YAS ISLAND, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates — Valtteri Bottas led teammate Lewis Hamilton home in Sunday’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. Bottas led all but three laps in the race to take his third win of the season.
“There was a lot of pressure from Lewis from behind throughout the entire race,” Bottas said. “I knew that one proper mistake could have ruined it. I had to keep my head down and go lap by lap.”
“Of course, it would have been nice to get the second place in the championship, but Sebastian had a good weekend as well. Looking at the overall season, I need to perform better; but I’m very pleased with how the end of the season has been going for me. I’m really happy to be part of the team that won the constructors’ championship. Mercedes has given me the opportunity to win a few races and claim a few pole positions, so I’m a really proud team member. However, I was hoping for an overall better result in the drivers’ point. I’ve learned a lot this season, so now I’m really looking forward to next year. This weekend shows that I can perform, I can be on pole and win races. So now I need to try and do it more often next year.
Bottas and Hamilton locked out the front row of the grid in qualifying for Mercedes. Sebastian Vettel was third, with Daniel Ricciardo and Kimi Raikkonen rounding out the top five.
Bottas got a good start, with Hamilton second. Kevin Magnussen spun in his Haas, losing only time. Bottas was 1.292 seconds ahead of Hamilton at the end of lap one.
Nico Hulkenberg got a five-second penalty for cutting the track and gaining an advantage on Sergio Perez on the first lap.
Lance Stroll was the first to pit on lap 12, and switched to supersoft tires. Max Verstappen was the first of the leaders to pit on lap 14, coming in from sixth. Verstappen rejoined in ninth.
Pierre Gasly spun on lap 17, but kept going. Ricciardo pitted on lap 19 after a puncture, but had a hydraulic failure and retired on the next lap.
Bottas pitted on lap 21, handing Hamilton the lead. Bottas came out behind Hamilton, with Vettel third and Raikkonen fourth. Hamilton pitted on lap 24, handing the lead back to Bottas which he would hold until the end.
Hamilton was pushing, however, and ran off the road trying to pass Bottas on lap 31. Hamilton rejoined, but was not going to challenge Bottas again. Bottas set the fastest lap on lap 52, completing a fine run.
Carlos Sainz came out of the pits with the front-left wheel falling off, causing him to retire. This put Renault’s chances for sixth place in the Constructors’ Championship in danger of losing to Toro Rosso.
Bottas beat Hamilton by 3.8 seconds. Sebastian Vettel had a quiet race to finish third, 19.3 seconds behind Bottas. The podium finish sealed the runner-up spot in the points for Vettel, who beat Bottas by 12 points.
“I was pretty lonely for most of the race, trying to save a bit of fuel in the first part of the final stint,” Vettel said. “It was not very exciting, but that’s how it goes sometimes! The results have been worse than they could have been, but in the end we weren’t strong enough.”
“However, it’s against the spirit of Ferrari to give up. I am sure we have a lot of things to improve and the people are very motivated. So, I am looking forward to next season. We had our chances and we took them, but we also made little mistakes here and there and I am sure they won’t happen anymore. I think we didn’t lose the Championship in any particular race; you just race and collect all the points, and in our case we didn’t have enough. I promise to push next year and do my best together with the whole team, and then we’ll see. This year we improved massively on the car; the chassis has been really strong since the first day. We made some major steps on the engine, but we still need to find some more power compared to our competitors. However, the most important thing is to focus on where we want to be as a team.”
Kimi Raikkonen and Max Verstappen rounded out the top five for Ferrari and Red Bull respectively. Nico Hulkenberg finished sixth for Renault, sealing the sixth spot in the Constructors’ title over Toro Rosso by four points. Perez and Esteban Ocon finished seventh and eighth for Force India, a good way to end out the season.
Fernando Alonso finished ninth in McLaren’s last race with Honda, while Felipe Massa picked up the final point of his Formula 1 career in 10th. Massa said
“It’s a great feeling. I can say I am really proud of everything I’ve achieved, all 16 years and all the amazing races, and the great people I met in the paddock, racing against the best drivers in the world,” Massa said. “To be honest, I’m very lucky to have had all of this in my life so thanks to my family and to god for all of these amazing opportunities. The race was good, I was fighting from the beginning to the end. Unfortunately, we lost the position after the pitstop but I’m really happy overall.”
1. Valtteri Bottas
2. Lewis Hamilton
3. Sebastian Vettel
4. Kimi Raikkonen
5. Max Verstappen
6. Nico Hulkenberg
7. Sergio Perez
8. Esteban Ocon
9. Fernando Alonso
10. Felipe Massa
11. Romain Grosjean
12. Stoffel Vandoorne
13. Kevin Magnussen
14. Pascal Wehrlein
15. Brendon Hartley
16. Pierre Gasly
17. Marcus Ericsson
18. Lance Stroll
19. Carlos Sainz
20. Daniel Ricciardo