F1: Valtteri Bottas wins season-ending Abu Dhabi GP, Lewish Hamilton second
Valtteri Bottas took victory ahead of teammate Lewis Hamilton, as Mercedes ended the season with an unchallenged one-two finish yesterday in a processional Abu Dhabi Grand Prix
Valtteri Bottas took victory ahead of teammate Lewis Hamilton, as Mercedes ended the season with an unchallenged one-two finish yesterday in a processional Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. The Finn, who started from pole ahead of Hamilton, crossed the line 3.8 seconds in front of the Briton. For a few laps after the pitstops it seemed fans would be treated to a titanic battle between the two teammates on a day when their closest challenger, Sebastian Vettel, finished 19.3 seconds adrift in third. But although Bottas at one stage was warned to beware of a charging Hamilton, the 32-year-old frustratingly was never able to get close enough to pass, following in the Finn's wheel tracks for over half the race distance before backing off in the closing laps.
Valtteri Bottas celebrates on the podium yesterday. Pic/AFP
Yesterday's win was the third career triumph for Bottas, who only took his maiden victory at the fourth round of this season in Russia. It came a day after the 28-year-old, parachuted into the Mercedes seat at the last minute after Nico Rosberg's sudden retirement, seized his first back-to-back pole position and marked a return to form for the 28-year-old who had endured a lean spell since the returned from its summer break in late August. "It's a really important win for me," said Bottas on the podium. "This week: pole, win - I couldn't be happier."
"Such a good car today, thank for you the season - nice way to end it," Bottas said earlier to his team over the radio. Hamilton went into Sunday's race hoping to round off a season that delivered him his fourth world title in style with a win. But the Briton, who wrapped up the title two races ago in Mexico and last stood on the top step of the podium at last months United States Grand Prix, had to be happy with second. He closes the season out with nine wins from 20 races to Vettel's five and Bottas' three. Red Bull's Max Verstappen has won two races while team-mate Daniel Ricciardo has triumphed once.
"It's impossible to pass here, man!" said Hamilton in the cool-down room after the race. "I was like, where are all the friggin' backmarkers - they've got to change this track." "Big congratulations to Valtteri. I want to say a big thank you to the team both here and in the factory. It's an honour to race for them," said Hamilton afterwards on the podium. Vettel's third place finish yesterday clinched him second in the championship. But it came after a race in which he circulated by himself and had no answer to Mercedes' pace.
"I had a good start but nowhere to go," said the German. "It was pretty lonely. We had stronger pace in the second half of race but not enough to catch (the Mercedes)." Kimi Raikkonen in the other Ferrari finished fourth but a mammoth 26 seconds behind his team-mate. He was forced to fend off Verstappen who finished just 0.8 seconds behind in fifth. Nico Hulkenberg brought the curtain down on his first season with Renault with a strong points-scoring drive to sixth, although the German was handed a five-second penalty for cutting a corner and passing Force India's Sergio Perez.
The Mexican finished seventh ahead of team-mate Esteban Ocon. Fernando Alonso finished ninth. The Spaniard didn't get the fastest lap he was chasing but scored points for McLaren in their final race with Honda. Felipe Massa, competing in his last race, took home the final point for tenth. Mercedes end the season as constructors' champions for the fourth year in a row after sealing the title three races ago in Austin. Ferrari end the season second ahead of Red Bull, with Force India an impressive fourth for the second year in a row.
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