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Lewis Hamilton hails Mercedes, feels 'privileged' to race rising stars

"What a way to end the season," says Abu Dhabi victor Hamilton - but ready and eager for Mercedes' rivals to get "closer" for F1 2020

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Sky F1 collaborates with James Cochran to produce a stunning mural of six-time world champion Lewis Hamilton

A relentless Lewis Hamilton wished he could "keep going" in F1 2019 after an emphatic season-ending victory in the Abu Dhabi GP - and said it was a "privilege" to be racing against the sport's emerging young stars.

Hamilton produced a serene and dominant performance to claim the 11th win of a year in which he has clinched his sixth world championship and moved closer to the sport's most significant all-time records.

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Mercedes' stranglehold on F1's top positions has come under increasing threat in the second half of the season, but the season's final chapter proved a one-way affair - with Hamilton untouchable up front.

"I feel fresh and ready to keep going - I wish I could keep going!" the world champion told Sky Sports F1.

"What a way to end the season. As a team as a whole, just so strong. Valtteri (Bottas) did a great job as well. Just so grateful to everyone's hard work this year and dedication and raising the bar. I would say, even more so, that the support has been just unbelievable. Really, really overwhelming.

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Lewis Hamilton looks back at the season finale race and claims 2019 was Mercedes' biggest year of growth

"So a big thank you for everyone back home and those travelling supporting me."

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Although not challenged for victory on this occasion, Hamilton shared the season's final podium with two of the drivers tipped to eventually become world champions themselves - Max Verstappen and Charles Leclerc.

Hamilton, who will be the second-oldest driver on the 2020 grid, is relishing what he expects to be a growing challenge from the next generation.

"There's a lot of youngsters coming through and, if you look at the grid, from second to seventh or eighth was all super youngsters," said Hamilton, who turns 35 in January.

"So really proud to be in a period of time where there are such great young people coming through.

"These guys have been doing a phenomenal job and I feel privileged to be in the period of time that they are here and looking forward to more close battles with us in the future. I hope it gets close for us next year."

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