"It's clear that something happens once you've won the championship", said Hamilton.
The start saw no changes at all in the first 10 qualifying spots - with the Finn leading the field from the three-time Abu Dhabi winners Hamilton and Vettel.
The world champion attacked his team-mate, briefly getting within DRS range, but locked up at Turn 17, running off track before rejoining.
Hartley's team-mate Pierre Gasley finished 16th.
He was the first of the Mercedes drivers to pit, swapping the ultra-softs for super-softs and rejoining in second place.
Mercedes had already won the constructors' championship for the fourth year in a row.
"These people, they are very talented, business people, and that is demonstrated by Chase Carey having previously been chairman of Fox".
"Finish the season strong at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix and I hope to see you when WWE comes to Abu Dhabi on December 7th and 8th".
"I am very happy about that and I think everybody who loves the sport should be happy and feel that the sport of F1 is in good hands".
And the Mereceds driver will be hoping the belt gives him some extra clout heading into the final Grand Prix of the season.
"For me, practice was great".
He said: "It is such a beautiful place but (it would be good) if there was some way to improve the track". "Fair and square racing between him and Lewis and I think carrying positive momentum with a race win through the winter after a difficult time this year is probably for him just what the doctor ordered".
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