F1 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix results: Lewis Hamilton caps off title in style12/01/2019
Lewis Hamilton led every lap Sunday.
Lewis Hamilton won a fifth Abu Dhabi Grand Prix Sunday, ending the 2019 Formula 1 season with a whimper.
In 2019 most races have been hugely entertaining but not in the season finale in Abu Dhabi as Hamilton won by over quarter of a minute from Max Verstappen while the gap to third placed Charles Leclerc was a further 26-seconds.
For the first 18-laps of the race the Drag Reduction System (DRS) was unavailable for drivers to use. The DRS is a small rear wing flap that opens to reduce drag and make overtaking simpler, and a tool that has a huge effect on the overall result.
Although a mechanical system in principle, DRS is monitored and enabled by the same system that controls the lights and safety systems around the circuit. A problem with this central control unit is what prevented DRS from being used.
During the opening exchanges Sunday Hamilton controlled the race from the front. The champion quickly opened a lead of over 12-seconds to then second placed driver Verstappen.
In the second Mercedes Valtteri Bottas, who had started last after taking a new power unit for the weekend in Abu Dhabi, had progressed up the order but not by the amount that was expected. The lack of DRS appeared to have severely damaged his attempts.
However, other drivers had also been affected. As a result, Bottas was now looking at a potential third place finish rather than the fifth place Mercedes had originally predicted.
“There were a few little things,” said Verstappen. “At the end of the day, it wouldn’t have made a difference in terms of position. We had to do a bit of a different strategy to Ferrari. They went long because they overtook us on the first lap.
“Our pace was quite decent. I think just Mercedes and Lewis today were just a bit too quick.
“As a whole I think it’s been a positive season. Being P3 in the championship is a nice ending.”
For Leclerc in third, the podium celebrations were overshadowed by his potential disqualification from the race. The subject of a post-race investigation for a “significant difference between the declaration of the team and the fuel inside the car”, disqualification is the only option open to stewards if the findings do become fact.
Like Verstappen, Leclerc was alone for the majority of the evening. A last lap challenge came from Bottas but fortunately for Leclerc the Finn arrived on the third place Ferrari a lap too late to mount a challenge for a podium finish.
“I’m extremely happy about this year,” said Leclerc. “I’ve learnt a huge amount thanks to Seb (Vettel) and it has been a great year. For me, a realization of a dream since I was a child. I always dreamed to be in Formula One but especially with Ferrari. To be with this team is unbelievable.
“Now it’s up to me to work, to get better, and hopefully give them the success they deserve.”
With the season over, there are now just 104-days until free practice one of the 2020 season begins in Australia.
The 2020 F1 season kicks off in Australia in March.
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