x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Abu Dhabi GP: Nico Rosberg happy with third after losing to Webber

The German driver rues getting the balance wrong at Yas Marina but is motivated that he has the second-best car for next season.

As the sun set down, Nico Rosberg's expectations at Mercedes have risen. Christopher Pike / The National
As the sun set down, Nico Rosberg's expectations at Mercedes have risen. Christopher Pike / The National

ABU DHABI // Nico Rosberg arrived at the Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix looking merely to help his Mercedes-GP team cement second place in the constructors’ championship.

Yet having placed third behind a pair of indomitable Red Bulls last night, the German driver conceded that, as the sun had set, his expectations had risen.

Rosberg enjoyed a near-perfect getaway to pass Red Bull’s Mark Webber and stay on the tail of the Australian’s teammate, Sebastian Vettel.

With pit-stops muddling the order, the 27-year-old driver held the pace and position to secure second, but after emptying his energy-boosting Kers device in an attempt to pass Force India’s Paul di Resta in the 20th lap, Webber was able to wait a couple of turns and sneak past and relegate Rosberg to third.

“Second place would have been possible in a perfect world,” Rosberg said.

“The main thing was that I got my balance wrong in the car and that’s why I wasn’t as quick as I was hoping.

“I was struggling to get past Paul di Resta and gave it a shot down into Turn 8, used up all my Kers and wasn’t able to do it. Then Mark got me on the next one. It was unfortunate, but that’s the way it is. Third place is still good – and lots of points.”

Rosberg’s third was complemented by the seventh-place finish of his teammate, Lewis Hamilton. With Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa finishing fifth and eighth, respectively, and Romain Grosjean the only Lotus driver to finish, Mercedes extended their lead to 11 points in the lucrative race for second in the constructors’ championship.

“I was very happy to hear that we took some more points off them again and that we’re edging away,” he said of his rivals.

“That’s the most important thing for us at the moment – just to finish second in the constructors’. It’s not just much more money for next year, but also motivation for everybody. If everybody in the factory can see that we built the second-best car this year, that’s just a massive boost.”

Hamilton, winner of the 2011 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, found himself frustratingly stuck behind Esteban Gutierrez’s Sauber for a long stint, which hurt his chances of climbing through the field. The 2008 world champion is already focusing on the United States and Brazilian grands prix.

“All points count, but Nico did a really good job to maximise the potential of the car,” Hamilton said.

“Hopefully, the last two races will be stronger for me and I look forward to that challenge.”

gmeenaghan@thenational.ae

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