Hamilton seals easy season-ending F1 win

Jerome Pugmire
Lewis Hamilton wasn't expecting to win the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix so convincingly

World champion Lewis Hamilton's 11th victory of another dominant season was so easy Max Verstappen, who finished a distant second to him at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, joked that he should have eased up a bit.

Hamilton's 84th career win saw him finish around 17 seconds clear of the Red Bull driver, who also started from second place behind him on the grid.

Ferrari's Charles Leclerc was third while Australia's Daniel Ricciardo, who started from seventh, finished 11th in his Renault.

"I wasn't expecting to have the pace advantage to that extent," Hamilton said.

He was five seconds ahead within 10 laps and Verstappen never got close to catching his Mercedes in a season-finale resembling more of a coronation procession for the six-time Formula One champion.

"I do wish we had some battles," Hamilton said to Verstappen, alongside him in the post-race conference.

"You could have slowed down," Verstappen joked, after his ninth podium of the season saw him consolidate third in the standings on 278 points to be behind the Mercedes pair of Hamilton (413) and Valtteri Bottas (326).

Ferrari's Leclerc (264) and Vettel (240) made up the top five.

Although Verstappen had reliability issues approaching the midway point of the 55-lap race, the 22-year-old Dutchman conceded it had little impact.

"We drove around the problem," he said. "But it wouldn't have made any difference today."

Hamilton is now just seven wins behind seven-time champion Michael Schumacher's 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 him to the title.

There was no overtaking except for Verstappen's clean move on Leclerc on Lap 33.

Leclerc's 10th podium ended a strong first season with Ferrari, which included an F1-leading seven poles - two more than Hamilton and Bottas - and two wins.

However Ferrari was summoned for a post-race investigation because there was a difference between the amount of fuel in the car declared by the team and the amount inside the car.

They were fined 50,000 euros ($A81,000) but no action was taken against Leclerc.

Leclerc only just held off Bottas, who climbed 16 places to fourth after starting last.

Sebastian Vettel started fourth and finished fifth in a disappointing end to a season where the four-time F1 champion won only once, in Singapore.

Ricciardo failed to pick up any points in the final race to be ninth in the drivers' standings, five places above teammate Nico Hulkenberg.

"Looking at the bigger picture for us, it was a positive that we managed to secure fifth in the Constructors' Championship, which was our goal coming into the weekend," he said.

"We're optimistic heading into the off-season and looking ahead for next season."