Right, so that's it. F1 2016 has run down the curtain and joined the choir invisible. It. Is. Dead.
The team is looking forward to having 14 weeks rest at home with nothing to do. Except this week's tyre test. Ooh, and strip the cars when they get back to base; and test and rebuild them; and unpack the sea-freight from Austin, Mexico, Brazil, Abu Dhabi; and test, inspect and generally rebuild and/or redesign the garage equipment; and pack and despatch freight containers to Australia, China and Bahrain; and strip and rebuild the transporters for the European races; then get a new, shiny RB13; and learn how to build the new, shiny RB13; and have lively discussions with designers until they modify the bits that stop you building the new, shiny, RB13; and relearn how to build the new, shiny RB13 with modified components that can be fitted by grown men rather than Victorian street urchins with tiny hands; and restructure pitstop procedures for the wider car and big fat tyres; and practice pitstop procedures until people stop getting hit in the face by tyres; and go testing in Spain.
Or, in other words, it's day one of the winter schedule, the clock is ticking we're behind already and will be playing catch-up all the way until the cars are loaded onto the plane and shipped out to Melbourne. The upside is that you get to do this while sleeping in your own bed. The downside is that you generally have to make your own bed and room service tends to get a bit shirty if you get home at midnight and ask for a cheeseburger and fries.
At least we're a big team. The lads down the other end of the pitlane probably have to paint their factory too.
Abu Dhabi was a good race to end the year. It's disappointing to come away without a trophy for the first time since Monza but we didn't know that was going to be the case until the very last corner, and in terms of drama, you can't get much better than that. Congratulations to Nico Rosberg, a very worthy World Champion. Spy's aware that the chattering classes are questioning this, but over a nine-month, 21-race season if you come out on top it's because you earned it, however many hints your team-mate may drop to the contrary. Granted, Nico had a bit of luck along the way – but show me a world champion that hasn't.
Best of all, Nico didn't cry on the podium, thus upholding the Rosberg family image as hard men of motorsport. Keke says he stayed away until after the race because he didn't want to be a distraction: Spy reckons he stayed away because he was worried there might be tears and snot, and if you have a long-cultivated image as a stone-cold hero of F1, you don't want to have to deal with that.
Spare a thought for Lewis though. He seems to be in a spot of bother for declining what, in Spy's humble opinion, appears to be a request that he cease trying to win the title. There are drivers out there who would have obeyed – but none of them are World Champions.
Of course, Spy's just jealous: getting all shouty with your drivers because they're not winning by a big enough margin is a nice problem to have. Hopefully we'll be able to do it next year – though if Max and Dan are going head-to-head for a title we're going to need a concrete bunker on the pit wall, neither of them is a particularly compromising character.
Now there's a happy thought to go into the winter with.
Onwards to Oz!