Imperious Verstappen pays tribute to the team

Dubai - The 23-year-old ends Mercedes’ streak of six consecutive wins at the Yas Marina Circuit



Mercedes drivers Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas hug following the Formula One Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix at the Yas Marina Circuit on Sunday. — Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team Twitter
Mercedes drivers Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas hug following the Formula One Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix at the Yas Marina Circuit on Sunday. — Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team Twitter
The Mercedes team pose following the Formula One Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix at the Yas Marina Circuit on Sunday. — Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team Twitter
The Mercedes team pose following the Formula One Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix at the Yas Marina Circuit on Sunday. — Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team Twitter

By James Jose

Published: Sun 13 Dec 2020, 10:21 PM

After ending Mercedes’ domination in Abu Dhabi, Red Bull Racing driver Max Verstappen paid tribute to the team for a strong race to close out the season on Sunday.

The 23-year-old Dutchman was at his imperious best as he ushered in the second victory of a strange season and his 10th career win in 119 starts at the Formula One Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

Verstappen’s win not only brought up his first success at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix after third and second-place finishes previously but it also ended Mercedes’ streak of six consecutive wins at the Yas Marina Circuit.

It was also Verstappen’s 11th podium finish of the year in 17 races this season and it also saw Mercedes’ record run of leading a lap in 39 successive races come to a halt.

“We had a good start and from thereon, of course you look after the tyres but the car was having really good balance and it was really enjoyable out there today (Sunday),” Verstappen said ahead of the podium ceremony.

“We did basically everything alright and I think once you start upfront, you can control the pace a bit more and it makes your life a bit easier,” he added.

As is the case, tyre management was paramount and with no support races ahead of the main event, it was a bit tricky. But Verstappen said that the Mercedes duo of Valtteri Bottas and seven-time champion Lewis Hamiton well behind on his rear-view mirror, he could take it a tad easy.

“(Tyre management was important) But then, also I saw that they (Bottas and Hamilton) were dropping off behind me so I could take it a bit easier. Of course, I had to go through a bit of traffic, the backmarkers, but overall, it was just a very strong race for the team,” said Verstappen.

Bottas, meanwhile, admitted that the Red Bull-Honda of Verstappen was too fast for the Mercedes,

“Red Bull was too quick today (Sunday), surprisingly quick. I was trying everything I could but couldn’t keep up with him,” said Bottas.

“I felt like it was a solid race for myself, no mistakes. At least, I finished ahead of my teammate and it has been a while since I've been on the podium,” he added.

Finn was filled with pride that Hamilton and him could finish first and second in the Drivers’ Championship.

“Like I said on the radio, the team has been amazing this year so I’m really proud that we could finish one and two in the drivers’ championship. Amazing season by every single team personnel and at the factory,” said Bottas, who finished 144 points adrift.

Hamilton, meanwhile, brought up his 165th podium and seventh in a row in Abu Dhabi. And he said considering the circumstances, it was a decent result.

“You can’t win them all so and considering the past couple of weeks I’ve had, I’m really generally happy with the weekend. It’s obviously not 100 percent as good as I would have liked but congratulations to Max. That was a really hard race for me, physically. The whole year, physically, I’ve been fine but today I definitely wasn’t so I’m just glad it is over. A big, big thank you to the team and it is still a fantastic result to get two podium finishes,” said Hamilton.

“Physically and mentally, I don’t think I’ve ever been so blown. But, look on the bright side, I made it through and I didn’t think anytime last week that I would be here. So, truly grateful for my health and to be alive and looking forward to recovering over the time we have and then getting back into training and getting my body back to where I know it should be,” the Briton added.

james@khaleejtimes.com


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