Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 6 December 2019

Ruthless Lewis Hamilton wins Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

World champion seals 11th victory of the season after leading from start to finish at Yas Marina Circuit

Lewis Hamilton drove like a man possessed at Sunday's Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, completing what can only be described as one of the greatest performances of his career.

The Mercedes driver led the race from start to finish, steadily clocking the seconds up between him and his hapless pursuers with the precision and dominance of the finest of his breed.

Early on, it became clear there was only one thing that was going to bring Hamilton to a halt and give the others a look in – catastrophic engine failure.

That's not in Mercedes rulebook, though. Certainly not this season.

The Formula One title was already Hamilton's, but if this win meant any less than the Englishman's 83 previous Grand Prix trophies, he certainly didn't show it.

The driver leapt out of his car after tearing round in circles in clouds of tyre smoke outside the main grandstand, then stood aloft on his car, pumping his arms in the air with the same enthusiasm as a rookie who's just secured his first victory.

The crowds at Yas Marina Circuit overlooking the home straight yelled themselves hoarse as fireworks shot into the air all around the venue, with the boom of extreme pyrotechnics taking the place of the blare of engine noise.

Former F1 driver David Coulthard was the man designated to carry out interviews with the top-placed drivers as soon as they were out of their cars, and he caught Hamilton at his most emotional.

"Thank you for watching, thank you for supporting," Hamilton announced to the watching world as the Scot held the microphone in front of him. "I feel so happy today, man."

Max Verstappen was second place in Sunday's race, but he never looked like catching Hamilton. The Red Bull driver managed to slow the Englishman's lead in the last few laps, but a gap of 16.768 seconds showed the winner's dominance.

Charles Leclerc of Ferrari came in third, which seems respectable until you discover he was nearly 44 seconds behind the pace.

The driver held onto second in the early laps, ahead of Verstappen, but ultimately conceded his place to Verstappen's better performing vehicle.

Kudos must be paid to Hamilton's team-mate Valtteri Bottas. The Finn was placed at the bottom of the grid due to a penalty handed to Mercedes for using more than the allotted number of spare engine parts in a single season, but he hacked his way through the grid to finish fourth.

On the podium, Hamilton was presented with the trophy, and the lofted it in the air and caught it like it was a cheerleader's baton.

It would be true to say many of the other drivers left in Hamilton's wake seemed almost shell-shocked. During the race, many of the messages being passed between teams and drivers outside the Mercedes camp had an air of desperation about them. It was difficult to see what anyone could have done to stop the rot though. Hamilton was truly unstoppable.

Speaking after the event, the driver talked of the "incredible year" he's had with Mercedes, citing the steps forward they'd made as being crucial in he and Bottas being placed one and two in the championship and, as the maths would indicate, the team securing the constructor's title.

"It was really important for us as a team to continue to push," he said, adding that he, Bottas and the crew "never lost sight of the objective".

"I'm incredibly grateful to everyone," he said.

Verstappen admitted to having problems with a pit stop, mentioning a mechanical fault, but refused to blame that on his inability to take first place. "I was not great, we couldn't fix it," he said. "It wouldn't have made a difference in terms of the result."

A question mark still hangs over Leclerc's third placing, though, leaving a sour note for Ferrari. The team are under investigation for a fuel discrepancy before the race, which, if proven, could see the Monte Carlo-born driver disqualified.

"It was a bit of a strange race," he said. "I thought the pace was there but we were just not quick enough."

Updated: December 1, 2019 10:49 PM

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