Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton closed the 2018 Formula 1 season with a win in Abu Dhabi GP from Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel while Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen was third.
It was an incident-filled opening lap in the final race of the 2018 season with Hamilton leading the way from Bottas and Vettel. The two Red Bull drivers lost places with Max Verstappen dropping to the lower end of the Top 10 even.
But before anyone could settle into position, a contact between Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg and Haas’ Romain Grosjean sent the German into multiple flip and onto the barrier upside down with the car on fire then.
Hulkenberg couldn’t get out immediately as the marshals pulled down the car to extract him out. He was taken into the medical center with the safety car deployed. On re-start, Hamilton led Bottas and Vettel but the fight was on for Verstappen.
The Dutchman found himself in a Force India sandwich with Esteban Ocon in front and Sergio Perez behind. Verstappen found his way past Ocon but the Frenchman passed him with Perez following suit.
Verstappen re-took the place from Perez and Ocon as well but the Frenchman fought back again. The Dutchman eventually bumped his way to take track position from Ocon as the Virtual Safety Car was deployed when Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen came to a halt.
The team tried for the Finn to re-start the car but it was totally shutdown as his Ferrari career came to an unfortunate end. The VSC period saw Mercedes go for a gamble with Mercedes pitting along with Sauber’s Charles Leclerc and Grosjean.
The usual pit stop saga started when Vettel stopped on Lap 16 with Bottas doing it on Lap 17 and Verstappen on Lap 18 – the order though remained the same as Daniel Ricciardo became the new race leader.
Behind, the Force India drivers had to push for team orders as Perez was given the preference due to him starting on a fresh set to Ocon. The order remained the same with Ricciardo going deep in his stint.
It started to rain midway in the race but it wasn’t enough to wet the track or drivers needing to stop for intermediates. Hamilton regained lead from Bottas and Vettel after Ricciardo pitted on Lap 34 to drop to fifth.
But Bottas couldn’t hang at second for long as Vettel pounced on him to take second in his chase for Hamilton. The Finn was immediately under pressure from Verstappen. In the fight, he missed Turn 9 but the Dutchman anyways took the place on track.
The two touched in the left-hander as Verstappen went by as Ricciardo soon found his way through as well for fourth. Bottas was forced to pit due to a possible damage to his rims. His teammate though continued to lead the way in the race.
Hamilton went on to score his 11th win of the season in Abu Dhabi – ending his title-winning campaign in style with Vettel ending up second from Verstappen to complete the podium while Ricciardo ended his Red Bull career in fourth.
The best of the rest honours went to Renault’s Carlos Sainz who had a supreme race and strategy to be sixth – also ending his Renault stint with Leclerc defending eighth from Perez in the closing stages.
Haas scored a double points finish with Grosjean in ninth and Kevin Magnussen 10th while a late charge and retirements did not help McLaren’s Fernando Alonso to score a point with him finishing 11th.
The Spaniard had a five-second penalty which further hampered his chances. Toro Rosso’s Brendon Hartley was 12th despite an early hit with the barrier in Turn 19 with Williams’ Lance Stroll 13th, McLaren’s Stoffel Vandoorne 14th and Williams’ Sergey Sirotkin 15th.
It was a disappointing end to Ocon’s race when he was running points with suspected oil on his tyres while Toro Rosso’s Pierre Gasly also retiring late due to engine issues – as they joined Sauber’s Marcus Ericsson, Raikkonen and Hulkenberg in retirement list.