World champion Lewis Hamilton finished his season on a high on Sunday when he roared to an imperious victory at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
The 33-year-old dominated from start to finish, save for a spell during the mid-race pit-stops, as he registered a record fourth win at Yas Marina Circuit.
It was the 73rd victory of his career – only Michael Schumacher on 91 has more – and came from his 83rd pole.
Here, we take a look at the key talking points from the season-ending race in the UAE capital.
HAMILTON A CLASS APART
It feels like repetition every week but the Briton has simply been the superior driver and not even someone of Sebastian Vettel’s calibre has come close to him in the second half of the season.
The Briton clinched his 11th win of the year and looked a class apart as he drove solidly under the bright lights at Yas Marina.
Starting on pole, he pitted on lap seven, and after regaining the lead on lap 34, drove solidly to hold off Vettel and Max Verstappen and seal his sixth victory in the last eight races.
Judging by the way Hamilton has been driving in recent months, it looks likely he will win a sixth championship next year. Vettel will no doubt up the tempo in 2019, but it is unlikely he will be able to stay consistent across the entire season.
ALONSO BOWS OUT ON A HIGH
Double world champion Fernando Alonso brought the curtain down on his glittering F1 career with an 11th place finish.
The 37-year-old, who will race in the Indy 500 next year, was unable to finish anywhere close to the points but still raced admirably in his final race.
The Spaniard is leaving F1 after 17 seasons as he attempts to secure the ‘Triple Crown of Motorsport’ next year after winning the Monaco Grand Prix in 2005 and 2006 and the Le Mans 24 Hours with Toyota in June this year.
His decorated career has included 32 wins, 22 pole positions, 97 podiums and world championship triumphs in 2005 and 2006, although he has not finished on the podium since joining McLaren in 2015.
With nine top-10s this campaign in a poor McLaren car, Alonso bows out of the sport as one of the all-time greats.
The world title battle may have been a two-way duel between Vettel and Hamilton, but Valtteri Bottas could have been in the thick of it but for bad luck.
In France back in June, he was taken out by Vettel at the first corner and then two weeks later in Austria he was forced to retire after 13 laps due to mechanical failure. That was 24 points lost in the space of two weeks, valuable points that could have seen him finish above Kimi Raikkonen in the drivers standings.
Starting from second on the grid in Abu Dhabi, it looked like he would sign his season off on a positive note with a podium. But an issue with his rear right tyre after lap 35 saw Daniel Ricciardo and Verstappen overtake him and the Finn was forced to settle for a disappointing fifth place.
Without victory in a car where Hamilton has won 11 times, he may struggle to convince Mercedes he is worthy of an extension after 2019.
The Nastola native needs to come out firing in Australia next March if he is to prove his worth in the best seat on the grid.
HALO FOR HULKENBERG
Nico Hulkenberg was involved in a scary incident on the first lap when his rear tyre clipped Romain Grosjean’s front left. It forced his Renault car to roll around and the German needed the stewards to help flip the car over in order to get out.
It was worrying to see the 31-year-old trapped and raised some questions about the ‘halo’. It prevented Hulkenberg from getting seriously injured but if the car had caught fire, he wouldn’t have been able to escape easily. That’s one of the worrying aspects of the halo.
Although it protects the car from flying debris, it prevents you from getting out of the car quickly. Luckily, the 31-year-old was able to walk free.
Another thought for the FIA…
Lewis Hamilton completed one half of his vow to end his championship-winning campaign in style as he put his Mercedes on pole position for the season-closing Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
Hamilton, who closed out his fifth title with two rounds to spare in Mexico last month, will be joined on the front row by Valtteri Bottas, with Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen third and fourth for Ferrari.
Fernando Alonso is ending his 18-season career here in the desert on Sunday, and in his final Formula One qualifying session, the two-time world champion finished 15th.
“It was quite an emotional qualifying session, because it is the last time I will qualify in this car,” Hamilton said.
“I am the closest to this car than I have been to any others. It has not always been easy, but it has been a real privilege this year.
“To go out there and express yourself, and push the car the way you want, there is no better feeling.
“The first lap wasn’t spectacular, but that last one started off calm, and then I got more and more aggressive. The last sector was a killer and that’s where I made the difference.”
Vettel, who has been victorious at just one race since the summer break, added: “I am confident for tomorrow, so it should be good fun, challenging these guys, and I will give it everything I have.”
World champion Lewis Hamilton posted the fastest time in final practice for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
The Mercedes star, who is bidding to end his title-winning campaign with an 11th victory of the year, finished 0.288 seconds clear of Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen at the Yas Marina circuit, with Sebastian Vettel third.
Max Verstappen finished fourth quickest, ahead of Valtteri Bottas, with Daniel Ricciardo sixth in the order.