Already locking up the championship a few weeks ago, Lewis Hamilton and the Mercedes-Benz driver had nothing to worry about but win. That’s exactly what the British driver accomplished at the Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix in Abu Dhabi. Hamilton qualified on the pole and led every lap from start to finish, to score his 11th win of the season.
“Honestly I’m proud, definitely, but just super grateful for this incredible team, to all at Mercedes who have continued to push this year,” the Mercedes driver said. “Who would have thought at the end of the year we’d have this strength in the race. Even though we had the championship won, I just really wanted to keep my head down and try to see if we could learn and if we could extend and extract more from this beautiful car, it’s a piece of art.
“Thank you for watching, thank you for supporting. I feel so happy”
As soon as lap 1, Hamilton jumped his lead to almost two seconds. With Hamilton setting the pace early, Red Bull’s Max Verstappen slid in second and set eyes on the leader. While Hamilton and Verstappen were breaking away from the field, Toro Rosso’s Pierre Gasly had to come to pit road to fix a missing wing to the No. 63 Williams FW42 / Mercedes M10 EQ Power+ machine. Just a few laps later, Hamilton set the fastest lap of the race at the moment with a time of 1:42.503.
Pit stops were taking place at the one-third part of the race. Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettle had a slow pit stop, as it appeared the left front tire was not on correctly. The issue cost Vettle a lot of ground to the leaders. With the rest of the field pitting, Hamilton was building his lead to well over 10 seconds ahead of second. At lap 26, second place Verstappen pits in hopes to out-best Hamilton.
Worried about a Safety Car, the British driver pits from the lead the next lap later. However, it was a slow pit stop for Hamilton’s No. 44 Mercedes-Benz team with a time of 3.1. He pitted for a set of hard tires. Despite some concerns about a Safety Car, Hamilton still came out as the leader after stops in front of Charles Leclerc. After the stops, the DRS was activated, meaning any driver could use this to his advantage in hopes of gaining more speed.
Even with the DRS, no one could touch the race leader Hamilton. However, one driver had his problem toward race end. SportPesa Racing Point F1 Team’s Lance Stroll had to retire from the race at lap 45, 10 laps before the checkered flag. A critical point in the race with Vettle and Alexander Albon. Both were racing side-by-side for a position with no driver willing to give up a spot. Finally, Vettle got the upper hand on Albon and passes him for fifth.
On the final lap of the race, Hamilton set another record for the Fastest Time of the Race with a 1:34.05.715. With a lead well over 16 seconds, the British driver went on to win his 84th career Formula 1 victory. The win puts Hamilton seven behind the All-Time wins list leader Michael Schumacher, who has 91 in his name.
“What a way to end the season,” Hamilton said on Twitter. “I’m so grateful to my team @MercedesAMGF1 for the hard work they have put in this year, constantly raising the bar. But above all, thank you #TeamLH for your support. The positivity you give me is overwhelming. I feel your love all around the world.”
- Lewis Hamilton, led all 55 laps, 26 points
- Max Verstappen, 18 points
- Charles Leclerc, 15 points
- Valtteri Bottas, 12 points
- Sebastian Vettel, 10 points
- Alexander Albon, eight points
- Sergio Perez, one lap down, six points
- Lando Norris, one lap down, four points
- Daniil Kvyat, one lap down, two points
- Carlos Sainz Jr, one lap down, one point
- Daniel Ricciardo, one lap down
- Nico Hulkenburg, one lap down
- Kimi Raikkonen, one lap down
- Kevin Magnussen, one lap down
- Romain Grosjean, one lap down
- Antonio Giovinazzi, one lap down
- George Russell, one lap down
- Pierre Gasly, two laps down
- Robert Kubica, two laps down
Up Next: It is now off-season for the Formula 1 drivers and team, and now will focus on the 2020 season entering a new decade. Though, before they get there, they will have a end-of-the-season test session from December 2-4. When the new decade arrives, another test session will take place at Circuit de Catalunya-Barcelona on February 19, 2020.
The first race of the new decade takes place on March 15 at the Australian Grand Prix.