F1 champion rakes in his 73rd career win
THE MOTORSPORT LAP/ Hamilton takes the chequered flag again as Raikkonen’s hopes of dream exit are blown
Five-time world champion Lewis Hamilton ended the 2019 Formula One season in style and a cloud of tyre smoke after a poleto-flag victory in Abu Dhabi, his 11th win of the campaign.
Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel finished second and set the fastest lap time. Red Bull’s Max Verstappen was third.
“I am so happy right now,” said Hamilton after Hollywood actor Will Smith brought down the chequered flag at the floodlit Yas Marina circuit on the Mercedes driver’s 73rd career win.
The 33-year-old Hamilton, who has already been crowned season champion, boasts 51 wins out of 100 races in the V6 turbo hybrid era. His latest 408 points tally makes him the first driver to score more than 400 points in a single season.
It was also two-times world champion Fernando Alonso’s last race. He finished 11th and with his final tally at 1,899. The trio of champions Hamilton, Vettel and Alonso created a spectacular cloud of smoke when they spun their cars at the end of their slowing-down lap, before stepping out for hugs and words of mutual respect.
Kimi Raikkonen retired from his last Formula One race with Ferrari, his car losing power and coasting to a halt on the main straight after just seven laps.
The 39-year-old Finn, the last driver to win a championship for Ferrari, in 2007, is headed in 2019 to Sauber, the team with which he started his F1 career.
Raikkonen still finished third in the championship and the retirement brought down the curtain on what has otherwise been a stand-out season for F1’s oldest current driver.
Raikkonen’s October win in Texas, ended a winless run of 113 races dating back to victory with Lotus in Australia in March 2013, and he has been on the podium 12 times in 21 races. Reuters
RACE DRIVERS SWOP CARS
Seven-times Nascar champion Jimmie Johnson and former F1 champion Fernando Alonso swapped company cars after Sunday’s season-ending Abu Dhabi F1 Grand Prix.
Johnson declared the V8powered 2013 McLaren to be “mind-blowing” in braking and acceleration, but Alonso found Johnson’s Chevrolet to be a blast from the past with its V8 engine and steel brakes. The fun swap came a day after Alonso’s last F1 race in Abu Dhabi. Both drivers said they were impressed by the other’s performance.
WORLD RALLYCROSS VISITS CAPE TOWN
Sweden’s Johan Kristoffersson capped a remarkable year by taking a record-breaking 11th victory of the 2018 World Rallycross (RX) season at Killarney in Cape Town at the weekend.
The VW Polo R driver, who had already won the championship, dominated the seasonending World RX round. Thousands of local racing fans turned up to watch the powerful RX cars bump and barge their way through a mixed course of tarmac and dirt.
EKS Audi Sport’s Mattias Ekstrom started on the third row of the grid for the final in his Audi S1 and clinched second in the race, and secured second in the World RX Drivers’ Championship when his teammate Andreas Bakkerud retired from the semifinals.
Team Peugeot Total’s Sebastien Loeb completed his third full World RX programme with another podium in his Peugeot 208 and finished ahead of teammate Kevin Hansen in the final. Multiple former World Rally champion Loeb set the fastest time in Q1 on Saturday and finished on the podium for the seventh time in 2018.
RED BULL, RENAULT SPLIT
Red Bull and engine suppliers Renault have parted ways as one of F1’s most successful partnerships reached the end of the road in Abu Dhabi.
The once-dominant partnership has been fraught in recent seasons, with Red Bull feeling let down in the V6 turbo hybrid era by a Renault engine that has lacked the power and reliability of rivals Mercedes and Ferrari.
Abiteboul and Horner have engaged in verbal sparring, with Red Bull seeking but failing to find another engine partner before Honda became an option. Red Bull will hope for better with Honda next season while Renault, who are taking Red Bull’s Australian driver Daniel Ricciardo with them, focus on their year-old factory team and clients McLaren.
Together Renault and Red Bull won 59 races and eight world championships four of them drivers’ crowns with German Sebastian Vettel.
Kimi Raikkonen ended his Ferrari F1 career with a mechanical failure.
Johan Kristoffersson celebrates after his 11th World RX victory of the season.