Mercedes had the constructor’s championship sealed since Imola, and Lewis Hamilton the driver’s since Istanbul. So the Abu Dhabi GP was about ending the year on a high, after the 7-time champion successfully battled a Covid-19 illness. Unfortunately for the pair, they had no answer to the devastating pace shown by Max Verstappen on his RB16. The Dutchman led the race from start to finish, leaving the Mercedes of Bottas and Hamilton in his exhaust’s dust. The Briton however managed to bring his car home in third, after keeping the returning Alex Albon at bay.
When exiting his car at the end of the race, Hamilton — looking drained — explained how the Covid-19 impacted his level of fitness, and the toll it took on him:
"That was a really hard race for me"
"All year physically I've been fine, but today I definitely wasn't. So I'm just glad it's over."
Asked if he felt coronavirus had impacted him in the race, he added:
"Physically, massively. I don't think I've ever been so blown.”
"My body is not feeling great, but [looking] on the bright side I made it through. I didn't think anytime last week that I'll be here.”
"So, I'm just really truly grateful for my health and to be alive, and looking forward to recovering over the next period of time we have. Then get back into training and get my body back to where I know it should be."
On the sporting side of things, He reflected on the pace superiority of the Red Bulls, acknowledging how far from their reach they were:
"The Red Bulls I think this weekend were just too far out of reach for us. We just couldn't hold on to the pace that they had."
He also praised the performance of Albon, highlighting the fact that staying close to them had an impact on Mercedes’ strategy
“It was a fantastic job to see Alex right up there with us. We were having a two team battle which is I think what the sport needs."
In the end, it was a solid result for the 2020 world champion, with a podium, the 165th of his career. He insisted once more on the effects of the Covid-19 disease, which according to him, shouldn’t be taken lightly.
"Covid is no joke. I never thought it was. I knew it would be tough because people out there are losing their lives.”
"I always find [it] very strange to see world leaders laughing it off like it is nothing.”
"I am destroyed. I do not feel good. I am happy and grateful I am alive and live to fight another day."
Ultimately, Hamilton did not miss the chance to thank his team for the work accomplished together, and gave a hint they might be writing history going ahead.
That’s a wrap for the season! 💨🏁Gotta say a massive thanks to my team. It’s been one hell of a year with you guys and I’m so grateful for everything we’ve accomplished together. Let’s keep making #HIS7ORY together🙏🏾 pic.twitter.com/KTK7YBZQOT— Lewis Hamilton (@LewisHamilton) December 13, 2020