• IN WORDS: Lewis & Valtteri Talk Abu Dhabi

Our drivers on ending the year strongly and how 2018 ranks

It's been a few weeks since Lewis claimed his fifth Drivers' Championship and the achievement is slowing starting to sink in.

Lewis always finds it difficult comparing his title-winning seasons but, even so, the Brit believes 2018 is up there with the best performances of his racing career so far.

"I don't know, hopefully somewhere around the top," he said, when asked how 2018 ranks compared to his other Championships.

"I've not really thought about it too much, to be honest. I've been focusing on trying to finish off the season strong.

"But it does feel... you know me, I don't have a great memory, but it does feel like one of the best years that I can remember, competition-wise and competitive-wise, in terms of performances."

For Valtteri, it's been a tough 2018 season, but he's eager to focus on the positives and head into the winter break with a positive mindset.

"I could definitely have had a very different season," the Finn explained. "It is disappointing looking back at how the season turned out, but there are positives.

"While I am still disappointed, sometimes it can be very difficult to see the positives but I know that once I go away on holidays, I will start to see them.

"There were a lot of races that performance-wise could have been a lot better for me in terms of points and positions.

"Also, I have seen a fact that overall my qualifying and race performances have been better compared to Lewis than it was last year.

"So, I made some steps forward. That's positive. We will wait a couple of weeks to look at these positive things and there are also a couple of things from my side I can do better next year."

The hot topic in the paddock on Thursday was the announcement of Robert Kubica's return to the F1 grid in 2019 with Williams. Lewis has raced Robert at various points of his career and is excited to see him back.

"Is Robert younger or older than me?" Lewis joked, during the FIA press conference. When told Robert is older than him, he replied: "Oh, perfect! I'm so happy he's coming back, because Fernando is leaving and I was going to be the second-oldest driver but now I still remain the third. I can't tell you how happy I am about that.

"No, I think it's great. I raced him from karting days so I've known him for a long, long time and he was always one of the most talented drivers that I had the pleasure of racing against.

"I know he has had a really difficult time over the last God knows how many years now, and it's just great to see he's got the opportunity back and I hope he works hard on his strength and getting his mind back into gear like he was in the past and I think it's exciting for the sport to see him back in action."

Valtteri's also happy to see Robert stepping up to a race driver role at Williams: "He hasn't been racing for a while, it will be nice to see how he compares to George.

"I think for the team, they have had a tough year I know how difficult it is to keep up the motivation and the spirit when things are tough.

"Maybe a new driver line-up will bring some more positivity and things to look forward to. I am sure they are going to be full of energy, both drivers, for the great opportunity. Hopefully that will help Williams to be where they deserve to be and that is not where they are right now."

Abu Dhabi holds fond memories for Valtteri after his dominant performance at the race next year, and he's focused on ending this season in a similar fashion.

"I had a very strong weekend here last year," he said. "It was the perfect way to end a season and to go for some holidays. I think it was a triple, pole, victory and fastest lap.

"This is always going to be tough to repeat but there is only one goal for this weekend. It would be nice to end this tough season personally for me in a good way."

He's also in the fight with Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen and Red Bull's Max Verstappen for third in the Drivers' standings: "For sure it would be better than fourth. It would not be nice to have two Ferraris between Lewis and me.

"In that sense, it is still possible. Obviously, I need a perfect weekend and Kimi can't have a strong weekend.

"So, it's not only up to me. I have only one goal, one job to do this weekend and I need to focus on that and that is enough."