Abu Dhabi Grand Prix
Lewis Hamilton claimed the second drivers’ championship of his career but his first on Pirelli tires after winning the title decider in Abu Dhabi, using a two-stop strategy.
The Mercedes driver started on the P Zero Red supersoft tire from second on the grid, but took the lead at the start before completing two stints on the P Zero Yellow soft.
The 16th win for Mercedes this season has broken the all-time record of 15 previously held by Ferrari and McLaren. Hamilton also becomes the first Mercedes world champion since Juan Manuel Fangio, having claimed 11 victories in total this year.
During the closing stages of the race, Hamilton was challenged by Williams driver Felipe Massa, who used a different two-stop strategy to him. Massa started on the supersoft from fourth on the grid, switched to the soft, and then ran the final 13 laps on the supersoft again, which was around a second per lap faster than the soft.
This enabled the Brazilian to close up to less than three seconds behind Hamilton at the finish, while his Williams team mate Valtteri Bottas completed the podium. Bottas used a supersoft-soft-soft strategy.
After being excluded from qualifying, both Red Bull drivers started from the pitlane, adopting a similar soft-soft-supersoft strategy. This helped Daniel Ricciardo to finish fourth, having risen as high as third, and set the fastest lap of the race. Ricciardo was also the highest-placed finisher to start the race on the soft tire, with all but six drivers beginning the grand prix on the supersoft.
With falling track and air temperatures, the circuit tended to get faster as the race progressed, meaning that the teams had to monitor tire wear and degradation carefully. Both compounds performed exactly in line with expectations, allowing drivers and teams to push to the maximum.
Pirelli’s motorsport director Paul Hembery said: “Congratulations to Lewis Hamilton for winning the title, and also to Nico Rosberg, who provided him with fantastic opposition all year. The tires performed as we expected them to here, in line with the data we had collected before the race. We saw a wide variety of interesting strategies at work today, with Massa showcasing the speed of the supersoft at the end of the race, and Ricciardo putting in a great performance from the back after starting on the soft. It’s been a fascinating end to a compelling season, but we’re already turning our attention to 2015 as we embark on the final test of the season here next week on Tuesday and Wednesday, where some our new tires will make their debut.”