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Ferrari's overall runner-up Sebastian Vettel finished second, and also set the fastest lap, with Red Bull's Max Verstappen third in a race that also saw a rare sprinkling of desert rain.

"I haven't seen the vehicle so it's a little hard to say but quite clearly it's one of the sort of accidents that Halo was created to help with, because it provides more space for the driver once the auto is upside down", Whiting said.

For the first time ever in Formula One history, every driver who competed in the season managed to score a point.

Hamilton, who now boasts five world championships, returned the favour to his friend ahead of the season finale in Abu Dhabi.

The season got away from Sebastian Vettel, as Lewis Hamilton claimed his fifth title
The season got away from Sebastian Vettel, as Lewis Hamilton claimed his fifth title

Veteran Spanish driver Fernando Alonso placed 11th with McLaren in his last F1 race with the team.

With both titles already won by Mercedes for the fifth year in a row, Sunday's race should be a no-holds barred battle for victory without team orders or other considerations.

The Englishman, who is one of the most successful drivers in the history of Formula 1, can be heard pleading with Smith as he attempts to "escape". "And then they can take their time to get the auto righted and just let him get out".

"Fernando is a true legend. It's been a privilege to race when he is racing", Hamilton said.

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Lewis Hamilton heaped praise on one of his most bitter erstwhile rivals on Thursday before declaring that he and Formula One will miss the retiring Fernando Alonso.

"He controlled the race at the front", the German said.

A number of tributes have been paid to the double world champion in Abu Dhabi this weekend to mark his final race, including a one-off livery on his McLaren, a paddock barbeque on Saturday night and the Yas Marina driver briefing room being painted in an Alonso-themed mural and named in his honour. He nearly won a third but was bumped off track by back-marker Esteban Ocon while leading the Brazilian GP two weeks ago, dropping to second place while Hamilton went on to win. "And then the engine has to be reliable as well, and powerful - I think it will be there, but we first have to do the winter testing and then we'll see".

He's won two of course with Renault, but none with McLaren or Ferrari.

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The Haas pairing of Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen took ninth and 10th.

"Get me out", Hulkenberg yelled over the radio.

Hamilton's win came after a race that began with an horrific opening lap crash from which Nico Hulkenberg escaped unhurt despite his Renault auto catching ablaze and barrel-rolling into the track-side barriers. Hulkenberg was unharmed and eventually climbed out.

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