Lewis Hamilton finished the 2019 Formula 1 season with a dominant victory at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, having never looked like surrender the lead from start to finish.
The were question marks over the legality of Charles Leclerc’s Ferrari at the start of the race as his car was reported to the stewards for a fuel issue ahead of the race. The matter will be investigated after the race, meaning he headed into the event unsure whether his car is legal or not.
Pierre Gasly’s hopes of holding on to sixth in the drivers’ championship were dealt an early blow when he and Lance Stroll had a coming together, leaving the Toro Rosso driver with a broken front wing. The Canadian also had to come in for an early pitstop, dropping both to the back of the field.
Valtteri Bottas started at the back of the grid due to an engine penalty, but he made quick progress through the field to find himself running in the points just 10 laps into proceedings.
A technical issue meant the drivers were without DRS for the first 20 laps of the race, allowing Nico Hulkenberg to back up the midfield after staying out longer than those around him. Once the problem was fixed, Renault immediately called the German into the pits, freeing the likes of Bottas and the already-pitted Sebastian Vettel.
There was little change at the front of the field during the pitstops, but Bottas’s strong pace in the early part of the race and a gap behind him meant Mercedes were able to bring him in later and keep him in 6th place, as well as being on fresher tyres than those ahead.
Max Verstappen lost out to Charles Leclerc off the start line, but looked to be catching the Monegasque driver in the second half of the race, although the Red Bull driver complained of engine trouble. The issues didn’t seem to be slowing him down though, as Verstappen charged past the Ferrari driver to reclaim second, and tighten his grip on third in the drivers’ standings, ahead of Leclerc.
Both Ferrari drivers came in for a second pit stop as Bottas closed up to the leaders. Leclerc managed to stay ahead of the Finn, who also cruised past Alexander Albon to move up to fourth. The Mercedes driver continued to close the gap to the final place on the podium, and looked like he’d catch Leclerc in the final few corners of the race, but Leclerc did just enough to defend and cross the line third, although he awaits the decision on the stewards.
Stroll’s first lap incident with Gasly meant he was the only driver to retire from the race, with Racing Point calling the Canadian in to park up with just seven laps remaining.
A late fast-lap effort from Hamilton also handed him the racing lap record for Yas Marina, breaking the effort set by Vettel in F1’s first visit to this track in 2009.
1 Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes)
2. Max Verstappen (Red Bull)
3. Charles Leclerc (Ferrari)*
4. Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes)
5. Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari)
6. Alexander Albon (Red Bull)
7. Sergio Perez (Racing Point)
8. Lando Norris (McLaren)
9. Daniil Kvyat (Toro Rosso)
10. Carlos Sainz (McLaren)
11. Daniel Ricciardo (Renault)
12. Nico Hulkenberg (Renault)
13. Kimi Raikkonen (Alfa Romeo)
14. Kevin Magnussen (Haas)
15. Romain Grosjean (Haas)
16. Antonio Giovinazzi (Alfa Romeo)
17. George Russell (Williams)
18. Pierre Gasly (Toro Rosso)
19. Robert Kubica (Williams)
Lance Stroll (Racing Point)
*Leclerc remains under investigation for a fuel discrepancy.