Formula 1
Formula 1
28 Mar
FP1 in
27 days
R
Emilia Romagna GP
18 Apr
Race in
50 days
09 May
Next event in
67 days
23 May
Race in
85 days
R
Azerbaijan GP
06 Jun
Race in
99 days
13 Jun
Race in
106 days
27 Jun
Race in
120 days
04 Jul
Next event in
123 days
18 Jul
Race in
141 days
R
Hungarian GP
01 Aug
Race in
155 days
29 Aug
Race in
183 days
05 Sep
Race in
190 days
12 Sep
Race in
197 days
26 Sep
Race in
211 days
R
Singapore GP
03 Oct
Next event in
214 days
10 Oct
Race in
225 days
R
United States GP
24 Oct
Race in
239 days
31 Oct
Race in
246 days
R
Australian GP
21 Nov
Race in
267 days
R
Saudi Arabia GP
05 Dec
Race in
281 days
R
Abu Dhabi GP
12 Dec
Race in
288 days

Abu Dhabi GP: Verstappen cruises to win ahead of Mercedes duo

Red Bull's Max Verstappen dominated the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, winning ahead of Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton as Formula 1's 2020 season ended with a straightforward race.

shares
comments
Abu Dhabi GP: Verstappen cruises to win ahead of Mercedes duo

At the start, the top three appeared to launch equally well, with Verstappen moving to the middle of the track from 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.

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 2.2s, 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 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 1.4s in the ensuing tour.

The leaders were then able to run in the 1m41s 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 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.

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 15.9s 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, 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 11th 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 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.

Cla Driver Chassis Time
1 Netherlands Max Verstappen Red Bull  
2 Finland Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 15.976
3 United Kingdom Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 18.415
4 Thailand Alex Albon Red Bull 19.987
5 United Kingdom Lando Norris McLaren 1'00.729
6 Spain Carlos Sainz Jr. McLaren 1'05.662
7 Australia Daniel Ricciardo Renault 1'13.748
8 France Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri 1'29.718
9 France Esteban Ocon Renault 1'41.069
10 Canada Lance Stroll Racing Point 1'42.738
11 Russian Federation Daniil Kvyat AlphaTauri 1 lap
12 Finland Kimi Raikkonen Alfa Romeo 1 lap
13 Monaco Charles Leclerc Ferrari 1 lap
14 Germany Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1 lap
15 United Kingdom George Russell Williams 1 lap
16 Italy Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo 1 lap
17 Canada Nicholas Latifi Williams 1 lap
18 Denmark Kevin Magnussen Haas 1 lap
19 Brazil Pietro Fittipaldi Haas 2 laps
  Mexico Sergio Perez Racing Point  

Related video

The Abu Dhabi GP as it happened

Previous article

The Abu Dhabi GP as it happened

Next article

2020 F1 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix race results

2020 F1 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix race results
Load comments

About this article

Series Formula 1
Event Abu Dhabi GP
Sub-event Race
Author Alex Kalinauckas
Why Verstappen isn't interested in the hype game Prime

Why Verstappen isn't interested in the hype game

In a pre-season where Red Bull has been unusually quiet, Max Verstappen has also been guarded about the team's fortunes in 2021. Even after trying the RB16B for the first time at Silverstone, the Dutchman was careful to manage expectations

The pros and cons of F1's 2021 rule changes Prime

The pros and cons of F1's 2021 rule changes

In the strategy for grand prix racing's future, 2021 represents a significant step towards the goal of closer racing and a more level playing field. That's the theory behind the latest raft of changes, but will they have the desired effect?

Formula 1
Feb 24, 2021
What Red Bull is trying to hide with its RB16B launch Prime

What Red Bull is trying to hide with its RB16B launch

Red Bull made no secret of the fact its 2021 F1 car is an evolution of its predecessor, but in keeping the same foundations while hiding some tightly-guarded updates with its RB16B, the team aims to avoid suffering the same pitfalls of previous years

Formula 1
Feb 23, 2021
How Albon plans to fight his way out of Red Bull limbo Prime

How Albon plans to fight his way out of Red Bull limbo

Alex Albon has faced the media for the first time since he lost his Red Bull drive at the end of 2020 and dropped out of a Formula 1 race seat altogether. He has a history of bouncing back from setbacks, so here's what he must do to rise again

Formula 1
Feb 23, 2021
Ranked! Carlin's greatest F1 graduates Prime

Ranked! Carlin's greatest F1 graduates

Carlin has helped guide enough drivers to Formula 1 to fill out an entire grid, plus a handful of reserves, to create a remarkable alumni list. With Yuki Tsunoda set to join that group, Motorsport.com has ranked its graduates to grace the grand prix scene...

Formula 1
Feb 22, 2021
Why Alfa's 2021 launch says more about its 2022 plans Prime

Why Alfa's 2021 launch says more about its 2022 plans

Alfa Romeo launched its C41 with a revised front nose, but there's little to suggest it will surge up the leaderboard in 2021. As the team frankly admits, it's putting its eggs in the basket labelled 2022 and hoping to hold the eighth place it earned last year

Formula 1
Feb 22, 2021
Why Gasly’s AlphaTauri haven is a blessing and a curse Prime

Why Gasly’s AlphaTauri haven is a blessing and a curse

Red Bull opted not to re-sign Pierre Gasly even before it decided to drop Alex Albon and so the Frenchman's Formula 1 journey will continue at AlphaTauri. This has positive and negative connotations for one of last season's star performers.

Formula 1
Feb 20, 2021
Eight things Red Bull must do to beat Mercedes in 2021 Prime

Eight things Red Bull must do to beat Mercedes in 2021

After seven years of defeat at the hands of Mercedes, Red Bull is as hungry as ever to secure a fifth world championship. But there are key challenges it must overcome in 2021 to switch from challenger to conqueror

Formula 1
Feb 19, 2021