After 18 races the championship has come down to the wire in Abu Dhabi. Not for the first time the battle is between the team mates of Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg, with the German leading again the final qualifying session of the season.
The battle at the front wasn’t the only story of qualifying, with Red Bull excluded for running an illegal front wing. The team would start both cars from the pitlane. Romain Grosjean would also have a large penalty for changing parts of his power unit, getting a twenty place grid penalty, which was converted into a drive through penalty in the first three laps.
All the cars got away from the start line on the formation lap, although Maldonado fell to the back after getting a slow getaway. Romain Grosjean also had a slow start in the second Lotus at the back of the field.
Good start from Hamilton, way ahead of Rosberg but stays ahead of the Williams of Massa, with Button in 4th place. Bottas falling behind the two Ferraris. At the back of the field there was very close racing, with Kvyat then also overtaking Bottas.
Magnussen said that he had suspension damage in 13th place, he hit Adrian Sutil on the first lap. Ricciardo and Vettel had made their way onto the back of the field by the end of the first lap, with Grosjean pitting for his penalty.
On their quest for points Esteban Gutierrez climbed to 11th in the Sauber. Hulkenberg and Perez was 9th and 10th In the Force Indias.
Vettel and Ricciardo were stuck behind the Caterham of Kobayashi on lap 4.
Alonso overtook Raikkonen at the end of the back straight, then wrong-footed he was also overtaken by Kvyat. Alonso pitted at the end of lap 5, while Hulkenberg was the leading soft runner in 9th. Alonso also stopped for the softs, the first of the pitters.
Bottas overtook Raikkonen who was going backwards using the DRS, with Kvyat scampering off up the road. Button was told to pit at the end of lap 6. He came in with Kvyat and Raikkonen They came out in the same order, all taking the soft tyres. A fast 2.3 second stop for Raikkonen. Alonso was caught behind Kobayashi and Stevens in the Caterhams.
Mercedes were yet to pit Hamilton or Rosberg on lap 8, starting on the super soft tyres. Williams also had yet to pit Massa in 3rd, only a little way down the road. Magnussen and Vettel were battling for 9th, while Bottas was told that other cars that had pitted were stuck in traffic. Ricciardo was already up the road.
Rosberg was told that they were going to extend the stint slightly. The incident at the start between Hulkenberg and Magnussen was put under investigation, where the Dane was forced off the track at the first chicane.
Massa was causing a problem for the two Mercedes drivers, with Massa going slightly faster than the leaders. Hamilton pitted on lap 11, a good 2.7 stop for Hamilton, while Rosberg was told to push. Bottas pitted as well on the same lap for Williams. He came out behind Vettel and Magnussen, in their battle in the championship.
Hulkenberg was given a five second stop and go penalty for his first lap incident.
Rosberg pitted a lap later, a steady in lap for the German with a 2.6 second stop saw Hamilton regain the lead, with Massa yet to stop he was leading.
Ricciardo and Ricciardo battled together at the end of the back straight, with some feisty moves by the Frenchman who kept the position.
A lap later and Bottas overtook Vettel using the DRS for 9th. Ricciardo also made the move stick on Vergne for 6th. Massa pitted on lap 14 from the lead, a 2.9 second stop from Williams. He came out behind the two Mercedes, but ahead of the chasing pack. Hamilton two seconds ahead of the German.
Recovering from his poor start Bottas overtook Magnussen for 7th. Perez pitted on lap 15, dropping to 13th in the Force India. Hulkenberg pitted a lap later, also serving his stop go penalty.
Dany Kvyat went off the track on lap 16, with the car looking like it had died. The car was able to be retrieved under yellow flags. Having not stopped Magnussen and Vettel were battling at the lower end of the top ten, with Button and Alonso behind being held up. Lap 18 and Rosberg set the fastest lap of the race, with the gap at 2.3 seconds. The order being Hamilton, Rosberg, Massa, Ricciardo, Bottas, Magnussen, Vettel, Button, Alonso and Raikkonen.
Bottas had cruised onto the back of Ricciardo on lap 20, who was still on the soft tyres. Meanwhile Massa was still only five seconds behind Rosberg in third. Vettel pitted along with Magnussen on lap 22 for their first stops, Magnussen took the supersoft tyres, but it was a slow stop for Vettel at over 4 seconds who took the soft.
By lap 23 Massa was loosing time, with Hamilton also pulling away from Rosberg, bringing the gap up to nearly three seconds. The gap back to Massa nearly 10 seconds. Vettel overtook Gutierrez after coming out in traffic from his pitstop. Rosberg made a mistake into the hotel complex on lap 24, locking his brakes with the gap increasing to four seconds. Bottas overtook Ricciardo, who was due to stop with the team hoping to get him into clear air. Bottas up to forth.
At the end of lap 25 and the gap between Lewis and Nico increased to seven seconds. The engineers confirmed over the radio that there was a loss of engine power. Massa closed in on Rosberg, with the team confirming that the ERS had failed. A lap later and it was up to ten seconds.
Lap 27 and Massa was right on the back of Rosberg, overtaking him on the back straight. Massa now up to 2nd place in the Williams. Ricciardo pitted on lap 28 for another set of the soft tyres, so keeping to the two stop strategy. Pastor Maldonado’s Lotus was on file, with him pulling off the circuit quickly at the final corner. Marshalls were slow at getting the fire out, but it was contained.
At the front, Massa closed in on Hamilton by half a second. The Williams much faster than the Mercedes at this time in the race.
Button and Alonso came out together from his pit stop, Alonso tries around the outside of Button along the back straight but couldn’t make it stick. Button kept the advantage, but went wide at the final chicane, with Magnussen on his gearbox. Magnussen pitted at the end of the lap, taking the soft tyres.
Lewis Hamilton at the front was still loosing time to Massa, the gap falling for the first time to under ten seconds.
Hamilton pitted on lap 31 from the lead on lap 31, another set of the soft tyres for him with his brakes smoking. Button also got back ahead of Alonso.
Bottas overtook Rosberg for 3rd on lap 33, Williams first and third, with Hamilton in second following his pit stop. Rosberg dropped to forth and yet to stop.
Hamilton was told that he needed to set low 47’s, something which he has been doing. Rosberg pitted on lap 35, with still now ERS. He was still being caught by Daniel Ricciardo, with the German having a slow 4.7 second stop. He came out behind Hulkenberg in 7th, needing 5th at least to become World Champion if there was a problem with Hamilton.
Massa was still leading in the Williams, with Bottas pitting on lap 36, with another set of the softs.
Ricciardo was closing in fast on Rosberg, setting a series of fastest laps. Vettel overtook the German on lap 38, with Bottas following the Germans team mate.
Rosberg went off the road on lap 41, overtaken by Button on lap 41. Hamilton said over the radio that he wasn’t concerned about Massa, just his team mate. Rosberg complained that the brakes were going and the throttle was all over the place. Perez who had yet to stop was overtaken by Vettel, but went back past on the exit of the corner.
Perez pitted on alp 42, falling outside the top 10 and elevating Vergne to tenth. At the front of the field Hamilton set the fastest lap of the race showing he was still there.
Massa pitted on lap 44 for his second stop, taking the super soft tyre and a good 3.3 second stop. 11 laps to win the race, but Hamilton set another fastest lap of the race. The gap between the two after the pitstop of 11 seconds, the Brazilian needs a second a lap. Perez overtook Raikkonen for 12th, while Kobayashi retired the Caterham.
Hamilton set another fastest lap of the race, which was quickly beaten by Massa. Behind Hulkenberg overtook Rosberg, making it look worse for the German.
Vettel pitted again on lap 47 for the super softs, bringing Rosberg up a place. Ricciardo pitted a lap later in the Red Bull, elevating Bottas to third.
Massa on the supersoft tyres was closing in on Hamilton by over a second a lap. Vettel overtook Alonso for 9th. Lap 50 and the gap slowed a little for Massa, with the gap only reducing by half a second, with Hamilton stuck behind Gutierrez. Vettel overtook Rosberg for 8th, the Mercedes driver still slipping down the order.
Rosberg backed off at the first corner on lap 52, dropping to outside of the top ten.
Massa lost time behind the Lotus of Grosjean, with the gap still three seconds with three laps remaining. Rosberg was told to pit with two laps remaining, but Rosberg wanted to finish, which he was then allowed to do. Hamilton lapped him with a lap remaining.
The final lap couldn’t bring Massa closer to the Mercedes leaving the Britain to win the final race of the year and his second world championship to fireworks over the finish line.
Massa finished the race just two and a half seconds behind the Mercedes, with a recovering drive from a poor start from Valtteri Bottas to take the final podium position for Williams.
Ricciardo came home forth from the pit lane, and Jenson Button came fifth in what could be his final race for McLaren.