Rosberg’s stunning pole position lap saw him secure his sixth consecutive pole position in the closing chapters of the 2015 F1 season. On a run which stretches way back to Suzuka in September, Rosberg’s qualifying form has seen him end 2015 just two consecutive pole positions shy of Senna’s record of 8, a record he could equal in Bahrain next year if he continues his stunning end of season form into 2016. Elsewhere down the grid, there was drama for Vettel and Grosjean, frustrations for Alonso and rare glimmer of hope for Button as he missed out on Q3 by the smallest of margins. As the curtain begins to fall on another year in Formula One, here are four reasons you should tune in to watch tomorrow’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
Just how much progress can Vettel make from 16th on the grid? A rare error from Ferrari saw Vettel fail to make it out of Q1 this afternoon. With the Ferrari no doubt being the second fastest car around Yas Marina (as it has for most of the season) all eyes will be on the four time champ to see how much progress he can make through the grid. He managed to finish third in 2012 following his exclusion from qualifying and Ferrari will be hoping for more of the same tomorrow evening. Vettel has enjoyed a superb first season with Ferrari, and a champions drive back through the field to the podium would be a fitting end to a good 2015 at Maranello.
Raikkonen vs Perez for the final podium spot could be a titanic battle. With Bottas qualifying further down the grid than expected in sixth, Raikkonen has a perfect chance to secure fourth place in the championship and the title of “best of the Finns”. With just two podiums (Bahrain and Singapore) to his name in 2015, Raikkonen will be eager to end 2015 on a high by beating his teammate to the champagne, but there might just be an obstacle standing in his path. Perez has been in stunning form all weekend and lost out to Raikkonen by just over a tenth of second in Q3. Coming to end of what has been an incredible season for the young Mexican (still just 25 years old), a second podium would cap off an incredible year for both Perez and Force India. Perez admitted after FP3 that Force India’s race pace isn’t as good as their qualifying speed in Abu Dhabi, but on the pit wall, hopes will be high for a repeat of Russia.
Toro Rosso’s young pair Sainz and Verstappen have enjoyed an mesmerizing debut season, and they line up 10th and 11th on the grid for tomorrow’s race. Whilst Verstappen has shone at virtually every race this year, Sainz has been unfortunate with reliability problems in the sister Toro Rosso but has proved himself more than a match for young Max when both cars have made it to the finish. With Toro Rosso chasing sixth place in the constructors table, a straight fight to the finish between Sainz and Verstappen should be a real treat to watch. Throw in the McLaren of Button starting in 12th, whose car seems to be enjoying a stronger than usual weekend, the battle for 10th place could become very interesting indeed.
The Yas Marina Circuit is a fitting stage for a Formula One season finale. There can be no denying that Abu Dhabi is a spectacular setting for the final round of any F1 season. From the cars streaking into the Middle Eastern sunset, to the winning car taking the checkered flag under shining white floodlights the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix is right up there with any sporting event in the calendar. Unlike many of Tilke’s modern circuits which have attracted criticism from drivers, pundits and fans alike, Yas Marina manages to escape such scrutiny because of it’s sheer magnificence and glamour. Although I’m sure the drivers and teams won’t completely feel it, the race has an end of season party feel to it and we can only hope for an action packed race tomorrow to ring in the end of 2015.