Abu Dhabi Grand Prix: Valtteri Bottas hangs tough to close out the season with third career win
By: S. Harding, Xiro Xone News November 26, 2017 Updated: 10:41 PM
ABU DHABI -- Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas held strong to take his third career win after enduring the pressure from teammate Lewis Hamilton.
Bottas had a strong showing yesterday taking his fourth career pole and was hoping to convert his pole to a win this time around after failing to do so in Brazil.
"I just need to go next year race by race, but for sure this weekend gives me a lot of confidence. I had a good performance in the qualifying and today was very good. I’m really looking forward to next year and seeing what it brings but I will be working as hard as I can over the winter and I’ll try to have a strong one," said Bottas.
Bottas also took the time to dedicate the win to his home country of Finland, which celebrates it's 100th birthday next week.
"Obviously, I’m a very proud Finn, very proud of where I come from. So, now for me it’s a great opportunity for me to say Finland happy 100th birthday very soon, I always love driving under the Finnish flag and for all the people in Finland supporting me. So yeah, very proud," he said.
Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel finished third and was unable to keep up the monster pace of the two silver arrows finishing 19.330s from Bottas at the end of the race.
“I was pretty lonely for most of the race, trying to save a bit of fuel in the first part of the final stint. It was not very exciting, but that’s how it goes sometimes! The results have been worse than they could have been, but in the end we weren’t strong enough. However, it’s against the spirit of Ferrari to give up. I am sure we have a lot of things to improve and the people are very motivated. So, I am looking forward to next season," said Vettel.
Vettel's teammate Kimi Raikkonen finished fourth closing out the season fourth in the championship. Red Bull's Max Verstappen finished fifth with Renault's Nico Hulkenberg finishing sixth after reciving a 5-second time penalty for cutting a corner while battling Force India driver Sergio Perez who finished seventh. However, Hulkenberg's sixth place finish was enough to give the team the points they needed to beat Toro Rosso in the constructors' championship.
Managing Director Cyril Abiteboul, said “Mission accomplished. We came here with one clear objective. At the start of the year we set out to finish fifth, which was very ambitious, but ambition is good – you have to set high targets. This season we’ve not made it easy for ourselves and the last three weekends have been a microcosm of this rollercoaster of a year. At times we’ve been too aggressive, then too conservative, but we came to Abu Dhabi with a very extreme preparation and the weekend went almost exactly to plan. Sixth was the revised goal and I’m so proud we got it."
Perez' teammate Esteban Ocon took eighth in the second Force India ahead of McLaren's Fernando Alonso in ninth as this marks the team's last year running Honda power. Williams' Felipe Massa closed out the season tenth, but he also closes the chapter on his 16 year career in Formula One as he enters retirement from the sport.
Romain Grosjean took 11th for Haas, which finished its sophomore season eighth in the constructors' championship repeating their finish from last year.
Stoffel Vandoorne ended his debut season 12th in the Grand Prix and 16th in the drivers' championship. Grosjean's Haas teammate Kevin Magnussen was in a tough battle with Sauber's Pascal Wehrlein for 13th. But after some questionable moves from Magnussen, he was able to secure the position leaving Wehrlein in 14th who still closed out the season with a very impressive drive.
"I had a nice, lengthy battle with Kevin (Magnussen) ahead of me – unfortunately, I could not quite get him on the straights. It was good to have an action loaded season finale, though," said Wehrlein.
The Toro Rosso pair of Brendon Hartley and Pierre Gasly finished 15th and 16th as they suffered a string of reliability issues in the last few races which proved costly in their battle with Renault for sixth in the constructors' championship. Wehrlein's teammate Marcus Ericsson struggled to finish 17th to end the season as his future with the team is yet to be determine.
Williams' Lance Stroll wasn't able to end the final race of the season on a high note as he finished at the bottom of the order in 18th after having struggled with an under-powered older engine.
Carlos Sainz, who was battling for the top ten, ran into trouble and was forced to retire after the wheel on his car came loose after a pit stop while Daniel Ricciardo was forced to retire his car after it stopped due to a hydraulic issue.
In other racing news, there was a Formula One Esports champion crowned this weekend as Brandon Leigh became the first champion in the series' inaugural year.