Formula 1

2017 Abu Dhabi GP: Bottas coasts to third victory of the season

3 Mins read
Credit: Octane Photographic Ltd.

Valtteri Bottas took a comfortable third win of the season to round off 2017 at the Yas Marina Circuit in a largely uneventful race.

The Finn led his Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula 1 Team colleague Lewis Hamilton for the majority of the race as the duo controlled proceedings – taking Mercedes’ fourth one-two of the season, nineteen seconds ahead of Scuderia Ferrari‘s Sebastian Vettel.

Hamilton pressed Bottas towards the end of the race, but never looked close to making a solid move after Bottas held his pole position into Turn 1, the gap between the two standing at 3.8 seconds at the flag.

Bottas held Hamilton at arms length until the sole pitstops, as the two streaked away from the struggling Ferrari of Vettel who was to endure a lonely race.

Bottas was the first Mercedes to stop, briefly dropping to second as Hamilton extended his ultra-soft stint a further three laps. Despite some consistent and impressive pace, the world champion could not overthrow his team-mate, the gap restoring its pre-pit-stop state.

On the super-soft tyres, Hamilton found some additional pace, managing to creep inside DRS range of Bottas, but two costly lock-ups at Turn 17 on successive laps as sunset turned to night put paid to any potential advances being made.

Hamilton had the presence of mind both times to ease off of the brakes, preventing a flat-spotted right front tyre, utilising the plentiful tarmac run-off to recover.

As the race entered its closing stages, Hamilton tried one final surge, however Bottas responded with the fastest lap of the race after the two dispatched the last of the lapped runners.

That burst was enough to open up the gap to give him adequate breathing space, ensuring that the last three laps of the year were a formality.

Vettel took an unchallenged third, with Kimi Räikkönen a distant 26 seconds behind in fourth.

Daniel Ricciardo may have taken the fight to the leading Ferrari, but the Red Bull Racing driver retired on lap 20 with hydraulic failure, moments after an unscheduled stop sparked by a brush with the Turn 19 wall. Partnered with Räikkönen’s fourth place, the Australian ceded his fourth place in the Drivers’ Championship.

Max Verstappen kept Räikkönen honest but was stifled by the Finnish veteran, only able to take fifth place.

Despite a controversy-riddled race, Nico Hülkenberg‘s sixth place moved the Renault Sport Formula One Team above Scuderia Toro Rosso in the Constructors’ Championship. Hülkenberg received a five second time penalty for passing former team-mate Sergio Pérez off the track at the Turn 11,12 and 13 complex, but managed to extend his buffer to seventh placed Pérez by enough to keep the eight points.

His current team-mate, Carlos Sainz Jr., saw his otherwise promising race end prematurely on lap 31 courtesy of a botched pit-stop, his left front tyre coming loose in the unique pit exit, forcing the Spaniard to retire from a points position at Turn 5.

Pérez had to overcome his frustrations to beat Esteban Ocon to seventh, as the Sahara Force India F1 Team enjoyed yet another double points finish.

Honda and McLaren saw their partnership end on a largely unrepresentative high, Fernando Alonso‘s ninth place helping McLaren enter a new stage in their history with Renault with points. Stoffel Vandoorne couldn’t join his team-mate, finishing in twelfth after having troubles with rear grip.

Felipe Massa ended his second or third(?) Formula 1 career with tenth place and a solitary point for Williams Martini Racing – his fourth points finish in his last five races, but Lance Stroll‘s antithetical race saw one Williams car prop up the rest of the field, suffering with various problems throughout the evening.

Romain Grosjean spent a lot of his race battling with Stroll for 13th place, but the Frenchman eventually made it up to 11th. His Haas F1 Team partner Kevin Magnussen spun at Turn 3 on a scrappy first lap by the Dane, making his way back to 13th, coming under late pressure from Sauber F1 Team‘s Pascal Wehrlein.

Wehrlein thought he’d made it past Magnussen in the latter stages, but his advantage didn’t last long. Marcus Ericsson also had some fun, breezing past Stroll with consummate ease as the Canadian slowed coming out of the Turn 7 hairpin.

Toro Rosso not only saw Renault pinch their spot in the Constructors’ Championship, but failed to make any meaningful impact on the race. Both Pierre Gasly and Brendon Hartley have had trying starts to their Formula 1 careers, battling with the Saubers and Magnussen towards the end.

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DTM, Formula 1 writer and deputy editor for The Checkered Flag. Autosport Academy member and freelance voice over artist.
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