Photo: AP

Sure he didn’t win the championship this season, but sitting on three victories, Valtteri Bottas is one of only five racers to win a grand prix this season, and one of only seven drivers to land on the podium in 2017. While his Mercedes teammate Lewis was off scoring the championship laurels by winning 9 out of 20 races this season, Bottas was playing the part of the Mercedes second driver, scoring points in every race this season (except Spain where he suffered retirement).

Scoring the pole at Abu Dhabi was goal #1 for Bottas. Now that the championship has ended, he didn’t have to cede anything for the sake of his champion teammate. While Valtteri was the first driver to pit for tires, thus briefly losing his lead, he cycled back to the lead and continued that way for the remainder of the grand prix. Hamilton clocked the fastest lap while Bottas was in the pit for service, but couldn’t make up enough ground to take over the lead. Following Bottas’ one mistake of the race where he locked a wheel, Hamilton got within half a second of the lead, but never quite had enough to make a move.

Meanwhile Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel had nothing for the Mercedes duo, finishing nearly 20 seconds behind in third. He was followed home by teammate Kimi Raikkonen. Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo was running a steady fourth ahead of Raikkonen until the halfway point of the motor race when his car’s hydraulic system failed and he was forced to pull off.