A year of Formula 1™ racing that will live long in the memory, the duel between Mercedes’ duo Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton captivated the imagination of race fans, keeping them hooked all year. Rosberg, the perennial underdog, Hamilton, the champion who everyone expected to pick up his fourth title, and thrown into the mix were Red Bull’s Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo – there were some spectacular drives produced over the 21-race season.
In a season which saw Nico Rosberg follow in the footsteps of his father Keke in becoming a Formula 1 World Champion, here we examine the best drives of the 2016 Formula 1 World Championship.
Spanish Grand Prix, Verstappen’s Maiden Victory
After winning the first four races of the season, Mercedes’ Nico Rosberg showcased his array of talents and world title credentials. Facing down a 43-point deficit, the Spanish Grand Prix was a defining moment of the season. With Hamilton taking the lead from pole, teammate Rosberg went past him on the outside on the first corner. Coming into the third bend, Hamilton saw a gap in Rosberg’s defense and attempted to overtake him on the inside. Rosberg maneuvered, forcing Hamilton onto the grass and into a spin, clipping Rosberg’s car in doing so, and putting both cars out of the race.
Enter Red Bull’s prodigy Max Verstappen. Resisting long-standing pressure from wily veteran Kimi Raikkonen, Verstappen led from lap 44 all the way to the finish line on a two-stop strategy, becoming the youngest winner of a Formula One race aged just 18 years and 228 days.
Rosberg Shows Resilience in Singapore
Nico Rosberg’s best drive of the season was amidst the bumpy and unforgiving track under the night’s sky in Singapore. A track that demands a near-perfect performance, Rosberg drove as well as he did all season to re-claim the lead in the world championship from Lewis Hamilton. Beginning on pole position a crucial factor in a successful weekend for the German, overtaking is notoriously difficult on such a tight track.
However, Rosberg was made to work for his victory after a late charge from Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo – a battle which illuminated the last quarter of the race. Facing dying rubber after Ricciardo had pitted in the closing stages, Rosberg’s lead gradually became tighter. Managing his brakes to perfection also proved pivotal as Ricciardo, chasing him down relentlessly, ran out of time with Rosberg holding his nerve and fading tires to take the checkered flag in a win which would prove decisive in the world title race.
Hamilton Wins a Chaotic Brazilian GP
Five safety car appearances, two stoppages and Lewis Hamilton victory which saw the title come down to the season’s very last race, the Brazilian Grand Prix was simply breathless.
In one of the wettest races in recent memory that took over three hours to complete, Lewis Hamilton showed why he’s a three-time world champion with a drive full of skill, claiming his ninth race victory of the season at Interlagos.
To put the miserable conditions into context, the race began behind a safety car some 10 minutes late. Despite this, Hamilton had managed to build a two-second lead after just a single lap. Eventually, the race was brought to a complete standstill after Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen crashed into a barrier. No sooner that the race re-started was it once again grounded to a halt, this time after 29 laps. It was after the race had begun for a third time that Hamilton showcased his relentlessness. Amidst the chaotic events unfolding behind him, the Briton’s steely determination never waivered – driving with conviction from start to finish.
An honorable mention too must be given to Max Verstappen, who, amidst the treacherous conditions, made up 13 places in the final 16 laps, producing some memorable passes, to grab the final place on the podium.
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