Nico Hulkenberg paid tribute to the marshals who helped him emerge unscathed after he was trapped in his Renault which caught fire.
Hulkenberg somersaulted through the air one-and-a-half times following a collision with the Haas driver Romain Grosjean on the opening lap of the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, won by Lewis Hamilton.
The German driver, 31, landed the wrong way up, with flames temporarily coming from the back of his car. He yelled over the radio: ‘Get me out, there is a fire.’
“The marshals reacted very quickly,” said Hulkenberg, who walked away unaided from the incident and was later given the all-clear by doctors.
“They did a good job. It was not the most comfortable situation to be in. There was a little barbeque at the back, so I just wanted to get out. You feel pretty helpless.”
Hulkenberg was in his car for several minutes, but race director Charlie Whiting insisted the Halo – Formula One’s mandatory safety device that sits on top of the cockpit – didn’t prevent the Renault driver from making his escape.
“Once the car was back on its wheels, which had to be done carefully he was able to get out by himself,” he said.
“It was very controlled from what I could see. Our medical delegate was more than happy with the way it was done. It all worked exactly as it should.”
World champion Hamilton won masterfully from pole under the lights of the Yas Marina circuit to claim his 11th win of the year and end the best season of his career on a high.
The Mercedes star, 33, scored six more victories than Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel in 2018, and finished 88 points ahead of his Ferrari rival.
“This year has been a very uplifting experience for me,” Hamilton said.
“I wanted to come here and make sure that I left no stone unturned.
“The team did an exceptional job all year long, so I really wanted to deliver for them and end the season off strong.
“I was able to do that and I’m really grateful for all the support throughout the entire year.
“I’ve been able to be a better me all year long and I will continue to try to work on that and try to work on the energy that I’m projecting to people.
“I loved driving every minute today and I hope I have many more days to go.”