Max Verstappen, Red Bull, Yas Marina, 2020

Verstappen wins dreary season finale in Abu Dhabi

2020 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix summary

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Max Verstappen scored his second victory of 2020 as the season ended with a processional Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

The Red Bull driver kept his lead at the start and drew clear of the chasing Mercedes in a race which was shaped by an early Safety Car period after Sergio Perez’s power unit failed.

Most of the field pitted following Perez’s stoppage, taking hard tyres to run to the end of the race. Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton, who followed Verstappen away from the line in grid order, also pitted and fell in behind him.

Alexander Albon ended lap one in fifth place but was able to work his way around Lando Norris for fourth. He put on a charge in an attempt to catch Hamilton at the end of the race but fell short.

Norris came in fifth ahead of his team mate Carlos Sainz Jnr. Sainz, however, is under investigation for driving too slowly on his way into the pits during the Safety Car period.

A penalty could swing the outcome of their fight for third in the championship with Racing Point. Perez’s retirement meant Lance Stroll was their only driver in the points – he took the flag in 10th after being overtaken by Esteban Ocon on the final lap.

Daniel Ricciardo, one of few drivers not to pit during the Safety Car, set the fastest lap of the race and took the bonus point on his way to seventh ahead of Pierre Gasly.

In what could be his final F1 race, Daniil Kvyat took 11th ahead of Kimi Raikkonen, the Alfa Romeo driver leading the Ferrari pair home. George Russell returned to Williams with 15th, and the Haas drivers were last, Kevin Magnussen taking a fresh set of tyres for a final blast before taking the chequered flag for the final time in his F1 career.

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2020 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix reaction

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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84 comments on “Verstappen wins dreary season finale in Abu Dhabi”

  1. Well, we did not get the chase we wanted nor expected. Red Bull getting a win there that could boost their morale after horrible last races from them. They really need to fix that car for the start of next season if they want to be challengers, as that car appears too loose and too difficult to drive. Everyone deserves a rest in a nice comfortable bed after a really tough year, and thank you to the FIA for giving us 17 races and some on tracks that really deserve to be on the calendar.

    1. To be honest, hearing some tout their ‘only 60% of the car will be the same next season’ as a good thing @krichelle I really hope the fact their car has to have the same basis at least means they start next year solidly at the least, unlike most of the last years, and can improve from being close to Merc for once instead of only getting there at the end.

      1. RBR have seemed to do this every year though, they start with a car they don’t understand, far off the pace, end up developing it nicely through the year, start challenging in the European races then look like they might be able to win at the end of the year… then redo their car and start again, with a concept they don’t fully grasp until it’s been through testing and 5 gps… but next year may be different. Here’s hoping Hamilton suffers no long term complications from covid, Ric & Merc can push McLaren a little higher, Alonso can continue Renault’s (alpines) form, & Aston Martin can remember how to make a car.

        1. Dave (@davewillisporter)
          14th December 2020, 0:35

          That’s an Adrian Newey design house feature. Make a maximum performance peaky car that when completely optimised is extremely fast but very difficult to set up for a stable drive and a narrow window in which it performs. The blown diffuser years saved his designs and Renault were the best at that concept. Google the McLaren MP4-18. Dangerous car but peak Newey.

          1. Given how RBR performed when Newey stepped away from the lead design role I don’t particularly agree. Yes Newey runs at the edge, but some of his cars have been monsters, every team has had a dog of a car that just didn’t meet the expectations, Ferrari, McLaren and Williams all had years when they introduced B version cars. My fear is that RBR tare about to throw out the model just as it’s coming good, rather than carry over a concept and continue to develop it, and surely this year with the continuation of technical rules would be the perfect opportunity for that. I guess we’ll see in Melbourne next year.

  2. Feel for the RP staff after that tbh. P3 and likely a bonus down the pan from reliability and a lackluster driver. Must feel they’re competing with their hands tied behind their backs with Stroll in the car.

    1. Maybe Stroll will exceed elsewhere?

    2. Well, to be fair, without Stroll they might have lost their Jobs two years ago, so…..

      1. It was Perez who put the team into administration thereby saving it. If it was Stroll sr serving his own interests, it would have been some other billionaire looking for his sons latest plaything.

  3. And that moment Max took the win, there was silence around Australia, Canada, Finland, France and Germany…

    1. someone or something
      13th December 2020, 15:35


      1. Ricciardo, Stroll, Kimi, Ocon and Vettel dislike him.

        1. *fans, actually

          1. Err, OK. Did you do a survey or something?

          2. I’m afraid I can’t tell you.

          3. Are there Stroll fans?

        2. someone or something
          13th December 2020, 16:49

          Oh, so you’re that kind of fan …
          Isn’t it enough to cheer when your favourite driver is successful? Do you really have to fantasise about other people hating him and consequently feeling down when he wins?
          That’s (a) pretty sad, sounds (b) a lot like you’re winning an argument in your own head, and (c) that list and speculations about those people’s feelings seems rather whimsical, to put it mildly.

          1. I have nothing against Max but some fans crucify him and constantly wish him bad things.

    2. Why? was there a sudden power cut?

      1. No, just fans being silent with some tumbleweed.

        1. Pity that all was staged then and it turned out not to be the RB having pace, but Mercedes already being in idle modus. It is hard to believe (and accept) how boring F1 has become in the hybrid era. Even when Mercedes doesn’t win, actually they did if they hadn’t turned down their engine. Everyone loses but Mercedes. Even Lewis himself loses since the car so strongly diminishes his (still stellar) performance as shown by Russell. And then to think that next year will be a copy of this year….

          1. The incident at Portugal was the reason fans became silent.

    3. more likely there was a mixture of silence and light snoring from long before :)

      1. F2 Round 4 Silverstone, both rounds. I remember that one.

  4. What a magnificent recovery for the McLaren Team from the Alonso ers disaster to third behind Merc and RB.
    Seidl is the F1 man of the year.

    1. Along with Zak to put deals together to give the team financial strength. The car division needs to get their act together and not be a drain on the company overall.

      1. Not so sure about Brown. This whole ‘selling the MTC and then renting it back’ seems like that kind of idea that is very obviously bad, but so-called proffessinals will tell you a million times why and how it is not until someday it turns out, rather surprisingly, that it in fact is a bad idea. A bit like the very surprising stockmarket crash every few years.

        1. Selling asset’s such as ground and buildings is, and continues to be, a competent business transaction. Many, many businesses do this all the time. Reasons are two fold. It frees up frozen capital that has been locked up in land and buildings plus it places the lease capital expenditure as a fixed cost on the balance sheet.

          Ownership of buildings adds variable costs on the balance sheet (you may have to raise a capital expenditure item to replace a roof for example) and these liabilities have to sit on the balance sheet and affect the ability to spend gross profits in expanding the company.

          Property owning companies factor in, on going costs into the lease term having the ability to spread those costs over many other property lease arrangement and all their maintenance and repair costs.

          McLaren wont cease to operate even if a lease expires, they simply move to another leased location.

          1. Coventry Climax
            13th December 2020, 19:39

            That’s the same crap as “a sound economy grows by 3% every year”, which is the general economy mantra I always hear from the blue suit, brown shoes guys.
            Simple question: what m o r o n would buy the property and rent it out, if there’s no profit to be made?
            Same with the 3%: If you blow up a balloon by 3% every hour, guess what, after a couple of hours? A very sound boom! As long as we can’t get off of our earth (which god forbid because we’ll only start to f~~~ u~ the next planet), earth and balloon are very similar.
            Profit is, by definition, on someone elses expense.

          2. Reply to coventry climax

            That is actually not true.
            It is a well-known phenomenon that specialisation leads to efficiency. A company that focusses on maintaining infrastructure can do this at a lower cost than a company focussing on f.e. making cars run faster.
            Both can make a profit from the same transaction.

            In fact, you earn profit when you create value that is at least as great as the price that you are charging (otherwise people would not buy).

            Therefore, the balloon metaphor is a false equivalancy. Profits are not by definition made on someone else’s expense.

            You can hardly state that we had an equal amount of wealth during f.e. the era if ancient Egypt. It has not been just a question of redistributing the Pharao’s wealth. There has been growth.

            (Just for the record: i am not claiming there has never been exploitation, corruption or fraud)

        2. @mrboerns I think you’ll find that sale and leaseback deals are very, very common. Most large corporates don’t own their buildings, they lease properties fitted out exactly to their requirements because having a large asset like that on your balance sheet is dead cash.

          In my previous role as a real estate lawyer we did that sort of thing for clients all the time. In tough financial times like this businesses should do all they can to sure up their financial position. It isn;t “obviously very bad”, it is sound business practice.

      2. A commanding win. But as a result a boring race.
        Put ver in a car with win potential and more boring races will be the result.
        But still, the mercs humiliated on a circuit they normally dominate.

        1. Humiliated? Strong word. Given that they stopped developing back at Spa and turned their engines down I’d say 2 podium places is a decent return. If you can’t win all the time, make sure you win when it matters.

          1. Coventry Climax
            13th December 2020, 19:46

            Basically, you’re right. Merc is already concentrating on next years car, and miles ahaed of the competition, I’m afraid.
            But where did you get the information they turned their engines down?

            Verstappen in a superior car is no more, or no less for that matter, boring than Schumacher, Vettel or Hamilton in a superior car.
            Anyway, the look on Toto’s face, when Verstappen took pole, made my weekend!

          2. From the commentators on Sky and in the BBC. Obviously I don’t know for sure because I don’t work for Mercedes! Apparently they had an issue with the MGU-K and ran it more conservatively across the weekend.

        2. Unfortunately not, but staged by Mercedes..

    2. Amen to that!

      Let’s hope they can carry the momentum through to next year and more importantly, develop something decent for 2022.

  5. A very strong race by verstappen, red bull brought a great car, if not the outright best definitely able to tie with mercedes, keeping in mind bottas is bottas and hamilton was returning from covid, albon drove relatively well even accounting for a good red bull, that’s what’s expected from a decent number 2, shame for verstappen for losing the grand chelem after the race was already won since ricciardo stole the fastest lap then, think he was deserving that, and also for perez, would’ve definitely got some points and would’ve made it much more of a fight for 3rd place in the constructors with mclaren; all in all perez deserved 4th place in the championship and mclaren deserved their 3rd. Shame for vettel’s strategy, he drove relatively well for this year and for the car he had and could’ve maybe got a point had he gone till the end, was surprised by how few cars actuallly made a 2nd stop.

    1. And I think hamilton should’ve let russel drive, I think verstappen would’ve won anyway, but with russel much closer!

    2. Riccardo “stole” the fastest lap eh?

  6. it is a Mercedes gift to Redbull. Merc and FIA agreed to keep the Redbull team excited for the next year.
    Did not find any willingness to win from Merc. It is difficult believe all of sudden loosing the power.

    1. I don’t buy that conspiracy nonsense. If it was ‘gifted’ it was by a well calculated development stop by Merc to focus on 2021.

    2. “loosing”?

    3. sudden loss of power

    4. Yes, unfortunately this turns out to be the case. Another insult for us as viewers

  7. Today Merc really needed someone like George R to breeze past Bottas and take the fight to Max…

    1. So they should have put George Russell in the car, because he did it in one race, over the guy that has done it for the past 4 years?

      Remind me why you are not the CEO of a multi billion company aagain ?

    2. Russel definitely messed up wuth somebody’s head.
      “If a guy who can barely get into Q2 can do what I can, this can mean I am not special.”

  8. A penalty could swing the outcome of their fight for third in the championship with Racing Point.

    Really? McL is seven points ahead of RP as it is now without the penalty. A 5 second penalty would change nothing, and a (harsh) 10 second penalty would swicht his sixth position with Ricciardo’s seventh, so the final WDC classification wouldn’t change. Only a draconian penalty, such as a black flag for Sainz and the loss of his 8 points would give back the third WCC position to Racing point

  9. Deserved victory for Max Verstappen. The problem with this race being dreary was down to Mercedes being conservative with their power unit and the tame pit stop strategy. My guess is both were down to ensuring Bottas finished in second in the WDC. So the better strategy of not pitting one driver under the SC (probably Hamilton as he was running second) and trying something different was avoided to ensure VB kept nicely in second. The same with turning down the power unit on both cars. And the same with Hamilton not trying to overtake Valtteri at the start when he had another poor second and third corner. Hamilton could have been aggressive but clearly tucked in behind. What’s happening with Bottas’s first laps? Anyhow well done Red Bull – but please try being on the pace at the start of seasons rather than right at the end…

    1. Well all that and this track just being what it is @david-br not helping at the end of the season when there isn’t much to play for left, but well said.

      1. @bosyber True, I miss Brazil being the finale, always a good race even when it was a dead rubber.

    2. +1
      To add to that, my opinion is Mercedes perfectly orchestrated this weekend to make sure Valtteri secured the 2nd spot in the standings. They couldn’t risk George taking the fight to Valtteri hence why they desperately wanted Lewis back in the car as he’s got nothing to prove and would gladly help Valtteri secure the 2nd spot. The most telling signs (like you mentioned) were the conservative strategies and Lewis not attacking Valtteri at any point in the race, even tho he pretty much maintained an average of 3secs behind him all race.

      1. @lums I had the same thought about Mercedes not really wanting Russell in the car when they needed Bottas to finish second in the WDC. Depending on how the race panned out, it could have been really awkward, for example, having to tell Russell to give up a place so Bottas could get the points needed. Like you said, Lewis was happy to stay behind. At one point he closed up to two seconds, asked how he was in relation to Bottas on the radio, and subsequently fell back to 3 seconds behind. Kind of confirms the idea he was holding station.

    3. As much as I wanted Russel to drive that Merc, you’re right – Mercedes’ goal was definitely to secure a second place on the WDC. It would have been awkward and frustrating for everyone if Russel gets a second crack at driving a good car only to be told to make sure Bottas gets ahead. It’s anticlimactic, but it could have been worse :(

  10. The race wasn’t really as exciting as it looked on paper yesterday. But a dominant weekend from Max gives me a bit more hope for a tighter season next year. Plus the McLaren with Mercedes engine after a really solid season anyway, and hopefully improved Ferrari engine after this year’s setback could mix things up as well. Plenty to get excited about I reckon. And we can be really grateful for a fantastic 2020 despite everything that is going on.

  11. Verstappen had a great weekend, boring to watch this race for me, but can’t blame Verstappen for being fully in control of getting a win out of this race when he had the opportunity, he didn’t set a foot wrong today.

    I feel very meh about this race, but Gasly was doing great moves, Ocon seemed to have trouble in first stages, but was good at the end, Albon at least did a solid move on Norris, and the Ferrari silly strategy of the race (for both of them, jay!) provided some fuel for the faster guys to move around, and for Leclerc to try and get back from the not-in-the-SC pitstop. It just seemed that after that SC, there was almost nothing to play for left, and that was a downer ending to a very special season.

    1. @bosyber Forgot about Gasly, star of the race.

      1. I also missed Stroll clearly being not that @david-br, but I guess he deserved to be forgotten?

        1. @bosyber Definitely, Stroll’s season took a real nose-dive. Worsened by Perez producing some great race performances. Also agree with you that this was actually a very special season, surprisingly good races and packed with emotion and intrigue. Looking forward to next already, just hope Mercedes face a real fight (especially now Hamilton has basically hit almost all targets).

  12. Yas Marina circuit hands down the worst F1 circuit design in history.

    1. Total laziness.

    2. Tilke got virtually unlimited budget and THAT’s what came out, I’m just uggghhhhhhh.

  13. Any news on how/if the 2021 season will start in Australia.
    Even if vaccines works and people can get, would it allow for teams drivers to fly to Australia?
    I have zero hopes that it wil be opened to the public.
    Things may change in three months (or less depending on deadlines), but I dont see how covid will be over in time for the start of the season to be “normal” – and by start of the season I mean until mid2021.

    1. sorry, what do you mean? the calendar has already been published and the first race is on mid-March.

      they were able to fly to Russia this year. why wouldn’t they be able to fly to Australia?

      1. So, it is all ok for a trip to China in 4 months?

    2. If it’s not open to the public, I hope it’s cancelled altogether, and early. I don’t imagine the disruption for a non-event would be appreciated by the locals… I think at this stage it’s looking good but a lot can happen in 3-4 months!

  14. Despite the Mercedes dominance we enjoyed a lot of interesting races this year. Ironically today, when Mercedes performed worst, turned out to be the worst race.

    Sorry Thielke you created some good tracks but this one is just awful. You had thousands of square meters and an unlimited budget to build something exciting and came up with this…
    Except for 2012 all races were pretty dull, even 2010 when Alonso lost the championship was anticlimactic.
    If you wanted to create a track from hell by putting together the worst corners of the calender you surely can’t ignore Yas Marinas whole sector three. A brilliant example of how to reduce overtaking and to diminish any flow.

  15. Well Lewis’ driving may not have been 100% but at least his whinging was.

    “This feels like a bad strategy” (there was no other option)
    “Can you check my floor the car feels bad” (It was fine)
    “These tyres won’t go to the end” (they did)

    Was so refreshing to have GR in the car with his positive, constructive attitude.

    1. As a former Lewis fan, it pains me to agree with you. Last weekend I was on the edge of my seat, this one, er, not so much.

    2. Before the race started I mentioned to my family that Lewis was racing but “complained” he wasn’t 100% and not sure would be able to finish the race.
      But I added that he would do fine.
      And when the other “complaints” were played in the live feed, I again said it would all be fine…

      I wonder if how many “Bono, these tyres…” messages more were exchanged in the second half of the race…

    3. I don’t understand people sometimes. All 3 comments made sense. There were other strategy options available. Staying out. Another set of mediums instead of hards and doing 2 stops. Instead of nursing tyres for 40 laps, could perhaps have pushed. Lewis did damage his car yesterday so it’s feasible there was still damage or it had broken again. And the tyres did make it to the end, but at granny pace.

      1. Completely agree. Mercedes contributed to the dullness of the race by keeping both drivers on the same strategy. Mercedes had nothing to lose by letting one driver stay on the same strategy as Max and the other do something different. RIC was successful with it today.

        I think Lewis should see what Red Bull has to offer as Mercedes has the best engineered car but the strategies and pit crew aren’t the best.

    4. Yes, there was another option.

  16. I very much doubt there’s a single F1 fan out there who’d care if the race fell off the calendar.

    2020 has seen some fantastic races and venturing to tracks it would otherwise be nowhere near and put on good shows.

    Having this place as a season finale is a total letdown any year. Boring track, useless for racing on.

    1. Money, dear chap.

    2. Right! If they insist on keeping this for oil money reasons, at least shuffle it to the penultimate or third-to-las race instead of the finale. Maybe Turkey would be great as a finale, track’s definitely exciting enough.

    3. Not sure about that given it is realistically the only live race certain fans – specifically from most African countries – can easily attend. Not because of cost but because of all the visa barriers most of the other host countries have in place for us. Obviously, not many people think about that when commenting on it.

  17. Yas Marina needs to disappear from the calendar. Just a bad track and it produces horrible races. Replace it with one of the filler tracks they used this year…..please.

  18. Stroll is such a waste.

  19. It’s pretty rubbish that this miserable, if superficially pretty track, is going to be the season closer for a long time to come thanks to some Saudi King throwing money for the PR at F1. I miss the days of finishing at Interlagos, a frenetic rollercoaster of a lap bathed in relative F1 history. Nobody would miss this track, literally nobody.

    1. Superficially pretty is spot-on, this is the prettiest track possible to shoot from above – All the finish on the structures and track are impeccable, and even the back of the house area looks really good on camera. Alas, it’s just such a bore – Like I understand F1 needs the money, but can’t they just, shuffle this track somewhere before the finale if they really really have to keep it? :(

  20. Roberto Giacometti
    14th December 2020, 0:40

    I am so happy i timer recorded the race and went and had a good night’s sleep in bed rather than having a snooze fest on the couch with this drudgery on the screen.
    Seriously, the only entertaining bits of watching a grand prix weekend are all the interviews and segments before the race , and then after the race!
    I just zap through the bit where the lights go out and the chequered flag falls!
    The politics and the driver market and all the little innuendos that go on are more entertaining!
    And all this from a Formula 1 fanatic!!
    I am truly saddened.
    When ( it ever) , will we get compelling racing back on the screen???

  21. What a booooring race! At lap 39 I looked at the leader board and, with 19 cars running, there were only 3 that were within 2 seconds of the car in front. Most were 4-8 seconds behind the car in front of them, some more. This was a parade with everyone running by themselves.

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