Hamilton matches win record in Abu Dhabi, Alonso bids farewell

Lewis Hamilton rounded off another championship-winning season by equalling his record for most race victories in a year, taking his 11th at Sunday's Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

The Briton wrapped up his fifth career title with two races to spare and enjoyed a comfortable victory parade at the Yas Marina Circuit, while Fernando Alonso's final F1 race before retirement ended in an 11th-place finish.

A brief shower had little impact on the race, as Hamilton led championship runner-up Sebastian Vettel and Max Verstappen across the line.

Alonso's goodbye was not befitting of a driver of his quality but, as has been the case for much of his time at McLaren, the two-time world champion was unable to trouble the frontrunners.

A point appeared possible in the closing stages but the Spaniard was unable to close the gap on 10th-placed Kevin Magnussen.

Kimi Raikkonen retired early in the race, bringing out the safety car for the second time after Nico Hulkenberg crashed out in spectacular fashion.

Hamilton pitted under the safety car and, after trailing Daniel Ricciardo who was on a long first stint, was released into a comfortable lead after 34 laps.

The result was never in doubt, with Ricciardo finishing fourth and Valtteri Bottas fifth, falling behind Verstappen to the same position in the drivers' standings.

GOODBYES ALL AROUND

Alonso's is the highest-profile departure but there were plenty of other drivers saying farewell, either to F1 or to their team.

Red Bull's Ricciardo crossed the line in fourth ahead of his departure to Renault, while Sauber-bound Raikkonen suffered a total loss of power after just seven laps, and Pierre Gasly – Ricciardo's replacement – pulled up with smoke billowing from the back of his Toro Rosso.

Sauber's Marcus Ericsson, who will compete in IndyCar in 2019, also suffered a power loss as he failed to finish, and team-mate Charles Leclerc heads to Ferrari on the back of a seventh-place finish.

Esteban Ocon – set to be a reserve driver for Mercedes next season – retired late on, while Stoffel Vandoorne and Sergey Sirotkin are also without seats for next year.

Brendon Hartley's future at Toro Rosso is uncertain and Lance Stroll is expected to move to Racing Point Force India from Williams.

HAMILTON'S LAP OF HONOUR

Hamilton's 11th win of the campaign matches his tally from the 2014 season and sees him surpass the 3,000-point marker, becoming the first driver to achieve that feat.

The former McLaren driver has now won four races in Abu Dhabi to move ahead of Vettel's three.

It was a less comfortable day for team-mate Bottas, who won this race last year.

The Finn has not triumphed in a single grand prix in 2018 and finished down in fifth after struggling to hold off the challenge of the two Red Bulls.

HULKENBERG CRASH HIGHLIGHTS HALO FLAWS

The value of the Halo was demonstrated when Alonso's McLaren clipped the top of Leclerc's Sauber at the Belgian Grand Prix earlier this season, the device likely sparing the young driver serious injury.

But Hulkenberg's barrel roll after making contact with Romain Grosjean early on Sunday was an indicator that improvements can still be made.

The incident left the German's car upside down after flipping into the barriers, while flames emerged from the rear of the Renault.

The Halo hindered the marshals' attempts to free Hulkenberg and they had to right the car before he could climb out, thankfully free of injury.

IN THE POINTS

1. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes)
2. Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari) +2.581s
3. Max Verstappen (Red Bull) +12.706s
4. Daniel Ricciardo (Red Bull) +15.379s
5. Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes) +47.957s
6. Carlos Sainz (Renault) +1:12.548s
7. Charles Leclerc (Sauber) +1:30.789s
8. Sergio Perez (Racing Point Force India) +1:31.275s
9. Romain Grosjean (Haas) +1 Lap
10. Kevin Magnussen (Haas) +1 Lap

DRIVER STANDINGS

1. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) 408 – Champion
2. Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari) 320 (-88)
3. Kimi Raikkonen (Ferrari) 251 (-157)
4. Max Verstappen (Red Bull) 249 (-159)
5. Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes) 247 (-161)

CONSTRUCTOR STANDINGS

1. Mercedes 655 – Champions
2. Ferrari 571 (-84)
3. Red Bull 419 (-236)
4. Renault 122 (-533)
5. Haas 93 (-562)

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