Hamilton finishes emphatic F1 season as Pirelli turns to testing at Yas Marina
Mercedes and Lewis Hamilton won the final grand prix of the 2019 season with a one-stop medium-hard strategy. Red Bull’s Max Verstappen in second used the same strategy at Yas Marina, Abu Dhabi, but the third-placed Ferrari of Charles Leclerc added a final soft stint to his medium-hard run plan, taking advantage of the red tyre’s extra speed in the crucial closing stages of the race. Hamilton never lost the lead after gaining pole position in qualifying. He completed a hat-trick with a fastest lap on the hard tyre, which broke a lap record at Yas Marina that had stood since 2009.
Mario Isola – head of F1 and car racing, said: “From a tyre point of view, with the three softest compounds in our range, we are satisfied with the overall performance here. We saw some long stints and low degradation, but also plenty of tactical variation and raw speed, with the decade-old race lap record finally broken on quite old hard tyres. This underlines the constant increase in performance we have seen in Formula 1 this year, which we have to bear in mind for the future.
Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas finished fourth after starting last due to a grid penalty, running a long initial stint on medium before switching to hard for the final stint. He ended up less than a second off the podium.
Ferrari chose to pit both of their cars twice, which were running different strategies from each other. On each occasion, the cars were double stacked in the pit lane, and both used all three available tyres – hard, medium and soft – albeit in a different order.
The longest stint was completed by Toro Rosso’s Pierre Gasly, who switched onto the hard tyre following contact on lap one, and then ran it all the way to the finish: a total of 52 laps (as he finished two laps down).
A total of five different pit stop strategies were seen in the top 10.
Isola added: “So now our focus turns to testing for 2020 and beyond as we remain at Yas Marina. On Tuesday and Wednesday all the teams will try out a range of 2020 tyres, with the opportunity to compare them to the current 2019 tyres. After that, we’ll also be testing the 18-inch tyre for 2021 in the last of our private tests this year. Congratulations to Hamilton and Mercedes, not just for this emphatic race win but also for claiming both championships.”