F1: Lewis Hamilton ends on a high with Abu Dhabi GP win

Nov 26, 2018, 09:42 IST | Abhishek Takle

World champion Mercedes driver Lewis clinches season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix; Fernando Alonso finishes 11th in his Formula One farewell race

F1: Lewis Hamilton ends on a high with Abu Dhabi GP win
Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton celebrates on the podium after winning the Abu Dhabi GP at Yas Marina circuit yesterday. Pic/AP,PTI

Lewis Hamilton brought the curtain down on his title-winning campaign in style with a Sunday evening cruise under the floodlights to victory in the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. The Mercedes driver, who wrapped up his fifth world championship with two races to spare at last month's Mexican Grand Prix, closed off the season by crossing the line 2.5 seconds ahead of his title rival Sebastian Vettel.

Max Verstappen took the final podium spot for Red Bull ahead of team-mate Daniel Ricciardo. The Australian took a shot at an unlikely victory, gambling on pitting late and racing past his rivals on fresher tyres, but ultimately had to settle for fourth, missing out on the podium by 2.6 seconds. Yesterday's win was Hamilton's 11th of a season that has seen the Briton join Juan Manuel Fangio and Michael Schumacher as one of only three drivers to have won five or more titles. It was also the 73rd win of the 33-year-old's career putting him just 18 wins short of Schumacher's all-time record haul of 91.

""I'm so happy right now," said Hamilton shortly after celebrating with tyre-smoking doughnuts. "It's been a real honour and a privilege racing against Sebastian," he added shaking Vettel's hand. "I've known him since F3 days and he's always raced his heart out." "I know next year he's going to comeback strong and I have to make sure I come back with him." Vettel was magnanimous as he reflected on a season marred by costly mistakes. "He's the champion and he deserves to be the champion," said the Ferrari driver.

"I tried everything I could until the last lap also today. I would have liked it to have been a bit more wheel to wheel." Further down the order, double world champion Fernando Alonso finished just outside the points in eleventh on his swan song. He joined Hamilton and Vettel on the grid for the post-race interviews, with a total of 11 world titles between the trio. "It's been a pleasure racing with these champions," said Alonso exchanging hugs and handshakes with Vettel and Hamilton who also paid tribute to the Spaniard.

"As long as I'm not commentating (I'll be back)," he joked. "I'll always be a fan of this show." Elsewhere, Sauber-bound Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari's last world champion, said farewell to the Italian team. But the Finn's race ended just five laps in after he ground to a halt on the start-finish straight without any power. Nico Hulkenberg provided the most dramatic moment of a race that also saw a sprinkling of rain. The German's Renault was flipped into a barrel roll after contact with the Haas of Romain Grosjean.

The car came to rest upside down against the barrier and caught fire but it was swiftly put out by marshals allowing the 31-year-old to escape unscathed. Valtteri Bottas, who had started alongside pole-sitter Hamilton on the front row, faded from contention and finished fifth after a disappointing race. Carlos Sainz took sixth in the sole-surviving Renault ahead of Charles Leclerc who scored points on his final appearance for Sauber ahead of his move up to Ferrari next season. Sergio Perez was eighth for Force India ahead of Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen, the pair rounding out the top-ten for Haas.

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