Hello and welcome to ESPN's live coverage of the 2015 finale, the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.


17:03: Rosberg takes his slot on pole position and waits for the rest of the grid to filter in...


17:02: Hamilton backing up the pack a bit to get some temperature in the tyres and brakes and keep his team-mate Rosberg waiting. The German slows and looks into his mirrors at the silver car behind him.


17:01: Those three-stopping may stop as early as lap seven. Lap ten is the expected pit time for a two-stop strategy.

The cars are weaving down the backstraight as they get tyre temperature during the formation lap.


16:58: Pirelli predicts a two-stop strategy this evening. Expect the Mercedes drivers to get rid of the super-soft tyres as quick as possible.


16:56: Air temperature is 27 degrees Celsius, but that will drop over the course of the race as the sun sets and we start to race under the lights.


16:53: Just over five minutes until lights out.


16:46: The national anthem plays, with the drivers standing front and centre on the grid. An impressive plane show overhead as well with the colours of the UAE national flag.


16:44: An alternative grid for you:


16:42: My eyes are going to be on the second row when the lights go out. Raikkonen and Perez will both be eyeing Turn 1 with great relish. Kimi could well pick up the scraps if the Mercedes drivers come to blows, while Perez has gained places at the start 11 times this season. Ricciardo, starting fifth, also declared his goal today - clear Perez as fast as possible. Could get spicy.


16:39: Cheeky from Jenson Button. The 2009 world champion poses for a photo with his mechanics, and is asked what is was for by Sky Sports' Martin Brundle. "It's because I'm taking a sabbatical next year," he says with a smile, a reference to stories this weekend about team-mate Alonso. He then clarifies he's joking...


16:38: The Mercedes have locked out the front row again, with Lewis Hamilton being wheeled to his spot at the front. He had a mega start from the same grid slot at this race last year, when the championship was on the line. Rosberg is a man on form at the moment and you fancy the first Mercedes through Turn 1 to be the winner this evening.


16:35: The pit lane is open, meaning the cars can make their way to the grid. Only one penalty to report this evening -- Romain Grosjean drops to 18th for a gearbox change.

Lap 1

Good start from Rosberg and Hamilton gets bogged down off the line and has to hold off Raikkonen.

We've got a Lotus and McLaren off at Turn 1!

Raikkonen holds off Perez as Kvyat and Sainz go through the chicane wheel-to-wheel and Kvyat has to run wide.

They're going three-wide down the backstraight further down the field as Kvyat flies past Massa at Turn 9. Vettel already up to ninth position.

Verstappen goes off the track at Turn 11 and Kvyat then forces Sainz wide at Turn 14. Great action.

Vettel makes contact with the Verstappen's car but I don't think either has damage.

Lap 2

Rosberg already leads by 1.4s. The first lap contact was Maldonado and Alsono. Maldonado is out but Alonso recovers to the pits, they're struggling to get his front right off his car.

Superb first lap, great drama lower down the order. Hulkenberg has climbed up to fifth in all the drama and is now right behind team-mate Perez. Bottas has dropped from sixth to tenth and has a nibble at Kvyat into Turn 12 but the Russian driver holds firm through the inside.

Unlike those around him, Vettel has the soft tyre on, so the cars around him will be pitting very soon.

Lap 3

Fastest lap from Rosberg out in the clear air in front and he leads by 1.6s.

Massa eases past Sainz at Turn at the end of the first DRS zone but that means Sainz gets it again on the run down to Turn 12, but the Williams man holds the position. Bottas makes a position at the same corner as he vies with Kvyat for ninth position. Uncharacteristic from the unflappable Finn, but the Williams' front end looks pretty horrendous around here.

Lap 4

Alonso has re-joined after a slow pit stop and is already over a minute behind. Rosberg sets another fastest lap, a 1:46.942, to extend his lead by a tenth.

Vettel's charge has stabalised a bit but he may be saving his tyres until those around him pit in the next few laps.

Nice move from Grosjean on Nasr at the inside of Turn 9 but it gives Nasr another stab of DRS. Grosjean holds firm into the corner and keeps the Sauber driver behind.

Replays of the start show Alonso locking up to avoid Nasr, and then spearing into Maldonado. Vettel also did very well to avoid the Alonso/Maldonado incident, which happened right alongside him as he turned in for the first corner.

Lap 5

Radio from Verstappen, referring to a lap one incident, "He didn't give me any space!"

Alonso and Maldonado under investigation for causing a collision.

Lap 6

Kvyat the first man to make a pit stop for tyres. Super-softs come off, softs come on. Tidy stop from the Red Bull mechanics.

Raikkonen passes Hulkenberg for fifth at Turn 9 but the Force India driver takes the position back briefly with DRS, but Ricciardo takes it back by out-braking the Force India driver into Turn 12.

Drive-through penalty for Alonso after that collision with Maldonado.

Replays show Vettel out-braking Verstappen into Turn 9 after some rather fiesty defensive driver from the Toro Rosso rookie.

Lap 7

Pit stops starting to come thick and fast as Perez, Ricciardo and Massa all come in for fresh rubber.

Raikkonen keeping the Mercedes drivers honest at the moment, they're not completely shaking him as it stands. He's 2.7s off Hamilton in second.

Rosberg tells Mercedes he's pushing the tyres a bit more now. Mercedes responds that they are "happy" with what he's doing.

Lap 8

And there you go, a fastest lap follows from Rosberg - a 1:46.889.

Hulkenberg and Sainz pit. Bottas does not, however, so Williams taking a risk with its strategy.

Hulkenberg re-joins just ahead of Massa.

Perez takes ninth from Ericsson's Sauber, which is yet to pit.

Lap 9

Rosberg's lead up to 3.6s but still no sign of a pit stop for either Mercedes driver.

Bottas absolutely flying on his current lap now he's got some clear air. He pits but has he done enough to gain a place or two?

Sainz has dropped behind Kvyat and Massa qafter a slow stop.

Contact in the pit lane! Bottas is released right into the path of Button and wipes out his front wing! He will now need to do the whole lap with that damage before continuing. All that good work undone and he'll probably get a penalty for his troubles as well.

Button was entering his pit box, but it seems the McLaren driver may need to pit again for more damage.

Replays show Bottas just being released into the path of Button, nothing the driver can do about that. Carbon fibre went flying around the pit lane and it's a good job nobody was badly hurt there.

Lap 10

Unsurprisingly, that incident is being investigated by the stewards.

Bottas pits again for a new front wing. Williams manages to release him into clear air this time - well done chaps.

Ferrari calls Raikkonen in to pit. He's 4.2s down on Hamilton. Will Ferrari's long run pace make Raikkonen a factor later in this race?

Lap 11

Rosberg pits from his comfortable lead, elevating Hamilton to first. Tidy stop for Raikkonen and you expect Hamilton will be the next man in to avoid the Ferrari undercut.

All of that has promoted Vettel to third, but the Ferrari man is yet to pit.

Perez gets very close to Grosjean into Turn 9 and has a look on the outside of Turn 12, but on both occasions the Lotus man does well to keep the position. That battle for fifth position.

There's quite a long train forming behind Ericsson.

Lap 12

Rapid stop from Mercedes, Hamilton in the box for just 2.2s. It gets the world champion out behind Vettel but, crucially, ahead of Raikkonen, meaning he's net second.

Stewards confirm a five second penalty for Bottas after that unsafe release. There will be a few censored messages taking place on the Williams pit-to-wall link right now, I imagine.

Ricciardo dispatches the mobile chicane of Ericsson's Sauber.

Nice late-braking from Perez to take Grosjean into Turn 12, moving him up to fifth.

"Okay mate, time to get stuck into it. Tyres are going to be fine," Red Bull tells Ricciardo.

Lap 13

Raikkonen sets a fastest lap on the soft tyre, a 1:46.792. Ferrari's long run pace looked strong on Friday.

The long-running Ferrari of Vettel may well become a factor in the Hamilton/Raikkonen battle which might start forming in the next few laps.

Massa the next man to pass Ericsson at Turn 9. The Sauber driver going backwards at the moment. Kvyat then dives down the inside of Turn 14 for a bold move of his own. Nice move.

Lap 14

Replays show Vettel running wide at Turn 17 and he looks like he's struggling with his tyres now.

Hamilton breezes past the Ferrari driver with DRS on the run down to Turn 12. Time for a Ferrari pit stop. Vettel doesn't put up much of a fight and he knows that's a battle he's not in this evening.

Lap 15

Weve got another Toro Rosso battle brewing, as Verstappen closes up on the gearbox of Sainz.

Rosberg's lead out in front a healthy 6.1s.

The Toro Rossos coming up behind the struggling Ericsson. Sainz gets by at Turn 12, but Verstappen gets stuck behind him for a while. Ericsson pits and releases Verstappen at the end of the lap.

Lap 16

Another personal best lap from Rosberg. Raikkonen is now right behind Vettel. The German drivers's lap times have significantly fallen recently.

Vettel moves over to let Raikkonen through on the approach to Turn 12. Raikkonen was absolutely flying and is keeping Hamilton in his sights as it stands.

Lap 17

Hamilton responds with a personal best lap of his own. He's 3.3s ahead of Raikkonen.

"That was the plan to let him through, right?" Vettel asks Ferrari. The team confirms it was. Remember, Vettel still has the option tyre to take later in this race having started on this current set of softs.

Lap 18

Another personal best lap from Hamilton, who is just edging out that gap to Raikkonen behind - it's now 3.7s.

Massa and Kvyat closing on Force India's Hulkenberg in eighth.

Remember, Rosberg is on an engine with older mileage this weekend so will be glad to turn that engine down a bit now he's got a healthy lead in front.

Just nine tenths between Sainz and Verstappen and the young rookie passes his team-mate on the run down to Turn 12, with the benefit of DRS. Looks like Sainz may have eased off a bit there but we'll have to see if there are any radio messages to confirm team orders.

Lap 19

Alonso, running down in 19th, makes his third pit stop of the day. This race is quite a nice summation of his season.

Perez and Grosjean doing a very tidy job in fifth and sixth.

Seems Sainz did move over to let Verstappen have a go at Kvyat in front, but told the Dutch teenager he needs to make a dent in the gap in front or give the position back.

Lap 20

Verstappen now lapping half a second quicker having been released from the turbulent air behind his team-mate's car.

Ricciardo starting to reel in Grosjean, who is sixth.

Big lock up from Verstappen at Turn 12, which won't have done his tyres any good.

Lap 21

"I have a massive flat spot, I have to box!" Verstappen tells Toro Rosso. He comes into the pits so it's Plan B time for Toro Rosso.

Ricciardo managing to reel Grosjean in during the final sector, but loses out a lot of time in sector one and two.

Lap 22

The lead out in front has dropped to 5.3 but that's nowhere near enough to start causing panic for Rosberg just yet. he's managing everything perfectly out in front.

Like Vettel, Grosjean is yet to pit, but his lap times aren't suffering compared to the chasing Red Bull of Ricciardo behind. Painful to see how much the Red Bull loses on the straights.

Lap 23

Fastest lap from Hamilton, a 1:46.744. He's doing a good job of shaking Raikkonen, who is nearly six seconds behind.

Ferrari are preparing tyres in the garage, which you can assume is for Vettel.

Lap 24

Indeed it is, as the German comes in to the pit lane for the first time this evening, despite saying "I can squeeze one more" lap out of his current set.

He's re-joins seventh, between Hulkenberg and Massa.

Hamilton has cut the gap to Rosberg down to 3.8s. Lapped traffic starting to play into things at the front.

Lap 25

Grosjean has also stopped for the first time and Button passes the Lotus man for 11th into Turn 9 but can do nothing about the DRS boost the Frenchman gets into Turn 12, immediately conceding the place again.

Verstappen passes Ericsson with a lovely move down the inside of the hairpin of Turn 7. That unscheduled stop has dropped him down the order a bit but it means we get to see Verstappen charging through the field, and who doesn't like watching that?

Lap 26

Hamilton sets another fastest lap, a 1:46.574, and now the lead 2.6s. He's cut three seconds off that lead in about six laps.

Alonso saying McLaren should retire him if there isn't a safety car soon. Whether you believe the sabbatical news or not, he's clearly not a happy man at the moment. You can't blame him for wanting to get out of the MP4-30 as quickly as possible, but you would think he would want to keep lapping for mileage at this stage of the season.

Hulkenberg eases past Ericsson for 11th.

Lap 27

Ricciardo pits, releasing Vettel into fifth without the need to fight the Red Bull. Perez five seconds up the track.

Hamilton has cut the lead down to 2.2s. Mercedes tells the world champion Rosberg is struggling from front right graining.

The lead comes down even more, it's 1.7s, so Rosberg really, really in a spot of bother.

Lap 28

Hamilton carries so much more speed into the braking zones through the first sector, suggesting he will have half a chance in the two DRS zones - there are two here rather than just one in Brazil.

Perez pits to release Vettel into fourth, and the Ferrari driver sets a fastest lap of 1:46.078.

Perez gets out just ahead of Ricciardo but that's going to be a tasty fight in the next few laps. Vettel might well fall backwards into this fight as well.

Lap 29

Hamilton to within 1.5s but will he be able to keep cutting the gap once he gets into the dirty air of his team-mate?

Ricciardo in DRS range of Perez but is still struggling a lot on the straights.

Lap 30

Rosberg has a mirror full of the other Mercedes now, Hamilton 1.3s behind the race leader.

Sainz passes Ericsson into Turn 12, moving him up to 12th.

Bottas being called in to pit at the end of the lap. He's languishing down in 14th at the moment.

Slow stop from Williams as he serves his five-second penalty, and he is eventually released rather cautiously.

Lap 31

Fastest lap from Vettel, a 1:45.965. He's 25 seconds behind Raikkonen but at the moment his focus has to be on clearing Perez - who then sets a fastest lap of his own, a 1:45.892.

Raikkonen lapping at a similar rate to Rosberg. "It's going to be soon Kimi, it's going to be soon," Ferrari tells him, presumably about his next stop.

Rosberg called in to pits. Hammer Time for the world champion if he wants to take the lead of the race.

Lap 32

Hamilton takes the lead of the race.

"Nico, important, RS-only in the pit lane, RS only". No idea what that means, but is it a hint of some clutch problems for the Mercedes?

Hamilton immediately goes purple through the first sector. He's flying and this could be the deciding part of the race. Is Raikkonen now thinking about Rosberg as well?

Raikkonen will box at the end of this lap.

Hamilton seems to have caught a bit of traffic at the end of his lap and stays out for another one. Personal best from the world champion, a 1:46.505.

Lap 33

Slow stop for Raikkonen, with the front right taking a while to go on. The Ferrari driver spent 6.6s in the box, which the Finn would probably call "not ideal". It shouldn't hamper his chances of third but might give Vettel a sniff of it later.

It's also released Raikkonen behind Vettel, who is yet to make his second stop.

Raikkonen quickly dispatches the lapped McLaren of Alonso into Turn 9. What must he be thinking watching two Ferraris ease away from him?

Mercedes tells Hamilton it is extending his stint.

Lap 34

Fastest lap from Rosberg, with those fresher tyres. The gap currently 18.8s. Hamilton losing time now Mercedes has decided to stay out, unless they are just being overly cautious and covering off Raikkonen in third.

Raikkonen is right up behind Vettel, will Ferrari ask the German to move over as he did earlier?

Speaking of team-mates, Verstappen lets Sainz past on the run in to Turn 12.

Lap 35

Hamilton stays out again. Is Mercedes thinking of putting him on the super-soft tyre for the final stint?

Rosberg currently lapping half a second quicker than the other Mercedes.

"I just lost a second with Alonso ... He must really hate me," Vettel says over the radio.

Lap 36

Rosberg is flying on these fresher tyres and has cut the gap to 17.4, and has gone purple again in his first sector.

Replays show Raikkonen running wide over the kerbs of the final sector, with Vettel eventually moving over to let Raikkonen through on the start/finish straight. "He's been told, he's been told," was the message to Kimi before, suggesting the Finn was asking why it didn't happen sooner.

Lap 37

"What's the other car on?" Hamilton asks Mercedes, referring to Rosberg's tyre. "Prime at the moment," is the reply.

Rosberg has cut the gap down to 16.2s.

Lap 38

Another fastest lap from Rosberg, a 1:45.356.

Raikkonen immediately posts one of his own, a 1:45.352, showing the benefit of clear air.

Hamilton being told he will be six seconds behind if he pits now. Mercedes tells him they are happy for him to stick to the prime tyre.

Raikkonen's pace might make Mercedes think twice about a three-stopper for Rosberg.

Lap 39

The lead down to 13 seconds. Every time that drops, the gap between Rosberg and Hamilton after his next stop increases as well.

Perez being told he's four tenths quicker than Vettel, who has to stop for the option tyre currently. The gap around 15 seconds, so there's going to be a fight for fourth at the end of this one as it stands.

Lap 40

Vettel called in to pit by Ferrari, so we'll see that battle develop in the next few minutes. Nice stop, a 2.4s wait in the box, but he re-joins behind Perez and Ricciardo, albeit on the softer, quicker tyre. But how long can he keep it working?

Vettel needs to make the super-soft work for 15 laps.

Stern defence from Ricciardo as Vettel looks for a way past at Turn 12.

Lap 41

Hamilton asking if he can back off on his current set and go to the end. "I don't think its possible," Peter Bonnington tells him, insisting their plan to put super-softs on later is the best plan. Hamilton insists his tyres still feel good and wants to go to the end.

Mercedes pit crew getting ready.

Vettel passes Ricciardo into Turn 9 this time around.

Lap 42

Rosberg regains the lead as Hamilton takes on the soft tyre, rather than the super-soft tyre.

Massa goes deep at the braking zone at Turn 9 but can't get past Kvyat.

Kvyat being told to get his lift-and-coast under control. "I'm a bit busy here," is the reply from the Russian.

Shame for this race Mercedes hasn't taken a gamble and put Hamilton on the super-soft tyre. He's 12 seconds down on Rosberg.

Button passes Ericsson around the outside of Turn 11/12.

Lap 43

Hamilton re-joined five seconds ahead of Raikkonen.

Vettel closing down on Perez but only has a limited amount of life in those super-soft tyre.

In terms of the Mercedes strategy, if they weren't chasing the other Mercedes I wonder whether they would have taken the gamble of super-soft.

"Pace is looking good," Mercedes tells Hamilton. He basically needs a second a lap until the end of the race.

Lap 44

"Danny, this is critical," Red Bull tells Kvyat. They're talking about Hulkenberg ahead, saying he'll have one burst of full engine mode and that's it. That's the battle for eighth.

Fastest lap from Hamilton, a 1:44.713, which cuts seven tenths out of Rosberg's lead.

Lap 45

Verstappen passes a Sauber again at the Turn 7 hairpin. He likes that part of the track.

Hamilton has cut the gap to 10.6s with a monster 1:44.517 fastest lap. That's over a second quicker from Rosberg but can he keep that pace up?

Vettel now seven tenths behind the Force India of Perez. This one a battle between soft and super-soft tyres, and whether Vettel can keep his softer compound alive for long enough.

Vettel is forced to take the long way around Perez down the first DRS zone. Perez thinks about out-braking the Ferrari into Turn 9 but opts against it. He just needs to keep the pressure on Vettel and hope those super-soft tyres drop off.

Lap 46

Sainz and Button touch tyres coming through Turn 9. Sainz gained the position in doing so and holds firm through Turn 12. Will have to see it again and decide whether he should give that back. Nice aggressive driving from the Toro Rosso rookie.

Hamilton's charge has petered out a bit, his last lap was just three tenths quicker than his team-mate.

Lap 47

Well, I say that and then Hamilton cuts 1.7s out of his lead. Rosberg navigating his way through traffic probably didn't help the race leader.

Hamilton needs to make every bit of clear track count now.

Vettel turns in a personal best and has already opened up a five second gap to Perez behind him.

Correction, it was Verstappen and Button coming to blows at Turn 9. Replays show Verstappen going deep into the corner and clipping Button's McLaren car. He was never behind the McLaren and kept the position out of Turn 11, leaving the track to avoid contact.

Verstappen/Button under investigation.

Lap 48

Seven laps left and Rosberg leads by 7.7s.

Massa has got ahead of Kvyat in the battle for eighth. Kvyat was being told to lift and coast earlier.

Replays show Massa passing Kvyat at Turn 12 and the two getting very close to making contact as the Russian drifted across the track. Kvyat then needed a big lock up at Turn 14 to avoid clouting the back of the Williams.

Lap 49

"Okay Lewis it's just flat out until the end and see what we can make of it," Peter Bonnington tells Hamilton. We might well be treated to a grandstand finish but I just wish they had pit Hamilton earlier to make a real fight of it.

Verstappen gets a five second penalty for leaving the track and gaining an advantage.

Alonso takes on some super-soft tyres for the final six laps of the race. Go on Fernando, set a fastest lap and we can pretend the rest of 2015 never really happened.

Lap 50

Hamilton takes another six tenths out of Rosberg but it's not enough at this stage.

Unlikely that five second penalty will hurt Verstappen's final position, he's already eight seconds clear of the McLaren-Honda behind.

Lap 51

Sainz is closing up on the Red Bull of Kvyat, a battle for ninth.

Replays show Hamilton waving at a backmarker. Hamilton told he'll go up to strat mode 10 and they'll put Rosberg on strat mode six to make up the time he lost. Mercedes orchestrating a battle rather than let one develop naturally at the moment.

Lap 52

"Strat mode 10, strat mode 10. That's an instruction." Mercedes to Hamilton.

Sainz has dragged himself into the battle for ninth place between Kvyat and Grosjean.

Mercedes puts Rosberg back on to strat 10. How exciting.

Lap 53

So, Rosberg has this one sewn up with nearly eight seconds in hand.

All focus on the battle for ninth. Ricciardo also chopping the gap to Perez but still has to find 2.3 seconds in the final two laps.

Lap 54

In all that, I missed that Grosjean had passed Sainz for the final points position of the day. Grosjean now passes Kvyat for ninth at Turn 9.

Siddhesh says: "Micromanagement of the race at its finest from Mercedes... Might as well put a couple of bots in the car!"

Lap 55

Rosberg starts the final lap of the race and the 2016 season.

Verstasppen will be investigated after the race for ignoring blue flag.

Rosberg concerned about big vibrations on the rear but he's got eight seconds in hand and about six corners to navigate.

Nico Rosberg wins the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix to finish 2015 with three victories on the bounce. Hamilton will have to wait until 2016 for win number 44 and he finishes second, but I'm fascinated to hear what he says about Mercedes' strategy.

Raikkonen returns to the podium for the first time in Singapore, while Vettel rounds off a splendid drive to fourth.

Perez fifth after a great drive of his own. Ricciardo, Hulkenberg, Massa, Grosjean and Kvyat round off the points positions.

Rosberg does some donuts at Turn 12 for the enjoyment of the fans.

Vettel's final charge on the super-soft is good proof of what Hamilton could have done with the softest compound.

Both the Mercedes drivers look like they're about to walk the Green Mile instead of accept first and second placed trophies.

Hamilton swerves the question about the strategy when asked about it on the podium. He seems happy enough with the team result.