Race Report: Verstappen wins Abu Dhabi GP

YAS MARINA CIRCUIT, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - DECEMBER 13: Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1, 2nd position, Paul Monaghan, Chief Engineer, Red Bull Racing, Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing, 1st position, and Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1, 3rd position, on the trophy during the Abu Dhabi GP at Yas Marina Circuit on Sunday December 13, 2020 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Zak Mauger / LAT Images)

The Abu Dhabi Grand Prix has traditionally been a low-passing, dull affair but this year, well, it lived up to its reputation except this time, it was not a Mercedes showcase. For once, the Mercedes domination wasn’t present. It was the usual Harlem Globetrotters (Mercedes) vs the Washington Generals (everyone else) like it’s been for seven years. This time, Max Verstappen was able to take advantage of a Mercedes team nursing the stubbed-toe of a dodgy MGU-K and take the win.

Verstappen led a flawless race for Red Bull followed by the Mercedes duo of Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton. Red Bull’s Alex Albon had a good race to finish 4th but it was the 5th and 6th place finish of McLaren’s Lando Norris and Carlos Sainz that secured third in the Constructor’s Championship worth millions in prize money and that’s important for a team who just announced they are selling 15% of the team to a new ownership group based in the US.


A big win for Red Bull, Honda and Max Verstappen. While you could argue they beat a Mercedes team nursing an MGU-K issue, they still needed the win and perhaps it may help keep Honda interested in assisting the team when they leave the sport in 2022.

A big win for McLaren for securing third in the Constructor’s Championship over Racing Point which is worth millions. The team need every dollar they can get and this was a terrific result by Carlos and Lando who drove terrific races.

A win for Daniel Ricciardo in his last race for Renault by making his Hard compounds last and finishing 7th. Esteban Ocon, in the other Renault, added salt to Racing Point’s wound by passing Lance Stroll on the last lap to finish 9th.

A win for Alpha Tauri’s Pierre Gasly who had a nice drive to 8th besting his teammate and finishing off his season is style.

Kudos to George Russell for finishing 15th in a Williams car and anyone would tell you that takes some doing.


A fail for Racing Point who entered the race in 3rd place in the Constructor’s Championship but with a DNF for Sergio Perez and Lance Stroll drifting backwards to 10th place, the elation they had a week ago disappeared in 55 laps and cost the team millions of dollars.

A fail for Ferrari who stayed out during the first Safety Car period dropping them back to 13th and 14th. An indicative result for their season and the last race at Ferrari for Sebastian Vettel. The shock announcement of Louis Camilleri’s departure as CEO, and Mattia Binotto’s repeat absence from the pit wall is just another tangible example of how Ferrari’s downfall since sacking Luca di Montezemolo and much of its management is still causing major issues.


Not exactly sure why Lewis Hamilton didn’t take this week off to recover fully from COVID-19 but then if I was Lewis, I would want back in that car. What is more interesting is that Mercedes chose to let Lewis get back in that car even when he wasn’t 100% instead of giving George Russell another chance. Lewis had nothing to prove by getting in that car but I suspect Toto Wolff’s commentary about keeping Bottas for 2021 is a reason he didn’t want the controversy to ripen if George sat in and beat Valtteri again.

A WTH for the DV LED display on the podium for all the seaming issues that need to be adjusted. Sorry, my day job creeping in.

Pirelli Key Moments

  • Red Bull driver Max Verstappen claimed his second win of the season and the 10th of his career in the sixth consecutive year that the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix has been won from pole. He followed a one-stop medium-hard strategy; the same strategy used by the Mercedes of Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton, in second and third behind him, as well as six other drivers.
  • All three compounds were seen at the start, with the top three getting away on the Yellow medium, some of those behind them on the Red soft, and a few other drivers closer to the back choosing the White hard tyre with the aim to complete a long first stint and gain track position.
  • Lap 10 produced the pivotal moment in the race, when a safety car prompted the majority of the field to anticipate their stops and switch to the hard tyres, including the leaders. Ferrari was a notable exception, with both drivers staying out, as well as Renault’s Daniel Ricciardo, Haas driver Kevin Magnussen and Alfa Romeo’s Antonio Giovinazzi.
  • Ricciardo was the highest-placed finisher to start on the hard tyre (from 11th on the grid) ending up seventh after a 39-lap stint on the white tyre.
  • The race was generally a one-stopper, with just a pair of two-stoppers: Williams driver Nicholas Latifi and Magnussen. His Haas team mate Pietro Fittipaldi was the sole driver to stop three times.

Abu Dhabi GP

1Max VerstappenRed Bull/Honda1h36m28.645s
2Valtteri BottasMercedes15.976s
3Lewis HamiltonMercedes18.415s
4Alexander AlbonRed Bull/Honda19.987s
5Lando NorrisMcLaren/Renault1m00.729s
6Carlos Sainz Jr.McLaren/Renault1m05.662s
7Daniel RicciardoRenault1m13.748s
8Pierre GaslyAlphaTauri/Honda1m29.718s
9Esteban OconRenault1m41.069s
10Lance StrollRacing Point/Mercedes1m42.738s
11Daniil KvyatAlphaTauri/Honda1 Lap
12Kimi RaikkonenAlfa Romeo/Ferrari1 Lap
13Charles LeclercFerrari1 Lap
14Sebastian VettelFerrari1 Lap
15George RussellWilliams/Mercedes1 Lap
16Antonio GiovinazziAlfa Romeo/Ferrari1 Lap
17Nicholas LatifiWilliams/Mercedes1 Lap
18Kevin MagnussenHaas/Ferrari1 Lap
19Pietro FittipaldiHaas/Ferrari2 Laps
Sergio PerezRacing Point/MercedesTransmission

Driver’s Championship

1Lewis Hamilton347
2Valtteri Bottas223
3Max Verstappen214
4Sergio Perez125
5Daniel Ricciardo119
6Carlos Sainz Jr.105
7Alexander Albon105
8Charles Leclerc98
9Lando Norris97
10Pierre Gasly75
11Lance Stroll75
12Esteban Ocon62
13Sebastian Vettel33
14Daniil Kvyat32
15Nico Hulkenberg10
16Kimi Raikkonen4
17Antonio Giovinazzi4
18George Russell3
19Romain Grosjean2
20Kevin Magnussen1
21Nicholas Latifi0
22Jack Aitken0
23Pietro Fittipaldi0

Constructor’s Championship

2Red Bull/Honda319
4Racing Point/Mercedes195
8Alfa Romeo/Ferrari8
Overall Race
race-report-verstappen-wins-abu-dhabi-gpThe Abu Dhabi race delivered what it normally does but Max Verstappen and Red Bull delivered much more with a terrific win.
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Well I was wrong about Hamilton dominating the race upon his return. Guess MB ran out of engines, and Lewis wasn’t 100% Still even with those handicaps, only Max was able to challenge them.

Xean Drury

Hamilton should not have raced. I’m surprised the FIA and Mercedes allowed it, given what other drivers recovery time was with COVID. It was irresponsible. IMO

Tim C.

What I don’t understand is why Merc didn’t take the grid penalties for LH and VB, put in a new engine and all the relevant components in both cars, start from the back, and go for it. There were no titles in play and it would have been fun to see how far the Mercs could get up the grid by the end of the race. It nothing else, there would have been a few more passes to watch. Oh well . . .

Worthless Opinion

So, just curious, if this was 3 stars what would a 2 or 1 star race look like? The cars dont show up and the guys just make ‘vroom vroom errrrt-squeak vroom’ noises with their mouths?

Xean Drury

Hahaha! Funny guy.

Xean Drury

This was the best Abu Dhabi GP I’ve ever watched! Fell asleep around lap 23 and woke up at Lap 47.

charlie w

I know Abu Dhabi pays dearly for the privilege as the last race in the F1 season but isn’t it time for someone, ANYONE, to question if it’s a good idea to end the racing season with such a sleeper race venue? If F1 is supposed to be riveting, exciting and entertaining, shouldn’t its last race reflect that? Don’t change the track layout, just change the venue.