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 34-year-old dominated from start to finish and registered a record fifth win at Yas Marina Circuit. An 84th victory of his career – only Michael Schumacher on 91 has more – came from his 88rd pole.
Max Verstappen finished second, while Charles Leclerc came over the finishing line in third.
HAMILTON REIGNS SUPREME
It feels like repetition every week, but Hamilton has simply been the superior driver and no-one else has come close to him in the majority of this season.
The Briton, on his 250th grand prix start, clinched his 11th win of the year and looked a class apart as he drove solidly under the bright lights at Yas Marina.
He kept the pace at the front of grid, encountered no difficulty, and not even Verstappen in second could reel in his commanding 16.772 secs winning margin.
Judging by the way the Stevenage man has been driving in recent months, it looks likely he will win a seventh championship next year.
Ferrari and Red Bull will no doubt up the tempo in the off-season, but it is hard to see them staying consistent across the entire season.
Valtteri Bottas shone for large parts of the weekend, topping FP1, FP2 and clocking the second fastest time in qualifying.
Starting from the back of the grid after receiving a penalty for changing the power unit, Bottas soared to fourth before pitting on lap 30.
It was a flawless race by the Nastola native, who showed searing pace, stayed out of trouble and made no mistakes, despite falling short on attempting to pass Leclerc for third on the final lap.
Second in the Drivers’ Championship represents Bottas’ best overall classification, having been third in 2017 and fourth, with Williams, in 2014.
Can he close the gap to Hamilton next season?
VERSTAPPEN THE MAN
Starting from second on the grid, Verstappen lost his place early on, but he grabbed back second after a neat overtake on Leclerc on lap 32. From there, nobody could catch the Dutchman.
It is the 22-year-old’s best result at Yas Marina Circuit after finishing third last season, and certainly puts further gloss on what has been his best season yet.
Based on the strides the RB13 has made over the last twelve months, expect the Monaco resident to further his class and status as a future world champion when the new season begins next March.
As a result of his stunning finish in Abu Dhabi, the Dutchman secures third in the drivers’ standings, 14 points ahead of Leclerc.
Another day of racing, another Ferrari problem.
Leclerc finished on the podium after another glittering display, but he faces a post-race investigation for an alleged fuel discrepancy.
A technical report issued by the FIA just before the race said there was a “significant difference” between the amount of fuel in the car and that declared by Ferrari before Leclerc left the pit lane to go to the grid.
The pre-race drama didn’t seem to affect the Monaco man and his straight line speed caused problems, but he was forced to settle for third.
For Sebastian Vettel, he was made to wait in the pits for an agonising 6.9 seconds because of a stubborn front-left tyre after Ferrari double-stacked their drivers.
The German did up the pace once his tyres warmed up in the second half of the race and managed to finish fifth.
HULKENBERG BIDS FAREWELL
The German brought the curtain down on his F1 career – for now – with an 11th-placed finish.
Without a seat for 2020, it seems likely Hulkenberg’s 10-year F1 career is at the end.
During his time with Renault, the 32-year-old finished in the top-10 43 times, with his best finish being fourth at the 2016 Belgium GP.
The team also rose from 9th, 6th and 4th in the constructors’ standings during his time in the seat, and thanks to his finish in the UAE capital, Renault finish the season fifth in the championship.
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