ABU DHABI • Valtteri Bottas brought the 2017 Formula One season to a close with an untroubled win at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix yesterday ahead of his Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton, who has already claimed the world championship.
Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel was a distant third, 19 seconds behind Bottas, at the Yas Marina circuit in a race that was largely processional at the front and an anti-climactic finale to a season that was for a long period gripping.
The victory, however, is of import to the Finn since his form has been lacklustre in the second half of the year. He was out-qualified and outraced in recent races by Hamilton and was beaten off the line and to the win from pole at the last round in Brazil by Vettel.
Bottas badly needed to prove to Mercedes that they were right to re-sign him for next year and did so emphatically with his third career victory, having scored his maiden win at Sochi and followed it by taking the flag in Austria.
It concluded a very strong weekend for him. His pole lap was one of his best, edging out Hamilton by two-tenths of a second and he took advantage from the off.
"Such a good car today, so thank you for that and the season - it's a very nice way to end it," said Bottas to his team.
ABU DHABI GRAND PRIX
1 Valtteri Bottas (Fin) Mercedes
1hr 34min 14.063sec
2 Lewis Hamilton (Gbr) Mercedes
3 Sebastian Vettel (Ger) Ferrari
4 Kimi Raikkonen (Fin) Ferrari
5 Max Verstappen (Ned) Red Bull
6 Niko Hulkenberg (Ger) Renault
7 Sergio Perez (Mex) Force India
8 Esteban Ocon (Fra) Force India
9 Fernando Alonso (Esp)
McLaren +1 lap
10 Felipe Massa (Bra) Williams
FINAL STANDINGS - DRIVERS
1 Hamilton 363 pts
2 Vettel 317
3 Bottas 305
4 Raikkonen 205
5 Daniel Ricciardo (Aus) Red Bull 200
1 Mercedes 668 pts
2 Ferrari 522
3 Red Bull 368
4 Force India 187
5 Williams 83
Mercedes, too, will be pleased with how strongly they have closed out the season with a one-two, especially given the strong challenge Ferrari and Vettel are expected to mount next year.
Hamilton, who scored points in every race, was unhappy with the tight track.
"It's impossible to pass here man," he said in the pre-podium room. "I was like - where are all the back-markers? They've got to change this track."
The team had already secured their fourth constructors' championship, but proved here that their development of a car that has proved difficult to manage on occasion, has been strong to the end.
F1 also unveiled a new logo at the season-ender as the first step in a rebranding of the US-owned sport.
The design replaces one introduced three decades ago by former commercial supremo Bernie Ecclestone.
THE GUARDIAN, REUTERS