D he world champion ends the season appropriately. Lewis Hamilton first grabbed the pole position in a deliberate way, then a day later the victory. The 34-year-old Englishman decided the start for himself and did not give up the lead once in the 55 laps. The Mercedes strategists only asked their star driver into the pits once. Shortly before the halfway point of the race, Hamilton switched from medium to hard tires.
For the champion it was the eleventh win of the season. This means that Hamilton has won more than half of the races. In Abu Dhabi, the six-time title holder won for the fifth time. Nobody has any more. Shortly before the end of the race, Hamilton also got the additional point for the fastest race lap. 'I fully squeezed this beautiful car again,' said a happy Hamilton.
Petrol problems at Ferrari
At Ferrari there was already trouble before the race. One hour before the start of the race, technical inspector Jo Bauer sent his document to the stewards. A random test found that there was more gasoline in the tank of Charles Leclerc's car than Ferrari had stated. Therefore the podium place of the Monegasse is subject to change. The experts agree. The race stewards can actually only disqualify the 22-year-old.
Leclerc roared past Max Verstappen on the straight before turn eight on the starting lap. It was then that Ferrari played its power advantage over Red Bull. The two-time winner of the season stayed ahead of Verstappen until lap 12, until his first pit stop.
Red Bull tacted differently than Ferrari. The Dutchman stretched his first stint on medium tires for almost as long as Hamilton did. On lap 32, Red Bulls Star took second place against Leclerc on fresh hard tires. Williams driver George Russell, who was lapped on a train, was allowed to watch from the front row. Verstappen fended off a counterattack before turn eleven.
Vettel's inconspicuous race
Verstappen had no chance against Mercedes and Hamilton. Red Bull disappointed a little in terms of race speed. Verstappen quarreled several times about the driving behavior of his racing car. Nevertheless, the 22-year-old can be satisfied. With second place, Verstappen secured third place in the World Championship against Leclerc.
Ferrari changed tires twice. Both times the Italians tried their hand at the supreme discipline of a double stop. The first tryfailed. While the screwdrivers processed Leclerc in 2.9 seconds, Vettel's tire change from soft to medium took 6.9 seconds. It stuck in the front and back on the left.
Vettel drove an inconspicuous race. The four-time world champion did not say a word about the podium in his SF90. In the last race of the season, Vettel only finished fifth. Three laps before the finish line, the Ferrari driver still conceded Alexander Albon's Red Bull, who came in sixth before turn eleven.
Bottas almost lands on the podium
Valtteri Bottas showed a great ride . The Finn started the race from last place on the grid after his engine penalty. And the winner of the GP Abu Dhabi 2017 crossed the finish line in fourth place.
After just ten laps, the Finn had overtaken half of the field. Although he didn't have a DRS to support. A technical breakdown paralyzed the folding wing. Up to the 18th lap no car could use the DRS. Only then did the FIA solve the problem.
Bottas almost caught Leclerc. In the final laps the faster of the two Ferrari drivers in Abu Dhabi struggled with worn, soft tires. Bottas approached him to within nine tenths of a second. One more lap and Leclerc would have had to defend himself with difficulty.
No points for Hülkenberg
Lando Norris protected himself from an undercut with an early pit stop. The Englishman therefore had to stroke the hard tires over 48 laps. Norris implemented the tactic brilliantly. The youngster defended himself brilliantly against Sergio Perez on worn out tires. The Mexican only cracked the bulwark in the last lap and finished seventh.
Racing Point finished the season behind Renault and Toro Rosso in seventh place in the Team World Championship. Perez once again demonstrated his strengths in tire management. A long first part of the race on medium tires put him in a good starting position for the final sprint. There Perez showed that he can overtake too. The 29-year-old conceded the Renaults and McLarens.
Daniil Kvyat and Carlos Sainz completed the points. The Spaniard overtook Pierre Gasly in the final meters in the drivers' standings and secured sixth place in the World Championship. For Nico Hülkenberg there were no points in his last Grand Prix for the time being. The Rhinelander was twelfth behind his team mate Daniel Ricciardo.