Hamilton closes out F1 season with another win
ABU DHABI — World champion Lewis Hamilton coasted to victory from pole position at the year-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix Sunday.
In doing so, he equalled his personal best for a season with his 11th win of the campaign.
Having already secured a fifth F1 title, the British Mercedes driver beat Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel at the Yas Marina circuit to secure the 73rd win of his career.
He is contracted to Mercedes for the next two years at least, giving him a realistic chance of matching Michael Schumacher’s F1 record of 91 GP wins.
Vettel is third all-time with 52 and did not look like he was going to add to that in a race controlled by his rival.
“I wanted to finish on a high. The team has done an exceptional job all year,” said Hamilton, who stripped down to the waist on the podium and pointed to a tattoo on his back that referred to a poem by writer and civil rights activist Maya Angelou.
“I wanted to show ‘Still I Rise’ on my back.”
Montreal’s Lance Stroll finished 13th.
It was a symbolic finish to a season in which Hamilton again showed his superiority under pressure to push Vettel into second overall for the second straight year.
Red Bull driver Max Verstappen finished third in the race ahead of teammate Daniel Ricciardo for a fifth straight podium appearance.
Verstappen overtook Hamilton’s teammate Valtteri Bottas to finish fourth behind Kimi Raikkonen, who retired early into his final race for Ferrari.
Raikkonen’s race ended on lap 6 when his car had a power issue. The Finnish driver, who is joining Sauber next year, trudged back to the team garage.
Verstappen and Ricciardo made light work of overtaking Bottas, who finished fifth, raising questions again about the Finnish driver’s ability to withstand pressure in a season during which he has not won.
Veteran Spanish driver Fernando Alonso placed 11th with McLaren in his last F1 race with the team. The twotime F1 champion is pursuing other racing interests.
“It’s been an honour and a privilege to race in the same era as him,” Hamilton said. “The sport will miss him, we will miss him.”
Toro Rosso driver Pierre Gasly, Sauber’s Marcus Ericsson and Esteban Ocon all retired late in the race.
It was also farewell from Ricciardo to Red Bull after a difficult season during which he won two races, but retired from eight largely because of engine problems. He is leaving to join Renault next year.
The race was held up after a spectacular crash on lap 1 involving French driver Romain Grosjean and Nico Hulkenberg, who was sent tumbling into the barriers and finally settled upside down.
Hulkenberg was unharmed and eventually climbed out.
The incident held up the race for a few laps with drivers forced to slow down behind a safety car until the race resumed on lap 5.
With the halfway point in the 55-lap race approaching, there was a rare sight as rain briefly fell on the desert track.
Ricciardo, by this point, was in the lead and about five seconds clear of Hamilton, but had yet to change tires.
He eventually did so with 21 laps to go and Hamilton regained the lead.