Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas has stayed cool in the heat of the desert, winning the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix from pole position ahead of his four-time F1 World Champion teammate Lewis Hamilton – who breathed down the Finn’s neck from lights to flag.
Bottas, who failed to convert pole at the last race in Brazil, got a great start this time to stay ahead of Hamilton into Turn 1 – and then managed the gap for his third career win, despite threats from his British teammate through traffic that allowed him to close right up.
“It is a really important win for me, after having a pretty difficult start to the second half of the year. [And] working hard on all the issues and getting better and better with everything. And this weekend, pole, win. I couldn’t be happier to end the season like this,” Bottas said.
“I was really managing the pace, and that way the [whole] race, and that was a nice feeling. I had one bit of a lock-up when I was approaching one of the lapped cars, but otherwise no issues.”
Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel completed the podium, but was lightyears away from the Silver Arrows in F1 terms - 19-seconds adrift at the chequered flag, the Prancing Horse unable to challenge Mercedes, despite expectations pre-race that the Scuderia had strong race pace. Vettel, though, secured second place in the World Championship with third.
After a classic F1 season, the grid stays in Abu Dhabi for Pirelli’s two-day post-season tyre test, before heading back to base - for the start of the off-season, with F1 2018 just a few short months away.
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Here’s how the 2017 FORMULA 1 ABU DHABI GRAND PRIX played-out lap-by-lap:
We’re all set for a thrilling finale to what has been a classic Formula One season, the Mercedes-Ferrari battle a breath of fresh air after three years of Mercedes domination. Both titles have already been spoken for, with the Silver Arrows sealing the constructors’ in Austin, Lewis Hamilton the drivers’ in Mexico, but there’s still plenty to play for.
For the second-straight race, Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas is on pole - but the Finn won’t want a repeat of Brazil, where he was passed into the first corner by Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel. Bottas hasn’t won since Russia, but he’ll be keen to complete the season on a high and against his 4-time F1 World Champion teammate, who joins him on the front row. It’s the 50th front row for the Mercedes AMG F1 team, its fourth-consecutive in Abu Dhabi.
But can Ferrari return fire, as the squad did in Brazil? Sebastian Vettel starts from third on the grid, with his teammate Kimi Räikkönen back in fifth - the pair split by Red Bull Racing’s Daniel Ricciardo, who needs a strong result for confidence into the off-season and to up his battle with teammate Max Verstappen, who will start from sixth.
Renault’s Nico Hülkenberg starts seventh, and if he stays there to the chequered flag he will ensure that the French manufacturer leapfrogs its rival Toro Rosso for sixth in the constructors’ standings - securing an additional $US 6.5 million in prize money for the squad. Williams’ Felipe Massa starts from 10th in his last F1 race, the Brazilian will want to finish with points to go out on a high. Toro Rosso’s Brendon Hartley is the only one with a grid penalty for a new MGU-H.
We’re expecting a one-stop race here, with temperatures dropping with the sunset - and low degradation. Those who start on the ultrasofts could go to Lap 25 and then shift to the supersofts for the rest of the race. The undercut can work here - but given low tyre deg the overcut (much like in Monaco), staying out and upping your pace, could be more effective. Who can stay out longer?
The majority of the grid is starting on the ultrasofts, with 1-10 (those in Q3) on used sets. Only the Saubers, Pascal Wehrlein (P18) and Marcus Ericsson (P19) and Toro Rosso’s Brendon Hartley (P20) are on supersofts.
Bottas has a great start, Hamilton slotting in behind. Vettel locks up but slots into third. Magnussen spins into Turn 3. Ricciardo in P4 is under huge pressure from Raikkonen. Alonso is up to P10, having passed Massa.
Bottas leads Hamilton by 1.2 seconds, Vettel in P3 followed by Ricciardo, Raikkonen, Verstappen, Hulkenberg, Perez, Ocon and Massa back up to P10 - having passed Alonso. Ocon in P9 is less than a second adrift of his teammate Perez, no love lost there.
Bottas sets the fastest lap, a 1:43.166 - he’s now 1.4 seconds up on his teammate, Hamilton. Just 6-seconds covers the top-six. Sainz in P12 is half a second behind Alonso, pushing his compatriot hard. Hulkenberg and Perez under investigation, the German allegedly passed Perez at Turn 12 off the track on Lap 1.
Bottas leads Hamilton by 1.3 seconds, the Brit a tenth faster on that last lap. Verstappen in P6 is putting pressure on Raikkonen ahead, less than a second the difference. Hulkenberg is given a 5-second time penalty for leaving the track and gaining an advantage. He’ll need to stretch his lead over Perez from 2.9 to over 5-seconds to make it work. Replays at the start seeing Hulkenberg getting a horrible start.
Hamilton sets the fastest lap, a 1:43.137 - responding to his teammate’s lead, two tenths faster than Bottas on that last lap. The gap between the leaders is now less than a second. Verstappen in P6 continues to heap pressure on Raikkonen. Alonso in P11 is chasing down Massa for the final point.
It’s another fastest lap for Bottas, a 1:43.011 - the leader pushing hard and knows he has to beat Hamilton today to not be seen as the dutiful number two. Massa in P10 has Alonso and Sainz close behind. Grosjean passes Stroll for P13 into the Turn 8 chicane, but the Canadian repossess into Turn 11.
Bottas repeats the feat, another fastest lap - a 1:42.826. The gap to Hamilton now 1.7 seconds. Bottas the only man in the 1:42s. Places 2-6 in the low to mid 1:43s.
Another fastest lap for Bottas, just one thousandth faster than his last - a 1:42.825. He’s marginally stretching his lead over Hamilton. Verstappen’s race is being ruined behind Raikkonen. Top-10 is Bottas, Hamilton, Vettel, Ricciardo, Raikkonen, Verstappen, Hulkenberg, Perez, Ocon and Massa.
Bottas and Hamilton the only cars in the 1:42s - 1.8 seconds the gap. Vettel in P3 is ahead of Ricciardo, both doing personal best laps. Grosjean and Stroll fighting hard for P13, the Canadian staying ahead again into Turn 11.
Bottas leads Hamilton by 1.9 seconds, both doing very similar times. Stroll/Grosjean battle the most exciting one on the track, with the pair the only ones within one second of each other.
Bottas sets the fastest lap, but it’s immediately bettered by Hamilton - a 1:42.698 - less than a tenth ahead. Top-10 spaced out already, covered by 31 seconds. Grosjean forces his way through for P13 into Turn 8, and fights his way through finally into P13 into Turn 11.
Another fastest lap for Bottas, a 1:42.522 - two tenths faster than Hamilton on that last lap. The gap between the pair is now 2-seconds. Stroll pits for supersofts, could go to the end.
Bottas leads Hamilton by 2.1 seconds, Vettel is 3.5 seconds behind the Mercedes of Hamilton in P3. Ricciardo is three seconds back in P4, and same for Raikkonen in P5. Alonso in P11 is less than a second behind his former teammate Massa.
Bottas now leads by 2.2 seconds. Top-10 covered by 38 seconds. We can see the sun now beginning to set in Abu Dhabi.
Verstappen pits from P6, the Dutchman taking on the supersofts. It’s a quick 2.1 second stop, so he tries the undercut against Raikkonen. And everyone will be watching on to see if the undercut will work. Verstappen exits in P9.
Bottas leads Hamilton by 2.1 seconds, as Raikkonen pits from P5. The Finn takes on the supersofts, 3.5 second stop - so very slow. Will he manage to stay ahead of Verstappen? Yes he can. He exits in P7, ahead of Ocon and Verstappen. Verstappen takes Ocon for P8 into the Turn 8 chicane, but Ocon cannot respond on the following straight.
Bottas sets the fastest lap, a 1:42.457 - 2.2 seconds up on Hamilton, who is showing he’s under pressure on radio. Perez pits. Gasly spins at exit of Turn 20, he’s in P17.
Bottas leads Hamilton by 2.1 seconds, followed by Vettel, Ricciardo, Hulkenberg - who now pits from P5. The German takes his 5-second penalty but issue on right rear getting tyre off - so he’s lost more time there. He’s now down in P12.
Alonso in P9 is chasing Massa, applying plenty of pressure - less than a second the gap there. Up-front, Bottas leads Hamilton by 2.5 seconds. Hulkenberg in P12 is 0.7 seconds behind Grosjean.
Bottas back on the pace, with the fastest lap - a 1:42.439 - he’s 2.5 seconds up on Hamilton. As Ricciardo pits from P4. It didn’t look like his tyres were ready, due to a late puncture - 4.1 second stop. He returns in P4. Hulkenberg has been passed by Grosjean for P11, and Perez now on his tail.
Hulkenberg passes Grosjean into Turn 8. Vettel pits from P3, takes on the supersofts - 2.4 second stop. Hamilton trying to respond to his teammate’s pace. Ricciardo hit the wall at exit of Turn 19, showing how he got the puncture - and he retires at Turn 5, due to a hydraulic issue. That’s his third DNF in four races.
Bottas pits from the lead, takes on supersofts - 2.5 second stop, as Hamilton sets the fastest lap, a 1:42.421. Will we see the lead change very soon as Hamilton puts the hammer down? Alonso pits, slow stop due to an issue on the left rear.
Yellow flags in sector two. Hamilton catching backmarkers, will they slow him down? Massa pits, can he stay ahead of Alonso? He just stays ahead, but Alonso goes wheel to wheel with him at the hairpin. The Spaniard goes past for P11 into Turn 8, but can Massa respond? He stays behind on this lap.
Hamilton leads Bottas by 19.5 seconds, if he can stay out and make up the ground, he can stay ahead at his stops.
Hamilton pits from the lead, takes on supersofts - 2.4 second stop. It is going to be very close. Bottas goes past into the lead, with the fastest lap to boot - a 1:42.204. If he can now manage the gap, it’s a third Grand Prix win for the Finn. 1.8 seconds the gap now.
Bottas’ lead is being eaten into, with Hamilton now 1.4 seconds adrift - and dropping. It’s a straight fight from here. Stroll in P17 is half a second behind Ericsson.
Bottas leads Hamilton by just 1.1 seconds, with the fastest lap - a 1:41.734 - seven tenths up on his teammate. The Silver Arrows’ battle is really starting to heat up now. Hartley pits from P15.
It’s a personal best lap for Bottas, he’s responding to Hamilton - just 1.2 seconds the gap. The spread of the field has extended, with 62 seconds covering the top-10.
Bottas is increasingly coming under fire, with Hamilton now within DRS range as the pair go through back markers. Vettel in P3 is 12.8 seconds behind Hamilton. Raikkonen in P4 is 10-seconds behind his teammate.
Bottas is less than a second up on Hamilton, as Vettel does a personal best lap. The field has been lapped up to 16, including Vandoorne. Hamilton looks set to pass Bottas down the double back straights, but just can’t get past. Hamilton locks up and goes wide at Turn 17. Stroll pits again.
Bottas benefitted from Hamilton lock-up, 1.7 seconds the gap now. Verstappen in P5 is 1.3 seconds adrift of Raikkonen.
Bottas leads Hamilton by 1.5 seconds, followed by Vettel, Raikkonen, Verstappen, Ocon, Sainz, Hulkenberg, Perez and Grosjean completing the top-10. Both Renaults in the top 10, as Ocon and Sainz pit - promoting Hulkenberg to P6. Sainz exits pits, goes wide - looks like the front wheel isn’t on properly, with the Spaniard making contact in the pit exit tunnel. He retires the car. Huge disappointment for Renault.
Grosjean pits. Up-front, Bottas leads Hamilton by 1.5 seconds. Verstappen in P5 is chasing Raikkonen through traffic.
Everyone has now pitted. Hamilton sets the fastest first sector, as he responds to his teammate - he’s pushing to close the gap now. Field has been lapped up to P11, Grosjean.
Bottas leads Hamilton by 1.2 seconds. Ericsson in P18 is chasing down Stroll, who has looked in the wars in Abu Dhabi with some sort of issue. He passes the rookie Canadian on the run down to Turn 8, and stays ahead down the second back straight.
Bottas leads Hamilton still by 1.2 seconds. The Silver Arrows are pushing hard. Wehrlein in P14 is less than a second behind Magnussen.
Hamilton in P2 is gaining on leader Bottas, trying to get himself within DRS range. But the Finn has set a personal best lap. Verstappen in P5 is gaining on Raikkonen. Stroll pits for the third time, as Gasly goes wide at Turn 17.
Bottas sets another personal best lap, pulling out the gap on Hamilton to 1.4 seconds. Wehrlein in P14 is within 3-tenths behind Magnussen.
Bottas leads Hamilton by 1.2 seconds.
Top-10 is Bottas, Hamilton, Vettel, Raikkonen, Verstappen, Hulkenberg, Perez, Ocon, Alonso and Massa. Then it’s Grosjean, Vandoorne, Magnussen, Wehrlein, Hartley, Gasly, Ericsson and Stroll. Sainz and Ricciardo have both retired, both powered by Renault power units.
Big difference in pace between Ferrari drivers, 0.8 seconds. Bottas is 1.3 seconds ahead of Hamilton. The field has now been lapped up to P11, Massa 10th and last on the lead lap at this moment. Werhelin passes Magnussen at Turn 8 for P13, but is re-passed into turn 11.
Bottas sets the fastest lap, a 1:41.577 - two tenths up on Hamilton’s last lap, for a 1.5 second gap.
It’s another new fastest lap for Bottas, a 1:41.406. Again two tenths up on his teammate. The Finn showing he can cover Hamilton when needed - but will Hamilton keep pushing?
Bottas leads Hamilton by 1.6 seconds. Vettel in P3 is 20-seconds behind the leaders. Raikkonen in P4 is 14-seconds adrift.
Hamilton is starting to come back, 1.3 seconds the gap now. The Finn four tenths slower than his teammate on that last lap.
Bottas has responded, two tenths faster than Hamilton on that last lap - 1.5 seconds the gap now.
Hamilton one tenth faster than Bottas on that last lap, the gap down to 1.4 seconds - and he’s pushing harder now. Wehrlein in P14 is still chasing Magnussen, 0.8 seconds the gap there.
Bottas leads Hamilton by 1.5 seconds, with fairly equal times on that last lap. Ericsson in P17 is chasing Gasly, 0.9 seconds the gap. Massa has now been lapped, Alonso in P9 the last on the lead lap.
Bottas leads Hamilton by 0.8 seconds, so the Brit is flying. He looks set to make a move, now down to 0.5 seconds as the pair go through the traffic. Bottas stays ahead down the dual straights. This is going to be a grandstand finish.
Bottas has picked up the final sector, to start Lap 50 1.2 seconds up. Can he stay ahead, just as he did in Russia and Austria - though this time it’s a straight fight with his teammate.
We’re into the critical last few laps, as Bottas begins to extend his gap over Hamilton - 1.4 seconds the gap. Vettel sets the fastest lap, a 1:41.244. He’s 19-seconds adrift of the two Silver Arrows. If Bottas stays where he is, he’ll be the top point scorer in the last three events - 61 points.
Bottas leads Hamilton now by 2.4 seconds, the Finn setting the fastest lap - 1:40.750. It looks like this battle is over. Hamilton has backed right off.
Bottas sets another fastest lap, a 1:40.650 - he’s now 3.6 seconds ahead of Hamilton. The race should be the Finns, should he now get to the chequered flag.
Bottas now has a 4.8 second lead over Hamilton.
Lap 55 - FINAL LAP:
Bottas has taken his third career win, holding off Lewis Hamilton all race long - to take confidence into the off-season.
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|7||11||Force India Mercedes||55||+92.062s||0|
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