ABU DHABI — Valtteri Bottas survived several laps of high-speed pressure from his Mercedes teammate and world champion Lewis Hamilton to claim a memorable victory in Sunday’s season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
The 28-year-old Finn, who started from pole position, led from the lights to the flag apart from a spell following his first pit stop when the four-time champion Briton was in control.
It was Bottas’ third career victory, all of them recorded since he joined Mercedes to partner the 32-year-old Hamilton in January following the unexpected exit of 2016 champion German Nico Rosberg.
Hamilton came home four seconds behind Bottas, having eased off in the closing laps.
The Briton scored points in every race of the season, underlining his dominance this year.
Four-time former champion Sebastian Vettel finished a lonely third for Ferrari, as the two Mercedes men delivered celebratory ‘doughnuts’ for the crowd.
It was Vettel’s 99th career podium and his 13th of the season.
Kimi Raikkonen was fourth in the second Ferrari ahead of Max Verstappen of Red Bull and Nico Hulkenberg for Renault, whose sixth-place finish assured Renault of sixth in the constructors’ championship ahead of Toro Rosso.
Sergio Perez came home seventh ahead of his Force India teammate Esteban Ocon, Fernando Alonso of McLaren Honda and Felipe Massa, in his last F1 race before retirement, for Williams.
Australian Daniel Ricciardo, who was fourth on the grid, failed to finish his Red Bull for the third time in four outings.
Hamilton was vocal in his dislike of the narrow track.
As the sun went down at the warm Yas Marina Circuit, Bottas avoided repeating his poor start in Brazil two weeks ago and pulled clear from pole into the first turn ahead of Hamilton.
Behind them, Vettel stayed third ahead of Ricciardo and Raikkonen while, at the back of the field, Dane Kevin Magnussen spun and recovered in his Haas.
The two Mercedes men were producing a duel at the front and were 2.5 seconds ahead of Vettel.
The two Silver Arrows continued to pull clear before the pit stops began, Bottas arriving for new tires after 21 laps. Hamilton inherited the lead and pushed before pitting himself after 24 laps, re-joining second again. — AFP