Lewis Hamilton won the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix at the pretty Yas Marina Circuit in dominant fashion to round off the 21st and final round of the 2019 Formula 1 Championship yesterday. This was the fifth time he has won here and his eleventh win of the 2019 season.
In addition, it is Hamilton’s 50th Grand Prix win from pole position and he led every lap of the race for the 19th time in his career, tying with Ayrton Senna’s record. He also secured his highest-ever single season points total with 413 points compared with his previous best last year with 408 points. Throw in the fact that this was also his 84th Formula One victory and he claimed the fastest lap of the race, earning him the Fastest Lap Award for the highest number of fastest laps this season, it has been quite a remarkable year for the Brit.
Hamilton sums it up by saying: “What a way to end the season! As a team, as a whole, we’ve been very strong this weekend and Valtteri did a great job today as well. I’m just so grateful for everyone’s continued hard work and dedication this year, we continue to raise the bar together. The support has been unbelievable, I’m completely overwhelmed, so a big, big thank you to everyone at the track but also back home who supports me. Team LH is such a cool, positive movement, I really appreciate it. This has probably been the biggest year of growth for us as a team, so I hope that that will put us in a good position for a new challenge next year. I’ve had some great races with Valtteri, Max and Charles this year and I anticipate that it will be even tougher competition in 2020. These guys will be working flat out to try and raise the bar, so I’m under no illusion that I will have to do the same this winter, but I wholeheartedly think I can. I feel fresh and just ready to keep going and I’m looking forward to another challenge next year.”
Valtteri Bottas has been an extremely consistent, reliable and strong teammate, as well as the 2019 World Championship runner up, and summed up his season by saying: “This is a nice way to end the season. It was a good race for me, I had a lot of fun out there overtaking the others. I don’t think I could have extracted any more from the car today. It was pretty close in the end, but it wasn’t quite enough to overtake Charles for a spot on the podium. The beginning was a bit unfortunate because DRS was disabled for a while which made charging through the field difficult. But I still managed to gain some place while also extending my stint on the Mediums which put me in a good position overall. This has been my best season so far, I’m in a much better position compared to last year, so I’m looking forward to attack again in 2020.”
Bottas drove a superb race, battling his way through the field from the back of the grid to finish fourth, just under a second behind Leclerc.
This season has also seen two young drivers grow in maturity and secure some strong results. The talented Max Verstappen demonstrated he is a force to be reckoned with, challenging Mercedes and Ferrari during the season and coming home second in the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix in his Red Bull. Whilst the emergence of a talented Charles Leclerc took the final spot on the podium in his Ferrari, his tenth podium of the season.
However the stewards’ issued a directive just 45 minutes before the start of the race, announcing that Leclerc would be investigated after the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix due to “a significant difference” in the amount of fuel in the car when he left the garage to go to the pits compared with the amount Ferrari had said was in it. In the end Leclerc got to keep us third place.
Sebastian Vettel managed to bring his Ferrari home in fifth, after passing Alexander Albon’s Red Bull on the penultimate lap. Sergio Perez came out ahead of Lando Norris to finish seventh after their final lap scrap. Daniil Kvyat finished ninth for Toro Rosso, while Carlos Sainz’s last lap pass on Daniel Ricciardo meant he took the final point and could claim sixth in the overall drivers’ standings for the 2019 season.
Red Bull Racing
Max Verstappen summed up the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix by saying: “Of course I’m very happy to finish the season with a podium and to be third in the championship ahead of both Ferraris is also a good achievement. On this track today Mercedes and Lewis were just a bit too quick but as a Team we had a good strategy, good pit stops, and the car was working really well so second place is a good result on this track. The pace was good and overall, we were quite a bit faster than the other guys which is a nice feeling. Looking back my highlight of the season was Austria. To take the first victory for Honda in the V6 era was very emotional and as a Team to win at our home track again in front of so many Dutch fans was a great feeling. It’s been a good season and the Team never stopped pushing. Honda also made some great improvements so we can be very happy with our first season together. As a Team we want to move forward next year and fight for the title. We need to push flat out to close the gap but looking at the last few races we have made a positive step. It’s a great ending and now we just want to focus ahead and be even more competitive in 2020.”
Charles Leclerc summed up the race and season by saying: “I would never have imagined my first season with Ferrari like this. In terms of satisfaction, as a driver, it is great to have had the chance to end the year with a few poles and wins in the bag. On the other hand, you also always strive for more, and there is always something that you can do better. Overall, I think that it was a positive season for me. I learned a lot and am thankful to the whole team for all of their support and hard work.
It was not an easy race today. Starting from P3, I knew that I would have to win to get back the third place in the Drivers’ championship, so I gave it my all. Unfortunately, it didn’t work out today. We will have to spend some time working on our race pace this winter. We have been very strong in qualifying this year but have room for improvement in our long run performance. In any case, it’s nice to round off the season with a podium and have some time off now. I am sure that after just a few days, going back to racing will be all I can think about and I am already looking forward to being back in Melbourne.”
Ferrari has had to settle for second in the Constructors’ Championship in the end, while Leclerc came fourth and Sebastian fifth in the Drivers’ Championship. During the season, the team took nine pole positions, with Leclerc securing more than any other driver with seven, four of which were in a row, and two wins, at Spa and Monza and a win for Vettel in Singapore and a total of 19 podium finishes for the team.
Haas F1 Team
Kevin Magnussen had a fantastic getaway at the start, jumping from P14 to P9, but had to settle for finishing in 14th in the end, while teammate Romain Grosjean finished 15th. The Haas F1 Team ended the season with 28 points.
Team Principal Guenther Steiner summed up the race and season saying: “The season ended as we expected. We got the most out of the car today. We’re glad the season is over and now we can focus on next year. We got a little bit bruised this year, but we’re not broken – we will come back. The aim is to forget 2019 and start next season as we left off 2018. The focus is on next year and we’re really looking forward to that work.”
And so the top 10 finishers at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix were Lewis Hamilton, Max Verstappen, Charles Leclerc, Valtteri Bottas, Sebastian Vettel, Alexander Albon, Sergio Perez, Lando Norris, Daniil Kvyat and Carlos Sainz taking the last point in his McLaren.
The last word however goes to Toto Wollf, who summed up the Mercedes team’s 2019 success by saying: “So much hard work goes on behind the scenes, so I’m really, really happy we’ve ended the season in style with a spectacular win for Lewis and a brilliant fightback by Valtteri. Overall, the race was very good. Some great work in the pit stops, Valtteri’s drive from last to P4 was amazing and Lewis was absolutely untouchable at the front of the field. It may look easy, but it’s never comfortable. Results like this take so much time, effort and work from everyone, we are pushing so hard. I’m really happy for the team, it’s a strong way to sign off 2019 and head into the winter break.”
The 22-race 2020 FIA Formula One World Championship gets under way in Melbourne on March 15th at the Australian Grand Prix.
Simon Burrell is Editor of Our Man Behind The Wheel, a professional photographer and former saloon car racing driver.
Photographs courtesy of Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport, Scuderia Ferrari Press Office, Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool, McLaren and Haas F1 Team