Lewis Hamilton went unchallenged en route to victory in Sunday’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix as he closed out the season with an 11th victory for Mercedes.

Hamilton started from pole and led every lap of the race at the Yas Marina Circuit to end his sixth championship year on a high, finishing more than 17 seconds clear of the field.

Hamilton was able to retain his advantage over Red Bull’s Max Verstappen off the line before creating a gap over the field through the opening stint, dropping the Dutchman into the clutches of the Ferrari drivers behind.

Low tyre degradation allowed Hamilton to complete a long first stint, covering off Verstappen with a stop on Lap 26 before emerging still leading.

Despite airing concerns about a Safety Car coming out, Hamilton’s fears were ultimately unfounded, allowing him to cruise to the flag, recording the fastest lap with three to go to pick up the bonus point and complete a Grand Slam (pole, fastest lap, win, lead every lap).

Hamilton ends the season with a record number of points – 413 – as well as equalling his personal best for the most wins in a year, matching the 11 he scored in 2014 and 2018.

Verstappen was able to win the battle for second despite losing a place to Charles Leclerc on the opening lap, completing a longer first stint than his Ferrari rival before passing with fresher tyres in the second half of the race.

Leclerc completed the podium after being moved onto a two-stop strategy late in the race to fend off the recovering Valtteri Bottas, who charged from the back of the grid to finish the race fourth for Mercedes.

But Bottas may yet move onto the podium as Leclerc remains under investigation for a pre-race fuel breach by Ferrari that looks set to result in the Monegasque’s disqualification.

Sebastian Vettel finished the race fifth for Ferrari after also being placed on a two-stop strategy, passing Red Bull’s Alexander Albon with three laps to go for the position. Vettel was left unhappy with Albon’s initial defence, calling it “borderline”, but still took the place regardless.

Sergio Perez won the midfield fight for Racing Point after a last-lap pass on Lando Norris, grabbing seventh after a long first stint gave him fresher tyres for the run to the flag. A similar strategy allowed Daniil Kvyat to battle up to ninth for Toro Rosso ahead of Norris’s McLaren teammate, Carlos Sainz, who took P10 on the last lap.

Daniel Ricciardo and Nico Hulkenberg finished 11th and 12th for Renault, with Hulkenberg losing two positions on the final lap of the race to drop out of the points on his final appearance for the team.

Kimi Raikkonen finished 13th for Alfa Romeo ahead of the Haas pair of Kevin Magnussen and Romain Grosjean, with Antonio Giovinazzi taking 16th.

Williams’s George Russell finished 17th ahead of Pierre Gasly, who was left running at the back for Toro Rosso following a first-lap clash with the Racing Point drivers, eventually finishing 18th.

Robert Kubica took 19th in his final appearance for Williams, while Lance Stroll was the only retirement of the race for Racing Point.

 

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