BOTTAS BEATS THE NEW CHAMP
Mercedes trounce Ferrari at season finale
1st VALTTERI BOTTAS Mercedes
2nd LEWIS HAMILTON Mercedes
3rd SEBASTIAN VETTEL Ferrari
Bottas’s first Q3 run was a scorcher and proved unbeatable, even by Hamilton. Unlike Brazil, Valtteri held his pole advantage into turn 1, resisted Hamilton’s close race-long attentions, and led home a Mercedes 1-2 for his third victory. Valtteri pulled a gap of 2.6s by his lap 21 tyre-stop, Hamilton’s attempted overcut – staying out three laps longer – foiled by waved yellows and traffic. But once on super-softs, Lewis exerted intense pressure on his teammate. On lap 30 he came within two car’s lengths under braking for turn 8 before making a brief off-track excursion. Later, with just five to go, Hamilton got even closer after a small Bottas lock-up at the turn 5/6 chicane, but even with DRS, passing an equally matched car around Yas Marina is impossible unless the leader gets it badly wrong. On lap 51 Lewis posted his fastest lap, but Bottas replied by going even quicker to take fastest lap along with pole and victory, his mid-season slump clearly over. Behind the warring Mercedes pair, the Ferraris finished 19s and 45s in arrears, a sobering conclusion to their season. As too for Red Bull, Verstappen finishing P5 while another technical DNF for Ricciardo handed Räikkönen a barely deserved P4 in the point’s standings. The other last gasp change was Renault pinching P6 from Toro Rosso, Hülkenberg finishing an impressive P6 despite a 5s penalty for blatantly passing Pérez off-track. On his 269th and last start, Massa scored a point.
Bottas’ fine head-to-head win over Hamilton wasn’t enough to snatch second from Vettel in the point’s table. Indeed, Lewis excluded, Valtteri would not have beaten Seb to the title. Denying Mercedes a fourth 1-2 in the Drivers’ title fight was an achievement from which Vettel and Ferrari should take great encouragement. As for Lewis, his sparkling season ended on a curious note, once more unable to win a race after sealing the title!
The Championship Chase (Final Standings)
Hamilton 363, Vettel 317, Bottas 305, Räikkönen 205, Ricciardo 200
Mercedes 668, Ferrari 522, Red Bull 368, Force India 187, Williams 83
Formula 1 All the Races