Night Fight at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

The F1 season effectively ended a month ago — so its finale in Abu Dhabi looked more like the start of the 2016 season, with everything still on the line.

When the 2015 F1 season began in March, it was all but guaranteed that the Silver Arrows would seal the Constructor’s Championship and that one of their own would take the driver’s crown. Then, midway through the season, Sebastian Vettel in his Ferrari was found still lurking in the standings, leaving it possible for him to make a run for the Championship — albeit on an outside chance. This drama added a touch of unforeseen uncertainty to an otherwise predictable calendar, yet, despite the Scuderia’s resurgence, it wasn’t meant to be. With a record-breaking number of points (a record they set the year before), Mercedes grabbed the Constructor’s trophy with four races to go, in Russia, and Lewis Hamilton grabbed his third title at the next race in Austin.

With the Constructor’s title decided and first through fourth places in the Drivers’ Championship stamped into history as well, the 2015 finale in Abu Dhabi was seemingly set up to be anything but grand. But, after Hamilton was crowned World Champion, his performance dipped, and his teammate, Nico Rosberg, found a second wind. Going into the finale in Abu Dhabi, the gloves were off with nothing on the line except personal pride (and one more race win).

This race went to the resurgent Rosberg, capping a season-end hat trick of wins. And, if Rosberg had his way, he’d continue on racing, weekend after weekend. “Next year can come any moment,” Rosberg said. “It could start tomorrow if it were for me, no problem, I don’t need any holidays.” Vettel’s sentiments are likely similar considering the amount of ground Ferrari gained on the Silver Arrows in 2015. And so, with teams testing parts for 2016 and racers eager to establish their place in the pecking order for next year, it seems that since this year’s F1 effectively ended back in Austin, the final races weren’t so much a look at the end of the 2015 season, but rather the beginning of the 2016 season. And there, everything is still open to fight for.

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