Valtteri Bottas brought the 2017 Formula One season at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix to a close with an win, beating Ferraris Sebastian Vettel and his Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton at the Yas Marina
After a season that had showcased an highly competitive and often gripping struggle for the title, the curtain closed with a decidedly anti-climactic event in Abu Dhabi on the campaign. The fireworks that encircle Valtteri Bottas as he crossed the line to take victory at Yas Marina within an uninspiring circuit where passing is tough, had sadly not lit up the occasion.
However, for Bottas that was anything but a damp squib, beating his Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton into instant was just the end the Finn wanted. Equally for Mercedes, sealing a dominant one-two over Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel in third, was the perfect finale.
Bottas won from rod with an run, holding off. The triumph is of import into the Finn since his form was lacklustre in the next half of this season and he wanted to prove that they were right to re-sign him.
Having been beaten and by Hamilton and out-qualified off the line and into the triumph at the previous round in Brazil by Vettel, Bottas needed a point to prove and he did so emphatically. “It is a very important win for me after having a pretty difficult start to the second half of this year,” he said. “It was ideal, pole, win and fastest lap, it could not be better. It gives me confidence going into next year. How I got into the zone here, I want to discover that next year.”
Hamilton had desired to finish the season strongly however, after taking here and crashing in qualifying in Brazil, he’s been not able to close out with wins. He has, nevertheless, equalled in becoming the only drivers to have scored points in each race in a world championship-winning 29, Michael Schumacher and Juan Manuel Fangio.
With the two drivers in evenly matched machinery, Hamilton could remain with his team-mate but maybe not achieve the 1.4sec speed advantage required to pass — a problem at several circuits this season as a result of the aero-focused regulations. “Valtteri did an amazing job today,” he said. “It is actually tough to overtake here however I gave it everything. I am excited about coming back strongly next year.”
Suggestions that the group needed Bottas to acquire were denied by Mercedes. “Lewis was very hard on him,” stated the non-executive manager Niki Lauda. “Valtteri did a great race. It is difficult to follow here, Lewis tried hard to conquer him but he could not.”
The executive manager, Toto Wolffconfirmed they had let both the leash off. “Valtteri won on merit today,” he said. “Lewis was pushing very hard. He was asking for more engine power, we gave it to both of them and they raced to the end.”
After Bottas had the lead off the grid while Hamilton pushed to edge closer and he maintained control, staying after the pit stop ahead, he just could not pass. The pair were in a race of their own out front with Vettel finishing a full back.
Mercedes will be pleased with how they have closed out the season although Wolff cautioned against reading too much into the result. The group had secured their constructors’ championship and have 12 wins, including four one-two finishes. They demonstrated that was powerful to the end. They have every reason to be certain for 2018 having laid down a final marker for Ferrari to match over the winter.
After the race Liberty Media introduced a new emblem for its sport, described soul-destroyingly as a new “brand identity motivated by fans”. After a finale in Abu Dhabi, it is a brand that may be better served if the owners of F1 consider having the season end at a circuit where there is the opportunity of seeing it out in a few style.
The struggle for sixth place in the constructors’ championship between Renault, Toro Rosso and Haas, who were divided by six things, ended in the favour of Renault. Nico Hulkenberg was sufficient to overtake Toro Rosso, who use a Renault engine.
It is a result which is likely to have ramifications, together with the association between their engine manufacturer and Toro Rosso having escalated over the past three races. Toro Rosso, who is using Honda engines next season, have accused Renault of not supplying them and will have more to say on the topic in the aftermath of losing the area.
Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo suffered a hydraulic failure and retired on lap 22, a DNF that was costly for its Australian. Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen was seven things behind him but his fourth was sufficient to secure fourth place.
The next Red Bull of Max Verstappen was in fifth. Hulkenberg was sixth, with both Force India’s of Esteban and Sergio Prez Ocon in seventh and eighth. Fernando Alonso brought down the curtain on McLaren’s unhappy relationship with Honda and his F1 career closed in 10th.
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