Lewis Hamilton capped a glorious 2019 campaign with an emphatic lights to flag victory in the season-closing Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, beating Red Bull’s Max Verstappen by more than 16 seconds, with Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc third.
Starting from his fifth pole position of the season, the six-time world champion led every lap of the race to score his 11thwin of the season and added fastest lap to seal the sixth grand chelem of his career. Only the legendary Jim Clark has more, with eight.
At the race start, Hamilton made a good start from P1 to lead into the first corner. Behind him Verstappen also got away well but quickly came under pressure from Ferrari’s fast-starting Leclerc. Verstappen defended but at the end of the long second straight, the Ferrari man swept past the red Bull to take P2.
Behind him Sebastian Vettel in the second Ferrari settled into fourth ahead of the second Red Bull of Alex Albon. The Thai driver came under pressure in the earlt laps from the McLarens of sixth-placed Lando Norris and Carlos Sainz who had passed Renault’s Daniel Ricciardo off the line to steal P7 but he was able to fend off the challenge and the field settled into the first stint. Norris opened the pit stop window for the leading soft tyre starters by shedding his starting tyres for hard compound Pirellis on lap eight and Ferrari pitted both its drivers at the end of lap 12. Leclerc’s stop for hard tyres went smoothly, there was a problem with Vettel’s front left wheel and the German lost timewhile the problem was rectified. Leclerc resumed in P4 behind Hamilton, Max and Alex, but Vettel slipped to seventh. Red Bull Racing then pitted Albon and the Thai driver rejoined just two seconds behind Vettel.
At the front, Hamilton and Verstappen continued to circulate their starting medium tyres and while others further back pitted, Valtteri Bottas, who had started from due to engine penalties, rose to fourth place behind Leclerc, with Vettel fifth and Albon sixth.
Verstappen eventually made his sole stop of the evening on lap 25, taking on hard tyres. He emerged in third place, though just four seconds behind Leclerc and on newer tyres. Mercedes then brought Hamilton in at the end of the next lap and with a sizeable gap back to Leclerc the Briton rejoined in the lead.
After his pit stop Verstappen began to report throttle problems in his car but despite the difficulty he quickly closed down Leclerc and on lap 32 muscled past the Ferrari down the inside into Turn 8. Leclerc fought back by trying to retake P2 around the outside into Turn 11 but Max held a strong line and Leclerc was forced to give up the fight.
Further back, Bottas was closing hard on the leaders and on lap 39 he reeled in Albon and charged past the Red Bull man. With the Finn on a charge, Ferrari opted to pit both its drivers on lap 38 and when they emerged, Leclerc found himself 29 seconds behind Verstappen, while Vettel was 18.6s behind of Albon.
Armed with new medium tyres, Vettel then closed on Albon and the penultimate lap the German powered past the Red Bull to settle for sixth place.
At the front, Hamilton marched on serenely and after 55 laps he crossed the line to take his 11thvictory ahead of Verstappen, for whom P2 ahead of the Ferrari of Charles Leclerc was enough to seal third place in the Drivers’ Championship. Fourth place went to Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas, with Vettel fifth ahead of Alex.
There was plenty of drama in the lower half of the top 10 on the final lap as Sergio Pérez passed Lando Norris for seventh place, while behind ninth-placed Daniil Kvyat, Carlos Sainz stole P10 from Daniel Ricciardo.
2019 FIA Formula 1 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix – Race
1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 55 1:34’05.715
2 Max Verstappen Red Bull/Honda 55 1:34’22.487 16.772
3 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 55 1:34’49.150 43.435
4 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 55 1:34’50.094 44.379
5 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 55 1:35’10.072 1:04.357
6 Alexander Albon Red Bull/Honda 55 1:35’14.920 1:09.205
7 Sergio Pérez Racing Point/Mercedes 54 1:34’30.618 1 Lap
8 Lando Norris McLaren/Renault 54 1:34’31.979 1 Lap
9 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso/Honda 54 1:34’33.236 1 Lap
10 Carlos Sainz Jr. McLaren/Renault 54 1:34’36.836 1 Lap
11 Daniel Ricciardo Renault 54 1:34’37.737 1 Lap
12 Nico Hülkenberg Renault 54 1:34’39.094 1 Lap
13 Kimi Räikkönen Alfa Romeo/Ferrari 54 1:34’46.495 1 Lap
14 Kevin Magnussen Haas/Ferrari 54 1:35’01.495 1 Lap
15 Romain Grosjean Haas/Ferrari 54 1:35’20.467 1 Lap
16 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo/Ferrari 54 1:35’32.482 1 Lap
17 George Russell Williams/Mercedes 54 1:35’43.499 1 Lap
18 Pierre Gasly Toro Rosso/Honda 53 1:34’17.001 2 Laps
19 Robert Kubica Williams/Mercedes 53 1:34’29.473 2 Laps
Lance Stroll Racing Point/Mercedes 45 1:20’12.929 Brakes