Max Verstappen closed out his 2020 FIA Formula One World Championship campaign in style with a commanding light as to flag victory at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, with the Red Bull driver finishing more than 10 seconds clear of Mercedes Valtteri Bottas. The Finn’s team-mate Lewis Hamilton was third. When the lights went out at the start, Verstappen made a good getaway and comfortably took the lead ahead of Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas with Lewis Hamilton third.
The order changed though on lap six when, with the aid of DRS, Red Bull’s Alex Albon passed McLaren’s Lando Norris to claim fourth place. Meanwhile, at the front of the field, Verstappen was comfortable in the lead, 2.6s clear of Bottas with Hamilton a further 3.5s further back. Albon held fourth ahead of McLaren’s Norris and Carlos Sainz.
The race was reset on lap 10, however. Sergio Pérez pulled over at the side of the track between Turns 18 and 19 with a power unit issue. An initial VSC became a full Safety Car as marshals struggled to recover Pérez’s car and during the caution the leading drivers all pitted to take on hard tyres.
Verstappen rejoined in the lead ahead of Bottas, Hamilton and Albon but the pit stops vaulted hard-tyre starter Daniel Ricciardo to fifth ahead of Norris, though the Australian would need to pit later in the race.
As the race went edged past one-third distance the order began to settle as Verstappen again eked out a gap. By lap 20 he was 3.4s ahead of Bottas, with Hamilton two seconds further back. Albon was now 4.2s behind the seven-time champion but though he was losing ground to the Mercedes he was steadily pulling away from Ricciardo who was six seconds behind the Thai driver.
Verstappen though continued to build his comfort zone and by lap 32 he was 7.5 seconds clear of the lead Mercedes, with Hamilton also comfortable in third, six seconds ahead of Albon.
At the end of lap 39 Ricciardo was the last to shed his starting hard tyres and after taking on medium tyres he rejoined in P7, behind the McLarens of Norris and Sainz.
Verstappen was now totally dominant at the head of the field. On lap 48 he was 12 seconds clear of Bottas and telling his team on the radio that they could turn his engine down if required.
And seven laps later Verstappen eased across the line to take his and Red Bull’s second win of the year after early-season victory at the 70th Anniversary Grand Prix.
Bottas settled for second place a little under 10 seconds behind Verstappen as the race winner throttled back in the closing stages. Hamilton claimed the final podium place ahead of Albon.
Fifth place for McLaren’s Lando Norris and sixth for team-mate Carlos Sainz handed the Renault-powered team third place in the Constructors’ Championship ahead of Racing Point, for whom Lance Stroll was tenth on the night. Ricciardo took seventh ahead of Gasly and the second Renault of Estaban Ocon.
2020 FIA Formula 1 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix – Race
1 Max Verstappen Red Bull/Honda 55 1:36'28.645
2 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 55 1:36'44.621 15.976
3 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 55 1:36'47.060 18.415
4 Alexander Albon Red Bull/Honda 55 1:36'48.632 19.987
5 Lando Norris McLaren/Renault 55 1:37'29.374 1'00.729
6 Carlos Sainz McLaren/Renault 55 1:37'34.307 1'05.662
7 Daniel Ricciardo Renault 55 1:37'42.393 1'13.748
8 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri/Honda 55 1:37'58.363 1'29.718
9 Esteban Ocon Renault 55 1:38'09.714 1'41.069
10 Lance Stroll Racing Point/Mercedes 55 1:38'11.383 1'42.738
11 Daniil Kvyat AlphaTauri/Honda 54 1:36'31.445 1 Lap
12 Kimi Räikkönen Alfa Romeo/Ferrari 54 1:36'34.174 1 Lap
13 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 54 1:36'42.721 1 Lap
14 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 54 1:36'51.876 1 Lap
15 George Russell Williams/Mercedes 54 1:37'01.030 1 Lap
16 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo/Ferrari 54 1:37'02.381 1 Lap
17 Nicholas Latifi Williams/Mercedes 54 1:37'11.562 1 Lap
18 Kevin Magnussen Haas/Ferrari 54 1:38'00.387 1 Lap
19 Pietro Fittipaldi Haas/Ferrari 53 1:36'38.988 2 Laps
DNF Sergio Pérez Racing Point/Mercedes 8 14'13.035 Transmission