Nico Hulkenberg walked away without injury despite being trapped when his Renault caught fire at the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

World champion Lewis Hamilton ended the year of his career with an 11th victory under the lights of the Yas Marina circuit.

Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel finished second and Red Bull driver Max Verstappen third.

But the dead-rubber race will be remembered for Hulkenberg’s opening-lap crash, which saw him somersault through the air following a collision with Romain Grosjean at the ninth bend, before landing the wrong way up and precariously against the tire barriers.

Flames briefly billowed from the back of his yellow Renault, with Hulkenberg unable to get out.

“I’m hanging like a cow,” the panicked driver, 31, said over the radio. “Get me out. There is fire. There is fire.”

To emphasize the drama of the incident, television footage captured both British pop star Sam Smith and Spice Girl Geri Horner with their jaws open in disbelief as they watched on from the Red Bull garage. Hollywood superstar Will Smith held his hand over his mouth.

Hulkenberg was still upside down and strapped into his Renault. Safety marshals dashed to the scene before the flames went out, and, after more than three minutes, they gingerly flipped the German’s car back on to four wheels. Hulkenberg was assisted to the medical center where the FIA, F1’s sporting federation, reported he was shaken but had escaped the incident unharmed.

Nico Hulkenberg paid tribute to the marshals who helped him emerge unscathed after he was trapped in his Renault which caught fire.

“The marshals reacted very quickly,” said Hulkenberg. “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.” he added.