F1 Raceweek: Hamilton out for one last win before museum visit
Lewis Hamilton will take to the track one more time before his 2018 car becomes a priceless exhibition at Mercedes' history museum after the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
With the Briton having already wrapped up a fifth Formula One world title and Mercedes establishing an unassailable lead in the Constructors' Championship last time out, there is little left to play for on Sunday.
But that has done nothing to curb Hamilton's enthusiasm as the Silver Arrows ensured they will start first and second on the grid for the fifth season running.
Hamilton will head the pack after following a dominant FP3 with a stunning qualifying session in which he initially broke the lap record at the Yas Marina Circuit in Q2 before finding more time in the final run to clock a 1:34.794.
It means the chasing pack, headed by team-mate Valtteri Bottas and followed by Ferrari duo Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen, will have to pull out all the stops to deny Hamilton a winning farewell to a car he cherishes.
HAMILTON ENJOYING FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION
It has been a truly dominant year for Hamilton, who will part with the W09 model after Abu Dhabi.
However, the 33-year-old will always take the time to visit a car he has fond memories of.
"To just go all out and put a performance like that is a special feeling," he said. I'm just happy that this car will be in the history museum at Mercedes in Germany, so I can go visit whenever I can.
"It's been a privilege to work in this team with the mechanics who have given it to me. Their diligence I'm so grateful for everyone and it's so much fun to go out there and express yourself and push your car the way you want."
VETTEL IN THE MOOD TO JOKE AROUND
Vettel was unsurprised by Mercedes' pace over practice and qualifying, but the German is confident of competing against Hamilton on Sunday.
But when the race is done, Vettel believes there is no reason why he and his rival cannot enjoy a laugh.
"I am quite confident. It's going to be a long race so I think it should be fun," he said.
"One thing happens on the track but off track I don't see the reason why you can't joke with each other or talk to each other. It didn't go my way so I guess he enjoyed it a little bit more."
DEPARTING ALONSO DREAMING OF POINTS FINISH
Two-time world champion Fernando Alonso will bid farewell to F1 after Sunday's race, at least for the time being.
Alonso's return to McLaren in 2015 has coincided with the team struggling to produce a competitive car but, after placing 15th in qualifying, the Spaniard hopes to gatecrash the points one last time.
"My priories are to finish the race to see the chequered flag. If we can be in the points that will be in the dream, we are five places away now," he told Sky Sports.
"I needed a break and I need to find something else to do, but I'm open after that maybe I do another F1 season, or somewhere else."
1. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes)
2. Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari)
3. Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes)
4. Kimi Raikkonen (Ferrari)
5. Daniel Ricciardo (Red Bull)
6. Max Verstappen (Red Bull)
7. Romain Grosjean (Haas)
8. Charles Leclerc (Sauber)
9. Esteban Ocon (Racing Point Force India)
10. Niko Hulkenberg (Renault)
1. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) 383 – CHAMPION
2. Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari) 302 (-81)
3. Kimi Raikkonen (Ferrari) 251 (-132)
4. Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes) 237 (-146)
5. Max Verstappen (Red Bull) 234 (-149)
1. Mercedes 620 – CHAMPIONS
2. Ferrari 553 (-67)
3. Red Bull 392 (-228)
4. Renault 114 (-506)
5. Haas 90 (-530)
2017: Valtteri Bottas
2016: Lewis Hamilton
2015: Nico Rosberg
The season may have reached a cool conclusion with Hamilton and Mercedes dominant, but scorching temperatures are forecast on Sunday, with highs of 33C predicted.