Max Verstappen took Red Bull-Honda to a dominant victory in the 2020 Formula 1 season-closing Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
Verstappen, Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton held first, second and third throughout, as Mercedes proved unable to offer any kind of challenge to the leading Red Bull.
The main interest in the race was the fight over third in the constructors’ championship, which was snatched away from Racing Point by McLaren.
Fifth and sixth places for Lando Norris and Carlos Sainz Jr were enough for McLaren – which announced major new investment at the start of the day – to overcome Racing Point’s pre-race advantage as Lance Stroll could only finish 10th and Sakhir GP winner Sergio Perez was an early retirement.
After the engine component change penalty that left him starting last, Perez made it up to 14th in the first 10 laps before parking with what he suggested was another engine problem.
VIRTUAL SAFETY CAR DEPLOYED (LAP 10/55)
— Formula 1 (@F1) December 13, 2020
That prompted first a virtual safety car under which the majority of the field pitted to take on hard tyres to run to the finish, with a full safety car following.
Verstappen simply pulled away at the restart, as Bottas held a small advantage over team-mate Hamilton throughout, with the world champion’s momentous season ending with a muted podium.
Alex Albon secured fourth after an early pass on Norris’s McLaren, and in the final laps managed to close in on Hamilton for third.
The only worry for McLaren is a post-race investigation over whether Sainz slowed excessively in the pitlane during the safety car.
Now we wait… ⏳
— McLaren (@McLarenF1) December 13, 2020
Racing Point argued this delayed Stroll and changed the complexion of the race.
But while both Sainz and Stroll fell behind a group of cars that stayed out during the safety car, Sainz was able to make rapid progress back up the order whereas Stroll ended up swiftly losing a position to Pierre Gasly’s AlphaTauri.
Outgoing Renault driver Daniel Ricciardo was the best of the drivers who stayed out during the safety car, holding fifth for much of the evening and building enough of a cushion over the midfield that he only dropped behind the McLarens into seventh when he eventually stopped with 15 laps left.
He took the finish in seventh, picking up the fastest lap of the race on the final tour, with Gasly making up the top eight behind him.
Esteban Ocon was asked to let the faster Ricciardo past early on, and finished ninth after overtaking Stroll on the final lap.
Daniil Kvyat – who was overtaken by team-mate Gasly in the opening laps – narrowly missed out on a point in potentially his final grand prix as he finished 11th.
The Ferraris stayed out during the safety car and moved into the top 10 as a result, but ultimately spent much of the race being overtaken by cars on fresher tyres and then struggling to regain ground after they pitted.
Charles Leclerc and Sebastian Vettel ended up only 13th and 14th, behind Kimi Raikkonen’s Alfa Romeo.
On his return to Williams, Sakhir GP hero George Russell could only manage 15th.
Kevin Magnussen’s F1 career ended with 18th for Haas.
|Pos||Name||Car||Laps||Laps Led||Total Time||Fastest Lap||Pitstops||Pts|
|1||Max Verstappen||Red Bull-Honda||55||55||1h36m28.645s||1m40.958s||1||25|
|4||Alex Albon||Red Bull-Honda||55||0||+19.987s||1m41.227s||1||12|
|6||Carlos Sainz Jr.||McLaren-Renault||55||0||+1m05.662s||1m41.947s||1||8|
|10||Lance Stroll||Racing Point-Mercedes||55||0||+1m42.738s||1m41.866s||1||1|
|11||Daniil Kvyat||AlphaTauri-Honda||54||0||+1 lap||1m42.704s||1||0|
|12||Kimi Räikkönen||Alfa Romeo-Ferrari||54||0||+1 lap||1m42.148s||1||0|
|13||Charles Leclerc||Ferrari||54||0||+1 lap||1m41.908s||1||0|
|14||Sebastian Vettel||Ferrari||54||0||+1 lap||1m41.475s||1||0|
|15||George Russell||Williams-Mercedes||54||0||+1 lap||1m43.328s||1||0|
|16||Antonio Giovinazzi||Alfa Romeo-Ferrari||54||0||+1 lap||1m41.675s||1||0|
|17||Nicholas Latifi||Williams-Mercedes||54||0||+1 lap||1m42.497s||2||0|
|18||Kevin Magnussen||Haas-Ferrari||54||0||+1 lap||1m41.999s||2||0|
|19||Pietro Fittipaldi||Haas-Ferrari||53||0||+2 laps||1m41.707s||3||0|
|Sergio Pérez||Racing Point-Mercedes||8||0||DNF||1m43.263s||0||0|