We weren’t sure if Alter Ego Nico Rosberg, the one who flew into Brazil and showed Mercedes AMG Petronas teammate Lewis Hamilton that he knew also knew how to grab an entire race weekend by the scruff of the neck, arrived in Abu Dhabi. In both Friday practice sessions Hamilton showed Rosberg the way.
Then on Saturday, Alter Ego Rosberg took over, taking the last Free Practice session and then pole position by a whopping four-tenths of a second over Hamilton. Thanks to the gimmicky and soon-to-be-obliterated spectre of double points, if Rosberg won the race and Hamilton finished lower than second, the World Championship would remain in German hands.
Behind Hamilton came the Williams duo, again, with Valtteri Bottas ahead of Felipe Massa. Daniil Kvyat did swell to put his Toro Rosso in fifth, Jenson Button was just as swell getting his McLaren into sixth. Kimi Räikkönen outqualified his Ferrari teammate Fernando Alonso for the third time this year, the pair taking seventh and eighth on the grid. Kevin Magnussen lined the second McLaren up in ninth, Jean-Eric Vergne making the top ten for Toro Rosso in his last race for the team. To be clear, that was the final grid for race: Daniel Ricciardo and Sebastian Vettel had both qualified in the top ten but were sent to the back of the grid when their Infiniti Red Bull Racing front wings were deemed illegal. They’d start from the pit lane, which was still ahead of Romain Grosjean in the Lotus, who took so many penalties for new engine components that he started the race in Turkey.
At lights-out on Sunday, well, it was pretty much lights out.