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Lewis Hamilton in total command to end season with Abu Dhabi F1 win

Lewis Hamilton won the final race of the Formula One season at Abu Dhabi with a dominant run from pole to the flag. Unchallenged, he pulled away from the field and concluded his sixth championship season with a controlled, flawless race for Mercedes.

Max Verstappen was in second for Red Bull, Charles Leclerc was third for Ferrari and his teammate Sebastian Vettel fifth. Red Bull’s Alexander Albon was in sixth, while Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas came back from 20th after an engine penalty to take fourth.

Leclerc was referred to the stewards before the start over a fuel irregularity, which was to be investigated after the race. The report referred to a “significant difference” between the amount of fuel in the car measured by the FIA before he left the pitlane and the amount Ferrari had declared beforehand.

In the overall championship, Verstappen finished third, one place ahead of Leclerc, who solidly beat his Ferrari teammate Vettel into fifth. Doing so is significant for Leclerc. The 22-year-old has two wins to Vettel’s one and consistently looked more comfortable and quicker. Vettel began the season with No 1 driver status but Leclerc has clearly earned at least parity with the German for next season.

McLaren’s Carlos Sainz was 10th, which was enough to pip Toro Rosso’s Pierre Gasly, who was 18th, by one point to secure sixth place in the championship.

Hamilton’s 250th grand prix was as untroubled a drive as he has enjoyed all season, perfectly managed in what was a decidedly lacklustre finish to the season. Having opened a gap he maintained it throughout in a one-stop strategy that enabled him to enjoy clean air and command throughout.

It was Hamilton’s 84th career win and his fifth in Abu Dhabi, where he is the most successful driver. He won 11 races in the season, far beyond his nearest rival, Bottas, who won four. Hamilton is seven F1 victories off Michael Schumacher’s record of 91.

For Mercedes, who started the season with an outstanding run of eight wins in the opening eight races and 10 from the first 12, closing strongly will have been hugely satisfying. They won five of the final six races.

Mercedes have enjoyed a superiority this year that was far from expected. Their 15 wins from 21 races was a remarkable strike rate similar to that of their early dominance of the turbo-hybrid era in 2014 and 2015. Ferrari, who had looked so strong in winter testing, found their car lacked downforce, grip and balance. They finish with three wins, as did Red Bull.

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