Will Buxton previews the first race of the Formula One season: the Australian Grand Prix. Buxton breaks down this year’s F1 rule changes and speaks with some of the drivers about this weekend’s race.
Sebastian Vettel believes that the 2015 Formula 1 season was a “miracle” for Scuderia Ferrari as it recorded its highest ever points total in the constructors’ championship.
After enduring a miserable 2014 campaign that yielded just two podium finishes and saw the team finish fourth overall, Ferrari bounced back this year following the redesign of its power unit and the revival of four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel from Red Bull.
Vettel was victorious in Malaysia, Hungary and Singapore – the only three races not won by Mercedes in 2015 – and underpinned these results with a further ten podium finishes.
Speaking after battling his way from 15th on the grid to finish the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix in fourth place, Vettel said that Ferrari should not understate its achievements given its position just one year ago.
“I think we can be very happy for this season. Of course the last step to catch the Mercedes will also be the hardest one, but if you think about where we were only one year ago, this has been a miracle season,” Vettel said.
“I can’t think of any other team which improved so much over a year. Big smiles are going around in our garage and for next year we want to increase the amount of smiles.
“I’ m very happy to have joined the team in this moment and to have had an opening year with Ferrari like I had. Hopefully we’ll have many more good ones coming.”
Team principal Maurizio Arrivabene was quick to thank the entire Ferrari team following his first full year in charge at Maranello, echoing Vettel’s comments.
“It’s a whole team effort we were able to put on, with everybody working hard to improve. A big thanks to all of them, they’ve been fantastic and deserve the highest grades!” Arrivabene said.
“Special thanks to our President, who never stopped pushing and supporting us from behind the curtains. Now we know that we face an even bigger challenge for next year, not only catching up on our rivals but also trying to stay ahead of them.”
Esteban Ocon became the sixth winner of the GP3 Series on Sunday in Abu Dhabi after edging out championship rival Luca Ghiotto in a tantalizing title decider at the Yas Marina Circuit.
Ocon entered the final race of the season leading Ghiotto by six points after taking pole position on Saturday and finishing fifth following a time penalty.
The two championship protagonists started fourth and fifth on the grid, but it was Ocon who made a better start to jump ahead of Ghiotto.
Contact was made between the duo, costing Ghiotto a small part of his front-wing endplate and dropping the Italian down to P7.
Ghiotto fought his way back up to fourth place, knowing that he had to catch and pass Ocon in third if he was to stand any chance of winning the title for Trident.
However, Ocon managed to eke out a small advantage over the laps that followed, dropping Ghiotto into the clutches of Jimmy Eriksson behind.
Although Ghiotto managed to stay fourth, he could not catch Ocon, who kept his cool to cross the line third and claim the series title.
Despite winning just one race all year long, a further 13 podium finishes in 18 races proved crucial as Ocon beat Ghiotto by eight points in the final standings.
“It’s what we wanted to achieve since the beginning of the season, and I’m very happy to finally achieve it,” Ocon said.
“It was a long season, and especially a long weekend, a lot of stress but yes, very happy to end up with the championship win.”
The Frenchman recently joined Mercedes’ driver academy as a full member, and has been tipped for a move into either GP2 or DTM for the 2016 season.
The race in Abu Dhabi was won by Campos Racing’s Alex Palou, marking the young Spaniard’s first victory in GP3. He beat Ferrari youngster Antonio Fuoco by 4.4 seconds as the Italian picked up his second podium finish of the year.
2015 Formula 1 world champion Lewis Hamilton has been nominated for the prestigious BBC Sports Personality of the Year award.
Hamilton won the award for the first time in 2014 after clinching his second F1 title, and will defend his crown at a ceremony in Belfast, Northern Ireland on December 20.
The BBC Sports Personality of the Year award celebrates the highlights of the British sporting year, and has previous winners including David Beckham, Steve Redgrave and Lennox Lewis.
From F1, Hamilton is not the only former winner: Damon Hill, Nigel Mansell and Jackie Stewart all winning the trophy in the past in recognition of their on-track feats.
Hamilton features on a shortlist of 12, and is joined by tennis player Andy Murray following Great Britain’s first Davis Cup win in 79 years, boxer Tyson Fury after his defeat of Wladimir Klitschko on Saturday night and Tour de France winner Chris Froome.
The final race of the 2015 GP2 Series season in Abu Dhabi was cancelled on Sunday after a multi-car crash on the first lap caused damage to one of the barriers.
The crash was sparked by DAMS driver Pierre Gasly, who spun at turn two before trying to point his car back in the right direction, only to move into the path of the oncoming cars.
Nicholas Latifi, Artem Markelov, Daniel de Jong and Sean Gelael were all caught up in the accident, spearing into the barrier on the left-hand side of the track. Sergey Sirotkin and Arthur Pic also collided in a separate incident.
Race officials acted quickly to throw the red flag so that the cars could be recovered, only to find that the barrier had been severely damaged.
A lengthy wait followed as the marshals tried to repair it, but with the season-ending Formula 1 grand prix’s start time drawing ever nearer, the race eventually had to be called off.
Alex Lynn had been leading, but with less than a single lap completed, no points could be awarded for the race.
Subsequently, the standings following Saturday’s feature race in Abu Dhabi would stand as the final championship result with title winner Stoffel Vandoorne finishing the year 160 points clear of American driver Alexander Rossi in second place.
Sirotkin held onto third place despite not scoring in Abu Dhabi, while Rio Haryanto ended the year in fourth just one point further back. Mitch Evens ranked fifth in the final standings ahead of Lynn, Raffaele Marciello and Gasly who all finished on 110 points.
The GP2 teams will return to the track in Abu Dhabi later this week for the beginning of winter testing.