Race - Abu Dhabi GP report: Ferrari
Fernando Alonso finished his final race for Scuderia Ferrari in ninth place, with team-mate Kimi Raikkonen right behind him in tenth place. Not a great end to a difficult season, but the 6 points scored- double points remember – were enough to keep the Prancing Horse, fourth in the Constructors’ championship in between Williams and McLaren.
Fernando ends his time with the Prancing Horse down in sixth in the Drivers’ classification and Kimi is twelfth.
Lewis Hamilton led right from the start to take his eleventh win of the year and the Drivers’ crown for the second time, and for Mercedes it was their first since Juan Manuel Fangio did it for them in 1955.
After the Red Bulls were disqualified from qualifying and started from pit lane, Kimi and Fernando were promoted to 7th and 8th respectively on the grid. They both immediately made up two places once the lights went out. Hamilton went straight into the lead like a rocket from second place ahead of pole man Rosberg, with Massa third, as his Williams team-mate Bottas dropped to eighth. Then came Button in fourth followed by Kimi and Fernando ahead of Kvyat. In the early stages the two Prancing Horse men were putting fourth placed Button under pressure.
The Englishman managed to pull away so that by lap 4, the Ferrari men were fighting between themselves with Kvyat and Bottas chasing them and the Russian Toro Rosso driver got past the Spaniard on lap 5, which prompted Fernando to get on the radio to announce, “I’ve been passed, in this lap,” making him the first to pit to switch from Supersoft to Soft. In fact this early stop and the same for Kimi who came in next time round, is what ruined their race. But with excessive tyre degradation on the Supersoft tyres, they had no choice in the matter. Inevitably, this put both F14 Ts into slower traffic and from then on the two Ferrari men hovered on the edge of the points for the rest of the 55 laps.
Any chance that Rosberg had of taking the title effectively ended on lap 25, when his Mercedes lost its ERS and he gradually dropped down the order. However, Hamilton didn’t have things all his own way, as Massa in the Williams came charging after him in the closing stages on fresh Supersofts. The Brazilian had to settle for second in the end, ahead of his team-mate Valtteri Bottas.
Ricciardo drove an outstanding race, taking his Red Bull from a pit lane start to fourth at the flag, while the rest of the points went to Button fifth for McLaren, followed by the Force India duo of Hulkenberg and Perez, while our new signing for 2015, Vettel was eighth.
Now the Scuderia’s focus is fixed firmly on 2015, starting on Tuesday when the team takes part in the final two day test session of the season here in Abu Dhabi. At the wheel of the F14 T will be Ferrari Driver Academy student Raffaele Marciello and Kimi Raikkonen.
“This race was the epilogue to a difficult season for the team at the track and for all the men and women of the Scuderia back home. It’s the last day of a season that saw the beginning of a technical revolution that required a different approach and work methodologies and it was a year that presented a steep learning curve for all of us. Unfortunately, the result here in Abu Dhabi reflects the performance level seen in recent races, even though Fernando and Kimi fought all the way as always, showing just what they are capable of. On behalf of the team, I want to congratulate Lewis Hamilton on his fantastic win and I also want to once again thank Fernando, while regretting that we never won the title together. Nevertheless, we had the pleasure of sharing unforgettable moments that are now part of Ferrari history. I also thank Kimi, who this year has patiently dealt with a car that was not easy to manage and I am sure we will soon see him able to express his great talent. Now we are continuing in a methodical and disciplined fashion with the work behind the scenes in Maranello, so as to give our drivers a competitive car with which we can return as soon as possible to the top level of this sport.”
“Today, my time with Ferrari comes to an end, as does a very tricky season, in which, even if we were unable to do much against the technical dominance of our rivals, we fought all the way to the very end, all of us did our utmost, putting our hearts into it. Today’s race was difficult to manage but at the same time it was very emotional for me; after five years it’s not easy to say farewell to a team with which I have grown so much over the past five years, both as a driver and as a person. I thank all the Ferraristi for their support. I will miss the team, the fans and Italy. Even though we are going our separate ways, I feel I have lived through a unique experience which any Formula 1 driver would have loved to have had.”
“It was a very difficult race but we knew right from the beginning that this track would be tough for us. The start was good but then, at the first stop, I already lost a few places and from then on I couldn’t move up the order. The car handled well and I had no particular problem, but today we lacked the speed we needed to attack. All season we have faced a series of difficulties which we put a lot of effort into solving and we learned a lot from that. We know which direction we need to work in to be competitive as soon as possible and I have absolute faith in the team.”
“First of all, we must congratulate Lewis Hamilton for a well-deserved second World Championship title. For us it was a complicated race from start to finish and our final result was a confirmation of our qualifying performance. Over all 55 laps, both Kimi and Fernando struggled with little reliability problems which affected their cars. Having gained two places at the start, we had to make the first stops very early because of tyre degradation. That put us back out in traffic and unfortunately, our management of the power units and the tyres meant it was difficult to make any overtaking moves. After such an intense last race now we turn all our attention to the work that awaits us, beginning with next week’s test, aimed at getting started on next season as soon as possible.”