Abu Dhabi’s stunning Yas Marina Circuit has now played glamourous host to six season finales since it joined the Formula One calendar in 2009, its opulent facilities, desert setting and festival feel bringing the crowds.
And while both world championships were already settled, we were again treated to a Mercedes stoush in the UAE - with Valtteri Bottas staying cool for his third career win, under pressure all the way from Lewis Hamilton.
At lights out, Bottas got a great start, Hamilton slotting into second at Turn 1 – where Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel locked up, but retained third, ahead of Red Bull Racing’s Daniel Ricciardo and Kimi Räikkönen.
…while Haas’ Kevin Magnussen had a lurid spin at Turn 3, dropping to the back of the field. Renault’s Nico Hülkenberg passed Force India’s Sergio Pérez off the track for seventh at Turn 12, earning a 5-second time penalty.
Up-front, Bottas and Hamilton traded fastest laps, with the Finn able to pull out a 2-second gap by Lap 12 – for some much-needed breathing room.
Verstappen, stuck behind Räikkönen in sixth, pitted on Lap 14 but the Finn covered off the undercut by stopping the next lap.
On Lap 19, Ricciardo pitted unexpectedly for a puncture but hit the wall at the exit of Turn 19 on the next lap – and retired with hydraulic issues.
Bottas pitted from the lead for supersofts on Lap 21, promoting Hamilton – and the Brit put the hammer down for the overcut for another three laps, but couldn’t stay ahead on exit, forcing a straight fight to the flag.
Hamilton got within DRS range of Bottas by Lap 29, as the pair started to pass backmarkers, but a lock-up from the Brit dropped him back.
Lap 31, and Renault’s Carlos Sainz pitted but his front left wheel wasn’t attached properly, forcing him to retire.
More backmarkers on Lap 49 meant that Hamilton again got within DRS range of Bottas, but the Finn stayed ahead through the dual back straights and then pulled out a gap that he maintained to the chequered flag.
“It is a really important win for me, after a pretty difficult start to the second half of the year,” an emotional Bottas said post-race.
As broadcast on 28/11/2017.