2018: Round 21/21, Abu Dhabi GP, Yas Marina


Champion driver and champion team make it look easy

1st      LEWIS HAMILTON        Mercedes

2nd     SEBASTIAN VETTEL    Ferrari

3rd      MAX VERSTAPPEN      Red Bull

Hamilton and Mercedes rounded out their championship season to perfection. Well almost, Bottas fading from P2 on lap 34 to finish P5, braking issues blamed for a result that handed Verstappen fourth in the points table. His lacklustre display served to emphasise the flawless nature of Hamilton’s 11th victory: assured pole, superb start, clear-cut SC and VSC restarts, and unfazed by Vettel’s attempt to exert pressure in the closing laps. This seemed to sum up Seb’s season, ‘close, but not close enough’. Much of the on-track action involved Max Verstappen, recovering from P9 on lap 1 when a malfunction spoiled his start. Max contributed to a race that contained a fair amount of floodlit wheel-to-wheel action, especially the tussle with his Interlagos nemesis Esteban Ocon for P8. Spectacular as Max’s chosen passing places were, car-on-car contact occurred both with Ocon on lap 6, and in his later pass of Bottas for P3 on lap 38, but neither troubled the Stewards. In his Red Bull swansong, Ricciardo, with a long lap-33 first stint, closed rapidly on Verstappen, but by the nature of 2018 racing, had to trail him home over the last 20 laps. Räikkönen’s Ferrari farewell was equally low key, a lap 6 DNF triggering a VSC. This was when Lewis’s team guaranteed him victory, a VSC pit-stop worth 10s in race time. Hülkenberg’s first lap barrel rolling crash reopened questions about ‘halo’, but Nico still won the ‘best of the rest’ title.

A nice post-race touch saw departing Fernando Alonso join Hamilton and Vettel at the finish for triple synchronised donuts, these three accounting for 11 titles in the last 13 seasons. With both championships settled, a general end-of-term feeling was also evident on track with Ocon’s and Gasly’s power units failing to complete the season. Ironically, Verstappen was ‘blinded’ by oil from the Honda PU of his future team-mate!

The Championship Chase
Hamilton 408, Vettel 320, Räikkönen 251, Verstappen 249, Bottas 247

Mercedes 655, Ferrari 571, Red Bull 419, Renault 122, Haas 93

Formula 1 All the Races