F1 in UAE: Verstappen wins Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

Dubai - The Red Bull Racing driver finishes ahead of Mercedes duo Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton



By James Jose

Published: Sun 13 Dec 2020, 10:05 PM

Last updated: Mon 14 Dec 2020, 7:30 AM

Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen led from start to finish to clinch the season-ending Formula One Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix on Sunday.

The 23-year-old Dutchman, who had started from pole, led every step of the 55-lap race at the 5.554km Yas Marina Circuit from sunset and into the twilight.

And he kept the Mercedes duo of Valtteri Bottas and seven-time champion Lewis Hamiton at bay. Verstrappen grew from strength to strength and kept increasing the gap and went on to take the chequered flag with a time of 1:36:28.645 seconds for the 10th victory of his career.

Red Bull Racing's Max Verstappen takes the chequered flag at the Yas Marina Circuit to win the Formula One Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix on Sunday. — Aston Martin Red Bull Racing Twitter
Red Bull Racing's Max Verstappen takes the chequered flag at the Yas Marina Circuit to win the Formula One Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix on Sunday. — Aston Martin Red Bull Racing Twitter

Verstappen’s previous wins had come at Barcelona (2016), Kuala Lumpur and Mexico City (2017), Spielberg and Mexico City (2018), Spielberg, Hockenheim and Interlagos (2019).

It was only his second victory of the curtailed season after he had triumphed at Emirates Formula One 70th Anniversary Grand Prix, in the second of the double-header at Silverstone in England in August.

He is the third non-Mercedes driver to win this season and the only one to taste victory twice. The other two were Alphatauri Honda’s Pierre Gasly, who won at Monza in Italy in September and Racing Point’s Sergio Perez, who triumphed at the Sakhir Grand Prix last weekend.

“That was absolutely clinical,” Red Bull Racing team principal Christian Horner told Verstappen over the team radio.

Red Bull Racing's Max Verstappen celebrates with the team after winning the Formula One Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix on Sunday. — Aston Martin Red Bull Racing Twitter
Red Bull Racing's Max Verstappen celebrates with the team after winning the Formula One Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix on Sunday. — Aston Martin Red Bull Racing Twitter

Bottas was second followed by Hamilton with Verstappen’s teammate Thai-British driver Alexander Albon finishing fourth.

Finn Bottas finished +15.976 seconds adrift of Verstappen, while Hamilton, who returned to the grid after missing the Sakhir Grand Prix due to a positive Covid-19 test, was +18.415 seconds behind.

Albon, who is yet to know his fate on whether he will partner Verstappen next season, was +19.987 seconds back.

The McLaren pair of Lando Norris and Carlos Sainz were fifth and sixth followed by Australian Daniel Ricciardo, in his final race for Renault.

Briton Norris finished a full minute behind Verstappen, while Spaniard Sainz, who heads over to Ferrari next season, was +65.662 seconds adrift.

Ricciardo, who joins forces with famed British marquee McLaren next term, logged seven points with his seventh place finish. He also logged the fastest lap of the race with a time of 1:40.926 seconds on the 55th and final lap. His average speed was 198.109kmph.

Gasly was eighth, while Ricciardo’s French teammate Esteban Ocon finished ninth. Racing Point’s Lance Stroll rounded out the top 10.

Four-time champion Sebastian Vettel’s final race for Ferrari ended with a 14th place finish. The German, who jumps ship to the rebranded Aston Martin, finished behind Monagasque teammate Charles Leclerc.

It was a disappointing end for Racing Point driver Mexican Sergio Perez with the Sakhir Grand Prix winner enduring a DNF in Sector 3. Perez’s RP20 suffered a loss of power as he exited Turn 19 across the W Abu Dhabi (formerly the Yas Viceroy Hotel).

He parked up the car on the side as the Safety Car came out and his race was over on Lap 10. The race resumed on Lap 14.

Earlier, the five lights went off to signal the start of the Grand Prix and it was a clean start with no mishaps. Verstappen set himself up heading into Turn 1 with Bottas slipping in behind followed by Hamilton.

Verstappen had built a four-second lead over Bottas and five seconds over Hamilton by Lap 21. That increased to five over Bottas and seven over Hamilton by Lap 23. And he was a full six seconds ahead over Bottas by Lap 28.

With Hamilton having already sewn up the Drivers’ Championship, Bottas’ second place finish saw him end second in the Standings with 223 points followed by Verstappen with 214 points. Hamilton finished with 347 points.

Perez was fourth with 125 followed by Ricciardo with 119 points.

McLaren Renault finished third in the Constructors’ Championship with 202 points, behind champions Mercedes and Red Bull Racing. Racing Point were fourth with Renault and Ferrari in that order.

james@khaleejtimes.com

Red Bull driver Max Verstappen of the Netherlands ireacts after qualifying at the Formula One Abu Dhabi Grand Prix in Abu Dhabi. Photo: AP
Red Bull driver Max Verstappen of the Netherlands ireacts after qualifying at the Formula One Abu Dhabi Grand Prix in Abu Dhabi. Photo: AP
Red Bull Racing's Max Verstappen takes the chequered flag at the Yas Marina Circuit to win the Formula One Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix on Sunday. — Aston Martin Red Bull Racing Twitter
Red Bull Racing's Max Verstappen takes the chequered flag at the Yas Marina Circuit to win the Formula One Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix on Sunday. — Aston Martin Red Bull Racing Twitter

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