifying, because after FP3 it wasn't so obvious to get pole position at Yes Marina.

 

"No matter what it may look like from the outside, a front row in qualifying is never an easy goal to achieve. So it's a great result for the team, which sees this car still ahead of all the others before it finally ends up in a museum. Furthermore, it was also a great demonstration of driving talent on the part of our boys. Lewis has always maintained the same level since Q1, while Nico did exactly what he had to and perhaps could have been closer if he hadn't made a couple of mistakes on the good lap. In any case, what matters is the perfect scenario for tomorrow's race. Then, there are also the Red Bulls who will try to implement an alternative strategy on the tires and this could add a little more spice to the race. With that tactic they will certainly try to put us under pressure and we will therefore see how we can deal with it. As far as we are concerned, we will continue to race in the same way as we have done so far, remaining faithful to our values and our principles that have allowed us to do well in the last three seasons".

 

Also Niki Lauda, non-executive president of the Anglo-German team, congratulates both drivers and in a certain sense breathes a sigh of relief seeing that behind his boys is Daniel Ricciardo's Red Bull Racing, and not that of Max Verstappen.

 

"Hamilton did an incredible lap and I say well done. I'm not worried about Rosberg, because the front row was the most important thing for him. A result thanks to which he has the possibility of making a normal start and without too much disturbance from behind. He can also let the race go on and stay in second or third position. We are a little calmer because Verstappen is far behind and therefore the front row is more comfortable for us. Both Mercedes need to finish the race without problems, we'll let the drivers run free and then we'll see what happens. All his life, Nico has fought to win the championship and the first title of his career is always the most difficult. It was the same for me too".

 

Sebastian Vettel didn't look competitive in qualifying. The German driver didn't go beyond fifth place, which would have been sixth if Max Verstappen hadn't made a mistake during his last attempt. The Dutchman ended up slightly distracting the Ferrari driver, engaged in his flying lap, but this time there is no controversy between the two.

 

"I actually didn't find any traffic, Max was slowing down but I don't have to blame him. I lost a little bit of pace and the rear a bit, all qualifying was quite complicated compared to the morning, maybe I was a little too aggressive, but the car was good. I think we should be even stronger in the race, it's a bit of a shame because I think third place was within reach for us, but we didn't take it. First of all we think that our tires are the right ones for starting off, we should be a little stronger at the start. Unfortunately the first corner is not very far from the start, but it could be an advantage, let's see. They tried something different, we could have done the same thing, but it didn't seem that interesting, we're pretty confident with our choice. Let's see what we can do tomorrow".

 

The car from Maranello, however, performed well and Sebastian Vettel is satisfied:

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"Overall I'm happy with qualifying, maybe I was a little too aggressive and I struggled to find the rhythm, but all in all I'm very satisfied. The car was much better than yesterday and it was a good session, we had the speed to beat Red Bull. In the end we missed a little bit, but the race is tomorrow and we could certainly fight for the podium".

 

Kimi Raikkonen tried to get close to the Mercedes drivers, but in the end he also had to give in to the attacks of a Red Bull which confirms its second strength in the World Championship.

 

"My last lap was good even if not perfect. I don't think I made any particular mistake. Simply Daniel was faster than me. Overall, however, I am satisfied. The car responded properly and in terms of times we are close to the best. Personally I have never considered the possibility of using Ultrasoft. If others did it, it means that it was okay for them".

 

And on a hypothetical difficulty in the third sector, the Finn says:

 

"I do not think. The car behaves more or less in the same way at all points on the track. Instead, I would say that it is the temperature of the bottom and of the air that affects general performance. However, now it's difficult to say whether we'll be able to fight with the Mercedes: usually in race conditions the gap closes, but I'm sure they too will be very fast. Tomorrow we can only try to do our best, we'll try to start well and then we'll see".

 

In the meantime, Ferrari team principal Maurizio Arrivabene cannot avoid questions relating to Sebastian Vettel and the many rumours that have begun to follow one another in recent weeks regarding the relationship between the German driver and the Maranello team.

 

"Many in this period talk a lot about Vettel. I don't know if this thing is done on purpose, to make both him and us nervous. I hope and hope not. Sebastian is a four-time world champion. He expects a winning machine from us, and we expect him to know how to use it to the fullest. This is a sport where you have an exam every fortnight. And before you graduate you have to pass one exam after another. Let's pass the exams first, then we'll talk about it".

 

Arrivabene also responds to the hope of many Italian fans, that of seeing a compatriot in the role of starting driver:

 

"The fact of an Italian driver does not depend on us. It depends on many factors, above all on a talent that must be born and grow, and deserve the Ferrari seat. I believe that an Italian driver on the car that represents the Italian motor racing team is everyone's dream. But he first has to prove that he is better than the other riders".

 

The technical director of Scuderia Ferrari, Mattia Binotto, talks about the car that will take to the track in 2017:

 

"The regulatory change will be the same for everyone, it is a new challenge, a new opportunity. It's up to us to make the most of it to present ourselves well at the start of the next championship. This year the performances have been very fluctuating, made up of ups and downs. The typicality and diversity of each track makes our services different. The general trend is positive, even if more could have been achieved".

 

In conclusion, Mattia Binotto explains what his role as technical director can bring:

 

"Twenty years of experience in Formula 1, with the good fortune of having won World Championships. I undoubtedly bring knowledge of the Ferrari culture and way of working, and I also know every person in every department. And this could be my added value".

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On Sunday the 27th of November 2016, at the start of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Lewis Hamilton maintains the first position, ahead of his teammate Nico Rosberg. Further behind Max Verstappen is the author of a spin, climbing to the last place in the rankings. Behind the two Mercedes is Kimi Räikkönen, followed by Daniel Ricciardo and Sebastian Vettel. The standings remained unchanged until lap 8, at least for the top positions, when Hamilton, Räikkönen and Alonso made their first stop. During lap 9 it was the turn for Rosberg and Vettel, while Ricciardo also stopped on lap 10. Lewis Hamilton returns to the lead of the race, ahead of Verstappen, who in the meantime is making a powerful comeback, but who has not yet made a pit stop. Nico Rosberg followed, then Kimi Räikkönen, Daniel Ricciardo and Sebastian Vettel. Still behind are the two Force Indias of Sergio Perez and Nico Hulkenberg, and Felipe Massa. On lap 13, after riding on a curb, Jenson Button retired from his last race due to front right suspension failure. During lap 19 Ricciardo unsuccessfully tries to pass Räikkönen, and is thus also approached by Vettel. During lap 20 Rosberg passes Verstappen, and takes second place again. Two more laps and Verstappen made the tire change: he rejoined the track eighth, behind the two Force Indias. Three laps later he stopped, but for the second time, also the other Red Bull driver, Ricciardo. Kimi Räikkönen waits one more lap, and rejoins the track after Ricciardo. Verstappen, meanwhile, passed Sergio Pérez. The Mexican then also passed by Ricciardo. Between laps 28 and 29, the two Mercedes pitted for the second time: they rejoined the track behind Vettel. The German Ferrari driver continues until lap 38, when he returns to the pits on Supersoft tyres. The ranking, behind Hamilton and Rosberg, sees the two Red Bulls and the two Ferraris. During lap 41 Vettel passes Räikkönen, and climbs fifth. The German, taking advantage of the new tyres, also passed Ricciardo on lap 46, and Verstappen also passed on lap 51. In the final laps Lewis Hamilton voluntarily reduces his pace, bringing both Nico Rosberg, Sebastian Vettel and Max Verstappen closer, in an attempt to make his teammate lose further positions and points. The British driver's tactics, however, had no effect, and Nico Rosberg held his position. Lewis Hamilton wins the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, but with second place Nico Rosberg officially becomes World Champion. For the second time in the history of Formula 1, the son of a world champion wins the world title. Nico's father Keke Rosberg won the title in 1982; the other father-son couple is Graham-Damon Hill. However, Lewis is satisfied with victory number 53 in his career, presenting himself increasingly bad in view of the rematch scheduled for next season. The Scuderia Ferrari is also smiling, with Sebastian Vettel returning to the podium after eleven races to wait, also thanks to an attack strategy which in the closing laps allowed him to move up from sixth to third position. Fourth and fifth place for Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo, while Kimi Raikkonen climbed from fourth place on the grid to sixth under the checkered flag. Followed by Nico Hulkenberg, Sergio Perez, Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa. Visibly excited on the podium, Nico Rosberg makes a special dedication to his wife, Vivian Sibold:

 

"I'm over the moon, it's incredible. I want to dedicate the victory to my wife, thank you so much for all the support, and to our daughter Lia. Then I really want to thank everyone else, it's really surreal". 

 

Rosberg does not deny having experienced a complicated Sunday, especially when it became clear that Hamilton was going under the pace: 

 

"It wasn't the most enjoyable race I've had, because Max was there at the beginning, then at the end all the others who filmed me, I didn't have much fun. So I'm really happy that it's over. I'm really happy to have repeated my father's feat. He will arrive here in half an hour, I am very happy to see him". 

 

Nico pays tribute to Lewis Hamilton: 

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"I want to congratulate him, because he has had a great season".

 

And on the podium he spoke to him personally: 

 

"You are an extraordinary opponent, always very fast. It was hard to beat you. Mercedes guys, turn up the music because I'm coming down with you in a second".

 

In the post-race press conference, Nico Rosberg recalls the emotions experienced in the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix:

 

"The battle with Max Verstappen was really surreal, if you don't experience it you can't understand it. Today I thought I wouldn't meet him in the race and instead he was there again. The team told me it was important to pass him, important for the championship. So I tried to get through it, I knew it was going to be difficult, I gave it my all and I succeeded. That was a beautiful feeling, intense, never experienced. And then again, at the end, I had a lot of pressure from behind. Lewis was trying to slow down at the front, it was really tough. He kept bringing others closer, but he did it really well because I had no chance to attack him".

 

Rosberg underlines Hamilton's cunning, really well studied:

 

"In the first sector he made sure he was never at risk of DRS and therefore slowed down in the rest of the circuit, it was horrible. I saw in the mirrors the positions that would have made me lose the championship. With the slightest mistake, it would all be over, with the tires with graining it was not easy".

 

Rosberg confesses that keeping concentration and lucidity high for all 55 laps was not a simple undertaking:

 

"It was crazy. A very intense race, I think it will take some time to sort myself out on an emotional level. The pressure was enormous this weekend. I can confirm that I am a double world champion, because we became the party champions on Sunday night. It was huge, epic, incredible. I was very lucky because all my friends and family were there so we all celebrated together and it was beautiful. I think we finished at a quarter to nine in the morning, that's the time of the last cell phone photo. The emotions that sport arouses are incredible, it doesn't happen to experience such intense ones in life. It happens when you get married and have a child, as I was lucky enough to experience, but on very few other occasions".

 

Rosberg also reveals the emotions his family experienced on a very important weekend for him.

 

"My mum has never seen one of my races because she is scared of her, she arrived after the Grand Prix and obviously she was super excited when she found out I had won. We both cried. She said it was one of the best moments of her life and it was great to hear that. And with my dad arriving a little later, that was special too. Suddenly he has become one of the most important topics I talk about: half of the interviews are about him. It was something I didn't like, but now I love it, one of the most exciting things for me was getting what he got. Sharing it with him is very special".

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And he continues:

 

"My joy was even greater after the race because it was so difficult. I didn't know what Lewis would do. I didn't know if he would go crazy and try to kick me out. I saw what he tried to do and I knew one small mistake on my part and the two behind me would pass me. In just two rounds, an entire year's work would be gone. It was amazing".

 

Rosberg is surprised that this has become such a big talking point:

 

“It is a pity that the argument has been exaggerated. The team's perspective is understandable as we race with rules to follow that haven't changed in three years. Their irritation is understandable. But at the same time so is his perspective because we fight and we do it for the World Cup. You try everything and maybe push the envelope in the meantime to make it possible".

 

The Mercedes driver expresses himself on his teammate, finally beaten after many attempts: the two were friends but, as they have both admitted several times, having a friendship at this moment is practically impossible even if respect remains.

 

"Lewis is one of the best ever. It will always be difficult between us. We are in the same team and we race against each other to win races and titles. It is impossible to be friends when there is such an intense and difficult rivalry. What helps us is the basic respect we have for each other. When we were 13 we were best friends. And that remains, I think. It is something that is also true today, at least for me but I think it is the same for him. I don't know how he feels now but I know how I felt in 2014 and 2015. It was hard for me to swallow. In 2015 I lost to him again. He'll need time to digest it".

 

For his part, Lewis Hamilton admits that he tried to do everything to win not only the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, but also the World Championship:

 

"I've done everything I could in the last four races, I couldn't ask for more of myself, tonight I'll have fun, I'll celebrate with the team with everyone and then I'll be calm again, I'm very calm. We had a lot of problems this year, that's why I'm second and not first, I'm very happy with our successes and also with the ups and downs I've had with the team. I feel great, first I want to thank everyone who came here to Abu Dhabi, there are so many English fans, I saw them this weekend, and I want to thank them so much, I want to thank my family for all the support and especially to the team for doing a really great job. It's a privilege to be part of this team and to have achieved what we have achieved this year, I never hoped since I joined this team to achieve all these victories, I think we are at 32 at this point and therefore I hope to thank them one by one when I go back to the factory".

 

On the podium, Lewis Hamilton is visibly frowning, and barely shakes hands with Nico Rosberg after hugging him at the finish. In 2017 he will be able to make up for it. The finale of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, the one that crowned Nico Rosberg as world champion for the first time, literally left the entire Mercedes garage in suspense due to Lewis Hamilton's race conduct. So much to bit his nails as confirmed by the technical director of the Mercedes team, Paddy Lowe, explaining the feelings experienced in the final laps of the Grand Prix. The English engineer says that a confrontation between his riders was inevitable given the position in the standings, with the title still up for grabs before the final round. The recovery of Sebastian Vettel, who had adopted a different strategy by delaying the second stop a lot and mounting the Supersoft tires to be very competitive in the final kilometres, set off an alarm bell in the minds of the Mercedes engineers.

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A situation that led Paddy Lowe to ask Lewis Hamilton to speed up his pace, which at the time was rather slow compared to the potential of the car. A decision that divided the observers, who were for and who against, because the Englishman tried to do everything to try and snatch the world title from his teammate in extremis. However, Lewis Hamilton responded curtly over the radio to this request, reaffirming his intentions:

 

"I'm not worried about whether I win or lose this race".

 

The important thing was to put pressure on Nico Rosberg, who was following him at a short distance and in turn didn't want to risk overtaking his British make colleague, to bring his opponents closer who could have snatched the podium and therefore the title from him. Paddy Lowe says:

 

"In a certain sense, this is what makes Formula 1 exciting. We are made in such a way that certain conflicts become inevitable, between what a team wants and what individual drivers want instead. They are two guys who race for the team, but in the end each of them wants to win. However, our main goal was to take the win in the race and as a result we didn't really like seeing a red car approaching, even if with a much higher pace than ours".

 

When asked about the instructions given to Lewis Hamilton by radio, the Mercedes technical director replies:

 

"I don't want to make comments on this topic, because we weren't driving the car. You don't know what a car's true pace is unless you're driving it. This aspect presents many challenges. In the end it's Nico and Lewis who do it on the track. It was good to see Sebastian recover, with what appeared to be a good strategy from Ferrari. Furthermore, doing so managing to stay ahead of the two Red Bulls was a bit unexpected. In the last two laps we bit our nails here on the wall. Would Vettel have been able to pass Nico and maybe even Lewis? You don't often see four cars crossing the finish line within half a second".

 

Repeatedly urged to push during the Grand Prix, as mentioned, Lewis Hamilton already live, had responded in kind to his garage:

 

"I suggest you let us go".

 

And turning to Lowe, he had said:

 

"Paddy, I'm in the lead and I'm in a calm situation, at the moment I would lose the championship either by winning or by not winning this race".

 

After the race, Hamilton increased the dose, strongly underlining his disappointment with the position taken by his team:

 

"I don't understand why they didn't let us race, there wasn't a single moment in which I risked losing the race. It's a shame they showed their thoughts like that, and I don't have much more to say to be honest. I was hoping that Vettel could get close, but his tires were now worn towards the end, and Nico rode well without making any mistakes. It was quite cold, the race may have seemed intense to you, but for me it was not at all".

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At the end of the race, Lewis Hamilton was rather harsh with his team, and reiterated that they should have stayed out of the dispute between him and Rosberg:

 

"From my point of view, I'm in a position where I've lost a lot of points over the course of the season, so I go out there to fight and in general I've never done anything to hurt the team or the brand. But we had already won the constructors' championship, so today it was a deal between Nico and me. However they felt compelled to make comments. We'll discuss it later, as we always do. I don't think I did anything dangerous and I don't think I did anything wrong. We were battling for the championship, I was leading and controlling the pace. This is the rule".

 

Definitely resentful of his team's attitude towards his voluntary slowdown, the British driver nonetheless reiterates his loyalty to his team:

 

"I did everything I could do in the last four races, and I demanded the most from myself. I will be leaving Abu Dhabi after a big party with the team. Of course, you can't always win. This year we had some problems that forced me into this position. But I am always grateful to the team for the successes achieved".

 

There is an episode that has faded into the background, but has come back into vogue in the Abu Dhabi paddock: the possible temporary withdrawal of Lewis Hamilton on the occasion of the Monaco Grand Prix, after the accident involving the two Merceds drivers on the occasion of the Spanish Grand Prix. In the following week Mercedes had suddenly employed Pascal Wehrlein in a test in place of Esteban Ocon. Speculators had read in this move precisely a caution in the event of Lewis Hamilton giving up on racing. Eventually the British driver showed up in Monte-Carlo and won the first of ten races this season.

 

"They are private things said in the past that don't matter now".

 

Says Lewis Hamilton pressed by Martin Brundle.

 

"I hope that in terms of reliability there will be parity between me and Rosberg next year, I congratulate him because he rode really well and did what he had to do in these last few races. Being world champion is a great feeling, he has to enjoy it to the fullest and I don't want to take anything away from him".

 

As expected, Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff does not like the behaviour of Lewis Hamilton, and says:

 

"I understand that it is difficult for him to lose this World Championship, but I expected another behaviour from him, that he would go fast".

 

And he expresses, however, great compliments for Nico Rosberg:

 

"He beat the fastest rider in the world, he has been very strong and determined in these seasons".

 

Then he continues:

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"I was in a bit of a schizophrenic situation. There is someone in charge of control, a team leader, who has a book of rules and each of us must obey. This is how we got to where we are now. Then, of course, there's the rider in me and so I was conflicted about what I would have done if I were in his place. Hamilton had two options: one, to take such an advantage that he disappeared into the distance, to prove he was the best driver, and that this could have been his season. The second to keep Nico behind and that's what he finally decided to do. I'm divided on this and that's what I think looking at the rider in me, but it was a thought that also occurred to others. Christian (Red Bull team principal, Christian Horner) had the same idea before the weekend and probably he (Hamilton) followed Christian's instructions. You can tell she wants to drive for him! As you can see, I'm already evaluating this from another angle. Nico reacted very well to the pressure, maybe he could have even overtaken, but it's difficult to have a solution for every single problem".

 

When asked about the reason why the Mercedes engineers decided to call Lewis Hamilton to order by interfering with his intentions, Toto Wolff replies:

 

"We could have left our riders without any rules, but the consequence would have been that, maybe, we wouldn't have been able to win so many races and maybe we could even have lost some championships. That's because there are some other smart people on the pit walls too. There is a philosophy that we have followed over the years: do not interfere as long as we can guarantee victory. This is a situation where we calculated that we could have lost the race, because Lewis was driving more and more slowly. So we decided to intervene and he ignored the request. There is one thing to be said: does this set a precedent for the future? It is an aspect that we have to evaluate, but in the end we also have to be happy because we have won nineteen races, we have a new world champion, and a great atmosphere within the team".

 

And he adds:

 

"Anarchy does not work in any company or in any team. Everything is possible".

 

Referring to a possible sacking of Lewis Hamilton by Mercedes. Now this prospect is far away, but Mercedes doesn't want to see a re-edition of the Abu Dhabi race in 2017.

 

"F1 is a mechanical sport, you have to win and lose with dignity".

 

For his part, Toto Wolff claims a great freedom given to his drivers, a freedom that Ferrari and Red Bull Racing did not allow in the past. But if the drift of the sleeve is too wide for races like the one in Abu Dhabi, Mercedes will have to review the policy:

 

"The Yas Marina race set a precedent, I have to sleep on it and wake up with a solution. Part of me says what went on at the track is disrespectful to the 1500 people working between Brackley and Brixworth and over 300,000 who work at Daimler, another part tells me Hamilton tried to win the title in all ways and that you can't ask what is perhaps the best driver on the grid to be a watchdog".

 

What is certain is that for 2017 things will have to change among the Mercedes drivers, not necessarily for the worse from the point of view of entertainment:

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"We can tighten the links or leave them even more free. What is certain is that we cannot go crazy in all races. When we made up the pairing of Lewis and Nico for the first time as our factory riders, we immediately made it clear that there wouldn't be a number one and a number two, and they agreed with that too. We knew we had two world-class talents on our hands, and that by giving them equal opportunities to realize their potential they would bring out the best. At the same time, we knew that this approach would give us some headaches. We took it into consideration and accepted it as part of the game, but when you see the results we've achieved together, it's clear that our approach was the right one. One of the keys to our success is that they constantly push each other and this helps to keep the level extremely high. They are both born fighters and this tough competition has been good for them, for the team and for our sport".

 

The team principal concludes the speech, saying:

 

"Finally, I have to say a word for Nico. I saw the video he posted on social media thanking mom and dad, and it was inspirational. When we see drivers competing in Formula 1 today, we tend to forget the efforts made to get to where they are now. When I see that little boy on a go-kart twenty-five years ago, I realize once again what a long journey it has been for Nico and all he has gone through to make his dream come true. He has shown such commitment and such integrity that today he fully deserves to be world champion".

 

Finished third in the race, on the podium Sebastian Vettel congratulates Nico Rosberg:

 

"First of all I want to congratulate Nico, it was tough for him in the final laps, I wouldn't have wanted to be in his shoes! I was trying to get close, trying to overtake him, because I actually wanted to pass both of them since Lewis was going so slowly up front, but it was difficult because my tires were dropping a lot at the end. Nico was too fast for me on the straight, Turn 11 would have been the most inviting for overtaking, but Nico defended himself well. Nico was so close to Lewis that I couldn't take all the risks, because I could have ruined both the race and the world championship with a stupid manoeuvre. In terms of strategy, I was a bit stuck at the start of the race, I couldn't keep up with my pace, I was starting to feel frustrated, but once the track was clear, I was able to take advantage of the tyres, even the older ones, demonstrating pace we had today".

 

The German Scuderia Ferrari driver acknowledges that he didn't want to interfere with the final result:

 

"I didn't want to be in Nico's shoes, everyone knew that Lewis would be the stopper. He was slow as a bus, and he wanted to regroup his teammate with everyone else. I wanted to win the race for Ferrari, but I also knew that Mercedes were fighting for the title".

 

A thought also goes to the Maranello team, which has been at the centre of so much criticism during the season:

 

"I think the whole team deserves the podium today. We worked a lot, we had to endure a lot of criticism, sometimes right, sometimes not justified, but that's how it goes, it's a difficult sport against very strong opponents. It's been a difficult year, but it's nice to end it with a podium to be able to gain momentum for next year. A lot of work is being done in Maranello, I have to thank them too. Towards the end, I would have liked to gain two more positions, because we had speed, but overtaking was difficult to try. In any case, as a team I think we deserved this podium and I hope it gives us all some impetus, because it has been a difficult year with many ups and downs and I'm really happy to be on the podium, even if there is no it wasn't even the champagne. There was soda, but maybe we can have a drink afterwards…".

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Finally, Sebastian Vettel defends the legitimacy of Nico Rosberg's world championship:

 

"In my opinion, you don't become champions only thanks to luck. Sometimes you're lucky, and sometimes not, but I think it's happened to many other riders in the past. Nico has collected the most points this year, he has been very consistent and I think you should never doubt a world champion. Out of twenty-one races, the result speaks for itself".

 

Kimi Raikkonen, who failed to finish the race beyond sixth in Abu Dhabi, explains the reasons that penalized him:

 

"In fact, I should have waited a bit before the final stop and put on the Supersofts as my partner did, third at the finish line. But the team had opted for a diversified strategy, when Seb approached I knew he was onto something different and I let him pass. As a result, being further back, I was penalized. In general, I have to say that I struggled to manage myself and in particular I struggled with the front tires to make them last as long as possible".

 

And taking stock of the championship, the Finn says:

 

"If I make a comparison with the recent past, personally I did better. However, overall many things didn't work properly and therefore as Ferrari we cannot be happy. In any case, the team has always shown that they know how to work well and in harmony. In 2017 the single-seaters will be quite different from the current ones, so we hope we can take advantage of the novelty effect".

 

Finally, on the success of Nico Rosberg, he concludes by saying:

 

"If he won, he deserved it. The points won prove him right".

 

Scuderia Ferrari team principal Maurizio Arrivabene talks about the end of the season, which he described as dignified:

 

"A decent finish, not important, important would have been to achieve the objectives set at the beginning of the season. We haven't won a single race, but I don't want comparisons to be made with other vintages in particular because they don't fit, they don't fit. Once again today Kimi proved to be an intelligent driver, Vettel's podium is a podium for the whole team".

 

As for Max Verstappen, his season has been exceptional. The Dutch driver won the Spanish Grand Prix on his debut with Red Bull Racing, and finished his championship in fifth position, not far behind his teammate.

 

"I'm very happy, I mean, after finding myself last at turn 1, fighting to recover and making only one stop was the best we could do. It's quite normal for riders who make two stops to have better tires and normally they can attack you a little better and that's what happened compared to Seb, but I think the race was very good".

 

Max Verstappen evaluates his contact with Nico Hulkenberg as a normal racing accident:

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"I think Nico got off to a very good start, I think he didn't expect to find me next to him. He went into the corner and I had no room to go, but I think it was a racing incident".

 

Daniel Ricciardo closes, however, a season that began with very different expectations:

 

"I don't want to be too sad since I'm still fifth, I'm just frustrated with how the strategy went in the end. At the start we had the Supersofts, we were going well and I tried to overtake Kimi. We certainly came close but it didn't go well and that hurt me,” said the Australian. “In hindsight we should have gone longer and only made one stop but it's always easy to say. Of course it went much better for Max, I saw him spin at 1 and I thought he was out of the race but he stopped and fought for the podium so it went well for him. I just think it didn't go well with the two stops as the Supersofts were a very good tire today. Had we been ahead of the Ferrari it would have made sense to try and keep the position in front of them, but in the end we were close to an overcut but it didn't work and we suffered a lot behind them, destroying the tires a bit. I tried to pass them a few times but I couldn't make it. Looking back at the season overall, I am very pleased and happy with this year. There have certainly been more ups than downs this year, many podiums and many points. I didn't win as much as 2014 but certainly there were equally satisfying races. I think it's been a good year, I'm very happy".

 

Red Bull Racing team principal Christian Horner congratulates Nico Rosberg on his achievement:

 

"Congratulations to Nico Rosberg, because he won the title after an exciting race in Abu Dhabi and thus proves to be a worthy World Champion. Lewis was expected to drive more slowly if he was leading the race and that is exactly what happened. Unfortunately our race was conditioned by some problems right from the start. Firstly with Max, when he spun in the first corner and ended up at the bottom of the standings. From then on her recovery from him was phenomenal, as he made the most of the supersoft tires managing to make the one-stop strategy feasible. He fought until the end, but didn't have enough pace in his tires to contain the return of Vettel, who fitted fresher supersofts (in place of Verstappen's soft). Despite this, fourth place was a great result".

 

More difficult, however, was the weekend for Daniel Ricciardo, who finished fifth ahead of Raikkonen.

 

"Daniel had a lockup in the first corner which caused him a flat tyre for the entire initial stint. Even if he managed to overtake Kimi in the second phase of the race, unfortunately he spent most of the afternoon in traffic and this factor negatively affected his tire performance. So fifth position is probably the maximum he could aspire to. In any case, this competition brings us to the conclusion of an exciting year. It was a great season for the team as we worked hard and finished second in the Constructors' World Championship after also taking two victories. An incredible result. I'd like to take this opportunity to thank the team for their hard work, Red Bull and all our partners who support us so much, and also thank our engine supplier for their hard work".

 

The Red Bull Racing team principal also defends Lewis Hamilton, saying:

 

"I think Lewis tried to bring us closer, I probably would have done the same thing, you have to try to do similar things to win a championship. Winning the race would have made no difference, he needed other cars between him and if he had escaped he would not have had that opportunity. He won the race as slowly as possible; it was like in a football match, when a team defends itself from the opponents by throwing the ball far and not allowing the opponents to catch it. I haven't seen anything wrong with it. There were only two of them fighting for the title, it was obvious that it would go like this".

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Strengthened by the experiences made with Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber, Christian Horner says that if he had been in Toto Wolff's place, he would not have interfered in the dispute:

 

"Nothing different could be expected. They were fighting for the title, it was the two of them and they had the same car. Lewis had a tactical race and did nothing dirty, nothing against the rules. It would be unfair to criticize Lewis for the way he drove. It was obvious, before this weekend, that this was the only way to get the result he wanted".

 

Fernando Alonso closes, with the tenth place conquered in Abu Dhabi, an extremely difficult season, in which the Honda engine has improved, but not enough to reach more ambitious goals:

 

"The race was fun but difficult at the same time. There wasn't much I could do against Force India and Williams, but I fought until the last lap and came really close to them, so I'm happy with the point. One point, two, zero doesn't change much... in the end, the priority objective for this weekend was to keep the position in the Constructors' World Championship, which is always an extra budget for the team. On an individual level, I kept a one-point lead over Felipe and finished ahead of Carlos. There's always a bit of a fight between us compatriots, so I'm happy. Now let's hope in these months ahead of us in the winter that we can do a good job, become more competitive and arrive in Australia with other goals".

 

And on the challenge between the new World Champion, Nico Rosberg, with whom Fernando Alonso immediately went to congratulate him in parc ferme after the race, and his former teammate, Lewis Hamilton, the McLaren driver adds:

 

"I think they both deserved the title, they were both very good, even if Hamilton had won, everyone could have said it was a fair finish. Congratulations to both of you, a little more to Nico, however, because small details certainly made the difference. He always remained very concentrated, he believed in himself throughout the championship, then he always managed the advantage he had very well, even in Brazil, in very very difficult conditions. He always did what he had to do, the points he he had to do, and then Hamilton had some races in which he lost a few points for goddamn... I remember a radio team in which he asked what he could change or not at the beginning of the year, and stuff like that, maybe he did a little too much trips…".

 

Felipe Massa ended his Formula 1 career by scoring two precious points for Williams, which thus confirmed its fifth place in the Constructors' World Championship:

 

"I'm really proud to have been able to fight until the last lap in the same lap I've fought since the first of my career. I want to say thank you to everyone, to everyone who shared this adventure competing with me. Thanks to the fans and Williams, who I will continue to support in the future. Thanks also to all those who have been part of what I have experienced. I finished my career in the same way I started it and I also tried to pay a little more attention to the car, which from now on will be mine, and for this gift I thank Williams again." .

 

Less enthusiastic is Valtteri Bottas, who was forced to retire in Abu Dhabi due to a technical problem which the team will have to investigate upon his return to the factory.

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"It was disappointing to finish the race after a few laps. I was occupying ninth position when I suddenly felt something broke in the rear and the car became practically undriveable. We tried to solve the problem inside the garage, however, shortly after, we were forced to retire. It's a real shame to have finished a season like this like this, but it makes me absolutely impatient to get back on track next year".

 

Williams performance manager Rob Smedley also talks about the problem that occurred on Bottas' car, adding:

 

"It was a tough race, as we expected it to be. Unfortunately Valtteri had to give up due to a rear suspension failure and so we have to try to understand what happened. We're sorry for what happened today, but Valtteri still had an excellent championship. We have a duty to deliver him a better car and we will continue to give our best because there is still so much we can do together".

 

Rob Smedley greets Felipe Massa, the one who was more than just a driver he worked with, but a true friend:

 

"Felipe had a good race and this was a worthy conclusion to his career. Alonso bet on a different strategy regarding the tires, but he (Massa) was able to keep him at bay until the end and finished in ninth place Obviously it's not the position we would have liked to finish in, but everyone did their best. I met Felipe when he was very young and he is one of my best friends. He is not only a great driver who has had an exceptional career, but also a great person. Then there is his family, who have supported him over the years. I don't think he has ever entered a race without a member of his family being there and they definitely deserve applause for that too. I wish him all the best for the future".

 

The Formula 1 career of former World Champion Jenson Button also ends with the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. Undoubtedly the epilogue could and should have been different for the British driver, at least in order to better celebrate his farewell to racing. 

 

"Yes, to tell the truth, I would have liked to stay out a little longer. We had an interesting strategy, I started with a different tire than everyone else, even if it's true that I should have waited for things to evolve. But that's how it went and I will enjoy this moment. When I got back I wanted to celebrate with everyone, with the fans in the stands, with the mechanics and with the people at home. As a team we were very proud that we have never had a breakdown like this, to tell the truth it's the first time since I've been at McLaren, and if it happened today it means there's a reason. Evidently it was destiny that I went to celebrate early with my family and everyone".

 

Jenson Button, after so many years in which he has experienced both happy and difficult moments, leaves Formula 1 with a smile:

 

"Yes, there are always bad times during your career, but the important thing is to know how to get out of these negative moments. I have loved all the seventeen years that I have lived in this sport. I arrived here hoping to win the championship, I did it, and I have a wonderful relationship with my friends, with my teammates and with the teams I raced with. I'm happy".

 

Now the gaze is already projected to the future and to what will happen starting from next year, when Jenson Button will still be present within the McLaren team, but with the role of third driver. So, what will the British driver miss most after his retirement?

 

"Obviously driving a Formula 1 car. It's the most beautiful thing in the world and it's a lot of fun. It can also be very frustrating at times, but there are more positives than negatives. A Formula 1 car is really fantastic even when it's not going too fast".

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Once the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix is over, and the first forty-eight hours have passed, Nico Rosberg returns to talk about his success, and his victory in the World Drivers' Championship:

 

"The forty-eight hours following the victory were filled with incredible emotions. I didn't expect it to be like this at all, and it just was something that completely blew my mind. It's been a pretty intense few days, I'm quite tired and I even picked up a couple of bruises from how hard my friends cheered me on. But it is an incredible feeling to think about the realization of this dream of mine that I had since childhood. I've been working about 25 years, my whole life, and it was too intense out there on Sunday. It took just a little and I really could have lost everything, but the after part was incredible to share with everyone, especially with the team. Mercedes is my racing family, with whom I've been together since 2010. My best friends and they came to Abu Dhabi to surprise me, and my family too of course, and one of the most exciting things was just repeating what my father did thirty-four years ago".

 

Nico Rosberg also reveals an anecdote about the video that appeared on his social pages at the end of the Grand Prix, which sees him busy, still a child, driving a go kart under the careful guidance of father Keke:

 

"My parents made me a video of me doing my first go-kart rides that I had never seen before. When I saw it posted on my social networks on Sunday evening I cried my eyes thinking about how close they have been to me all these years. I also owe a few words to Lewis Hamilton. He's one of the best in the world, certainly one of the best ever, so it's incredibly intense to compete against him. I feel like he's been fighting forever, and he's always narrowly beaten me, and to finally be able to pull it off has been amazing. I have great respect for him because he does an incredible job, he has done so well over the last few years and he made me sweat it out every last meter on Sunday. This made everything extremely hard, and therefore also extremely more beautiful".

 

Five days after the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, exactly on Friday the 2nd of December 2016, surprisingly, Nico Rosberg announces his intention to retire from the world of Formula 1. So on his Facebook profile Nico Rosberg explained all the steps that led him to hang up his helmet.

 

"Since I started racing twenty-five years ago, it has been my dream, the only 'thing' I wanted was to become Formula One world champion. Through hard work, pain, sacrifices, this has been my goal. I've done it. I've climbed my mountain, I'm at the top, and that feels good. My strongest emotion right now is one of deep gratitude to all those who have supported me to make this dream of mine come true. This season, I confess, has been damn difficult. I've been pushing like crazy in every area after the disappointments of the last couple of years, which have fueled my motivation to levels I've never experienced before. And of course, that has also had an impact on the people I love. It has been a huge joint sacrifice, my family and I, putting everything behind this goal of ours. I can't find enough words to thank my wife Vivian; she was amazing. She immediately understood that this year was the right one, our opportunity to do it, and she created the conditions so that I could fully recover between one competition and another, taking care of our daughter every evening, taking care of her when things got difficult so that I could put our league first. When I won the Suzuka race, since the fate of the title was in my own hands, the great pressure started and I started thinking about ending my racing career if I took the world champion title. Sunday morning in Abu Dhabi I knew it could be my last race and that feeling cleared my head from the start. I wanted to fully enjoy every single moment of that experience, knowing it could be the last time… and then the lights went out and I had the most intense 55s of my life. I made my decision on Monday evening, after thinking for a whole day, the first people I told were Vivian and Georg (Nolte, from Nico's management team), and then Toto. The one thing that makes this decision difficult for me anyway, is that I'm putting my racing family in a tricky situation. But Toto understood. He immediately understood that I was deeply convinced and he reassured me. The thing that will make me proudest of my career will always be to have won the world championship with this incredible team of people, the Silver Arrows. Now, I'm just here to enjoy this moment. I will have time to savour it over the next few weeks, to reflect on my season and to enjoy every experience that comes my way. After that, I will move on to the next chapter of my life to find out what it has in store for me…".

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Speaking at the FIA World Motor Sport Council in Vienna, Nico Rosberg confirms that he has sent a message to Lewis Hamilton explaining his reasons and the reasons that led him to quit:

 

"I informed Lewis of my decision before this, it was the thing to do. We have had many battles and we have lived many moments together, so I thought it was only right to let him know about my decision. Particularly in light of his post yesterday, a very kind thing from him. Maybe we'll talk tonight to talk about it. The notice was very short and the priority was to let the team know about it as soon as possible. A sort of compromise that didn't allow me to inform everyone who is close to me and so I sent this message to Lewis".

 

The reaction of Niki Lauda, non-executive honorary president of Mercedes AMG F1, is one of total disbelief, given that the German driver's resignation will force the team to look for a valid replacement:

 

"It's December 2nd and we are missing a rider. I'm afraid at this point all top driver contracts are frozen. So, I think that finding a replacement for Rosberg is actually a real problem. Our pilot duo was the best we could wish for. This is the reason why, in June, Mercedes had decided to renew Rosberg's contract for another two years, until the end of 2018. I must say that he caught us all off guard".

 

A decision that, although he left speechless, is still understandable:

 

"When the riders want to stop they must be listened to, because it is better not to influence them from the outside".

 

Nico Rosberg's answer to the words expressed by Niki Lauda was not long in coming:

 

"I don't understand Niki's complaints, he must have misunderstood. I even anticipated communicating my decision so as not to create problems for the team. If he had depended on me I would have waited until Christmas to make the announcement, but the team could not have afforded it. I anticipated my decision precisely to give the team time to get organised".

 

Among the drivers who could take the place of Nico Rosberg in Mercedes, the names of Valtteri Bottas and Pascal Wehrlein are mentioned. In this regard, the Mercedes team principal, Toto Wolff, declares:

 

"The negotiations between us and Sauber are at an advanced stage. In the last two weeks, I've had excellent talks with them, but due to the new situation that has arisen, they were temporarily paused".

 

Speaking of Wehrlein and his ambition to wear the Mercedes team suit, the Austrian manager says he is very very enthusiastic, but also points out that, perhaps, it would be better for the young driver to spend another season in a team of second band. Which would allow him to mature further before moving to a top team.

 

"Pascal is an ambitious young man. He has big goals and we share these goals. Reason why he is part of our development program. He raced for a year with Manor and if I could compile a wish list for Christmas, I would hope he gets the opportunity for another season in a midfield team. But unfortunately, for this year, there will be no wish list for Christmas. Therefore, we have to aim for a good compromise. And if Nico had to make a courageous decision, maybe now we too have to do the same".

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Going back to the subject of Fernando Alonso, whom Toto Wolff defines as a champion, the team principal underlines that the Mercedes team cannot underestimate the Spanish driver in terms of candidacy:

 

"Yes, we respect the contracts that the other riders have with their teams. Ourselves, we don't want our drivers to be distracted when a new opportunity presents itself. This is what contracts are meant to do and it is also why we respect them. We don't want a situation where a confrontation or a legal battle could be staged. Naturally, if we were to find a suitable solution for both parties, there could still be the possibility of coming to terms with another team and its rider. I can't rule this out".

 

While the search for a new driver progresses slowly, two weeks after the end of the World Championship Lewis Hamilton talks about his feelings, and what he is feeling after the defeat suffered at the end of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix:

 

"It has been a difficult two weeks. This is a time of year where you try to put the bad times behind you and bring the good ones forward. It will be useful for next year. The team's job is to give both riders equal opportunities. I, unfortunately, didn't have them, because I had some problems on my side of the garage and on the other side it didn't happen. And so that made it even more important that I had to squeeze every drop of opportunity. In the end, I did everything possible. I didn't do anything dangerous. I didn't endanger anyone. I would do it again. Get on the track to fight".

 

Hamilton hopes that the four wins he finished the year with will have a positive effect on the 2017 season:

 

"Between all these experiences, I have grown a lot as a driver. I finished the season as a complete rider like I've never been. I think it's a great thing. And even if I didn't win the title, I still feel I won".

 

But now he dreams of winning in 2017 too:

 

"I am fine. When I lost the title, the desire to take it back next year doubled".

 

However, Lewis Hamilton still feels cheated of a world title that he could have won if, for example, the Mercedes engine hadn't failed in Sepang. To clarify every point and continue his career serenely for the purpose of the Anglo-German team, Lewis Hamilton meets Toto Wolff on Monday 12 December 2016 at the home of the Austrian manager. And inside the kitchen, the two argue animatedly, until they reach a positive conclusion for both. It is the British pilot himself who made the meeting known, through a couple of videos that appeared on his personal social channels:

 

"We had a very interesting meeting. We just wanted to send you a message to warn you that we will be the strongest partnership on track next year and we can't wait to fight for the championship again".

 

And also Toto Wolff comments with satisfaction the visit of his pilot:

 

"We spent a couple of hours together. It was a fantastic evening and we'll come back even stronger in 2017".

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A few years later, exactly on March 13, 2022, in a lesson held at the Harvard Business School, the Mercedes team principal will tell which episode actually gave the turning point to the bond between himself and Lewis Hamilton. It all happened in 2016, after the Austrian Grand Prix which was the scene of the last physical collision on the track between the British and Rosberg on the last lap of the race. Wolff knew that the time had come to intervene, to use a hard fist to prevent the situation from escalating even further:

 

"They had become too opportunistic, putting their own goals before those of the team with no respect for the fact that there were a thousand people working for them. I had to show that I would no longer allow that behaviour. After the race, I asked both riders out of briefings with the engineers. I told them: Look at everyone in the room, imagine them at home with their families, and realize how you are making us look. I used harsh words that I can't repeat. Everyone from pilots to engineers stared at the floor that day. I said: Next time you want to throw each other off the road, think of all the faces here, and then you'll think twice. Then I added that if it happened again, I wouldn't hesitate to replace them: Don't challenge me on this, if I were you, I wouldn't want to find out what I'm capable of".

 

And, inevitably, the tension between Hamilton and Wolff escalated after Abu Dhabi that year, when Lewis lost the title to Rosberg:

 

"That December we met, almost reluctantly, at the Christmas party at my house in Oxfordshire (Nico had just announced his retirement, ed). We had to decide whether to continue working together or not. We were in my kitchen and I made an analogy that my wife Susie didn't really like. I told him that even if Susie and I were to disagree about something in the future, it would never occur to me to divorce. And it was the same with him. I didn't want a divorce because for me he was the best driver. I wanted him with me and I wanted to make sure he had the best car. We started that discussion at loggerheads and then, after four or five hours in the kitchen, we found ourselves on a completely different level. A purely commercial relationship had become a personal relationship. Now he is a friend. It doesn't mean we don't argue anymore, but now Lewis' success is the team's success and the team's success is Lewis' success".

 

Meanwhile, however, Lewis Hamilton, a few days after meeting Toto Wolff in London, documenting the matter with two stories on his Instagram account, returns to talk about the issue, using strong terms.

 

"That was one of the many difficult moments of the year. Looking back, seeing what was said afterward, I feel a great lack of respect from the speaker. Surely you don't expect these things from someone who is in charge of hundreds of people. If the situation has been resolved? No".

 

Lewis Hamilton also talks about Nico Rosberg, who worked with a sports psychologist during the year in order to finally win the World Championship.

 

“In my career I have never had to work with a mental coach. I do it myself. I take it as a compliment that he gave everything to do it. Look at other sports. When someone goes up against Tiger Woods or Serena Williams, he knows he's going to have to up his game".

 

In short, the question does not seem at all closed. In any case, to avoid new discussions and situations like those experienced during the 2016 season, the Mercedes team announces on Monday 16 January 2017 that Valtteri Bottas will replace Nico Rosberg. The 27-year-old Finn will be on the Formula 1 starting grid for the fifth season in 2017 after four years as a Williams driver. 

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The announcement is made through an official press release from the Williams Racing team, which simultaneously announces the return of Felipe Massa to the English team:

 

"Williams is happy to announce that Felipe Massa has agreed to sign a one-year contract for our team, replacing Valtteri Bottas, who the team has released to join Mercedes for the 2017 season".

 

Felipe Massa, therefore, returns to Williams, after previously announcing his intention to retire from the Formula 1 circus:

 

"Firstly, I'm very happy to have the opportunity to return to Williams. I've always thought about racing somewhere in 2017, but Williams is a team close to my heart and I have respect for everything they're trying to achieve . Valtteri has a great opportunity, given the turn of events over the winter, and I wish him all the best at Mercedes. In turn, when I was offered the chance to help Williams for 2017, this seemed like the right thing to do. right thing to do. I certainly haven't lost any of my enthusiasm for racing and I am extremely motivated to return to drive the FW40. The support from my fans over the last few weeks has been a huge boost and I am grateful for that. I am also anxious to work with Lance. I've known him for many years and in that time I've seen his talent develop, so I'm looking forward to seeing what we can do together".

 

And the comment of the deputy team principal, Claire Williams, who welcomes Felipe Massa back with open arms just under two months after the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, is also enthusiastic:

 

"I'm happy that Felipe has agreed to change his mind to be part of our team in 2017. With Valtteri having the unique opportunity to join the current reigning champions, we have worked hard to ensure that an agreement could be concluded with Mercedes capable of giving him this fantastic possibility. Valtteri has been part of Williams since 2010 and since then he has revealed himself to be a huge talent, who has been able to secure us nine podium finishes. I would like to take this opportunity to thank him on behalf of the whole team, and wish him a successful season. Felipe has always been a much loved member of the Williams family, and having the opportunity to work with him is something we all look forward to. In 2017 he would have raced somewhere anyway, because he never lost his competitive spirit and it was important for us to have someone capable of fully replacing Valtteri. Massa's return gives us great stability, experience and talent to help us progress".

 

Thus ends one of the most intense seasons experienced in recent years. The long-awaited revenge of Lewis Hamilton against Nico Rosberg will not be there. On the other hand, the new technical regulations could offer new rivals for the Anglo-German team and for the British rider, who will do everything to win and become World Champion for the fourth time.


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