Abu Dhabi GP: Valtteri Bottas beats Lewis Hamilton in F1 2017 finale
Champion Hamilton misses out on season-ending win after Bottas makes amends for Brazil with impressive victory from pole; Ferrari and Red Bull routed by Mercedes; Renault beat Toro Rosso for sixth
By James Galloway
Last Updated: 26/11/17 11:10pm
Valtteri Bottas held off Lewis Hamilton to claim a morale-boosting victory over 2017's world champion as Mercedes dominated F1's season finale in the Abu Dhabi GP.
It was Bottas' third win of the year, but first since July, as the Finn made up for being beaten from pole in Brazil and denied his team-mate a perfect ending to his fourth title-winning campaign.
Hamilton applied concerted pressure to Bottas after the one round of pit stops but was unable to get close enough to the back of the sister Mercedes to attempt an overtake and had to settle for second place, eventually finishing three seconds behind.
"Impossible to pass here man!" said Hamilton to Bottas as he congratulated his team-mate in the pre-podium holding room. "I was like 'where are all the backmarkers?' I think they've got to change this track!"
Ferrari had run Mercedes close for much of 2017 but were no match for the world champions in the Yas Marina desert as Sebastian Vettel finished 19 seconds adrift in third place.
But Bottas' victory was not enough to deny Vettel the runner-up position to Hamilton in the drivers' standings.
"It was a bit lonely," admitted Vettel. "We were in no man's land. I would have liked to be in the hunt but I'm happy with the podium."
Like Ferrari, Red Bull endured a muted final race with Max Verstappen only fifth behind Kimi Raikkonen after failing to jump the Finn through the pit stops.
Daniel Ricciardo had been running fourth in the other Red Bull but his race unravelled within a matter of laps just after half distance. A brush with the wall triggered an emergency pit stop and then the Australian promptly retired when his car developed a hydraulics fault.
The DNF, Red Bull's 13th of the year, also cost Ricciardo fourth place to Raikkonen in the drivers' championship.
Meanwhile, in the one unsettled 2017 fight of financial significance, Renault overhauled Toro Rosso for sixth place in the Constructors' Championship as Nico Hulkenberg matched the team's best result of the season with sixth place.
The German comfortably beat the Force Indias, but only got ahead of Sergio Perez after controversially passing his former team-mate off the track on the first lap.
Stewards handed Hulkenberg a five-second time penalty to be served at his pit stop, but he pulled more than that margin ahead of Perez on track and duly held position - despite a further delay with a wheel nut when Renault's tyre service commenced.
The gained place in the standings is worth in the region of an additional £4.5m to Renault, who are targeting a big step forward in 2018.
With Perez and Esteban Ocon seventh and eighth respectively to cap a fine season for Force India, Fernando Alonso signed off McLaren's failed three-year Honda reunion with ninth place after a rare trouble-free weekend.
Two weeks after failing to find a way past Felipe Massa's Williams in Brazil, it was Alonso who this time won out as the former team-mates slugged it out again on track for the final time in Massa's final race.
After changing positions twice on the first lap, Alonso eventually won out with a DRS-assisted pass on the Williams following the pit stops.
It meant Massa's 15-year, 269-race career ends with back-to-back points finishes, enough to ensure he leaves F1 having outscored as well as outqualifed team-mate Lance Stroll over the season.
Why victory matters for Bottas
In the first year of F1's faster, more aggressive cars, Sundays have often sparkled in 2017 - particularly when the Hamilton v Vettel, Mercedes v Ferrari was at its peak before the Scuderia's challenge went off the rails in September and October.
By comparison, the Yas Marina conclusion was more soporific - but the importance of Bottas's victory cannot be underestimated for the Finn personally ahead of his attempt to prove a more sustained challenge to Hamilton in 2018.
"It is really important win for me after having pretty difficult start to second half of the year," said Bottas. "Working hard on all the issues and getting better and better with everything. This weekend, pole and win, couldn't be happier to end the season like this."
After closing up after the stops, Hamilton initially appeared more comfortable on the supersofts than the lead Mercedes but lost ground when a lock-up at Turn 17 sent him into the run-off area.
"I did [give it everything]," said Hamilton, whose victory tally remains at nine for 2017. "Big congratulations to Valtteri, he did an amazing job today to hold me off.
"It's very hard to overtake here so once I got to the last sector I struggled a little bit.
"I want to say a big thank you to the team, what they have produced for us this year is just incredible, it's just an honour to race with them."
Mercedes may have been pushed like never before in the hybrid turbo engine era this year, but 12 race wins and a fourth consecutive title double underline that they remain the team everyone has to try and catch when F1 2018 begins in earnest in Melbourne in four months' time.
Abu Dhabi GP Race Result
|1. Valtteri Bottas||Mercedes||1:34.14.063|
|2. Lewis Hamilton||Mercedes||+3.899|
|3. Sebastian Vettel||Ferrari||+19.330|
|4. Kimi Raikkonen||Ferrari||+45.386|
|5. Max Verstappen||Red Bull||+46.269|
|6. Nico Hulkenberg||Renault||+85.713|
|7. Sergio Perez||Force India||+92.062|
|8. Esteban Ocon||Force India||+98.911|
|9. Fernando Alonso||McLaren||+1 lap|
|10. Felipe Massa||Williams||+1 lap|
|11. Romain Grosjean||Haas||+1 lap|
|12. Stoffel Vandoorne||McLaren||+1 lap|
|13. Kevin Magnussen||Haas||+1 lap|
|14. Pascal Wehrlein||Sauber||+1 lap|
|15. Brendon Hartley||Toro Rosso||+1 lap|
|16. Pierre Gasly||Toro Rosso||+1 lap|
|17. Marcus Ericsson||Sauber||+1 lap|
|18. Lance Stroll||Williams||+1 lap|
|Did Not Finish|
|Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull|
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