Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton produced a faultless performance in Abu Dhabi on Sunday evening to claim his 11th win of the season and with it his second world drivers’ crown. It was the 33rd win of Hamilton’s career, moving him clear of his great rival Fernando Alonso into fifth in the all-time list.
Hamilton, second in qualifying, took the lead at the start and controlled the race, as Mercedes team-mate and title rival Nico Rosberg suffered car trouble and finished 14th.
While Hamilton made a perfect start to the day-night race under the setting sun at the impressive Yas Marina circuit, Rosberg’s Mercedes bogged down and the Briton was into the lead well before braking for the first corner.
Hamilton completed the first lap 1.2 seconds in front, and inched clear until he was 2.7 seconds in front by the time he made his first pit stop on lap 10, always giving the impression of being in control. The gap stayed at about that margin until lap 23, about half-distance, when Rosberg suffered a failure of the energy recovery system on his Mercedes.
From then on, it was a matter of damage limitation for Rosberg, who asked his team to tell him what he needed to do to finish in the top five – the result that would give him the title should Hamilton retire.
Williams took a shot at beating Hamilton to the race win by putting second-placed Felipe Massa on to super-soft tyres for a short final stint at his final stop with 12 laps to go. Massa closed to within nine seconds of Hamilton with eight laps to go and kept reducing the gap but Hamilton controlled his pace to ensure he had plenty of margin in hand to keep Massa at bay.
Williams took a double podium with Valtteri Bottas taking third, ahead of Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo, who drove brilliantly to take fourth after starting from the pit lane because both Red Bulls were found to be illegal after qualifying.
Jenson Button took fifth for McLaren in what could be the final race of an illustrious career – the team have yet to choose whether Button or team-mate Kevin Magnussen will partner Fernando Alonso, who is moving from Ferrari, in 2015.