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F1 - Bottas closes out Formula One season with victory ahead of Hamilton

Vettel 3rd in Abu Dhabi

26 November 2017 - 15h50, by Olivier Ferret 

Valtteri Bottas claimed his third victory of the year, beating Mercedes team-mate and four-time world champion Lewis Hamilton by just under four seconds at the final race of the 2017 FIA Formula One World Championship, the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. Sebastian Vettel finished third for Ferrari.

At the start Bottas got away cleanly from pole position and took the lead ahead of Hamilton, Vettel and Ricciardo who all retained their starting positions. Behind them Max Verstappen in the second Red Bull closed on Ferrari’s Kimi Räikkönen and made two aggressive attempts to pass the Finn. The second almost succeeded but in the end the Dutchman backed out of the attack and Räikkönen held fifth as they crossed the line at the end of lap one.

Further back Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg went off track and rejoined in seventh place ahead of Force India’s Sergio Perez who had got ahead at the start. The German was promptly handed a five-second time penalty for gaining an advantage.

The order then settled and by lap 10 Bottas had eked out a two-second advantage over Hamilton, with the British driver 2.7s clear of Vettel. Ricciardo was also managing to pull away from Räikkönen who was now 3.9s in arrears to the Australian.

That order remained the same through the first pit stops, though not for long afterwards. Following regulations stops for Verstappen, Räikkönen, Vettel and Bottas, Ricciardo dived towards the pit entry earlier than expected saying he suspected he had a puncture.

He took on supersofts tyres and rejoined in P4 but the real problem soon became clear. “I think I’m losing power steering,” he reported and then almost immediately drove off track and stopped at Turn 5, his race over.

At the front Hamilton was the last of the front runners to pit and his stop once again boosted Bottas into the lead. The Finn now led his team-mate by just over a second, but Vettel was now a sizeable 11.4s behind in third. Following Ricciardo’s retirement Räikkönen was promoted to third, 1.5s ahead of Verstappen in the sole remaining Red Bull.

Force India’s Esteban Ocon was sixth ahead of the Renaults of Carlos Sainz and Hulkenberg. Sainz needed to make a first pit stop, and he did that on lap 31, in tandem with the sixth-placed Force India of Esteban Ocon.

While Ocon rejoined in P8, there was a problem for Sainz. His crew failed to attach his front left wheel correctly and the Spaniard barely it made out of the pit tunnel and back on track. He quickly pulled over and retired.

The stops, though, boosted Hulkenberg to P6, a position that if held would earn Renault eight points and elevate them to in the Constructors’ standings, above Toro Rosso, whose drivers, Brendon Hartley and Pierre Gasly, were lingering in P15 and P16 respectively.

And there the order stagnated. At the front Bottas had a solid 1.7s advantage over Hamilton on lap 43, with Vettel a further 20 seconds back. He was followed by Raikkonen and Verstappen, while Hulkenberg was now secure in sixth place some seven seconds ahead of Perez.

And that was how it ended, with Bottas eventually taking his third victory of the season almost four seconds clear of Hamilton and almost 20 seconds ahead of Vettel, whose third place means he finishes as runner-up to Hamilton in the Drivers’ standings, 12 points ahead of Bottas. Raikkonen’s fourth place, coupled with Ricciardo’s retirement boosts the Finn ahead of the Australian, to fourth in the Drivers’ table.

Further back Hulkenberg held sixth place to hand Renault the same place in the teams’ standings. Perez was seventh for Force India ahead of team-mate Ocon, while Fernando Alonso handed two points to McLaren and Honda in the final race for the team and engine manufacturer as partners. Finally, Felipe Massa scored a point on his final race in Formula 1, with the Brazilian retiring after 269 F1 starts.

01 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes AMG 55 laps - 1h34m14.063s 1
02 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes AMG +3.899 1
03 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari +19.330 1
04 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari +45.386 1
05 Max Verstappen Red Bull Tag Heuer +46.269 1
06 Nico Hulkenberg Renault F1 +85.713 1
07 Sergio Perez Force India Mercedes +92.062 1
08 Esteban Ocon Force India Mercedes +98.911 1
09 Fernando Alonso McLaren Honda +1 lap 1
10 Felipe Massa Williams Mercedes +1 lap 1
11 Romain Grosjean Haas Ferrari +1 lap 1
12 Stoffel Vandoorne McLaren Honda +1 lap 1
13 Kevin Magnussen Haas Ferrari +1 lap 1
14 Pascal Wehrlein Sauber Ferrari +1 lap 1
15 Brendon Hartley Toro Rosso Renault +1 lap 1
16 Pierre Gasly Toro Rosso Renault +1 lap 1
17 Marcus Ericsson Sauber Ferrari +1 lap 1
18 Lance Stroll Williams Mercedes +1 lap 3
19 Carlos Sainz Renault F1 DNF 1
20 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull Tag Heuer DNF 1

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