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Hamilton brings curtain down on world title winning season with his 11th victory

 

By Philip Duncan

Lewis Hamilton ended his remarkable season in winning fashion by charging to victory in Abu Dhabi, as Nico Hulkenberg escaped injury when he was trapped after his Renault caught fire.

Hamilton's win under the lights of the Yas Marina circuit, aided by a Mercedes tactical masterstroke after they called the British driver in for an early change of tyres, was the 11th of his championship-winning year, with Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel second and Red Bull driver Max Verstappen completing the podium.

But the concluding race of the 21-round season will be remembered for Hulkenberg's opening-lap crash.

The 31-year-old German somersaulted through the air before landing upside down after he collided with the Haas of Romain Grosjean through the right-handed turn nine.

Hulkenberg was left dangling and unable to slide out of his Renault. He was eventually assisted to the medical centre, where the FIA reported he was shaken. Hulkenberg was later released, with doctors confident he had escaped unharmed.

The early incident saw the safety car sent out for six laps with pole-sitter Hamilton leading the pack.

Hollywood superstar Will Smith had jokingly taken Hamilton hostage before the race, tying the world champion up, and heading to the Briton's car in personalised Mercedes overalls.

But when Hamilton took to the machinery which propelled him to his fifth world championship, he made no mistake with a dominant display.

His Mercedes team played their part, too, after they took advantage of a Virtual Safety Car - deployed when Kimi Raikkonen stopped on the main straight with an engine failure in his final race for Ferrari - to allow Hamilton the chance to effectively make a free pit stop.

He returned to the track in fifth, temporarily racing with Verstappen, but when those ahead came in for tyres, Daniel Ricciardo the last of those pitting on lap 33, Hamilton re-took the lead, crossing the line 2.5 seconds clear of Vettel.

Ricciardo, in his final race for Red Bull, took the flag in fourth ahead of Valtteri Bottas.

Fernando Alonso, competing in his 312th Formula One race, finished outside the top 10.

Urged by his team to chase the one point up for grabs for 10th, Alonso replied: "I have 1,800 points." "Well for me, make it 1,801 points," his race engineer, Will Joseph, replied.

He was unable to do so, ending his career in 11th.

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