BEIJING – Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton bookended the 2019 Formula 1 season in dominant fashion, winning the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix from pole position and securing fastest lap on a weekend where the six-time world champion took top honors with relative ease.

Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton. [Photo/Agencies]

The Briton equaled his best performance of 11 race wins in a season, winning from 17 seconds from Max Verstappen in the Red Bull, who himself managed to win his own personal duel with Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc to secure third place in the drivers’ championship.

Though Leclerc passed Verstappen on lap one, the Dutchman’s ability to eke out more time on his first set of tyres proved key, and the Red Bull driver was able to repass the Ferrari on track shortly after the first round of pit stops.

Leclerc’s third place was only provisional, after race stewards announced that his car was subject to an investigation for an alleged fuel discrepancy, though the Ferrari only just held off Hamilton’s teammate Valtteri Bottas, who came strongly through the field having started last on the grid following a series of engine penalties.

Leclerc’s teammate Sebastian Vettel finished fifth after a disappointing race which was not helped by a slow pit stop, while Verstappen’s teammate Alex Albon took sixth.

Behind Albon, Sergio Perez was best of the rest in his Racing Point, producing a mature drive and making the most of his soft tyres late in the race to finish seventh, after a typically smooth first stint had allowed him to preserve his rubber for longer than most.

Perez overtook McLaren’s Lando Norris on the final lap, demoting the Briton to eighth, while Toro Rosso’s Daniil Kyvat also used a similar strategy to make up ground in the closing stages to finish ninth, and Norris’ teammate Carlos Sainz salvaged the final points position on the final lap, pipping Albon and Pierre Gasly to sixth place in the overall drivers’ standings as he did so.

In the final 2019 F1 drivers’ championship table, Hamilton finished first with 413 points, followed by teammate Bottas on 326, and Verstappen in third place with 278 points.

In the constructors’ standings, Mercedes once again took top honors with 739 points, ahead of Ferrari on 504, and Red Bull with 417 points.

The 2020 Formula 1 season will feature a record-high 22 rounds, kicking off on March 15 with the Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne. The Chinese Grand Prix at the Shanghai International Circuit is the season’s fourth round, on April 19.

[News from ChinaDaily]

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