With Hamilton already crowned champion, the 2019 Formula One season came to a quiet close. But the Briton delivered a reminder of why he will still be the man to beat next season with another flawless drive.
There was time for Lewis Hamilton to pull a few doughnuts after the win in the 2019 season finale. It was his 11th of the season, and even though he confirmed his sixth drivers' championship with the win in Austin, US at the start of November, this was a performance of utter class from the Briton.
"I can assure you, I am definitely sweating," Hamilton said when interviewed after the race. The 34-year-old led from the start and never looked like being troubled. It was a race of control and well-delivered tactics. The Briton really has thrown down the gauntlet for next season.
Teammate Valtteri Bottas also produced an outstanding performance, finishing in fourth after starting dead last due to engine changes earlier in the weekend. He will look to threaten Hamilton next season, but it's the likes of Max Verstappen and Charles Leclerc that spring to mind beforehand.
Challengers must step forward
Verstappen took second in a gritty drive, where he held off technical difficults to seal an impressive finish to the season. Leclerc raced really well to finish third, although an inquiry regarding his fuel load may yet affect that. Sebastian Vettel also had a decent day, taking fifth. Alexander Albon (sixth) might have stolen the show for grandest season finale though.
Ultimately, for all of the impressive drives in Abu Dhabi and across the season, no one was able to match Hamilton. This was his 50th win from pole, his 84th win overall and his fifth in Abu Dhabi. For Mercedes, it was their sixth consecutive drivers' and constructors' championship.
"I am proud and super grateful to this team, thank you to everybody here and back home. This car is a work of art," Hamilton added.
Next season, Hamilton and Mercedes will have a new car, and new challenges — there will be no German Grand Prix for example. However, Hamilton will still be the man to beat and the question to the rest of the field is, can you challenge the Briton across a season? After the 2019 season finale, it looks more likely that Hamilton will level Michael Schumacher's record of seven drivers' championships.
As it happened:
LEWIS HAMILTON WINS THE ABU DHABI GRAND PRIX!
What a superb race from Hamilton. He led every lap. That's his 11th win of the season. Outstanding.
54/55 Vettel eventually overtakes Albon! "He almost crashed into me," he said over the radio. "I had to open the door!" He does just that. Strong finish.
53/55 Bottas and Leclerc are going to be battling this out. He is just five seconds away, and sets another fastest lap time. Hamilton is closing in on win 50 from pole.
48/55 Stroll is out, and he's the first man to do so in the race. Not quite the exciting finish to the season many were hoping.
46/55 Honestly think Hamilton's achievements are really outstanding. Had he not had an issue at the Austrian GP in 2018, he would have finished in the points 67 straight times. That is crazy consistent. He leads by 17s. Final stretch now...
44/55 Sainz pits, seeing him down to 14th. Credit to his teammate Lando Norris, who has battled back to 7th. Look at that pit crew speed!
41/55 Bottas takes 4th, because he is just unstoppable this race. He also has the fastest lap now. Ricciardo is overtaken by Perez down in the battle for 11th and 12th. Vettel will be working hard to close in on Albon.
40/55 Vettel's tires are really worn out, unlike Albon's who is doing much better. Both on hards. Bottas is closing in on Albon though, so it's all close. Leclerc pits again, as does Vettel which is the more interesting of the two pits as Albon steals into 4th as a result. What a race for the Red Bull Racing driver. Leclerc is on softs now, only one of two drivers to make that call.
34/55 Was there a touch there? Leclerc and Verstappen are battling it out. The Dutchman takes back his second spot but is complaining again about his handbrake. He's told: "You're going to have to live with it. You're quick enough." That's that then. Bottas now with the fastest lap. Quietly Albon now into 5th.
30/55 Hamilton posts the fastest lap. Verstappen is worried about his handbrake. He's told to keep calm, which I'm sure will help him do just that. "After the pit stop, something happened," he then adds. He isn't happy. Would be a shame if the race was to slip away from him here. Leclerc takes second.
27/55 Verstappen finally pits on the medium. It's smooth. Hamilton also pits. Probably taken the mediums as far as he could. He comes out in the lead still though, such was the size of the gap.
25/55 Just look at Bottas! Contact between Kubica and Giovinazzi, which is under investigation. Might be Kubica's last race today. What a driver.
24/55 Hamilton is worried he'll have to pit and change the tires if the safety car comes out. Magnussen, in 8th, pits. Hamilton is 13s clear of Verstappen, and 16 further clear of Leclerc. It's not that close.
20/55 Bottas has to hold off Vettel! This really is a battle. Hülkenberg is going to be taken out here, and in anticipation of that he pits. Vettel moves into fifth. Albon is still hanging on to that chasing group in 6th.
18/55 Hamilton is told Mercedes will keep extending their lead at the front. His race to lose now. Vettel is closing the gap on Bottas in 5th. That's a battle to keep an eye on. Verstappen says he can keep going on these tires, and the Red Bull driver is in 2nd, but he's 11s behind now.
16/55 Leclerc pits after Vettel pits! Both pits take a lot longer than they should. Vettel comes out in 6th, but Leclerc now into 3rd - and he's just posted the fastest lap. Hülkenberg is up into 4th, but look at Bottas go! He's into 5th!
12/55 The Renaults are hunting down Sainz. Norris is back into 15th after a pit stop. Costly! In truth though, Bottas is closing in on the Renaults. Everyone needs to hurry up.
10/55 "You need to push as had as you can," Leclerc is told. Not as easy as it looks though.
8/55 Bottas is up to 11th now. He's really moving. Not as much Hamilton though, who is now 4.3s ahead of Leclerc.
5/55 Hamilton just posted the fastest lap. Bottas is now up to 14th. Albon and Norris are looking like they'll finish strong.
3/55 Biggest winner there is Magnussen, who jumped 5 spots. Top work from the Dane! Bottas is also already into 15th. The speed and skill of the Finn. Gasly is in in the pit after an incident on the first corner. The front five have pulled away and all have a similar gap to one another.
Lap 1/55 Go! Go! Go! The final race of the 2019 season is underway. Hamilton slow to start but holds off Verstappen. Leclerc uses his first bit of space to take Verstappen though, and then Vettel tries his luck but isn't as successful. The two McLaren's bump each other but on we go.
— Interesting note today: Leclerc and Ferrari are facing a post-race investigation after a potential breach of technical rules. They seem to have declared a different amount of fuel to the actual amount. Interesting. Leclerc could have a day of racing for nothing.
— It's nearly go time! For the last time this season. Soft tires are the fastest today. Hamilton and Verstappen take the front row and the Ferraris have the second row. Norris and Albon, the two rookies, are behind them. Bottas starts at the back after taking two new engines this weekend. Should be plenty of fun.
— Nico Hülkenberg is disconnecting from racing for a while after this season. In tribute, his Renault team have all worn a wig of his hair. Pretty much tribute to one of racing's good guys.
— There's also the future of four-time champion Sebastian Vettel. These words from F1 present Will Buxton suggest this might be the end of his career. Might it be? Surely not... It has been quite the tough season for the German though.
— Good afternoon! Less than 40 minutes until lights out in the final race of the 2019 season. Yes Hamilton is champion and Mercedes have the constructors championship all tied up, but there is much to race for today. Speed equals money in this race and for those teams hoping to make a jump in the middle of the constructors championship today the difference could be an extra three or eight million dollars to work with over the off season. Not a small amount.
— "I think it's the first compliment I've had from Ferrari in 13 years... Thank you. I'll take it," Hamilton said, laughing, when responding to Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto's that the Briton was an outstanding driver.
"It's taken all these years for them to recognize me. I'm grateful... It's positive. I think it's never a waste of time to ever be nice to someone."
Hamilton is one of several drivers whose contracts expire at the end of next year.
— Here's the full classification at the end of qualifying. We see you Lando Norris and Alexander Albon!
— Special words from a special driver. There's no doubt he's one of the greatest ever drivers. The question now is, can he be the best ever?
— HAMILTON TAKES POLE! Lewis Hamilton takes pole ahead of teammate Valtteri Bottas, who sneaks in ahead of Max Verstappen right at the end. However, Verstappen will start on the first row and Bottas will be last after the Mercedes' man made an engine change. Ferrari's Charles Leclerc and Sebastian Vettel were fourth and fifth
respectively. This was Hamilton's first pole since the German GP back in July.
— Qualifying is almost done and it looks like Hamilton is going to stay the man to beat...
— Good afternoon! Tomorrow, Lewis Hamilton and co. will be racing around the Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi. This is one of the busier courses in the season, but sadly for the competition it comes too late to change anything at the top this season. Hamilton is aleady champion, having been crowned in the US.For Ferrari, the season got worse the last time out in Brazil when Vettel and Leclerc collide with one another.It has been quite the campaign, and hopefully there's more excitement to come in Abu Dhabi.