Lewis Hamilton won his last race of 2018 at the Yas Marina Circuit this past weekend, which concluded a very successful year for the Brit, also achieving his 5th world title back in Mexico.
It was a strong start for both Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas after Hamilton claimed his 11th pole position of the season on Saturday and both Mercedes’ drivers got away well. Max Verstappen didn’t have the best of starts and dropped down to 10th behind his rival Esteban Ocon, setting the scene for an inevitable battle between the pair after contact on and off the track in Brazil.
Romain Grosjean and Niko Hulkenberg came into contact on lap 1 with Hulkenberg clipping the side of Grosjean’s Haas and flying through the air, rolling towards the barriers and ending up upside down with flames seen coming from the car. It was a tense time for onlookers but luckily Hulkenberg walked away from the crash unscathed and the safety car was deployed.
Once racing had got back underway, Hamilton pulled away fast. Verstappen and Ocon started their battle, this time for position. Verstappen was able to overtake Ocon on the next lap, adding a bit of wheel-to-wheel contact, and after a bit of scuffling between the pair, Verstappen managed to take 8th place and drive off, ahead of Ocon. Perhaps a little bit of justice for what had happened in Brazil 2 weeks previous.
Kimi Raikkonen had been heard complaining of no power in his Ferrari and soon enough had to pull his car over to the side of the track and retire from his last race for the Team before moving to Sauber in 2019. This bought out the virtual safety car which Hamilton took full advantage of and headed to the pits. He came back out in 5th position but was reminded by his team that these tyres would be lasting him until the end of the race. It was only lap 8 and he still had a long way to go in a race with 55 laps.
Marcus Ericsson was unfortunate to have a mechanical failure on his Sauber and had to make an early retirement. Various battles were taking place throughout the field and by lap 23 Daniel Ricciardo was in the lead. Trying to make his tyres last, he finally went into the pits on lap 34 but this wasn’t far enough into the race to allow him to use the super quick hyper-softs and so had to opt for the slower tyres. He came out in P5, behind teammate Verstappen in P4. Vettel took advantage of mistakes by Valtteri Bottas and overtook the Mercedes driver on lap 35, then headed for race leader Lewis Hamilton. A second lock-up for Bottas saw him come closer to the two Red Bulls behind.
Max Verstappen soon managed to overtake Bottas with Daniel Ricciardo following suit a lap later for the Red Bulls to take 3rd and 4th, and Valtteri Bottas left behind in 5th. With only a few laps to go, the cars of Ocon and Pierre Gasly had had enough, and both were out of the final race for 2018.
Lewis Hamilton had an easy drive up front and took his 11th victory of the year. The 5-time world champion was followed in by Sebastien Vettel who took 2nd place. Max Verstappen came away with 3rd, denying teammate Daniel Ricciardo a final podium place with Red Bull before he moves to Renault next year.
It was disappointment for Fernando Alonso as he failed to finish in the points for what could be his last ever Formula 1 Grand Prix. As the end of the 2018 season came to a head, Alonso, Vettel and Hamilton lined up on the track to take part in a series of ‘doughnuts’ which pleased the crowd and was a worthy send-off for the Spaniard. There were many tributes and well wishes from everyone, and after a successful career spanning over 17 seasons, Fernando Alonso is often regarded as 1 of the greatest Formula 1 Drivers in the history of the sport. He has not completely ruled out a return to F1 in the future but will be focusing on new challenges and exciting opportunities and we wish him all the best.
After a long and tiring season, it is finally time for the drivers and teams to take a well-earned break. It has been a great 2018 season, and we look forward to what 2019 has to offer…