Lewis Hamilton is officially 2015 year's Formula 1 driver's champion.
The successfully defending champion started the race with a questionable maneuver as he forced polesitting team mate Rosberg off the track and into fifth, while the two Red Bull cars eagerly pursued Hamilton with an impressive pace on the intermediate tyres. Massa then spun on Alonso and punctured one of his rear tyres, and both Massa and Alonso had to pit at the end of lap 1 together with Williams' Bottas and Marcus Ericsson after a collision between Ericsson and Nasr. Will Stevens did not get to see any action today as he retired almost immediately at the start of the race.
Red Bull really had a great start as Kvyat caught up to leader Hamilton and raced him aggressively and Ricciardo patiently backing his russian team mate. A safety car on lap 5 allowed Rosberg to catch both Red Bulls off guard, and he quickly slipped by both of them, while a baffled Ricciardo asked the team “How the *** did Nico pass me?”. Red Bull would not give up that easily though, and they continued to stalk Mercedes.
On the 12th lap, french Grosjean had to retire due to a severe problem with his rear brakes. Ricciardo, meanwhile, overtook Rosberg after a series of corners, and went on to steal the lead from Hamilton on lap 15. Further back, McLaren's Jenson Button and Sauber's Marcus Ericsson both made a quick move to soft tyres on lap 17 as the track conditions and weather improved. Toro Rosso's Sainz jr. and Verstappen battled valiantly with Ferrari's Vettel and Räikkönen, and Verstappen managed to overtake Räikkönen for 8th place at the end of the lap. Shortly after, Verstappen and Vettel pitted for soft tyres.
After lap 20 Kimi Räikkönen lost grip and went into a wall and a gravel trap, and damage both the nose as well as the tyres severely. Fortunately, Räikkönen managed to wriggle himself free from the wall and gravel trap, and limped back into the pit for a new set of tyres and a new nose. The crash was however too much for Räkkönen's car, and he later had to retire with overheating brakes. Meanwhile, Red Bull began losing their grip on the lead places as their lack of power compared to Mercedes simply were too big, and on lap 22 Ricciardo lost his lead to Rosberg, and on lap 25 Hamilton overtook him aswell.
Lap 27 saw an actual safety car as swedish driver Marcus Ericsson's Sauber came to a stop on the circuit, and several drivers, including remaining Ferrari driver Vettel, took the opportunity to pit for new tyres. After 5 laps the safety car came in, and Rosberg roared away into a safe lead. In the meantime, Vettel began battling against the Red Bull drivers, quickly overtaking Kvyat after the russian turned wide in a corner. Ricciardo fougth Vettel well, but after two laps he overbraked and the german slipped by. Ricciardo's situation was further worsened when Force India's Hulkenberg crashed into him. Hulkenberg could not carry on with the race after the incident, but Ricciardo managed to continue, but lost several places and had to pit for new tyres. The incident triggered the second virtual safety car in this grand prix.
The race resumed on lap 40, now with Hamilton leading Vettel, Verstappen, Rosberg, Button, Perez, Alonso, Sainz jr, Maldonado and Kvyat. Ricciardo dropped down to 11th due to the incident. Alonso managed to pass Force India's Perez for 6th place, leading to a McLaren 5-6. Button, Alonso, Perez and Sainz jr. all began a furious battle. Rosberg overtook first Verstappen for 3rd, and then Vettel for 2nd place. The second actual safety car was called out as Kvyat spun off the track on lap 43 on the pit straight and hit the wall.
The safety car period ended on lap 46, and Rosberg managed to once again roar away into an impressive lead. Rosberg would however run wide on the 48th lap, and Hamilton took the lead. Both Rosberg and Vettel chased the brittish driver furiously, but failed to catch up before the final lap. Alonso lost power in the last laps, and was passed by team mate Button along with Sainz jr, Maldonado, Nasr and Ricciardo. Button managed to set McLaren's best result this season with a 6th place. Perez once again impressed with a 5th place, and Verstappen managed a strong 4th.
Lewis Hamilton has thus managed to grab is third title, his second title in a row and the second title with Mercedes, and he is now the only british champion to successfully defend a title.
In the post-race conference, Hamilton told the press “This is a dream come true. It is a platform for me to inspire young people. Never give up on your dreams and desires. Just keep working on it…”
Circuit de Catalunya - Winter testing
Bahrain International Circuit - Winter testing
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