Max and Daniel signed off on the 2018 season in style, with Max taking his 11th podium finish of the season with third place and Daniel completing his 150th career grand prix and his 100th and final race with the Team in fourth place.
At the start, Hamilton tore away from pole to quickly claim an advantage ahead of Bottas, Vettel and Räikkönen. Daniel held fifth through the first corners, but Max got away poorly from sixth on the grid and he dropped back to P10. Daniel then battled with Charles Leclerc through the second sector, with the Sauber stealing P5 from the Honey Badger. Max managed to get past Force India’s Sergio Perez to move up to P9.
Racing briefly stopped there, however. As Nico Hulkenberg and Romain Grosjean tussled into the chicane, the pair collided and the Renault man’s car was flipped into a barrel roll. He came to rest upside down on the barriers and the Safety Car was deployed. Hulkenberg soon emerged unscathed but the race was neutralised.
When the SC left the track Hamilton held his advantage and was soon building a lead over Bottas and Vettel.
Further back Max was making moves and he attacked the Force India of Esteban Ocon soon after racing resumed. He got past but then seemed to struggle for power and Ocon swept past to reclaim the position. Max was told to try a reset and with that in place he definitively muscled his way past the Force India driver in the second chicane.
Räikkönen then ground to a halt on the start-finish straight with a total loss of power, bringing out the Virtual Safety Car.
That was the cue for Leclerc and Hamilton to pit, moves that vaulted Daniel up to P3 behind Bottas and Vettel. The Australian was now just four seconds behind Vettel, with Max two seconds behind his team-mate in P4.
Vettel was the next of the frontrunners to pit, the Ferrari driver heading for new tyres at the end of lap 15. He took on supersofts and emerged in P6 behind Ocon.
Bottas made the same move at the end of the next tour and that promoted Daniel into the lead of the 150th race of his career, and his 100th and final race with the Team.
Max’s opening hypersoft tyres were now beginning to fade and the Dutchman was the next to pit, taking on supersoft tyres and rejoining in P5 behind Vettel.
Race leader Daniel was now the only driver in the top six to require a pit stop, but when asked how his tyres were performing he told the Team he could hold the pace he was doing, six seconds clear of Hamilton.
By lap 32 Daniel found himself just 3.0s clear of Hamilton, but while the gap ebbed and flowed slightly it became clear that the Australian was managing the pace of the Mercedes man and extending the life of his tyres.
The Australian finally made his sole stop on lap 34, taking on supersofts and rejoining in P5 behind Max. He quickly began to make the most of his new tyres, closing a seven-second gap to Max to just 1.5s by lap 36.
Max was also gaining ground, putting heavy pressure on Bottas, who twice locked up and went off track. Max continued to press and probe and on lap 39 he went wide through Turn 11 and then tucked in on the inside to pass in the next corner. The pair banged wheels but Max got by to claim third place.
Daniel was poised to pounce, too, and on the following lap he got a run on the Mercedes man under DRS into Turn 8 and breezed past to take P4. Complaining of mystery lock-ups Bottas pitted for a fresh set of supersofts.
The order at the front then settled, with Hamilton holding an advantage over Vettel of between four and five seconds while the Ferrari man managed a three-second gap back to the Red Bulls.
And, after 55 laps, Hamilton crossed the line to take his 11th win of the season ahead of Vettel. Max claimed his 11th podium of the season, and fourth place in the Drivers’ championship, ahead of Daniel who ended his final race of his five seasons with the team with fourth place.
Behind the Bulls, Bottas finished in fifth place ahead of Renault’s Carlos Sainz, Sauber’s Charles Leclerc, the Force India of Sergio Perez and the Haas cars of Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen.
Fernando Alonso ended his 311-start grand prix career with 11th place and a series of celebratory donuts on the start-finish straight in tandem with Vettel and Hamilton.
OUR RACE IN NUMBERS:
11 – Podium finishes for Max in 2018.
249 – Drivers’ championship points Max, who finishes fourth in the overall standings.
956 – Points for Daniel whilst driving with the Team. The Honey Badger’s 12 points today take his career total to 986.
100 – Races for Daniel with the Team, during which he took seven wins, 29 podiums, and three pole positions.
Abu Dhabi Grand Prix Result:
- Lewis Hamilton
- Sebastian Vettel
- MAX VERSTAPPEN
- DANIEL RICCIARDO
- Valtteri Bottas
- Carlos Sainz
- Charles Leclerc
- Sergio Perez
- Romain Grosjean
- Kevin Magnussen