Lewis Hamilton has arrived in the UAE ahead of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix
The world champion spoke of his respect for Ferrari rival Sebastian Vettel
The Renault drivers hit the beach at the Marina Circuit of the season finale
Published: 06:33 EST, 23 November 2017 | Updated: 07:15 EST, 23 November 2017>
World champion Lewis Hamilton and his fellow Formula One drivers have touched down in the UAE ahead of this weekend's Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
Hamilton, who was crowned driver's champion back in October, was pictured arriving at the Marina Circuit on Thursday ahead of first practice on Friday afternoon.
Speaking to the assembled media Hamilton spoke of his admiration for the man he beat to the 2017 title, Sebastian Vettel.
World champion Lewis Hamilton and his fellow F1 drivers have touched down in the UAE
Mercedes driver Hamilton was pictured arriving at the Marina Circuit on Thursday
Felipe Massa gives a thumbs up as he arrives ahead of his final grand prix before retirement
Red Bull driver Max Verstappen makes his way across the paddock at the Marina Circuit
Sebastian Vettel will be looking to end his season on a high after losing out to Hamilton
'It was great to have those close battles this year with Sebastian, a four-time world champion you respect,' said Hamilton.
Hamilton, also a four-time champion, will target equalling Juan Manuel Fangio's feat of five titles next season, adding: 'I feel very honoured to be this close to a great sporting icon in Juan Manuel Fangio. He's kind of the godfather of the sport'.
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Several other drivers also checked in for the final grand prix of the season, including the Renault pair of Nico Hulkenburg and Carlos Sainz. With little left to be decided this season Hulkenburg and Sainz appeared to be taking a relaxed approach to the finale, hitting the beach for some downtime.
Abu Dhabi will also see Robert Kubica continue his comeback behind the wheel after nearly losing his right hand.
Renault pair Nico Hulkenburg and Carlos Sainz took a relaxed approach to the finale
Hulkenburg and Sainz hit the beach in Abu Dhabi as they gear up for the season finale
Hulkenberg (right) shows off his footwork on the sand with Abu Dhabi skyline in the backdrop
The 32-year-old Polish driver was rated as one of the quickest in F1 before a gruesome rally accident left him needing seven hours of surgery on a partially severed right hand, and numerous subsequent operations.
Kubica did F1 testing for Renault earlier this season and recently with the Williams team, and is consideration for an F1 seat in 2018.
No announcement is planned in Abu Dhabi, Williams says. But in what appears to be a boost for his ambitions, Williams announced Wednesday that Kubica will take part in Pirelli tire testing after the race.
Valtteri Bottas arrives at the Marina Circuit with hopes of moving up to second in the standings
Stoffel Vandoorne will be hoping to avoid a sixth retirement of the season n Abu Dhabi
Those tests are aimed at evaluating tires, but it gives driver further time behind the wheel before Williams decides.
It was his love of all racing that pushed Kubica into trying rallying six years ago, and it almost ended his career. After crashing at a little-known Italian rally in February, 2011, he was trapped in the wreckage of his battered Skoda for more than an hour and also sustained arm and leg fractures.
'The accident turned my life upside down, but I'm aware that a few centimetres more and I wouldn't be here talking about it,' Kubica said. 'The biggest job I had to do was in my own head. There were some terrible times when I no longer felt up to it. It was worse than a physical pain.
'I never wanted to visit a Grand Prix paddock or attend a test, despite being invited. Life had given me so much and then in an instant, it (almost) took it all away,' Kubica recently told the official magazine of the FIA.
Robert Kubica will test 2018 Pirelli tyres for Williams as he looks to secure seat for next season
'The brain can develop the ability to compensate, at least partly, for one's physical limits,' he said. 'It's difficult to explain something like this - only those who have experienced it can really understand.'
But Williams need a replacement for 36-year-old Brazilian driver Felipe Massa, who is retiring after Sunday's season-ending race.
One of the main problems is that the weight of the 2017 F1 car - heavier than in recent years - puts greater strain on Kubica's fragile right arm.
Williams is not giving anything away, saying only that 'although conversations are ongoing with Kubica, it is still yet to be finally decided who will replace Massa.'
British driver Paul Di Resta, who previously raced in 59 GPs with Force India, is also being considered.
Source : http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/formulaone/article-5110963/Lewis-Hamilton-checks-Abu-Dhabi-Grand-Prix.html