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    IN WORDS: Lewis & Valtteri's Abu Dhabi Debrief Our two drivers on 2018 ref...

Our two drivers on 2018 reflections, learnings and more...

Lewis concluded the 2018 Formula One season in the style he wants to start 2019: with a commanding victory!

"I haven't really thought about next year," he said. "If I'm honest, there's days where, just being human, you wish days by. I can't wait till this happens, till that happens.

"Then I take a step back and I'm like 'I don't want to wish the time to go by because, jeez, it's going by so quick'. I've been with this team for six years, I can't believe it's been so quick.

"I'm perplexed, because I'm in two states of mind. But I really wanted to end the season strongly. I think on a personal note I was able to do that and I'm really, really grateful.

"I had great support, people around me. And then on another side, the team did an exceptional job all year long and I really, really wanted to deliver for them, race on, race off.

"I really wanted to end the way that I plan to start next year, that was kind of the new psyche. So, it's been a real strong weekend which I am really happy about."

It was a difficult evening for Valtteri. Despite an encouraging start, he suffered some issues towards the end which dropped him to P5.

"I think overall the race sums up the season quite well - started off quite well and then everything turns to s**. I had initially a lock up into Turn 5, when Sebastian got close, and then he got DRS and overtook me.

"I initially thought it was purely my mistake - which in the end it was - but the wind suddenly turned around.

"At the same time, the team found on the rear right brake some vibration and some issue, so the front brakes had to work harder than the rear brakes to compensate and that meant there were sudden lock-ups.

"Same thing happened when I went straight and Verstappen got close. So, we still need to investigate what was exactly the issue with the brakes.

"And when I touched with Max there was quite a big floor damage, we saw in the car, which made the end of the race tricky."

It's been a challenging year for Lewis, Valtteri and the team. But, what does Lewis believe he has learned from 2018?

"I don't think it's been a year of particularly one thing that's been learned," he said.

"If anything, as I've grown, I've understood myself more, able to centre myself and sense things, and balance things better, as you get with experience.

"As you make mistakes, you learn from them. I've been able to be a better me all year long. And, that's never going to stop.

"I'm going to continue to try and work on that and try to work on the output, on the energy I am projecting to people, my commitment to all the different things that I have.

"I've loved driving, I loved every minute of driving today. While the tyres weren't that good, I have generally loved driving the car and I really hope I have many more days to go."

For Valtteri, it's tough to reflect on his 2018 season, so soon after the waving of the chequered flag for the final time.

"Well it's quite difficult, so quickly after the season is finished, to reflect on such a tough season," the Finn admitted.

"It just feels like I would need a few days off to then maybe speak more, but I think the fact is, as a team, what we've analysed, Qualifying pace and race pace, compared to my team-mate has been better this year on average.

"Which is positive, but the results haven't. So, all those things, we need to analyse why the results weren't there.

"Obviously sometimes it was bad luck, and there were different reasons. But... yeah, I think performance-wise this year was better, but results-wise last year was better."

Lewis had a rather unusual way of celebrating his Abu Dhabi victory... by taking his fireproof undershirt off on the podium. What was the reason behind it?

"I've always kind of wanted to do it because I wanted to show Still I Rise and I think it was the perfect moment, because that is really how it has been this year," he explained.

"I really would encourage anyone who doesn't know what Still I Rise is, it's a poem, please go and read it because it applies to anyone who's stumbling and falling.

"Look at Billy Monger, he's been a real inspiration to me this year. I'm sure he'll find it really strange because he probably looks up to me in the sense that he wants to be in Formula One.

"But, what he's done, and so many people who have gone through difficult times, who have stumbled and got back up stronger, that's really what Still I Rise is all about.

"There have been many, many times this year and I'm trying to be as big a spokesman as I can about it. That's really why I did it and yeah, I'm excited for the future."

As the dust settles on a tricky 2018 for Valtteri, he's eager to recharge his batteries and take some time off, clear his head and come back stronger next year.

"Yeah, sure, it will be important," he said, on how he will recharge. "I think from my side personally, mentally, it was a pretty exhausting season, as I had big targets for the year in terms of result and goals.

"Once those proved to be impossible at some point in the season, there were many failures for me, one after another, and it was just kind of building up.

"So, it was difficult sometimes to deal with. I definitely feel a bit drained at the moment. Difficult to see many positives from the year.

"But in this you sport you definitely get to know yourself, and I know that once I have some time off, it's going to be fine, I'm going to be seeing the bright sides of this season.

"Going to be full attack for next year. In terms of holiday plans, I have some plans for the New Year and Christmas, but otherwise just going to do whatever I want and try to think as little as I can about Formula One."

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