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
|1||Max Verstappen||Red Bull/Honda||1h36m28.645s|
|4||Alexander Albon||Red Bull/Honda||19.987s|
|6||Carlos Sainz Jr.||McLaren/Renault||1m05.662s|
|10||Lance Stroll||Racing Point/Mercedes||1m42.738s|
|11||Daniil Kvyat||AlphaTauri/Honda||1 Lap|
|12||Kimi Raikkonen||Alfa Romeo/Ferrari||1 Lap|
|13||Charles Leclerc||Ferrari||1 Lap|
|14||Sebastian Vettel||Ferrari||1 Lap|
|15||George Russell||Williams/Mercedes||1 Lap|
|16||Antonio Giovinazzi||Alfa Romeo/Ferrari||1 Lap|
|17||Nicholas Latifi||Williams/Mercedes||1 Lap|
|18||Kevin Magnussen||Haas/Ferrari||1 Lap|
|19||Pietro Fittipaldi||Haas/Ferrari||2 Laps|
|–||Sergio Perez||Racing Point/Mercedes||Transmission|
|6||Carlos Sainz Jr.||105|