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ABU DHABI GP – Lewis Hamilton extends championship lead with dominate season finale

Lewis Hamilton took victory in the season finale the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, beating Sebastian Vettel by two seconds to secure his eleventh win of the season. The five-times champion was in total control of the race following an early stop.

Hamilton’s victory allowed him to extend his lead over the German, who got past the Mercedes of Valtteri Bottas when he began to struggle with his tyre around the mid-way point of the race. Hamilton’s teammate Valtteri Bottas could only manage fifth.

Bottas struggled with tyre life as he entered the final stages of the race, he was running second but was unable to hold off Vettel and the two Red Bull’s. The Finn losing three positions in four laps to Vettel, Verstappen and Ricciardo.

Red Bull’s Max Verstappen was third ahead of teammate Daniel Ricciardo, as the Australian started his final race for the team. The Dutchman’s third-placed allowed him to move into fourth in the drivers championship.

Ricciardo had gone long into the race in case the light rain developed, while others stopped the Red Bull inherited the lead of the race and stayed in front until lap thirty-four.

Re-joining fifth, seven seconds behind Verstappen when he came back out on track but quickly gained on his team-mate again as Bottas, who had just lost second place to Vettel.

It was a close battle in the closing stages as Verstappen closed up on Vettel fighting for second. However, the Red Bull got stuck behind his future teammate Pierre Gasly, as the Toro Rosso driver suffered an engine failure, that allowed Vettel to get a bit of a gap.

Hamilton said “I’m so happy right now. Thank you guys so much for all the support this year. It’s been a real honour and a privilege racing against Sebastian. I’ve known him since our Formula 3 days and he’s an honest driver who has always raced his heart out.”

Verstappen said “It was not an easy race, I had a problem at the start but then my engine went into safety mode and I had it again in the restart afterwards. But I managed to go back and put some pressure of the guys ahead and we managed to keep the supersofts alive.”

Kimi Raikkonen’s final race for Ferrari saw the Finn retire from the race with a failure. The Finn retired early on with a mechanical shutdown pulling off to the side of the start-finish straight, which Hamilton took advantage of with a quick pit-stop

His retirement saw Carlos Sainz finish sixth after his Renault teammate Nico Hulkenberg crashed out at the chicane on the opening lap.

The German tired to overtake the Haas of Romain Grosjean, but the Renault driver went side by side with the Frenchman banged wheels flipping him into the barrier. Hulkenberg, despite being trapped in the car and unable to get out of the car.

He told BBC News “I’m fine, it’s just the normal disappointment in a race. Everyone puts so much hard work into it and it’s just so bad and very disappointing.”

“I think we just out it down into a racing incident. He locked up, I went wide he went even wider. Obviously, he was there, our wheels made contact and we’ve seen the rest which made some spectacular images.”

Charles Leclerc finished his final race for Sauber seventh, the best result of his first season. The Monacan held off the pressure placed on him from the Force India of Sergio Perez. Leclerc

Sergio Perez took eighth for Force India ahead of the two Haas drivers of Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen in the final points-paying positions.

Fernando Alonso tried to chase down the Haas of Magnussen in the closing stages. However, when chasing down the Dane in the closing stages of the race he ran wide a turn six / seven chicane and gained an advantage. He was awarded a five-second penalty.

Alonso finished the race eleventh fastest ahead of the Toro Rosso of Brendon Hartley. In their final race for Williams, neither Lance Stroll or Sergey Sirotkin could finish the season with points. Thirteenth and fifteenth sums up a very difficult season for the team.

Marcus Ericsson’s stint with Sauber ended in retirement after running in the points early on, before Esteban Ocon and Pierre Gasly retired within two laps of each other with smoke coming from their respective cars.

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Jack Fielding
Jack is responsible for the day-to-day running of Formula One Vault. He brings you all the brilliant content. Has an obsession with all things Formula One and anything with an engine.

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