Valtteri Bottas wasn’t perfect, but he showed he belongs at Mercedes in the final race of the 2017 season, beating teammate Lewis Hamilton in the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. Bottas qualified in first for the race, a spot up on Hamilton, the Drivers Championship winner, and held onto the lead despite his teammate sticking to him for much of the race.
Bottas joined Mercedes this past offseason after last year’s champion, Nico Rosberg, abruptly called it a career and retired. Bottas was previously with Williams, but was brought up to Mercedes to fill the gap. He didn’t have the strongest season, and was facing plenty of criticism going into the second half of the year
Notably, Bottas won pole position for the Brazilian Grand Prix, the penultimate race on the calendar, and another one that had no bearing on the championship because it was already settled by then. Bottas gave up his lead early in that race, to Sebastian Vettel of Ferrari, and went into the Abu Dhabi race desperately needing a win.
Vettel dropped more than 20 seconds behind the two Mercedes drivers over the course of the race on Sunday, and finished where he qualified, in third. Daniel Ricciardo, the fourth-place qualifier, had to retire from the race with a car issue, allowing Kimi Raikkonen of Ferrari to take fourth place.
Max Verstappen of Red Bull finished in fifth. That accounts for the top five drivers, who are a league ahead of the rest of the field. Nico Hulkenberg of Renault took the sixth spot on Sunday, sealing a sixth-place finish in the Constructors Championship for his team. He had a 5-second time penalty, but still managed to take the sixth spot.
Force India driver Sergio Perez finished one spot ahead of teammate Esteban Ocon, a driver he has had several incidents with over the course of the season.
Sunday’s Grand Prix marks the end of another exciting Formula One season. It will be interesting to see what happens with Bottas going forward, as Hamilton is still clearly the top driver, but Sunday’s race definitely helps the younger driver.
Below is the full finishing order for Sunday’s Grand Prix.
Abu Dhabi Grand Prix Finishing Order
|Max Verstappen||Red Bull|
|Sergio Pérez||Force India|
|Esteban Ocon||Force India|
|Brendon Hartley||Toro Rosso|
|Pierre Gasly||Toro Rosso|
|Carlos Sainz Jr.||Renault|
|Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull|