Ten years ago, on the 10th June 2007, Lewis Hamilton took his first ever Formula One victory.
The 22 year old McLaren driver had already made quite the impact on the F1 world before arriving in Canada. He was tied at the top of the championship on points with team-mate Fernando Alonso. In 2007 points were awarded for positions one to eight, with ten for the winner, and both McLaren drivers were sitting on 38 after five rounds.
Five podiums from five starts had demonstrated Hamilton’s immense rookie talent but he had not as yet stood on the top step of the podium. He had finished second to Alonso’s first twice – including at the Monaco Grand Prix where the pair dominated the field and lapped everyone bar Felipe Massa in third. Everything was about to change in Canada, however, and the tilt shifted in Hamilton’s favour.
It was Alonso who topped the first two practice sessions before Hamilton took charge in FP3. He was three tenths faster than Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen before they headed into qualifying. It proved to be a McLaren front row lock out – the second race in a row – but, for only the second time that season, it was Hamilton in front of Alonso and by nearly five tenths of a second. All eyes were on Hamilton after securing his first F1 pole position – would he be able to convert it into a victory?
In a race which saw four safety car periods – including for Robert Kubica’s big accident – Hamilton kept his cool and went on to win, beating BMW’s Nick Heidfeld by just over four seconds. Alexander Wurz finished the race in third place. Hamilton was in control through the whole race not letting any of the safety car periods phase him. It turned out that Hamilton did not have to wait long for his second victory which came just a week later at the US GP at Indianapolis.
Since the Canadian Grand Prix, Hamilton has won 55 Grand Prix putting him second on the all time list. He has taken at least one victory in every season since 2007 – the fewest being two in one season (2009) and the most being 11 in 2014. He won 21 races with McLaren and has so far won 34 for Mercedes.
This weekend will see him go for a sixth victory at the Canadian Grand Prix. Following his debut win in 2007 he also won there in 2010, 2012, 2015, and 2016.
Lewis Hamilton has won the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix but it was not enough to prevent Nico Rosberg becoming world champion.
Rosberg held off a late charge from Sebastian Vettel – who finished third – to become 2016 world champion. Hamilton backed his team-mate into the chasing pack, despite numerous calls from the pit wall to pick up his pace, but Rosberg was able to remain in second place. He crossed the line just four tenths off his team-mate with Vettel just four tenths further back on him.
Max Verstappen recovered from a lap one spin to make a different strategy work to finish in fourth, ahead of his team-mate Daniel Ricciardo. Kimi Raikkonen was a distant sixth ahead of Nico Hulkenberg and Sergio Perez. Felipe Massa ended his F1 career with two points ahead of Fernando Alonso who finished in tenth.
Romain Grosjean finished in 11th place ahead of team-mate Esteban Gutierrez, Esteban Ocon, and Pascal Wehrlein. Marcus Ericsson, Felipe Nasr and a penalised Jolyon Palmer were the remaining finishers. Palmer was given a five second time penalty for crashing into Carlos Sainz and ending his race.
Joining Sainz on the sidelines were team-mate Daniil Kvyat, Valtteri Bottas, and Kevin Magnussen. Jenson Button suffered disappointment on his last Grand Prix appearance when his front suspension broke, bringing a premature end to his race.
At the front, defiant Hamilton backed his team-mate into the chasing pack but Rosberg withstood the pressure and finished where he needed to to become world champion. It is 34 years since his father Keke Rosberg won the world championship and they become one of only two father-son world champions. The other father-son world champions are of course Graham and Damon Hill.
After 20 races, the championship will be decided at the final round in Abu Dhabi. The race at the Yas Marina Circuit will see Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg go head-to-head for the 2016 title.
Rosberg is the driver with the advantage holding a 12 point lead over team-mate Hamilton. This means that reigning champion Hamilton must finish in the top three to win the championship, but even at that it will still be in Rosberg’s hands. If Hamilton wins the race Rosberg must be third to be champion. If Hamilton is second then Rosberg can finish any position down to 6th and if Hamilton is third then Rosberg can finish no lower than eighth.
Circuit: Yas Marina Circuit
Number of Laps: 55
Circuit Length: 5.554km
Number of Corners: 21
Lap Record: 1:40.279 Sebastian Vettel (2009)
Previous Brazil winners still on the grid: 4
Most Successful Team: Red Bull (3)
DRS Zones: 2
Pirelli Tyres: Soft, Supersoft, and Ultrasoft
The Abu Dhabi Grand Prix is a day to night race which starts at twilight and ends under the lights. It is a circuit which features a mix of long straights, heavy braking zones, and fast and slow corners. The three sectors are very distinct and overtaking is possible. There are two DRS zones and grip levels are medium. Track temperatures drop during the race due to conditions going from day to night.
Rosberg won the race in 2015 but suffered heartbreak in 2014 when his car suffered mechanical issues when he was fighting for the championship. Hamilton has won the race in 2011 and 2014, with Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen winning the four other runnings of the Abu Dhabi GP.
This weekend will also mark the end of Felipe Massa’s F1 career as he retires. Jenson Button had been set to take a sabbatical, with a possible return to race in 2018, however he has recently said he is treating this weekend like his last Grand Prix. Between them they have entered 558 Grand Prix – Button is the third most experienced F1 driver of all time. They will both be missed in the F1 paddock and will be hoping for a good race to sign off their careers.