ABU DHABI (AP) -- World champion Lewis Hamilton’s 11th victory of another dominant season proved so easy that the driver who finished way back in second place at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix joked that he should have eased up a bit.
Hamilton’s 84th career win saw him finishing around 17 seconds clear of Max Verstappen. The Red Bull driver had started from second place behind Hamilton.
After Hamilton pulled clear from pole, he was five seconds ahead within 10 laps and Verstappen never got remotely close to catching his Mercedes in a season-finale resembling more of a coronation procession for the six-time Formula One champion.
Although Verstappen had reliability issues approaching the midway point of the 55-lap race, the 22-year-old Dutchman conceded it had little impact on who won.
Hamilton is now just seven wins behind seven-time F1 champion Michael Schumacher’s all-time record of 91, and could realistically overtake the F1 great next season.
After clinching a record-extending 88th career pole, Hamilton won on the Yas Marina circuit for the fifth time in his career- four with Mercedes and once when driving for McLaren in 2011.
This was the opposite of the season-ending thriller in 2016, when former Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg beat Hamilton to the title in dramatic fashion.
The fans watching as the sky darkened and the floodlights flickered on saw no overtaking, except for Verstappen’s clean move on Charles Leclerc’s Ferrari on Lap 33. It was typical Verstappen, already a young master at overtaking and arguably the best in F1.
Leclerc finished third for a 10th podium in a strong first season with Ferrari, which included an F1-leading seven poles - two more than Hamilton and Bottas - and two wins.
********Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton of Britain leads during the Emirates Formula One Grand Prix, at the Yas Marina racetrack in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, Sunday, Dec.1, 2019.