Sunday 18 February 2018

Vettel forced off early as day belongs to Hamilton


Tom Cary, in Abu Dhabi

SMILING broadly, uncontrollably, for the first time in months, diamond earrings glistening beneath the floodlights of Yas Marina's shimmering circuit, Lewis Hamilton soaked in his first win since Germany this summer.

It was only eight races ago, but considering the torrid time the McLaren driver has suffered since that day, the trials and tribulations -- both on and off the track -- this victory felt hugely significant.

Beaming down at his pit crew from the podium and blowing kisses to his mother Carmen, who was celebrating her birthday and to whom Hamilton dedicated the 17th win of his career, it looked as if the champagne washing over him represented liquid catharsis.

At this extraordinary facility, this obscene jewel in the desert, Hamilton showed once again that when in the groove with a competitive car at his disposal, he is something special.

It helps when the guy starting in front of you is forced to retire before the end of the first lap. Who knows how the race might have unfolded had that not happened? Perhaps Sebastian Vettel's Red Bull would have charged off into the distance as it has so often this year? Perhaps Hamilton would have made a mistake in pushing to catch the double world champion. Perhaps. We'll never know.

After a sizzling pre-race grid walk representative both of the soaring temperatures and the extravagance of the occasion, featuring everyone from Ronaldo (the original) to Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini, to lovebirds Rory McIlroy and Caroline Wozniacki, the race began under clear blue skies.

Vettel got away well but spun at the second corner when his wheel suddenly punctured. The damage to the car's suspension forced him to retire for the first time since Korea 20 races ago. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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