Bringing an end to another dominant season, Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton cruised his way to the chequered flag to win the 2019 Formula 1 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. The reigning champion started the race in pole position and retained the lead through the race with Red Bull’s Max Verstappen taking second, ahead of Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc. The Abu Dhabi GP is Hamilton’s 11th victory of the year and the 50th pole of his career. The driver also maintains Mercedes record of winning all races at Abu Dhabi since 2014.
It was expected of the second-placed Verstappen to build pressure on Hamilton at the start, but Leclerc passed the Red Bull driver to take P2 on the opening lap. The Ferrari drivers opted for a two-stop strategy with both drivers entering the pits on Lap 13, but issues with Sebastian Vettel’s car saw him stationary for 6.9s, dropping him to P7 when he rejoined. Leclerc meanwhile joined at P4 behind Verstappen and Nico Hulkenberg and then passed the Renault driver to retake P3. Verstappen executed a long first stint among the top drivers and pitted on Lap 26, a move that saw him drop to P3 behind Leclerc.
However, the Dutchman didn’t stay there for long despite engine braking issues on his car and managed to pass Leclerc on Lap 32 at Turn 8, going on to build a sizeable lead over the Ferrari. The Italian team decided to double stack its drivers for the second time of Lap 39 and it worked smoothly this time with Leclerc rejoining back in P3 with softs, while Vettel on mediums joined at P6 behind Red Bull’s Alex Albon and a Valtteri Bottas. The Mercedes driver showed incredible pace through the race and was up to P4 by Lap 40, despite losing precious overtake opportunities early on in the race due to the DRS failure.
At the front, Hamilton clearly was out of reach over the rest of the field and the champion cruised his way to victory with a gap of 16.772s over Verstappen. Leclerc tried his best to pass the Red Bull with the new softs but could not match the pace and finished third, 43.435s behind the race leader. Bottas finished fourth just a second behind the Ferrari, while Vettel took fifth after passing a struggling Albon on the penultimate lap. Finishing behind Albon was Racing Point’s Sergio Perez, followed by Lando Norris of McLaren and Daniil Kvyat of Toro Rosso. Carlos Sainz Jr of McLaren took the final point of the season, finishing 10th, as he stole the position from Hulkenberg.
Finishing outside of points were Renault’s Daniel Ricciardo and Hulkenberg at P11 and P12 respectively, while Alfa Romeo’s Kimi Raikkonen took P13 ahead of Haas drivers Kevin Magnussen and Romain Grosjean. Kimi’s teammate Antonio Giovinazzi took P15 ahead of Williams driver George Russell and Piere Gasly of Toro Rosso. In what was probably his final race in F1, Williams driver Robert Kubica finished 19th, ending a fantastic return to the sport and showing extreme resilience and determination on and off the track.
The 2019 Formula 1 season was interesting and had quite a few surprises for fans and the teams alike. While Mercedes and Hamilton maintained that they are the undisputed champions as the driver taking the highest-ever points in F1. Honda made a strong comeback in the sport with a more than efficient powertrain and a driver willing to risk it all in the form of Verstappen. We also saw and Gasly and Sainz on the podium, with some of the races ending in a spectacular fashion.
This brings us to the end of the 2019 season, but the teams and drivers will complete the end of season test between December 2-4, 2019, and will showcase the 2020 cars on February 19, 2020.