|1||MAX VERSTAPPEN||RED BULL RACING HONDA||1:36:28.645||25|
|4||ALEXANDER ALBON||RED BULL RACING HONDA||+19.987s||12|
|5||LANDO NORRIS||MCLAREN RENAULT||+60.729s||10|
|6||CARLOS SAINZ||MCLAREN RENAULT||+65.662s||8|
|8||PIERRE GASLY||ALPHATAURI HONDA||+89.718s||4|
|10||LANCE STROLL||RACING POINT BWT HONDA||+102.738s||1|
|11||DANIIL KVYAT||ALPHATAURI HONDA||+1 LAP||0|
|12||KIMI RAIKKONEN||ALFA ROMEO RACING FERRARI||+1 LAP||0|
|13||CHARLES LECLERC||FERRARI||+1 LAP||0|
|14||SABASTIAN VETTEL||FERRARI||+1 LAP||0|
|15||GEORGE RUSSELL||WILLIAMS MERCEDES||+1 LAP||0|
|16||ANTONIO GIOVINAZZI||ALFA ROMEO RACING FERRARI||+1 LAP||0|
|17||NICHOLAS LATIFI||WILLIAMS MERCEDES||+1 LAP||0|
|18||KEVIN MAGNUSSEN||HAAS FERRARI||+1 LAP||0|
|19||PIERTRO FITTIPALDI||HAAS FERRARI||+2 LAP||0|
|NC||SERGIO PEREZ||RACING POINT BWT MERCEDES||DNF||0|
An imperious display from Max Verstappen saw him breeze to his second victory of 2020 at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix season finale, leading home the Mercedes duo of Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton. They had no answer to the Red Bull’s pace around the Yas Marina Circuit.
Alexander Albon feels he has “done everything” to save his Red Bull seat for 2021 after Christian Horner praised his most decisive weekend of the Formula 1 season in Abu Dhabi.
Albon qualified fifth in Abu Dhabi but was able to pass McLaren’s Lando Norris for fourth place in the opening stint before the safety car drew him close to Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton. Although Albon could not put Hamilton under pressure initially, he was able to go on a late charge to cut the gap from nine seconds to just 1.5 seconds in the final 15 laps, crossing the line fourth.
Red Bull is considering whether to replace Albon with Sergio Perez for the 2021 season but has repeatedly said it wanted to give its incumbent driver as much time as possible to stake a claim for the seat.
Albon said he was proud of the performance, – “I feel like it’s been my best weekend, in terms of performance,” Albon said – “I want to say thanks for a lot of support from the guys at the factory and here. We didn’t give up, we kept trying to find solutions and getting me more comfortable with the car, and it is a tricky car to drive.
With Mercedes having taken every pole and race win in Abu Dhabi since 2014, Verstappen reversed that trend with a pole on Saturday, before converting it with a dominant performance under the floodlights, as he led home Bottas by 15 seconds, with Hamilton coming home just behind his teammate on his first race back since contracting Covid-19. Verstappen’s teammate Alex Albon supported Red Bull’s cause by coming home P4, although having lacked the pace to challenge the Mercedes in front of him. At the start, the top three appeared to launch equally well, with Verstappen moving to the middle of the track from the pole to ward off any threat of attack from the Mercedes cars behind, scampering clear as Bottas had a slight slide exiting the first corner. By the start of lap four of 55, Verstappen’s lead was 2.2s, as he and Bottas were able to run in the mid 1m42s, while Hamilton dropped back – lapping in the 1m43s.
Verstappen edged his lead up to three seconds over the next five laps but had to surrender that when the race was neutralized – first with a virtual safety car, then a full safety car – after Sergio Perez retired with what appeared to be a transmission problem exiting. The Racing Point driver, who had been working his way up from P19 on the grid following his pre-race penalty for taking a new power unit, pulled over to the side of the track just past the left-hander under the W Hotel in the third sector after losing drive.
The top three immediately pitted – then under the VSC – to switch their mediums for hards, with the situation upgraded to a full safety car as the Racing Point could not be quickly moved out of harm’s way.
Verstappen kept increasing his advantage, despite concerns about making his hard tyres last to the finish, during the next phase of the race, where he was regularly able to lap in the low 1m41s while the Mercedes drivers swung between the mid-high 1m41s. By lap 35, Verstappen’s advantage had reached eight seconds, as he committed to controlling the careful way he treated his front and rear tyres to maintain the balance he was enjoying. He came home to win by 15.9s after staying in the 1m41s in the final stages as the Mercedes regularly fell back to the 1m42s, with Hamilton finishing 2.4s behind Bottas on his return following his COVID-19-enforced absence after the Bahrain GP.
The world champion had closed in on his teammate during the closing phase of the race but never looking like he’d be able to get close enough to make a pass and indeed fell back away in the final laps.
Albon finished 1.5s behind Hamilton, closing in suddenly as the laps ticked down to the flag, with Norris leading home his teammate Carlos Sainz in fifth and sixth. The result secures P3 in the constructors’ championship for McLaren. However, Sainz faces a post-race investigation for possibly going too slowly in the pitlane during the VSC when running in front of Lance Stroll, before he arrived for the second part of McLaren’s double-stack stop.
In his final race for Renault, Ricciardo was able to produce strong pace as his long opening stint wore on, but after he’d pitted to take the mediums with 16 laps left the tyre advantage he had was not significant enough for him to close in on the driver he will replace at McLaren 2021. Ricciardo set the fastest lap on the race on the last lap – a 1m40.926s.
Pierre Gasly took eighth, putting a firm pass at Turn 11 on Stroll’s remaining Racing Point just past half-distance, with Esteban Ocon getting ahead late on to steal ninth.
Stroll, therefore, rounded out the top 10 ahead of Daniil Kvyat.
Charles Leclerc finished 13th ahead of Sebastian Vettel in the four-time world champion’s final race for Ferrari, with the duo also not stopping under the VSC to climb up the order before they fell back struggling for grip compared to those that had come in earlier.