Formula 1

Abu Dhabi GP: Hamilton coasts to eleventh win of 2019 season

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Lewis Hamilton - Formula 1 - 2019 Abu Dhabi GP
Credit: Octane Photographic Ltd.

Lewis Hamilton rounded off the 2019 Formula 1 season with his eleventh win of the year at the end of a dominant Abu Dhabi Grand Prix performance.

The world champion’s triumph also helped him to better his previous record of 408 points in a single season, set in 2018, and set another F1 benchmark with 413 points.

Max Verstappen battled through a minor power unit issue to take second for Red Bull Racing, ahead of Scuderia Ferrari‘s Charles Leclerc and the recovering Mercedes AMG Motorsport of Valtteri Bottas.

Hamilton was under no threat throughout the entirety of the 55-lap race at the Yas Marina Circuit, having started from pole position, finishing 16.7 seconds clear of his nearest rival at the chequered flag.

Leclerc looked to be the main contender to challenge Hamilton after breezing past Verstappen on the long back straight on the opening lap, utilising the Ferrari’s straightline superiority.

But, by the time lap seven came around, the Monegasque – who will be subject to a post-race investigation for fuel irregularities – stood 4.7s adrift of the lead Mercedes.

Around the same time, Verstappen started to report an issue with the smoothness of his Honda power unit at low revs; but Red Bull said it was powerless to provide a fix.

Ferrari decided to double-stack its drivers at the first round of pitstops on lap 12, Leclerc ahead of Sebastian Vettel, for a stint on the hard tyres – with the latter dropping to eighth after a sticking front left wheel.

Verstappen and Hamilton were told to extend their first stints in response on the medium compound tyres, and did so until laps 25 and 26, returning to the track in third and first respectively – sandwiching Leclerc.

Bottas, who started from the back of the grid after taking two fresh power units, had made his way through the field to fourth – unaided by the disablement of DRS due to a technical issue at the track electronics hub – and was the final frontrunner to pit for hards on lap 29, dropping back to sixth.

Ahead, Verstappen and Leclerc embarked on a scrap for second place – the Dutchman forcing Leclerc to back out of two manoeuvres at the chicanes of Turns 8 and 11.

Charles Leclerc & Max Verstappen - Formula 1 - 2019 Abu Dhabi GP
Credit: Octane Photographic Ltd.

Vettel’s decision to think about a second stop on lap 38 then triggered a wave of activity in the pitlane, with Leclerc and Vettel double-stacking again for soft and medium tyres.

That reignited hope of a podium for Bottas, as he moved past the second Red Bull of Alex Albon to reassume fourth place on lap 39.

Bottas was given qualifying power by Mercedes to close the considerable gap to Leclerc for the final nine laps, but couldn’t quite get within striking distance of the Ferrari and finished a mere 0.944s behind at the flag.

Vettel and Albon copied their team-mates in squabbling for position at the base of the top six, Vettel using his fresher tyres to good effect for fifth place.

Sergio Pérez squeezed past Lando Norris in the closing stages to finish in seventh place to secure seventh in the Constructors’ Championship for the Racing Point F1 Team.

Norris and Carlos Sainz Jr. scored points for the McLaren F1 Team in eighth and tenth, with Daniil Kvyat between the duo; Sainz Jr. winning the contest for sixth in the Drivers’ standings ahead of Pierre Gasly and Albon.

Nico Hülkenberg looked on course to leave F1 and the Renault F1 Team with a point in his last race, but fell to twelfth in the late melee.

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