ONE CHAMP SETS A NEW CHAL­LENGE AS AN­OTHER LEAVES

Autosport (UK) - - CONTENTS -

In 2015 and ’17 Lewis Hamil­ton went dis­tinctly off the boil af­ter se­cur­ing the cham­pi­onship, but not this year. If his Brazil­ian Grand Prix win could be con­sid­ered a tad for­tu­nate, there was no doubt about the re­sult in Abu Dhabi last week­end. Hamil­ton con­trolled the race beau­ti­fully to score his 11th win of the sea­son, a tally that seemed un­likely at the height of his bat­tle with Se­bas­tian Vet­tel. Not one to miss out on a psy­cho­log­i­cal ad­van­tage, Lewis was keen to point out that he viewed the race as a start to his 2019 cam­paign. The gaunt­let has al­ready been thrown down. Not join­ing that bat­tle will be Fer­nando Alonso. What­ever you think of the dou­ble cham­pion, it’s im­pos­si­ble to deny that he has been one of For­mula 1’s top per­form­ers for a decade and a half. He will be missed, as Hamil­ton and Vet­tel ac­knowl­edged fol­low­ing the trio’s emo­tional slow-down lap. As Alonso leaves, the driver who should have been the fourth top driver of the era is set to make his race come­back. Quite how com­pet­i­tive Robert Ku­bica will be on his re­turn with Wil­liams (see page 4) is open to ques­tion, but the fact that he has made it back at all af­ter his se­ri­ous rally crash is a great story of drive and te­nac­ity. There are al­ways new driv­ers to step in too, of course, and it’s great news that the top three in this year’s For­mula 2 stand­ings – Ge­orge Rus­sell, Lando Nor­ris and Alexan­der Al­bon (p5) – all have F1 seats for 2019. All are also for­mer Mclaren Au­tosport BRDC Award fi­nal­ists (with Rus­sell win­ning in ’14 and Nor­ris in ’16), and the 30th vic­tor will be an­nounced at the Au­tosport Awards this week­end. Turn to p48 to see how 2017 win­ner Dan Tick­tum got on in his prize F1 test, and p52 for an in­sight into how this year’s four fi­nal­ists were put through their paces.

DUN­BAR/LAT

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