Verstappen victorious in season finale

Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen drove a brilliant lights to flag race to win the season finale at Yas Marina, finishing ahead of Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton as Formula 1’s 2020 championship ended with a straightforward race.

At the start, the top three appeared to launch equally well, with Verstappen moving to the middle of the track from pole to fend off any threat of attack from the Mercedes duo behind, moving clear as Bottas had a slight slide exiting the first corner.

The race quickly settled down, with the top three running as they lined up on the grid, as Verstappen quickly pulled a healthy gap to the following Black Arrows.

By the start of lap four of 55, Verstappen’s lead was 2.2 seconds, as he and Bottas were able to run in the mid one minute, 42 seconds, while Hamilton dropped back – lapping in the one minute, 43 seconds.

Verstappen edged his lead up to three seconds over the next five laps, but had to surrender that when the race was neutralised – first with a virtual safety car, then a full safety car – after Sergio Perez retired with what appeared to be a transmission problem exiting Turn 19 on lap nine.

The Racing Point driver, who had been working his way up from P19 on the grid following his pre-race penalty for taking a fresh 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 harms way.

That meant Verstappen’s lead was erased, but he quickly set about re-establishing it after acing the restart at the beginning of lap 14 – pulling away by 1.4 seconds in the ensuing tour.

The leaders were then able to run in the one minute, 41 seconds as they ran clear of Alex Albon, who had passed McLaren’s Lando Norris shortly before Perez retired, with Hamilton again falling a chunk behind Bottas in third.

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 one minute, 41 seconds while the Mercedes drivers swung between the mid-high one minute, 41 seconds.

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.

Although the gap between the top two then ebbed and flowed fractionally between Verstappen and Bottas as they negotiated backmarkers, with the leader concerned about vibrations he was feeling as his tyres wore further with just over 10 laps to go, but the Red Bull driver never looked under major threat.

He came home to win by 15.9 seconds after staying in the one minute, 41 seconds in the final stages as the Mercedes regularly fell back to the one minute, 42 seconds, with Hamilton finishing 2.4 seconds behind Bottas on his return following his COVID-19-enforced absence after the Bahrain Grand Prix.

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 1.5 seconds 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, although 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.

Daniel Ricciardo rose from P11 on the grid to finish seventh, not stopping under the VSC to leap up the order and then running long on the hards he had started the race on.

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 one minute, 40.926 seconds.

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 ten ahead of Daniil Kvyat.

Charles Leclerc finished P13 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.

So not the most thrilling race but really happy for Max Verstappen in winning the final Grand Prix in this surreal 2020 season. Congratulations to Red Bull Racing in being victorious at Yas Marina. Fingers crossed, next year will be back to normal and bring on the fight for the championship.

Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, race results:
1 Max Verstappen Red Bull-Honda     1:36:28.645
2 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 15.976
3 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 18.415
4 Alex Albon Red Bull-Honda 19.987
5 Lando Norris McLaren-Renault 1:00.729
6 Carlos Sainz Jr. McLaren-Renault 1:05.662
7 Daniel Ricciardo Renault 1:13.748
8 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri-Honda 1:29.718
9 Esteban Ocon Renault 1:41.069
10 Lance Stroll Racing Point-Mercedes 1:42.738
11 Daniil Kvyat AlphaTauri-Honda 1 lap
12 Kimi Raikkonen Alfa Romeo-Ferrari 1 lap
13 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 1 lap
14 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1 lap
15 George Russell Williams-Mercedes 1 lap
16 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo-Ferrari 1 lap
17 Nicholas Latifi Williams-Mercedes 1 lap
18 Kevin Magnussen Haas-Ferrari 1 lap
19 Pietro Fittipaldi Haas-Ferrari 2 laps
– Sergio Perez Racing Point-Mercedes DNF

7 thoughts to “Verstappen victorious in season finale”

  1. Abu Dhabi Grand Prix race review as reported by

    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, who had no answer to the Red Bull’s pace around the Yas Marina Circuit.

    With Mercedes having taken every pole and race win in Abu Dhabi since 2014, Verstappen reversed that trend with 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 team mate on his first race back since contracting Covid-19.

    Verstappen’s team mate Alex Albon supported Red Bull’s cause by coming home P4, although having lacked the pace to really challenge the Mercedes in front of him.

    Meanwhile, in a fantastic evening for McLaren, Lando Norris and Carlos Sainz finished P5 and P6 – while although Sainz was set to be investigated after the race for driving unnecessarily slowly in the pit lane, McLaren seem likely to have claimed P3 in the constructors’, leap-frogging Racing Point who scored just one point.

    That was partly due to Sergio Perez retiring with a suspected transmission issue on Lap 10 of the race, an unfortunate end to the Racing Point career of last week’s race winner..

    Daniel Ricciardo came home seventh on his final outing for Renault, ahead of the AlphaTauri of Pierre Gasly, while behind Esteban Ocon, Lance Stroll took the final points-paying position in P10 having been passed on the final lap, Ocon cementing Renault’s fifth in the constructors’.

    Meanwhile, on his final race for Ferrari, Sebastian Vettel finished P14, behind team mate Charles Leclerc, while in what looks to be his last race in F1, Kevin Magnussen finished P18 for Haas.

    But as a dominant season for Mercedes draws to a close, it’s Verstappen with the advantage heading into the winter, after a fantastic race for the Dutchman – and a fast and furious 2020.

    Max Verstappen may not have started on pole so far this season, but he nailed his start from P1 like a seasoned poleista, easing over to cover off the swift start of Valtteri Bottas alongside him and hold P1, as Bottas got a touch squirrelly on the exit of Turn 1, but doing enough to stay in front of Lewis Hamilton behind.

    There were no ‘last day of school’ vibes for the rest of the pack behind, who were all well behaved as they weaved through the first sequence of corners bar Pietro Fittipaldi, who had a wild lock-up into Turn 1 and was lucky to avoid any contact – while team mate Kevin Magnussen was the biggest gainer, jumping from P20 to P17 on the opening lap, partly thanks to a lovely move around the outside of Nicholas Latifi’s Williams at Turn 8.

    Sebastian Vettel nipped past team mate Charles Leclerc for P12, while Ocon briefly got ahead of AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly for P10 – although Gasly would fight back a lap later to reclaim the position.

    Start done, and Verstappen was quickly into a rhythm, opening a sufficient gap that when DRS came into effect, he was out of range of Bottas, quickly opening the gap to 2s. His team mate Alex Albon was on the move too, making an important move past the McLaren of Lando Norris – who’d pipped him to P4 in qualifying – on Lap 6.

    Sergio Perez had started P19 but was up to P14 by Lap 10 when he appeared to suffer a transmission issue going into Turn 17 – a cruel end to the Mexican’s final race with Racing Point, and perhaps final race in F1 altogether. A Virtual Safety Car was called, with Verstappen, Bottas, Hamilton and Albon diving into the pits, along with a number of the midfield runners – while with marshals struggling to move the stricken Racing Point of last week’s race winner Perez, a full Safety Car was pulled on Lap 11.

    With the order rejigged slightly thanks to those pit stops, at the Lap 14 restart the top 10 was Verstappen, Bottas, Hamilton, Albon, Ricciardo (who’d started on the hard tyre and not pitted), Norris, Vettel, Leclerc (both Ferraris not pitting, with Vettel having started on hard tyres to Leclerc’s mediums), Sainz and Stroll – with all the drivers who’d pitted taking on hard tyres. Sainz, meanwhile, was set to be investigated after the race for driving unnecessarily slowly in the pit lane.

    Verstappen now had it all to do again, but wasn’t flustered, putting in a perfect restart and banging in his fastest lap of the race at that point to be 1.5s clear of Bottas by the end of the lap, while Hamilton was 2s back from Bottas – the seven-time champion unhappy with his car balance at this stage, while he also questioned whether Mercedes had made the right call to bring him in under the VSC at all.

    Leclerc was thinking the opposite at Ferrari, meanwhile, and having been passed on his old medium tyres in quick succession by Sainz, Stroll, Gasly and Ocon, came in from P12 to put on hard tyres on Lap 22, emerging P19 and last.

    With the halfway point reached by Lap 28 of 55, Verstappen was 5.5s clear of Bottas, who himself was 2.6s clear of Hamilton – the Mercedes reportedly using their MGU-K at a sub-optimal level in order to preserve them.

    Albon was just about clinging on in P4, five seconds adrift of Hamilton, the Thai driver then 15s up the road from the fight for P5 between Daniel Ricciardo and Lando Norris – while Sainz’s pace had been strong since the Safety Car restart, allowing him to climb from ninth to seventh behind his team mate. Vettel, meanwhile, was holding onto eighth, helped by the chasing Stroll having overshot his braking at Turn 11 on Lap 25.

    Vettel’s hard tyres had had enough by Lap 35, however, the German pitting for mediums and releasing the train of cars he’d been holding up, consisting of Stroll, Gasly, Ocon and Kvyat, as Vettel rejoined in P15.

    Vettel bottling up that pack had been a blessing for Daniel Ricciardo, meanwhile, who finally made his first stop from P5 on Lap 39 for mediums, and was able to slot back in ahead of Gasly (who’d passed Stroll) in P7, with Ricciardo setting off after the McLaren duo who were now around 20s up the road from him.

    Ten laps to go, and Verstappen had eked out his lead to 9.6s over Bottas, who was still three seconds ahead of Hamilton, with Albon now seven seconds off the Mercedes – with Verstappen starting to sound edgy on team radio, as he complained of vibrations, with the focus now on whether any of the top three would need – or want – to pit before the end of the race.

    Ultimately, despite the lead four’s advantage, all of them opted against making a second stop. That just left Verstappen to let the laps tick down before crossing the line to a volley of fireworks to take the 10th victory of his career, and second of a season in which he’s so often been frustrated by the just-too-fast Mercedes.

    Today, though, it was his turn to do the frustrating, as he ended a dominant 15.976s clear of Bottas – and ended Mercedes’ six-year unbeaten run at Yas Marina.

    After a difficult race last time out, Bottas at least had the comfort of beating five-time Abu Dhabi winner Hamilton here, the seven-time champion ending up 2.4s behind his team mate, having admitted to being “massively” affected during the race by the after-effects of his bout of Covid-19. Albon, meanwhile, had been given the hurry up late in the race by engineer Simon Rennie, turning his pace up in the final few laps to end up an impressive 1.572s behind Hamilton.

    A great evening under the lights for McLaren, meanwhile saw them provisionally claim P3 in the constructors’ standings with fifth and sixth – although the stewards’ enquiry on Sainz was pending.

    On his final outing for Renault, Ricciardo took a strong P7 plus an extra point for fastest lap, finishing 8s off Sainz, having brilliantly extended his opening stint on the hard tyres. Gasly capped off a fine season with P8 – the Frenchman ending 2020, like Perez, as an F1 race winner – while a last-lap dive from Ocon on Stroll saw the Renault driver claim ninth, Stroll capping off an underwhelming performance from Racing Point, who will take fourth in the constructors’ – with Renault taking fifth.

    Vettel had looked strong early on in the race after his long first stint on the hards, but ultimately had to settle for P14 behind his team mate on his final outing with Ferrari, at the end of a season he’ll be keen to forget after finishing a distant P13 in the drivers’ standings – and in a year where sixth-placed Ferrari took their lowest constructors’ finishing position since 1980.

    Meanwhile, on what it seems will be Kevin Magnussen’s final race in the sport, the Dane could do no better than P18 on a tough evening for Haas – in a race that was almost certainly watched by the absent Romain Grosjean, still recovering from his Bahrain Grand Prix burns, and also seemingly with his F1 career now at an end.

    Mercedes rightly feted a dominant season with some celebratory donuts for Hamilton and Bottas on the Yas Marina pit straight, the team having taken their seventh straight double championship this year. But tonight was the night of Max Verstappen, who’ll be hoping for more of the same in 2021, as he looks to properly take the fight to the Silver Arrows next season. For now, though, that’s 2020 done and dusted.

  2. Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton says COVID-19 effects affected him “massively” in race. The 2020 champion finished in third place. has the news story.

    Lewis Hamilton confessed to feeling “massively” below par in the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, as the Formula 1 world champion said the ongoing impact of coronavirus continued to dog him.

    The Mercedes driver returned to action in the F1 season finale this weekend after missing the Sakhir GP because of COVID-19, but he admitted to not having fully recovered from the illness.

    After taking third place behind Max Verstappen and Valtteri Bottas in the Yas Marina race, Hamilton said that he did not feel good and felt his form had been hurt.

    “That was a really hard race for me,” he said. “All year physically I’ve been fine, but today I definitely wasn’t. So I’m just glad it’s over.”

    Asked if he felt coronavirus had impacted him in the race, he said: “Physically, massively. I don’t think I’ve ever been so blown.

    “My body is not feeling great, but look on the bright side I made it through. I didn’t think anytime last week that I’ll be here.

    “So, I’m just really truly grateful for my health and to be alive, and looking forward to recovering over the next period of time we have. Then get back into training and get my body back to where I know it should be.”

    Hamilton and Bottas were left unable to properly challenge Verstappen during the Abu Dhabi GP, with Red Bull’s speed having been much better than the Mercedes duo had predicted.

    Bottas said: “I think Red Bull was too quick today. Surprisingly quick. We thought the race pace would be pretty identical but yeah they could really control the race and the gap when needed. I was trying everything I could but couldn’t keep up with them.”

    Hamilton added: “The Red Bulls I think this weekend were just too far out of reach for us. We just couldn’t hold on to the pace that they had.”

    With Red Bull’s Alex Albon having closed on to Hamilton’s tail in the closing stages, the Mercedes driver praised the job the Thai driver had done.

    “It was a fantastic job to see Alex right up there with us,” he said. “We were having a two team battle which is I think what the sport needs.”

  3. Alexander Albon feels he has “done everything” to save his Red Bull seat for 2021 after Christian Horner praised his strongest 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.

    Asked by after the race in the Abu Dhabi paddock what the result meant for his future, 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.

    “But to keep pushing and to have my best result, obviously under all the pressures of the weekend and everything going on, I’m proud of myself, and I felt like it was a good closing end to the year.

    “If it’s enough or not, it’s not mine to say really. But of course, I feel like I’ve done everything. I’ll leave it in the hands of the others to decide.”

    Speaking on Sky Sports F1 after the race in Abu Dhabi, Red Bull team principal Christian Horner agreed with Albon’s assessment that it was his strongest weekend of the year.

    “Alex has done a very good job today,” Horner said.

    “It’s probably been his strongest collective weekend of the season, and he’s driven a good race. He was putting Lewis under pressure at the end of the race there.

    “That now gives us a complete set of information now to go away and analyse it, and work out what we’re going to do.”

    Asked when a decision could be expected, Horner replied: “I’m sure you guys will know as soon as we’ve made it. It’s not going to take too long.”


  4. McLaren retains third position in the constructors’ championship after Carlos Sainz escapes Abu Dhabi penalty. has the full details.

    Carlos Sainz has been cleared of any wrongdoing following an official investigation into potentially driving too slowly in the Formula 1 pitlane during the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, allowing McLaren to retain third place in the standings.

    As cars rushed to the pits during an early race virtual safety car period caused by Sergio Perez’s Racing Point coming to a halt at the side of the track, Sainz appeared to slow before the entry.

    His speed drop looked like it held up Racing Point’s Lance Stroll behind him, and could have been a tactic to avoid being delayed too much at a double stacked McLaren pitstop.

    After his actions were reported to the stewards, Sainz and Stroll were both summoned to a post-race investigation.

    However, with Sainz having had no team instruction to slow down, there was also no evidence from car data that showed he had done anything out of the ordinary.

    Telemetry data showed that he had braked briefly to less than the 80km/h speed limit prior to the pit lane entry line, before accelerating back up to the limit. Other drivers, including Sebastian Vettel, had done exactly the same.

    Sainz was judged to have been at 80km/h for all but approximately five seconds in the pitlane phase, and this meant he arrived at his box just 0.6 seconds later than he could have done had he maintained full speed.

    A statement from the stewards said: “We are not of the view that this action in any way resulted in the Team avoiding a “double stack” situation as Car 55 (Sainz) was well clear of the Pit Stop at this time.

    “We also accept the explanation of the driver of Car 55 that he was exercising a degree of caution as video evidence confirms the presence of a lot of other teams’ personnel in the Pit Lane at the time.

    “Car 18 (Stroll) was able to maintain a speed of 80 km/h in the Pit Lane except for a very short period of time (approximately 1 second) and therefore we do not consider that it was materially impacted by the actions of the driver of Car 55.

    “We also checked the relative speeds of the cars after leaving their pit stops and can see no evidence of Car 55 driving unnecessarily slowly.”

    With McLaren locked in a tight fight with Racing Point for third place in the constructors’ championship, a Sainz penalty could have had a big impact in the outcome.

    However, team principal Andreas Seidl said he was never too worried about the situation as he always felt that Sainz had done nothing wrong.

    “Obviously you need to figure in potential penalties, but with the gap all the time to Daniel [Ricciardo] it was never really something that worried us,” he said. “And from our point of view, it doesn’t deserve any penalty.”

  5. Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen admitted he feared an Imola tyre failure repeat while leading the race. has the news story.

    Max Verstappen feared a repeat of his Imola tyre failure after reporting vibrations en route to victory in the Abu Dhabi Formula 1 season finale on Sunday.

    Verstappen went lights-to-flag to take his second victory of the season for Red Bull, ending Mercedes’ streak of victories in the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix that dated back to 2014.

    Verstappen never came under any real pressure at the front of the pack, quickly building a lead in the opening stages before the safety car period brought forward the planned pitstop window.

    He eventually crossed the line more than 15 seconds clear of Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas, marking a strong end of the year for Red Bull.

    “It was an enjoyable race,” Verstappen said. “We had a decent start, and from there onwards, I could manage the gap and could look after my tyres.

    “The safety car came out at a little bit of an unfortunate time I think because we then had to do a very long stint of course on the hard. Luckily the tyre coped with it, but you still have to manage it a bit more.

    “The car was really good today, and just a good balance so then you can look after your tyres and I could just build a gap all the way through the race.”

    Verstappen was heard on team radio reporting a vibration with 11 laps remaining in the race, asking his engineer: “Did you see that, out of the corner how much vibrations and oscillation?”

    The Dutchman revealed after the race that it left him fearing a repeat of the tyre failure that saw him spin out of second place at Imola earlier this year.

    “I was thinking back, a little bit at Spa, but of course Imola,” Verstappen said.

    “I was keeping an eye on it on every straight. But luckily it was all good. The pace was still there, the tyres were still performing.”

    The result left Verstappen just nine points shy of second place in the final drivers’ championship standings after recording four podium finishes in the last five races he finished.

    Verstappen admitted he was surprised that Red Bull was able to outpace Mercedes in Abu Dhabi, but that it proved the need to start seasons stronger if it wanted to mount a title challenge.

    “I didn’t expect before I got here to win the race and be on pole,” Verstappen said.

    “I also read that they had to turn the engines down a bit, so of course that’s not helping for them.

    “In general, I think the car performed very strong, and I think better than expected, so of course very happy with that. It’s a great way to finish the season, a good boost for everyone in the team.

    “I just hope that we lean from the previous years that we have to be stronger in the beginning of the season to be able to give them a little bit of a harder time.”

  6. Four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel admits Scuderia Ferrari farewell an “emotional day”. has the details.

    Sebastian Vettel says his final Formula 1 outing for Ferrari formed an “emotional day”, as the four-time world champion finished 14th in the 2020 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

    Vettel was given a guard of honour by his Ferrari mechanics as he left his pit garage ahead of the race, which ended in disappointment for the Scuderia as both Vettel and teammate Charles Leclerc slipped back from their starting positions.

    Ferrari announced back in May that Vettel would leave the team at the end of the 2020 season and he later signed a deal to replace Sergio Perez at the Racing Point squad that will become Aston Martin for next season.

    “It was an emotional day,” Vettel told after the race at the Yas Marina track.

    “I mean the result is nothing to mention, the race is nothing to mention, but yeah, I really enjoyed the little gestures starting from the beginning of the weekend.

    [From] The mechanics, the engineers – all these people that I worked with for so long in those years, and so hard. So yeah, I shall miss a few of them very much.

    “But it’s good to be around [in F1 next season] and I’ll get to see them.”

    Vettel also said that he was “happy obviously that the season is over” because “it was quite tough and tiring. I’m looking forward to the next one.”

    The German used the cool-down lap to sing his version of popular Italian song ‘Azzurro’ for Ferrari.

    Vettel and Leclerc ran together in the early stages of the race after the latter’s grid penalty meant they lined up alongside each other in P12 and P13 on the grid.

    They were boosted up the order as Ferrari opted not to stop during the virtual safety car period triggered by Sergio Perez’s retirement – which was later upgraded to a fully safety car – but the duo were overcome by the cars that had been running ahead of them and did chose to come as the race wore.

    “At some stage obviously I struggled and the safety car didn’t really help us because obviously we were on a mirror strategy to most of the cars,” Vettel said of his race on Sunday.

    “So, yeah, it didn’t really work in our favour. But yeah, we still tried to hang in there as much as possible.”

  7. Toto Wolff said Mercedes’ defeat to Max Verstappen in the season-ending Formula 1 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix acted as “a slap on the wrist” for the team.

    Mercedes swept to a seventh consecutive set of drivers’ and constructors’ championships in 2020, ending the season with 13 victories from 17 races.

    The team was chasing its seventh win in a row at the Yas Marina Circuit, but struggled to match Verstappen’s pace in the Red Bull as he dominated the race from pole position.

    Verstappen ultimately won the race by over 15 seconds as Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton finished second and third respectively for Mercedes.

    Mercedes team boss Wolff felt that both Red Bull cars were “simply quicker than us” through the Abu Dhabi weekend, and feared that Alexander Albon would pass Hamilton for third in the closing stages.

    “You can see that everybody has weaknesses, and we weren’t on our A game this weekend,” Wolff said.

    “That’s simply a fact. Red Bull won fair and square. You can see that Albon also had a very good race, so they have a very good race car, and shows that when their car is in the right place, both drivers do a really good job.

    “Probably Albon’s pace was quicker than us by the end. They could have been well ahead, and even worse for us.”

    “We’re leaving this race with a slap on the wrist. It wasn’t a great weekend for us. It was a car that has never let us down all year, maybe apart from this last weekend.”

    Wolff explained that both Bottas and Hamilton were forced to manage their tyres after the safety car forced an early switch to the hard compound tyre that Mercedes was uncertain would make it to the end.

    “Him and Lewis were looking after the tyres a lot, because it was not clear the hard would last until the end, and there was more pace in both of them,”Wolff said.

    “You can see at the end, we saw through sector one, that our car wasn’t simply turning around five and six, and the last sector wasn’t great.

    “We just simply had an understeery car all day today. We had a car that is good on Friday, but not good on Saturday. We tried both directions, weakened the rear, none of that helped.

    “I think somehow we didn’t get it right.”


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