Champion Hamilton wins the Abu Dhabi GP, which ends the season, Lance Stroll 13th



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ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates – World champion Lewis Hamilton won the pole position at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix on Sunday and in doing so equaled his personal record in one season with his 11th victory in the campaign.

Having already secured a fifth F1 title, the British Mercedes driver beat Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel at the Yas Marina circuit to secure the 73rd victory of his career. He is hired by Mercedes for at least the next two years, giving him a realistic chance of equaling Michael Schumacher's 91-GP F1 record. Vettel is the third all-time with 52, and did not seem to add to that in a race controlled by his rival.

"I wanted to finish it up. The team did an exceptional job all year round, "said Hamilton, who undressed to the waist on the podium and aimed for a tattoo on his back.

"I wanted to show '' Still I Rise '' on my back," Hamilton said, referring to a poem by civil rights activist and writer Maya Angelou.

It was a symbolic end to a season where, again, Hamilton showed his superiority under pressure to defeat Vettel in second place overall for the second consecutive year.

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Red Bull driver Max Verstappen finished third in the race ahead of teammate Daniel Ricciardo for the fifth consecutive podium.

Verstappen beat Hamilton's team-mate Valtteri Bottas to finish fourth behind Kimi Raikkonen, who retired at the start of his last Ferrari race.

Verstappen and Ricciardo did a light job of overtaking Bottas, who finished fifth, raising questions about the Finnish driver's ability to withstand pressure in a season when he did not win.

Veteran Spanish driver Fernando Alonso was 11th with McLaren in his last F1 race with the team. The two-time Formula One champion is pursuing other racing interests.

"It is an honor and a privilege to compete at the same time as he," said Hamilton. "The sport will miss him, we will miss him."

The race was interrupted after a spectacular crash in the first lap, involving Frenchman Romain Grosjean and Nico Hulkenberg, who was knocked over the barriers and finally turned upside down. Hulkenberg was unharmed and came out.

Grosjean has the reputation of being one of the most reckless pilots – or adventurers – of F1. He caused the collision by cutting the right rear tire of the Renault de Hulkenberg, flipping it up, up and sliding on his back. While a little smoke rose from the car, Hulkenberg, with a sound of fear, insisted that his team expel him quickly.

"I'm hanging here like a cow," he said. "There's fire. There is fire.

A worried Grosjean asked about Hulkenberg's condition on his radio. Stewards took no action against Grosjean, considering it a racing incident.

"I felt sorry for him, but there was nowhere I could go," Grosjean said.

ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES – November 25: Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain driving the (44) Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 team Mercedes WO9 on track during the Abu Dhabi Formula 1 Grand Prix at the Yas Marina Circuit on November 25 2018 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.

Charles Coates /

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After a few moments, the Renault of Hulkenberg was leaned to the right side and the German pilot left without help. His car was lifted from the lane crane. The incident retained the race for a few laps, with the drivers forced to slow down behind a safety car until the race resumed on the 5th lap.

Verstappen and Esteban Ocon entered the track once again, continuing their rivalry in Brazil two weeks ago when Verstappen dropped from first place to second after being scored by Ocon. This time, they narrowly avoided touching the cars as they fought for space.

The Raikkonen race ended on the 6th lap when his car had a power cut. The Finnish rider, who joins Sauber next year, returned to the team garage.

With half of the 55-lap race approaching, there was a rare sight as the rain fell briefly on the desert lane. Ricciardo, at that point, was in the lead and about 5 seconds off Hamilton, but he still had to change his tires. He finally did it with 21 laps to the final, and Hamilton regained the lead ahead of Vettel and Bottas in third, but Verstappen pressed behind him.

Once again, Bottas failed to adequately defend his position.

"Very happy to pass because it was very crucial," said Verstappen. "I had to go through. I liked that battle.

Montreal's Lance Stroll finished 13th.

Toro Rosso rider Pierre Gasly, Sauber's Marcus Ericsson and Ocon retired at the end of the race.

He also said goodbye to Ricciardo for Red Bull after a difficult season, where he won two races – including the Monaco Grand Prix – but retired eight in large part due to engine problems. He's leaving to join Renault next year.

"He's such a character that we'll miss him and wish him the best for the future," said Christian Horner, director of Red Bull. "He had a very hard second half of the year so it's been extremely frustrating for him and the team."

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