Lewis Hamilton said that his dominant victory in the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix was the perfect way to round out his record-breaking season.
The six-time drivers’ champion matched his own personal best tally of 11 race wins in a season with victory at the Yas Marina Circuit, and set a new record for most points in a season with 413.
Winning with a margin of nearly 17 seconds highlights how Mercedes did not let up despite winning both titles early, Hamilton explained.
“What an incredible year it has been. And what an incredible stretch it’s been with this team. After winning the constructors’ and the drivers’ championship, I think it was really important for us as a team to continue to push. You know, we hadn’t got absolutely everything from the overall perfect package.
“So, we were just trying to push the limits and push the boundaries, and I think this is the perfect way to end the season – on the right foot. It was a great weekend in the sense that there was a Ferrari and a Red Bull and a Mercedes in the top three — in the finishing order but also on the grid — and then a lot of young drivers behind me, making me feel young, which is great.
“I’m really just grateful to my team who have continued to push all year long and just have never lost sight of the objective. We’ve all had a common goal and inspired each other to continue to push and strive for perfection. So, incredibly grateful to everyone and I hope that everyone at Mercedes and our partners — I’m sure they are pretty happy.”
Hamilton admitted he had such a pace advantage that he was able to chase the fastest lap on old tires late in the race; but went on to say he is expecting an increasing challenge from Max Verstappen and Charles Leclerc — who finished second and third, respectively — next season.
“I definitely wasn’t expecting to have the pace advantage to that extent. Our long run pace was quite good and I was told that we might be a tenth or two ahead; but then in the race we had a bit more of an advantage in that respect.
“And once I got out in the clear, I was able to manage my pace pretty well in that first stint and manage the tires.
“Basically, I just had to go as long as Max was going. Then we got onto that next set of tires and for this track the tire was good. The hard tire is quite resilient to any abrasion; it goes a long, long way. I think it can do the whole race stint.
“Towards the end of the race, I was like, ‘I want to have some (fun)… I’ve got to push and see if I can extract any more performance from the car’.
“I do wish that we had had some battles. I saw on TV (Verstappen and Leclerc) battling. I’m sure we are going to have some great races. We had some great races this year, Max and I; so congratulations to them for continuing to rise, and I’m excited to be among those guys and fight with them next year.”