Bottas victorious in Abu Dhabi season finale as Mercedes dominate

Valtteri Bottas took a lights-to-flag victory in the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix on Sunday, while Lewis Hamilton was second in the sister car as Mercedes dominated the F1 2017 season finale.

Bottas started from pole position, and unlike in Brazil earlier this month, the Finn kept P1 into the first corner.

Bottas then gradually pulled away from Hamilton in P2, and while he briefly lost the lead when he made his one and only stop on lap 22, he re-took the position two laps later when the sister car pitted.

Hamilton then closed right up in the second phase, before a big lock-up on lap 30 dropped the Englishman back slightly.

It then remained nip-and-tuck until the last few laps with Bottas eventually taking the honours by 3.8 seconds. It was his third win of the season – and his F1 career.

“It is a really important win for me after having a pretty difficult start to the second half of the year, working hard on all the issues and getting better and better with everything. This weekend with the pole and the win, I couldn’t be happier to end the season like this,” Bottas said.

“I was really managing the pace and the race, and that was a nice feeling. I had one bit of a lock-up when I was approaching one of the lapped cars [near the end], but otherwise no issues.

“Then the last five laps I started to go a bit quicker and managed to build a gap [again]. [As I said] I am really pleased. The car was so good and again for this season, thank-you very much to the team. I have really enjoyed it.

“Congrats to Lewis again for the title [as well] and congrats to Seb for second place in the Championship. I was third this year and will hopefully be better next year,” he added. “We Finns maybe don’t show emotions, but it doesn’t mean we don’t have any. I am so happy. There has been so much support from my family and everyone. I can’t show it too much, but I feel good.”

“A big congratulations to Valtteri. He did an amazing job today to hold me off,” Hamilton remarked. “It was a great race and I just gave it everything, every single lap.

“It is very hard to overtake here and so once you get to the last sector, I struggled a little bit. But I have it everything and I just want to say a big thank-you to the team – both here and back at the factory. What they have produced this year is just incredible. It is a real honour to race for them. I am looking forward now to coming back strong next year.”

Meanwhile, Sebastian Vettel was a distant third for the Scuderia, with Kimi Raikkonen fourth in the other Ferrari and Max Verstappen fifth for Red Bull, the latter two split by just 0.9secs.

“In the beginning I tried very hard. I think I had a good start but nowhere to go and locked up a little bit and flat spotted the first set of tyres a tiny bit with that. Then after 3-5 laps I couldn’t go any faster and they [Bottas and Hamilton] seemed to pull away. From there onwards it was pretty lonely,” Vettel noted.

“But then I have to say in the second stint I really got into the car and got into the rhythm. I think we had strong pace in the second part of the race, but yeah not good enough to match those two guys.

“Congrats to Valtteri: I am very happy for him. And congrats very much to Lewis again on his season. He deserved to win the championship this year in the end. I hate to say it but he was the better man. I am sure we will do our bit over the winter and hopefully come back stronger.”

Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg was next up in sixth, despite picking up a 5-sec penalty early on after he ran wide on the opening lap and passed Force India’s Sergio Perez. Perez finished seventh with the other Force India of Esteban Ocon eighth. Sixth for Hulkenberg and Renault was enough to vault the team ahead of Toro Rosso and up to P6 in the Constructors.

Behind, Fernando Alonso took ninth for McLaren Honda, with Felipe Massa – in his last F1 race – slipping to tenth and passed by his ex-team-mate after he pitted on lap 23. Massa did re-join just in front in his Williams, but lost out on the straight.

Of the rest, Romain Grosjean finished just outside the points in P11 for Haas, with McLaren’s Stoffel Vandoorne, the other Haas of Kevin Magnussen and Sauber’s Pascal Wehrlein in positions 12 through to 14. Toro Rosso duo Brendon Hartley and Pierre Gasly were next up in 15th and 16th, with Sauber’s Marcus Ericsson 17th and Lance Stroll 18th.

In terms of retirements, only Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo and Renault’s Carlos Sainz failed to make it to the chequered flag. Ricciardo was running fourth until lap 21 when he had to stop due to suspected hydraulic issues. Sainz then parked his Renault 10 or so laps later after a botched stop saw him exit the pits with his front left tyre not properly secured. Sainz had been running in the top-ten.

Race Result available – HERE.

Picture credit: Mercedes

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