The 2019 season drew to a close with another dominant Lewis Hamilton victory with Max Verstappen and Charles Leclerc closing out the podium.
Leclerc raced under the cloud of a stewards’ investigation after a significant discrepancy was discovered between the amount of fuel that Ferrari stated was in Leclerc’s car and the actual amount of fuel found in the car.
Hamilton led from start to finish with Verstappen slotting behind the Mercedes off the start. The Dutchman was overtaken by Leclerc later on in the lap, as the Monegasque driver breezed past him on the back straight.
In the battle for sixth place in the drivers’ championship, it was Carlos Sainz who had the advantage after Pierre Gasly lost his front wing after making contact with Sergio Perez after being tapped from behind by Lance Stroll. Gasly languished at the back of the field for the rest of the race.
With the disabling of DRS due to a technical issue, drivers were forced to overtake each other on pure pace. Once it was enabled on lap 18, Valtteri Bottas, who started from the pit lane, found himself fifty seconds behind the leader, Lewis Hamilton so had clearly been hampered by the lack of DRS assistance.
Ferrari decided to double-stack both Leclerc and Vettel for their first pit stops. Leclerc pitted onto the hard tyre without any problems but Vettel’s pitstop wasn’t as smooth.
The front left tyre just wouldn’t go on, extending the stop to 6.9 seconds, probably about four seconds longer than it should’ve been.
It wasn’t until lap 26 before Max Verstappen made his one and only pitstop. Hamilton pitted on the following lap, coming out comfortably in the lead of the race.
Verstappen then started to report massive lag coming out of the corners, saying “something is not correct:. He began to get very angry about it, asking his race engineer, “How come suddenly there’s a problem?”
There wasn’t much the team could do about it, despite Verstappen’s pleas for help.
It wasn’t all bad for Verstappen as he managed to catch up to Leclerc, re-claiming second position with a diving move up the inside of the Ferrari into turn 8.
Back to the midfield battle and it was Sergio Perez who threw a spanner in the works of the strategy of the McLarens and the Renaults. He stayed out until 18 laps from the end before pitting and coming out just 3.5 seconds behind Ricciardo.
And Ricciardo was first on Perez’s list of overtakes, making his move on the Renault at turn 8. Then, Perez set his sights on getting past Ricciardo’s teammate, Nico Hulkenberg, who he got past with a DRS-assisted overtake on the back straight.
Lando Norris had been running ‘best-of-the-rest’ after Perez and Kvyat had pitted and he defended right up to the final lap when Perez was able to get past by holding on around the outside of turn 11 to take seventh through turns 12 and 13.
Norris’ teammate, Carlos Sainz, made a pitstop late in the race to cover off the threat presented by Daniil Kvyat. It was a gamble that nearly didn’t pay off.
Sainz did secure sixth place in the championship on the final lap when he dived up the inside of Nico Hulkenberg to take tenth position at turn 11.
All the while, Bottas was catching up to Leclerc for a potential place on the podium but he just wasn’t close enough in the end, falling short by just 0.9 seconds.
Ferrari were fined €50,000 for the fuel discrepancy issue, but Leclerc was able to keep his podium.
It was perhaps fitting that Lewis Hamilton should close perhaps his best season yet with a win in the final round at Abu Dhabi, his eleventh of the season.
He finishes the season with 413 points, breaking his own record for the most points scored by a driver in a season.
There was a maximum of 546 points on offer so to score 413 points just shows the dominance that Hamilton has had in 2019.
(Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)
So, after 1,262 racing laps this season, the curtain has fallen on another year and another decade.
I have covered 18 races in 2019 and I’ve loved every minute of it. Thank you to everybody who has read these articles and commented on these articles.
I started off with a plucky article about the Australian Grand Prix as a Roar Rookie and end up in Abu Dhabi with an established readership as a Roar Guru.
A bit soppy, I know, but it’s you guys, the readers, that make The Roar the great platform that it is and I look forward to writing more about F1 for you in 2020.
Before then, there are some season reviews to get through so look out for those but for now, it’s goodbye from me and thanks for reading.