Wednesday 18 September 2019

Hamilton ends stellar season on a high with another victory in Abu Dhabi

It looked as if Hamilton was in for a tough afternoon. Photo: Reuters
It looked as if Hamilton was in for a tough afternoon. Photo: Reuters

David Tremayne

Lewis Hamilton won the 73rd grand prix of his career to move within 18 of all-time leader Michael Schumacher and finish his season in style, but the most exciting part of the 10th Abu Dhabi race may have been the triple donut show that he, runner-up Sebastian Vettel and the retiring Fernando Alonso performed in front of the pits at the end.

It looked as if five-time World champ Hamilton was in for a tough day when, having led for the first six laps, Mercedes took advantage of a virtual safety car deployment when Kimi Raikkonen's Ferrari rolled to a halt on the pit straight with a loss of power, to pit him for a set of fresh supersoft Pirelli tyres to replace the ultrasofts.

Once again, the world champion was faced with running longer than any of his rivals on the same set of tyres.

That dropped him to fifth place behind team-mate Valtteri Bottas, Vettel and the Red Bulls of Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen.

Hamilton overtook the Dutchman on the eighth lap, but the Mexican GP winner soon repassed him on his softer compound tyres.

"Our engineers always say about stopping early, but sometimes the tyres don't last," Hamilton said.

"So I was wary. They did last all the way, but they didn't feel very good early on."

That meant that he had to run a canny race, looking after his rubber rather than pushing hard as he won ahead of Vettel and Verstappen. (© Independent News Service)

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