Hamilton ends 2019 on a high with dominant Abu Dhabi win

Verstappen 2nd, Ricciardo 3rd

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By Olivier Ferret

1 December 2019 - 15:58
Hamilton ends 2019 on a high with (...)

Lewis Hamilton capped a glorious 2019 campaign with an emphatic lights to flag victory in the season-closing Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, beating Red Bull’s Max Verstappen by more than 16 seconds, with Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc third.

Starting from his fifth pole position of the season, the six-time world champion led every lap of the race to score his 11thwin of the season and added fastest lap to seal the sixth grand chelem of his career. Only the legendary Jim Clark has more, with eight.

At the race start, Hamilton made a good start from P1 to lead into the first corner. Behind him Verstappen also got away well but quickly came under pressure from Ferrari’s fast-starting Leclerc. Verstappen defended but at the end of the long second straight, the Ferrari man swept past the red Bull to take P2.

Behind him Sebastian Vettel in the second Ferrari settled into fourth ahead of the second Red Bull of Alex Albon. The Thai driver came under pressure in the earlt laps from the McLarens of sixth-placed Lando Norris and Carlos Sainz who had passed Renault’s Daniel Ricciardo off the line to steal P7 but he was able to fend off the challenge and the field settled into the first stint. Norris opened the pit stop window for the leading soft tyre starters by shedding his starting tyres for hard compound Pirellis on lap eight and Ferrari pitted both its drivers at the end of lap 12. Leclerc’s stop for hard tyres went smoothly, there was a problem with Vettel’s front left wheel and the German lost timewhile the problem was rectified. Leclerc resumed in P4 behind Hamilton, Max and Alex, but Vettel slipped to seventh. Red Bull Racing then pitted Albon and the Thai driver rejoined just two seconds behind Vettel.

At the front, Hamilton and Verstappen continued to circulate their starting medium tyres and while others further back pitted, Valtteri Bottas, who had started from due to engine penalties, rose to fourth place behind Leclerc, with Vettel fifth and Albon sixth.

Verstappen eventually made his sole stop of the evening on lap 25, taking on hard tyres. He emerged in third place, though just four seconds behind Leclerc and on newer tyres. Mercedes then brought Hamilton in at the end of the next lap and with a sizeable gap back to Leclerc the Briton rejoined in the lead.

After his pit stop Verstappen began to report throttle problems in his car but despite the difficulty he quickly closed down Leclerc and on lap 32 muscled past the Ferrari down the inside into Turn 8. Leclerc fought back by trying to retake P2 around the outside into Turn 11 but Max held a strong line and Leclerc was forced to give up the fight.

Further back, Bottas was closing hard on the leaders and on lap 39 he reeled in Albon and charged past the Red Bull man. With the Finn on a charge, Ferrari opted to pit both its drivers on lap 38 and when they emerged, Leclerc found himself 29 seconds behind Verstappen, while Vettel was 18.6s behind of Albon.

Armed with new medium tyres, Vettel then closed on Albon and the penultimate lap the German powered past the Red Bull to settle for sixth place.

At the front, Hamilton marched on serenely and after 55 laps he crossed the line to take his 11thvictory ahead of Verstappen, for whom P2 ahead of the Ferrari of Charles Leclerc was enough to seal third place in the Drivers’ Championship. Fourth place went to Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas, with Vettel fifth ahead of Alex.

There was plenty of drama in the lower half of the top 10 on the final lap as Sergio Pérez passed Lando Norris for seventh place, while behind ninth-placed Daniil Kvyat, Carlos Sainz stole P10 from Daniel Ricciardo.

Pos.DriverCarGapPit
01 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes W10 55 laps - 1h34m05.715s 1
02 Max Verstappen Red Bull Honda RB15 +16.772 1
03 Charles Leclerc Ferrari SF90 +43.435 2
04 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes W10 +44.379 1
05 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari SF90 +64.357 2
06 Alex Albon Red Bull Honda RB15 +69.205 1
07 Sergio Pérez Racing Point Mercedes RP19 +1 lap 1
08 Lando Norris McLaren Renault MCL34 +1 lap 1
09 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso Honda STR14 +1 lap 1
10 Carlos Sainz McLaren Renault MCL34 +1 lap 2
11 Daniel Ricciardo Renault RS19 +1 lap 2
12 Nico Hülkenberg Renault RS19 +1 lap 1
13 Kimi Räikkönen Alfa Romeo Ferrari C38 +1 lap 1
14 Kevin Magnussen Haas Ferrari VF-19 +1 lap 1
15 Romain Grosjean Haas Ferrari VF-19 +1 lap 1
16 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo Ferrari C38 +1 lap 2
17 George Russell Williams Mercedes FW42 +1 lap 1
18 Pierre Gasly Toro Rosso Honda STR14 +2 laps 1
19 Robert Kubica Williams Mercedes FW42 +2 laps 1
20 Lance Stroll Racing Point Mercedes RP19 DNF 3

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