Sebastian Vettel secured third place in Sunday’s 2016 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, the final race of the 2016 Formula season. Mercedes’ Nico Rosberg came home second, earning him enough points to lock down the 2016 World Driver’s Championship, while his teammate Lewis Hamilton took the win.
Vettel started from fifth on the grid after Ferrari teammate Kimi Raikkonen out qualified him for the 11th of the season’s 21 races on Saturday. The German didn’t become a true podium threat until after the first pit cycle, with Ferrari’s decision to not pit for supersoft tires until 37th lap putting him into a late-race battle with Red Bull’s Max Verstappen.
After slowly closing in on the rear of the Red Bull, Vettel eventually made his way past Verstappen on Lap 51. The Dutchman had pitted for soft tires on Lap 21 and made an expert comeback to the front of the grid after a Lap 1 incident, but his worn Pirellis ultimately made it impossible for him to keep the hard-charging Ferrari at bay.
“It has been a tough year, with lots of up and downs, so I am really happy with this result,” Vettel said post-race. :”About our global performance in 2016, I think we don’t need to find any story or invent something. I think we expected more; but after the first half, where we could have scored more points, I think we showed real strength by coming back. In the last couple of Grand Prix we had very good race pace, always enough to match Red Bull, and probably even a bit quicker.”
“Today is Nico’s day, well done to him,” Vettel added. “I think you don’t win the Championship by luck, and it is a sign of respect to give him this. He is a deserving champion.”