Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton celebrates after the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, November 25 2018. Picture: REUTERS/HAMAD MOHAMMED
Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton celebrates after the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, November 25 2018. Picture: REUTERS/HAMAD MOHAMMED

Abu Dhabi — New five-time champion Lewis Hamilton claimed his 11th win of the season on Sunday when he drove his Mercedes to a well-judged triumph in an incident-filled, season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

The 33-year-old Briton, who started from his 83rd pole position, came home 2.5 seconds ahead of his main title rival, four-time champion German Sebastian Vettel of Ferrari.

The race began with an opening-lap crash from which Nico Hulkenberg escaped unhurt, his Renault having barrel-rolled into the barriers.

Dutchman Max Verstappen finished third, ahead of Red Bull teammate Daniel Ricciardo, in his 100th race for Red Bull and 150th overall before moving to Renault, and Valtteri Bottas in the second Mercedes.

Carlos Sainz came sixth for Renault ahead of Ferrari-bound Charles Leclerc of Sauber, Sergio Perez of Force India, Romain Grosjean, who had tangled with Hulkenberg on the opening lap, and his Haas teammate, Kevin Magnussen.

Retirement-bound two-time champion Fernando Alonso finished 11th for McLaren in his 311th and farewell appearance.

Hamilton’s victory completed a season of total dominance for the Englishman. “I am so happy right now,” he said, before praising Vettel. “I know next year he’s going to come back stronger. Whatever people say, we always do our best.”

Vettel responded generously. “He deserves to be champion. It’s been a tough year and I tried until the last lap.”

AFP