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2015 F1 season wrap: Tops and flops

2015-12-01 10:11

WHAT A DEBUT: Teenager Max Verstappen is the breakthrough driver of the 2015 Formula 1 season, becoming a crowd favourite with his quality driving and professionalism. Image: AP / Jorge Guerrero

Abu Dhabi - The 2015 Formula 1 season has come and gone, with the season-ending Abu Dhabi GP resulting in yet another one-two finish for Mercedes duo Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton.

Hamilton has become a triple F1 Drivers' champion, while Mercedes won a consecutive Constructors' crown.

The season has seen its fair share of highs and lows with Mercedes dominating throughout.

Read: 2015 Abu Dhabi GP - As it happened

Tops

From 17-year-old Max Verstappen's awesome debut, to team Mercedes dominance, we list the highs of the 2015 Formula 1 season:

Driver - Max Verstappen: The Dutch teenager was only 17-years-old at the start of 2015 but such was his affect on the sport that he ended the season as one of the most popular and respected drivers on the grid.

Curiously, he did not pass his driving test for public roads until October 2015. Verstappen demonstrated potential and a raw speed in his modest Toro Rosso car that has caught the eye of the top teams.

Verstappen's courage and imagination enabled him to make some of the season's most audacious passing moves and, along with world champion Lewis Hamilton, he has given F1 a chance to reach new, younger fan base.

Ferrari are tipped to swoop and sign him for 2017.

Race - Mexico: Back on the calendar after an absence of two decades, the 2015 Mexican GP was the most enthusiastically-supported and animated event of the year with huge crowds and an unmatched atmosphere.

The return to the circuit, now sporting an upgraded stadium, delivered an intimacy and energy that showed great support for F1 and motorsport, delivering a tumultuous race. Welcome back, Mexico.

Team - Mercedes: It is impossible to rate any team higher following a season of near-perfection again from the silver arrows. Hamilton won the championship, his second in a row and third in all, with a month to spare, leaving team mate Nico Rosberg to steal the limelight in the final three races.

That consistency proved the durability, speed and efficiency of the team in a season when it provided the main spectacle and managed to keep its drivers under control. The re-emergence of Ferrari as a threat, notably in Singapore, with Sebastian Vettel at the forefront of its revival, proved Mercedes are only human - a failing seen often in Hamilton's transparent moods.

To allow both men to express their personalities in their cars was another Mercedes success.

Flops

From Mercedes' pit-stop blunder in Monaco to McLaren-Honda's disastrous performance, we list lows of the 2015 Formula 1 season:

Driver - Nico Rosberg: His end-of-season form must have rubbed salt into his own wounds, proving as it did that he has the speed and technical ability to match, and beat, team mate Hamilton.

Sadly, he has yet to prove it under truly stressful conditions that matter when a championship is on the line. The jury is out on his glorious end-of-year hat-trick after Hamilton went partying and if, by proving he has the talent to win so consistently, he and others believe he can build a true title challenge in 2016, it must mean he failed to do in 2015.

Above all, his appetite for a fight will be watched very closely when the real thing resumes again next season. Whatever he does, however, he failed to deliver the speed, race craft and determination needed to mount a proper challenge to Hamilton this year when it counted.

Race - Monaco: The 2015 showpiece event in the Mediterranean Principality produced the wrong winner and the wrong result. Due to a tactical pit-stop blunder by the Mercedes team, the race turned what should have been a consummate Hamilton triumph into a victory gifted to Rosberg.

On a circuit not suited to modern wheel-to-wheel racing, where the qualifying session is the most meaningful track action unless it rains, and where the corporate fat cats take the sun and pay the bills, this race looks ever more anachronistic, retained only to supply some much needed showbiz glamour and keep up a tradition for dull processional contests.

It is time to consider how this race can be overhauled.

Team - McLaren-Honda: Once the kings of the sport and a home for multiple world champions, McLaren survived a year in which they became thelaughing stock of the paddock.

Its Japanese power-units failed in all respects to leave drivers, 2009 Jenson Button and two-time champion Fernando Alonso, powerless and often relegated to the back of the grid with a penalty total that would not have disgraced a cricket team.

It was a joke.

The serial winners hinted at an improvement in the closing weeks, but a return to the victory podium looks to be a distant prospect.


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