Sebastian Vettel says he was left in "no man's land" during Sunday's Abu Dhabi Grand Prix as he failed to put up a fight to Mercedes Formula 1 drivers Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton at the front of the field, leaving him third at the chequered flag.

Vettel arrived in Abu Dhabi riding high after winning two weeks ago in Brazil, but was left to settle for P3 in both qualifying and the race as Mercedes pulled clear at the Yas Marina Circuit.

Vettel endured a lonely race to third on Sunday, finishing 15 seconds behind Hamilton in P2 and 26 seconds clear of Ferrari teammate Kimi Raikkonen in fourth, and explained he was simply unable to keep pace with the leading Mercedes cars.

"The first couple of laps I thought it was pretty good but then I had to let them go. I couldn’t go with the pace that they had," Vettel said.

"After that I think I settled into a rhythm but I was on my own and the gap was quite big so I could close a bit in the final stages, but it didn’t really matter because we were a bit in no man’s land.

"Overall I think it’s been a good race, the second stint for me was better. But we lost the connection in the race in the first stint. Yeah, would have liked to be a bit more in the fight today to put those two under pressure.

"I’m obviously happy with the podium, it was a good result. Strong result for the team, third and fourth. But overall not where we wanted to be."

The result saw Vettel clinch second place in the drivers' championship ahead of race-winner Bottas, and despite the title defeat, the Ferrari driver felt there were plenty of positives to take out of the campaign.

"I would’ve preferred to win today, it would’ve done the same for the driver’s championship but still, obviously I think there’s lots of positives to take from this season," Vettel said.

"Overall, it’s been a good day."

 

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