Lewis Hamilton ended his season in style with an 11th win of the year at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
Hamilton led from the very beginning in a commanding display as he secured the 84th win of his career and moved to within seven of Michael Schumacher’s all-time record.
Red Bull’s Max Verstappen finished runner-up following a fine move on Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc, who took the chequered flag in third. Verstappen’s drive to second ensured he finished the season as the best of the rest behind Mercedes duo Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas.
And watching on was Manchester United legend Patrice Evra, who shook the champion’s hand before the race and said ‘I hope it brings you luck’.
Bottas, who started last following his grid penalty for an engine change, took the flag in fourth. But the Finn could yet be promoted one place with Leclerc’s podium under threat following a fuel irregularity. The Monegasque has been summoned to report to the stewards.
Sebastian Vettel passed Red Bull’s Alex Albon for fifth with two laps remaining. Vettel’s race was thwarted by a slow pit stop.
Hamilton ended a nine-race pole position drought on Saturday, and his win under the lights of the Yas Marina Circuit was never in doubt after he beat Verstappen to the first corner.
Such was the ease of Hamilton’s win that he even had time to ponder over the radio with his team what might happen if the safety car was deployed.
There would be no such concerns for the 34-year-old Briton – his Mercedes team performing a routine one-stop strategy midway through the 55-lap season-concluding race – as Hamilton took the chequered flag 16.7 seconds clear of Verstappen, lapping the entire field up to sixth.
Hamilton was already champion by the final race of the season[/caption]
Hamilton, who claimed his latest world title with two races to spare, is the only driver to score points at all 21 races this term.
His total of 413 is the greatest any driver has ever recorded, beating his previous record from two years ago by five points.
Writing on Instagram afterwards, he said: “The journey this year has been so special, so different but I am forever grateful for the lessons learnt. The growth all round brings me such pride and joy. Big thank you to @mercedesamgf1 for continuing to push with me through the ups and downs.”
Verstappen bemoaned a series of technical issues throughout the second half of the race, but that did not stop him from passing Leclerc to take second.
On lap 32, Verstappen drew alongside Leclerc on the run down to the left-handed Turn 8 before stamping on his brakes later than his Ferrari rival and making the move stick.
Leclerc had a nibble back at Verstappen four corners later, but the Red Bull man saw off his rival’s advances to keep the place.
Leclerc deserves great credit for finishing above Vettel in the standings in his first year with the Scuderia. But Leclerc’s campaign could yet end on a sour note if the stewards decide to take action.
McLaren’s Lando Norris kept Sergio Perez at bay to finish the final race of his debut campaign in seventh, while his fellow British rookie George Russell was 17th.
Russell’s team-mate Robert Kubica, who escaped action for banging wheels with Antonio Giovinazzi, took the flag in 19th on his final appearance in the sport.
Source: TalkSport.com Motorsport