Lewis Hamilton confirmed that there had been no question about backing off in Abu Dhabi to make things easier for his Mercedes team mate.
Valtteri Bottas started from pole position on Sunday. Unlike Brazil, this time he held on to the lead into the first corner. He also fended off Hamilton’s attempt at an overcut during the mid-race pit stops.
After that, Hamilton kept pressing – but each time he tried, Bottas proved himself up to the challenge.
“Big, big congratulations to Valtteri. He did an amazing job today to hold me off,” Hamilton said on the podium after the race.
“It was a great race. I gave it everything every single lap,” he insisted. “I was giving it everything, but Valtteri did an exceptional job.”
Hamilton explained that the nature of the track had made it tough to pass, unless there was a big performance advantage.
“It’s very, very hard to overtake here. Once you get to the last sector you struggle a little bit,” he said.
“The second stint I was obviously very close. But as soon as you get to that 1.2s, 1.4s window you just lose downforce and there’s nothing you can do.
“They say you have to have 1.4s advantage on the car in front,” he added. “We’ve got the same car, and there’s not 1.4s difference in ability [between us.]”
Hamilton had already clinched the 2017 world championship, so Sunday’s result was in some ways academic. But the margin both Mercedes drivers enjoyed over their rivals today is an important boost to the team going into 2018.
“Just want to say a big thank you to the team, both here and back at the factory. What they’ve produced us this year is just incredible.
“It’s a real honour to race for them. And then to have this amount of support here – thank you everyone!
“All the British flags. I love you and appreciate you. Looking forward to coming back strong next year.”
Not that Hamilton is planning to put his feet up during the off-season and take things easy any time soon.
“We can celebrate tonight [although] I don’t particularly fancy it too much!,” he said. “We have testing on Tuesday, then I’m to Malaysia on Wednesday. Germany on Friday. Back to the UK.
“I’m moving around a lot for the next two weeks, then I’ll get some time off.
“Probably around the 18th or something of December – then I’ll go do some skiing, be with the family and the dogs. Looking forward to that!”
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