His late-season run to his fifth title has been spell-binding, and he crowned it with a majestic drive to his 11th victory of the year under the floodlights in Abu Dhabi. But if his rivals thought that Lewis Hamilton was going to let them have a go next year, they were sorely mistaken, with the Mercedes driver revealing that he was planning for more of the same in 2019.
Hamilton ended what’s arguably been the finest of his 12 seasons in Formula 1 with his 73rd career victory, dominating under the Yas Marina floodlights on Sunday evening to win comfortably from his title rival Sebastian Vettel. After the race end, Hamilton was quick to praise the Ferrari driver for having provided a high level of opposition throughout the year, albeit that Vettel finishes his season having scored just five wins – two of which came in the first two races of the year – to Hamilton’s 11.
“It’s been a real honour and a privilege racing against Sebastian,” he said. “I’ve known him since the F3 days and he’s always been an honest, hardworking racing driver and he’s always raced his heart out.
“He did a fantastic job this whole season. There’s so much pressure on us all so don’t look at our shortcomings as anything less than us giving our best. I know next year he’s going to come back strong and I’ve got to do my best to come back with it, but I’m really grateful for the good times.
Speaking of his own dominant conclusion to the year, which saw him wrap up his fifth drivers’ crown in Mexico with two races to go, Hamilton said: “I really wanted to end the season strong, and I think on a personal note, I was able to do that.
“On the other side, the team did an exceptional job all year long, and I really wanted, race on, race off, to deliver for them and wanted to end the way that I plan to start next year. That was kind of the new psyche. So it’s been a really strong weekend, which I’m really happy with.”