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Verstappen dominates as Hamilton ends miserable season with retirement

Verstappen dominates as Hamilton ends miserable season with retirement

Verstappen dominates as Hamilton ends miserable season with retirement

Verstappen dominates as Hamilton ends miserable season with retirement

Max Verstappen underlined his dominance over F1 with victory at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

The world champion secured his 15th win of the year at a canter, finishing ahead of Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc, who finished ahead of Sergio Perez to ruin Red Bull's championship one-two.

Ferrari ensured a positive end to a tough season as it finished second in the constructors' standings, ahead of Mercedes who could only muster fifth with George Russell, behind Carlos Sainz.

That was after Lewis Hamilton slowed in the final three laps with a hydraulic failure on his W13.

Perez made the better launch from the line but was unable to challenge Verstappen into turn one, though behind George Russell came under attack from Lando Norris for sixth.

Into turn six, Sainz went for a move on Hamilton but the Mercedes, in scenes similar to the same corner last year, hopped across the orange sausage kerb and ahead of the Spaniard.

The seven-time champion was ordered to hand the position back in a u-turn from the guidance previously given by the FIA that no such order would be given.

It seemed damage from the incident cost Hamilton pace as Russell, who had passed Norris in double-quick time, made his way to fifth on lap nine.

The race settled into its usual rhythm with eyes turning to the pit stops with the optimism of offset strategies providing some form of excitement.

Perez blinked first on lap 15, along with Russell, to make the switch from mediums to hards.

Crucially for the Briton, a slow stop was compounded by a release into the path of Norris' McLaren, earning a five-second penalty.

The pecking order remained the same at the end of the pit stop window, although Leclerc played his way into some form of contention by stretching six laps further than Perez.

A gap that was almost three seconds came down to within a second between second-placed Perez and championship rival Leclerc, with Red Bull pulling the trigger for a second stop.

With Sainz and Russell also pitting, Hamilton was the only obstacle in Perez's journey back to the Ferrari driver. The move came with 13 laps to go into turn six, but a lock-up allowed Hamilton to fight back.

The W13 went steaming around the outside into the braking zone for turn nine, only for Perez to secure the position just a lap later.

Verstappen remained on a one-stop ahead of Leclerc and told his team that the '"tyres are ok, tell Checo to give it everything".

Vettel's unhappy farewell

Pre-race, Vettel was given a guard of honour by his competitors after the national anthem.

A strong start allowed him to maintain a point's position but Aston Martin decided to extend the first stint and take on a one-stop strategy.

That put Vettel out of the fight with Alpine's Esteban Ocon and instead left him fighting with the likes of Daniel Ricciardo, team-mate Lance Stroll and Yuki Tsunoda.

When Stroll made his way through to demote Vettel from the top 10, the German questioned: "How did we get the strategy so wrong?"

Perez falls short as Hamilton retires

Hamilton was unhappy with being left out on a one-stop strategy and with four laps to go, Sainz had closed onto the back of the Mercedes.

But before a move could be made, Hamilton slowed with the Silver Arrows' first mechanical failure of the season.

Perez, meanwhile, had closed the gap to Leclerc to within two seconds on the penultimate lap.

The Mexican's fresher tyres had allowed Perez the chance to launch an assault for second on the road and in the championship, but the task was too large.

That meant Leclerc finished second ahead of Perez, with Sainz fourth and Russell fifth.

Norris was again the best of the rest and added an extra point for the fastest lap, though Ocon in seventh was enough to give Alpine fourth in the constructors' standings.

Stroll finished eighth ahead of Ricciardo and Vettel, who secured a point in his final F1 race.

Aston Martin earned enough points to draw level with Alfa Romeo in the standings, but Valtteri Bottas' performance at Imola was enough to finish ahead on countback.

Nevertheless, the German's donuts on the grid were still joyous to watch.

Tsunoda finished 11th as AlphaTauri failed to overhaul Haas' eighth position, whilst Zhou Guanyu trailed in 12th.

Alex Albon fought from 19th to 13th ahead of Pierre Gasly and Bottas.

Mick Schumacher finished ahead of team-mate Kevin Magnussen in his last race for Haas, although he would wish to forget a clumsy incident with Nicholas Latifi at turn five for which he was handed a five-second penalty.

The Canadian rounded out his Williams career in retirement, alongside Hamilton and Alonso, who retired in the first half of the race with a suspected water leak."

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