Max Verstappen rounded off the 2020 FIA Formula 1 World Championship season with his second win of the year at the end of a dominant Abu Dhabi Grand Prix performance.
The Dutchman’s triumph was nearly a grand-slam victory after he took pole and of course the all-important win, with the fastest lap stolen from him in the closing stages by Daniel Ricciardo. Despite doing his best to try to secure second place in the drivers’ world championship, Valtteri Bottas denied him that luxury after finishing runner-up.
Bottas and Lewis Hamilton in the two Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team cars failed to challenge the Dutchman and could only muster their starting positions of second and third.
Verstappen was under no threat throughout the entirety of the 55-lap race at the Yas Marina Circuit, having started from pole position, finishing 15 seconds clear of his nearest rival at the chequered flag.
His team-mate Alexander Albon was constantly in touch in fourth place throughout the race, this prevented the Mercedes’ from stopping to pressure the Dutchman towards the end. It’s a performance Red Bull will be happy with but it may be too little too late for the British-Thai driver.
The race began at 13:10 GMT and, miraculously, all cars emerged unscathed throughout the first lap. Verstappen built a healthy lead ahead of the two Mercedes as his team-mate Albon attempted to pressure Lando Norris.
On lap ten, mechanical issues hit F1’s newest race winner, Sergio Perez, as he was forced to retire with transition issues in what could be his final F1 race of his career. The safety car was deployed after a brief virtual safety car, and almost everyone pitted in what was perhaps a strategic blunder for Mercedes. The silver arrows could well have stayed out and caused a headache for Red Bull, but they opted to pit instead.
The pit stops were marred by a small drama, as Carlos Sainz Jr. came under investigation in his final race for McLaren F1 Team after backing the pack up in the pit lane in order to create some breathing room for his team in the pit box.
The two Scuderia Ferrari drivers were in the midst of a fierce battle in their final race as team-mates, with Sebastian Vettel the early winner. However, strategy troubles from the Italian outfit saw the two swap positions towards the end of the race.
Pierre Gasly advanced from tenth to overtake his team-mate Daniil Kvyat in what may well be his last race for Scuderia AlphaTauri, as the Russian struggled off the back of a brilliant last Qualifying. He finished just outside of the points in eleventh, while Gasly made it to eighth, more than twenty seconds ahead.
Overtaking for the rest of the race was almost non-existent and a uniform DRS train was the main source of action in the season finale. Nonetheless, some standout moves were made; Notably, a beautiful dive into the turn twelve chicane by Gasly saw him pass Lance Stroll after the Canadian locked up and ran wide just a few laps earlier.
Daniel Ricciardo was another who completed an strong race. He managed to extended his stint to keep the tyres that he started on running until almost lap thirty-nine, eventually pitting to go on to clinch seventh place in his final race for Renault F1 Team.
Verstappen, who held a comfortable lead, joked with his engineer about turning the engine down as Leclerc came under investigation for various track limits violations at the final turn. The Monegasque racer beat team-mate Vettel whilst fittingly wearing a special tribute helmet to the 4-time world champion’s last race for the prancing horse. Leclerc finished in an unlucky thirteenth and Vettel closed his Scuderia career in red with a lacklustre fourteenth. This year marks the worst season for Ferrari since 1980.
With just three laps to go, Albon was encouraged to take a third podium of the year by overtaking Lewis Hamilton, despite his efforts he could not manage to close the gap and had to settle for fourth place.
Norris and Sainz scored valuable points for the McLaren F1 Team in fifth and sixth, which secured the team third place in the Constructors’ championship, a position they have been fighting for all year.
BWT Racing Point F1 Team were unfortunate to miss out on the chance to challenge for third place in the championship early on in the race when Perez retired. A great last-lap overtake by Esteban Ocon for the French marque Renault saw Stroll drop to tenth and therefore their challenge was well and truly over.
Verstappen crossed the line the dominant victor ahead of the two struggling Mercedes’. Albon finished fourth in front of Norris, Sainz, Ricciardo, Gasly, Ocon, with Stroll rounding out the top ten.
As is tradition, the final lap was accompanied with some customary donuts which marked the end of challenging Formula 1 season. It also marked the end of an F1 career for some drivers, Kevin Magnussen and Romain Grosjean leave the sport for 2021, with Daniil Kvyat and Sergio Perez thought to be leaving too.
Abu Dhabi Grand Prix Result:
|1||33||Max Verstappen||NED||Aston Martin Red Bull Racing||55||01:36:29||0|
|2||77||Valtteri Bottas||FIN||Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team||55||15.976s||0|
|3||44||Lewis Hamilton||GBR||Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team||55||18.415s||0|
|4||23||Alexander Albon||THA||Aston Martin Red Bull Racing||55||19.987s||0|
|5||4||Lando Norris||GBR||McLaren F1 Team||55||60.729s||0|
|6||55||Carlos Sainz Jr.||ESP||McLaren F1 Team||55||65.662s||0|
|7||3||Daniel Ricciardo||AUS||Renault DP World F1 Team||55||73.748s||0|
|8||10||Pierre Gasly||FRA||Scuderia AlphaTauri Honda||55||89.718s||0|
|9||31||Esteban Ocon||FRA||Renault DP World F1 Team||55||101.069s||0|
|10||18||Lance Stroll||CAN||BWT Racing Point Formula One Team||55||102.738s||0|
|11||26||Daniil Kvyat||RUS||Scuderia AlphaTauri Honda||54||1 lap||0|
|12||7||Kimi Räikkönen||FIN||Alfa Romeo Racing||54||1 lap||0|
|13||16||Charles Leclerc||MON||Scuderia Ferrari||54||1 lap||0|
|14||5||Sebastian Vettel||GER||Scuderia Ferrari||54||1 lap||0|
|15||63||George Russell||GBR||Williams Racing||54||1 lap||0|
|16||99||Antonio Giovinazzi||ITA||Alfa Romeo Racing||54||1 lap||0|
|17||6||Nicholas Latifi||CAN||Williams Racing||54||1 lap||0|
|18||20||Kevin Magnussen||DEN||Haas F1 Team||54||1 lap||0|
|19||51||Pietro Fittipaldi||BRA||Haas F1 Team||53||2 laps||0|
|20||11||Sergio Pérez||MEX||BWT Racing Point Formula One Team||8||DNF||0|