The lack of action in the season-closing Abu Dhabi Grand Prix is summed up by the fact the top three drivers held their positions from lights to flag.Max Verstappen, Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton spent the entire race in first, second and third places respectively.
It might have worked out differently had it not been for an early Safety Car period triggered by Sergio Perez’s retirement on lap nine. That deprived Mercedes of a chance to apply pressure to Verstappen, as the team’s head of trackside operations Andrew Shovlin explained.
“In a way it was sad for the race that the Safety Car came out at that stage because it forced practically everyone onto the same strategy,” he said. “Ferrari left both cars out but they didn’t really benefit from that in the end.”
Sure enough, Sebastian Vettel and Charles Leclerc, who ran 12th and 13th before the interruption, rose to seventh and eighth as others pitted. But despite Ferrari subsequently splitting their strategies – bringing Leclerc in first and Vettel later – it did nothing for their races.
Daniel Ricciardo benefitted from staying out, having started on the hard tyres like Vettel, and finally pitting 16 laps from home. He produced the biggest position change of any driver over the course of the race – just four places.
For the rest it was a matter of follow-my-leader on similar rubber. “Once you have all cars on the same age tyres it kind of neutralises the racing a bit and there wasn’t a lot of opportunity therein,” said Shovlin.
Could Mercedes have put Verstappen under pressure strategically if the Safety Car hadn’t appeared? Shovlin isn’t convinced that would have secured victory for them.
“We would have probably used one car to pull Max in and let the other one go long and try to create a tyre delta. Whether it would have resulted in any position gain, looking at their pace, they were very comfortable. So I doubt it, but it would have at least created a bit of variability.”
Ricciardo’s strategy also gave him the benefit of fresher tyres at the end of the race, which he used to set the fastest lap. He did it on the very last lap of the season, beating the time Verstappen had set 41 laps earlier by just 32 thousandths of a second.
“I really risked it all to get the fastest lap,” he admitted. “My last lap in this car, for it to be the fastest on track, it’s a nice way to say goodbye to the team and I guess to thank them.”
George Russell, meanwhile, had a bump back to reality after swapping his Mercedes for a Williams. His fastest lap was the slowest of the field. Even Perez, who covered just eight laps in traffic with heavy fuel, set a quicker lap than the driver who nearly won a week ago in Bahrain.
Quotes: Dieter Rencken
2020 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix lap chart
The positions of each driver on every lap. Click name to highlight, right-click to reset. Toggle drivers using controls below:
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2020 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix race chart
The gaps between each driver on every lap compared to the leader’s average lap time. Very large gaps omitted. Scroll to zoom, drag to pan and right-click to reset. Toggle drivers using controls below:
|Driver||Start position||Lap one position change||Race position change|
|Carlos Sainz Jnr||6||0||0|
2020 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix lap times
All the lap times by the drivers (in seconds, very slow laps excluded). Scroll to zoom, drag to pan and toggle drivers using the control below:
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2020 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix fastest laps
Each driver’s fastest lap:
|Rank||Driver||Car||Fastest lap||Gap||On lap|
|2||Max Verstappen||Red Bull-Honda||1’40.958||0.032||14|
|4||Alexander Albon||Red Bull-Honda||1’41.227||0.301||42|
|7||Antonio Giovinazzi||Alfa Romeo-Ferrari||1’41.675||0.749||29|
|9||Lance Stroll||Racing Point-Mercedes||1’41.866||0.940||41|
|11||Carlos Sainz Jnr||McLaren-Renault||1’41.947||1.021||48|
|14||Kimi Raikkonen||Alfa Romeo-Ferrari||1’42.148||1.222||53|
|19||Sergio Perez||Racing Point-Mercedes||1’43.263||2.337||6|
2020 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix tyre strategies
The tyre strategies for each driver:
|Stint 1||Stint 2||Stint 3||Stint 4|
|Max Verstappen||C4 (10)||C3 (45)|
|Valtteri Bottas||C4 (10)||C3 (45)|
|Lewis Hamilton||C4 (10)||C3 (45)|
|Alexander Albon||C5 (10)||C3 (45)|
|Lando Norris||C5 (10)||C3 (45)|
|Carlos Sainz Jnr||C4 (10)||C3 (45)|
|Daniel Ricciardo||C3 (39)||C4 (16)|
|Pierre Gasly||C5 (10)||C3 (45)|
|Esteban Ocon||C4 (10)||C3 (45)|
|Lance Stroll||C5 (10)||C3 (45)|
|Daniil Kvyat||C5 (10)||C3 (44)|
|Kimi Raikkonen||C4 (10)||C3 (44)|
|Charles Leclerc||C4 (22)||C3 (32)|
|Sebastian Vettel||C3 (35)||C4 (19)|
|George Russell||C4 (10)||C3 (44)|
|Antonio Giovinazzi||C4 (27)||C3 (27)|
|Nicholas Latifi||C4 (11)||C3 (24)||C4 (19)|
|Kevin Magnussen||C3 (31)||C4 (16)||C4 (7)|
|Pietro Fittipaldi||C4 (10)||C3 (24)||C4 (14)||C5 (5)|
|Sergio Perez||C3 (8)|
2020 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix pit stop times
How long each driver’s pit stops took:
|Driver||Team||Pit stop time||Gap||On lap|
|1||Max Verstappen||Red Bull||21.289||10|
|3||Antonio Giovinazzi||Alfa Romeo||21.480||0.191||27|
|4||Alexander Albon||Red Bull||21.508||0.219||10|
|9||Kimi Raikkonen||Alfa Romeo||22.012||0.723||10|
|10||Lance Stroll||Racing Point||22.036||0.747||10|
|14||Carlos Sainz Jnr||McLaren||22.140||0.851||10|
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