Nico Rosberg emerged on the top step on the podium for a third consecutive race, as he bested Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton for his sixth win of the season. Kimi Raikkonen returned on the podium with a fine drive for Ferrari, while Sebastian Vettel and Romain Grosjean made their way up the pack on a reverse tyre strategy, earning their spots in our post-race driver rankings. Also worth mentioning was Sergio Perez, who secured a commendable fifth place finish for Force India.
Nico Rosberg’s winning streak continued in Abu Dhabi as he bagged his third straight win of the season, ending the year on a high note.
Like his previous wins in Mexico and Brazil, the foundations of his sixth triumph of the season were laid on Saturday.The second key factor was staying ahead at turn 1 - which he successfully managed with a perfect getaway from pole position.
From there on, Rosberg controlled the race, despite coming under pressure at the end of the second stint, to take the chequered flag.
The onus is now on the German to carry the momentum to 2016 and pose a stronger challenge to Hamilton, than he did this season.
In all honesty, 2015 has been far from perfect for 2007 world champion Kimi Raikkonen. Although Raikkonen has found the 2015 Ferrari more suited to his driving style than its predecessor, the Finnish driver has played second fiddle to teammate Sebastian Vettel, who romped to three victories over the course of the year..
But Raikkonen capped the year in perfect style at the curtain-closing Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, securing a well earned podium finish with third place.
With a tactical error in qualifying preventing Vettel from progressing further than Q1, Raikkonen locked the third spot on the grid, beating a very fast Sergio Perez by just over a tenth of a second.
On a Sunday, Raikkonen kept the Mercedes pair honest in the early stages, before falling back in the latter part of the race.
After the chequered flag was dropped, he insisted that he could have finished a lot closer to the Mercedes ahead than he actually did, suggesting that Ferrari’s pace deficit over Mercedes has narrowed further over the last few races.
A small, but costly tactical error during qualifying meant that four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel had to start the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix from 15th on the grid.
But with the second fastest chassis/engine package underneath him, Vettel was expected to charge up the field, possibly fighting for the final podium spot in the end. And although the German delivered on Sunday, he fell short of a rostrum finish by over 20 seconds.
Vettel started on the prime tyre, to take advantage of the faster option tyre at the end of the race. By the end of lap 1, he was already knocking the door of top 10 starters. Some decisive moves and a clean track - thanks to the reverse strategy - allowed Vettel to cross the finish line in fourth place.
Sergio Perez is known for exploiting every opportunities that comes his way. Having spent all his career with midfield teams, McLaren excepted, Perez is aware that he won’t always have the car to fight with the top teams.
So when Force India looked strong during Friday practice, Perez put a stonking lap during qualifying to occupy a place on the second row of the grid, just a tenth shy of what Raikkonen managed in the lead Ferrari.
A good start on Sunday propelled Perez ahead of Raikkonen on the run down to turn 1. However, in an attempt to pass Hamilton, who, in contrast, made a slow getaway, Perez lost the place so gained over Raikkonen.
But after his start heroics, Perez had to be content with what the VJM08 had to offer on race trim. With the pace on Sunday not as strong as on a single lap, Perez became an easy target to a fast charging Sebastian Vettel, ending up fifth.
The circumstances in the build up to Romain Grosjean’s final grand prix for Lotus were far from ideal. His car came to a halt during Q2 with gearbox problem, the replacement of which demoted him to 18th on the grid.
But an inspired drive on a reverse soft/soft/supersoft strategy meant that Grosjean ended the year on an ominous note.
Particularly impressive were his late manoeuvres over Carlos Sainz and Daniil Kvyat. With the faster option tyre fitted to the E23 Hybrid, Grosjean managed to pull through both the drivers to cross the line in ninth place, securing sixth place in the constructors championship for Lotus
by Rachit Thukral