Bottas Leads Mercedes 1-2 in Abu Dhabi
ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates—R.I.S.—After leading the race Sunday evening at the final round of the season in Abu Dhabi, Valterri Bottas lead from the start, and following a pit stop on lap 24, regained the lead and never looked back as the Finn won the event by 3.8 seconds over teammate and current world champion Lewis Hamilton. Sebastian Vettel, who had a quiet race all evening, finished third for Ferrari.
"Of course Lewis was close and I knew all he was going to need was a proper mistake from me," Bottas said after the race to ESPN F1. “Of course he wanted to win so he would have taken the opportunity. I just needed to focus on my things, to get my stuff done so I went through the race corner by corner, lap by lap and there was no panic at any point. Of course I knew that he would need only one mistake, like Lewis said we both had one lock-up apiece but I guess this can happen, and it wasn't a big one."
Bottas led the race by no more than two and a half seconds over Hamilton by lap 17, and considering a tire stop on lap 24, Hamilton had to pit one lap as well which, forced Bottas back into the lead, to hold Hamilton’s late challenge to an average of 1.5 seconds before it increased laps before the finish.
While Mercedes were dominating up the front, the interesting battle was taking place for sixth, seventh and eighth in the constructor’s championship, where Toro Rosso had a two-point lead over Renault and four over the American Haas F1 Team.
Toro Rosso’s Brendon Hartley and Pierre Gasly took 15th and 16th, respectively, which gave them no points, while Haas did not fare any better as Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen finished in 11th and 13th. For Renault though, their luck was much better as Nico Hulkenberg’s sixth place finish was good enough to grab the top spot of the three in sixth place, with Toro Rosso next in seventh, followed by Haas in eighth, which ties last season’s best.
For the top ten on the grid besides Hulkenberg, Kimi Raikkonen took fourth in his Ferrari, just ahead of Max Verstappen. Force India capped off a great season, taking fourth overall in the constructor’s title, with Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon finishing seventh and eighth, respectively. Fernando Alonso ended the year off well by taking ninth, while Felipe Massa ended his formula one career finishing in the last point position in tenth.
Of the 20 drivers in the race, only two retired with Daniel Ricciardo out on lap 22 with a hydraulic failure and Carlos Sainz Jr. on lap 34 pulling off the track when the front left tire was not properly fitted onto the car.
For Bottas, it will be a great way to finish the season on a high, which will make him even more of a contender for his teammate next season.
“Next year I'll take it race by race but for sure this weekend has given me a lot of confidence.” He said. “I had good performance in qualifying and, for sure, today was very good. I'm really looking forward to next year, to see what it brings but I'll be working as hard as I can over the winter to try and have a strong one."
ABU DHABI GRAND PRIX
At Yas Marina Circuit
Final Race Results
1 Valterri Bottas (FIN) AMG Mercedes
2 Lewis Hamilton (GBR) AMG Mercedes- 3.8 seconds behind
3 Sebastian Vettel (GER) Ferrari
4 Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) Ferrari
5 Max Verstappen (NED) Red Bull Racing
6 Nico Hulkenberg (GER) Renault
7 Sergio Perez (MEX) Force India
8 Esteban Ocon (FRA) Force India
9 Fernando Alonso (SPA) McLaren-Honda
10 Felipe Massa (BRA) Williams Martini Racing
11 Romain Grosjean (FRA) Haas F1 Team
12 Stoffel Vandoorne (BEL) McLaren-Honda
13 Kevin Magnussen (DEN) Haas F1 Team
14 Pascal Wehrlein (GER) Sauber
15 Brendon Hartley (NZL) Toro Rosso
16 Pierre Gasly (FRA) Toro Rosso
17 Markus Ericsson (SWE) Sauber
18 Lance Stroll (CDN) Williams Martini Racing
19 Carlos Sainz Jr. (SPA) Renault – loose tire malfunction-lap 34
20 Daniel Ricciardo (AUS) Red Bull Racing—Hydraulics- lap 22
A 16 year veteran of writing formula one racing weekend race reports, features and team launches, Mark has worked for such companies as all-sports, e-sports, The Munich Eye newspaper in Germany, racingnation.com and Autoweek. A former member for this site four years ago, Mark now is a contributor for R.I.S.