World champion Hamilton wins season-ending Abu Dhabi GP

By: AP November 26,2018 - 09:15 PM

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates — World champion Lewis Hamilton coasted to victory from pole position at the year-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix on Sunday, and in doing so equaled his personal best for a season with his 11th win of the campaign.

Having already secured a fifth F1 title, the British Mercedes driver beat Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel at the Yas Marina circuit to secure the 73rd win of his career. He is contracted to Mercedes for the next two years at least, giving him a realistic chance of matching Michael Schumacher’s F1 record of 91 GP wins. Vettel is third all-time with 52, and did not look like adding to that in a race controlled by his rival.

“I wanted to finish on a high. The team has done an exceptional job all year,” said Hamilton, who stripped down to the waist on the podium and pointed to a tattoo on his back.

“I wanted to show `Still I Rise’ on my back,” said Hamilton, referring to a poem by writer and civil rights activist Maya Angelou.

It was a symbolic finish to a season where, again, Hamilton showed his superiority under pressure to beat Vettel into second place overall for the second straight year.

Red Bull driver Max Verstappen finished third in the race ahead of teammate Daniel Ricciardo for a fifth straight podium.

Verstappen overtook Hamilton’s teammate Valtteri Bottas to finish fourth overall behind Kimi Raikkonen, who retired early into his final race for Ferrari.

Verstappen and Ricciardo made light work of overtaking Bottas, who finished fifth, raising questions again about the Finnish driver’s ability to withstand pressure in a season where he has not won.

Veteran Spanish driver Fernando Alonso placed 11th with McLaren in his last F1 race with the team. The two-time F1 champion is pursuing other racing interests.

“It’s been an honor and a privilege to race in the same era as him,” Hamilton said. “The sport will miss him, we will miss him.”

The race was held up after a spectacular crash on Lap 1 involving French driver Romain Grosjean and Nico Hulkenberg, who was sent tumbling into the barriers and finally settled upside down. Hulkenberg was unharmed and eventually climbed out.

Grosjean has a reputation as one of F1’s more reckless — or adventurous — drivers. He caused the crash by clipping the right rear tire of Hulkenberg’s Renault, sending it tipping upward, barreling over and sliding on its back.

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