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  • Valtteri Bottas held off Lewis Hamilton to sign off the 2017 season...
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    Valtteri Bottas held off Lewis Hamilton to sign off the 2017 season... Valtteri Bottas held off Le...

Valtteri Bottas held off Lewis Hamilton to sign off the 2017 season with victory in the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

Valtteri converted pole into the lead and soaked up serious pressure from team-mate Lewis  throughout the race to claim his third Formula 1 win and his first career hat-trick.

The Finn only surrendered the lead during the stops, otherwise leading Lewis throughout to score the team's third 1-2 of the season - the 40th for the Silver Arrows in F1.

"There was a lot of pressure from Lewis from behind throughout the entire race," said Valtteri. "I knew that one proper mistake could have ruined it.

"I had to keep my head down and go lap by lap. I couldn't be happier to end the season like this. Of course, it would have been nice to get the second place in the championship, but Sebastian had a good weekend as well.

"Looking at the overall season, I need to perform better; but I'm very pleased with how the end of the season has been going for me.

"I'm really happy to be part of the team that won the constructors' championship. Mercedes has given me the opportunity to win a few races and claim a few pole positions, so I'm a really proud team member.

"However, I was hoping for an overall better result in the drivers' championship. I've learned a lot this season, so now I'm really looking forward to next year. This weekend shows that I can perform, I can be on pole and win races. So now I need to try and do it more often next year."

Lewis harried Valtteri throughout the race, closing within 0.5s at one point before dropping back to secure second place.

"A great race, a great battle at the end of the season," said Lewis. "I did the best I could, but Valtteri did a great job - very clean and no mistakes.

"This is one of the harder tracks to overtake; you need to be 1.4 seconds faster than the car in front to overtake. I had a lot of pace in the second stint, but as soon as I got into that window of about 1.2 seconds, I was done. But it was neat that you could push all the way on the tyre, it didn't seem to drop off that much.

"It's really great for Valtteri to have this win, this is a real boost for him to go into the winter with.

"Now I'm looking forward to some time to sit down with my family and just reminisce about the whole year. It's been such a strong year, the team have been phenomenal all year long. I'm so grateful for everyone's hard work back at the factory and for all the support from Mercedes."

Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff hailed a perfect send-off for a super campaign, but delivered a reminder that the 2018 season has already started!

"This was a special way to end a special season: a dominant 1-2 finish in the final race of the season gives us good momentum into the winter," said Toto. "The car was magnificent today - quickest in qualifying and also in race conditions, on both types of tyre.

"I am really pleased to see the way that Valtteri has worked out of the difficult races after the summer to finish the season like this, two pole positions and the final win of the year. It was simply his race today.

"As for Lewis, this has been the best performance I have seen in all five years working together - he has become more rounded as a character and just as impressive as a racer.

"But although we had a strong result today, it's not the time to pat ourselves on the back. 2018 begins on Tuesday with tyre testing so we must be sure to do our homework well this week and to keep pushing in the factories.

"We will enjoy this evening - but then get our heads down, push even harder and start preparing for the next challenge."

Trackside Engineering Director Andrew Shovlin signed off for the season with a final proud word to all the hard work that has gone on at both Brackley and Brixworth this season.

"This has been the most incredible year and we're absolutely delighted to have finished it with such a memorable 1-2 victory," said Andrew. "Congratulations to the whole team!

"It's been a battle since the lights went out in Melbourne and every single member of staff in Brixworth and Brackley has given absolutely everything to fight for both these championships.

"As for today; Valtteri drove a perfect race managing pressure from Lewis behind from start to finish. He finished his first season with the team in the best possible way.

"We were optimistic that we'd have a little margin on Ferrari and Red Bull in terms of pace and we established early on that this was the case. We were able to pull a decent gap and it meant we could extend the first stint and wait for others to make the first move.

"Lewis had a more difficult afternoon, it's very hard to overtake at this track and once Valtteri had successfully defended the over-cut at the stops, the opportunities for Lewis to attack were limited.

"Lewis was never going to give Valtteri an easy win but it's really good to see how much they enjoy racing each other and how well they work together to improve the car.

"Lewis can be very proud of what he has achieved this year, he has driven superbly over the whole season and has truly earned his place as one of the great champions of the sport."

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