Abu Dhabi GP Wrap: Hamilton marks his 250th Grand Prix with victory

Lewis Hamilton celebrates victory at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix 2019

Lewis Hamilton ended another title-winning Formula 1® season by cruising to victory at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

In his 250th Grand Prix, Mercedes' six-time world champion qualified on pole for the first time since July's German Grand Prix and eased clear of the field to claim an easy victory at the Yas Marina Circuit.

It marked Hamilton's 11th triumph of the campaign in a race where there was little on the line for most on the grid.

Max Verstappen was second to ensure he finished third in the drivers' championship, with Charles Leclerc completing the podium, though Ferrari were due to meet with the stewards after the race over a fuel discrepancy in his car.

Even if his third-place finish does not stand, Leclerc will still end the season higher up the standings than Ferrari team-mate Sebastian Vettel, who took fifth in the race.

Valtteri Bottas, who already had second in the championship secured, started from the back of the grid but worked his way up to fourth.

Due to a technical issue, DRS was not available until lap 18, though overtaking was not an issue for most, and Leclerc got past Verstappen soon after a start in which Hamilton never came under threat.

Verstappen was not satisfied with his engine power throughout the race, but it was he and Leclerc who produced the most entertaining battle of the race on lap 33.

It ended with the Red Bull driver getting his revenge on Leclerc, who was unable to provide a response.

Bottas ran out of laps to catch Leclerc and pip him to the third spot on the podium, with the Finn also denied the fastest-lap bonus point by Hamilton. Alex Albon was sixth with Sergio Perez seventh and Lando Norris eighth.

Nico Hulkenberg could not finish his final race for Renault in the points despite going into the last lap in 10th. Carlos Sainz took the last points place as Hulkenberg ended up 12th.

"I HOPE IT GETS CLOSE NEXT YEAR"

Hamilton had to assure his engineer he was sweating on team radio at the end of a race where it looked as if he did not need to break into perspiration.

The race victory was never in doubt and, speaking to David Coulthard on track afterwards, Hamilton said: "I hope it gets close for us next year."

He finished 87 points clear of team-mate Valtteri Bottas and it would be fair to wonder whether there is an end to Mercedes' dominance in sight.

A SIGN OF THINGS TO COME?

If there is to be a challenge to Hamilton next year, there is a strong chance it will come from Verstappen and Leclerc.

Verstappen has had an excellent year, claiming nine podiums and three race wins, while Leclerc has been able to harness the one-lap pace of the Ferrari in qualifying, taking pole position seven times.

Their duel for second was the highlight of the race, and fans looking for a competitive 2020 season will be hoping they are regularly battling for wins next year.

IN THE POINTS

1. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) 1 hour 34 minutes 05.715 seconds
2. Max Verstappen (Red Bull) +16.772secs
3. Charles Leclerc (Ferrari) + 43.435s
4. Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes) +44.379s
5. Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari) +64.357s
6. Alex Albon (Red Bull) +69.205s
7. Sergio Perez (Racing Point) +1 lap
8. Lando Norris (McLaren) +1 lap
9. Daniil Kvyat (Toro Rosso) +1 lap
10. Carlos Sainz (McLaren) +1 lap

STANDINGS

Drivers

1. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) 413
2. Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes) 326 (-87)
3. Max Verstappen (Red Bull) 278 (-135)
4. Charles Leclerc (Ferrari) 264 (-149)
5. Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari) 240 (-173)

Constructors

1. Mercedes 739
2. Ferrari 504 (-235)
3. Red Bull 417 (-322)
4. McLaren 145 (-594)
5. Renault 91 (-648)

WHAT'S NEXT?

The teams head their separate ways for a well-earned break. After this race, there are 103 days until the start of the 2020 F1® season, which will be one race longer than in 2019. Germany will be off the calendar, but the Dutch Grand Prix returns at Zandvoort while F1® also heads to Vietnam and the Hanoi Street Circuit for the first time. Winter testing takes place in February in Barcelona.

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