The Abu Dhabi Grand Prix signaled the end of a chaotic 2020 season which saw drastic schedule changes while battling with the COVID-19 pandemic. This is also the race that signaled the end of many drivers with their respective teams, including Sebastian Vettel with Ferrari, Sergio Perez with Racing Point, Daniel Ricciardo with Renault, Carlos Sainz with McLaren and Kevin Magnussen with Haas. Verstappen dominated the race to pick up his second race win of 2020.
The first lap was free of incidents as Max Verstappen pulled away from Valtteri Bottas for the comfortable lead early. Bottas started over Lewis Hamilton, who returned to race after missing last week’s Sakhir Grand Prix due to a positive COVID-19 test, and maintained it at the start of the race.
Alexander Albon, whose future at Red Bull Racing is in doubt for 2021, moved ahead of Lando Norris for fourth place on lap six. Pierre Gasly passed his teammate, Daniil Kvyat, for eighth place two laps later. This is possibly the last race for Kvyat at AlphaTauri as his future remains in doubt.
On lap 10, Perez’s car suffered transmission issues, forcing him to retire from the race one week after winning the Sakhir GP. This marked the end of his career at Racing Point, the team he has been with since 2015. This is his second DNF of 2020 and the second in the past three races. The top four pitted on hard tires with the full safety car being deployed.
The two Ferraris, Vettel and Charles Leclerc, stayed out during the safety car, ran seventh and eighth. As Racing Point and McLaren were battling for third in the constructor standings, Racing Point claimed Sainz held up Lance Stroll on pit lane, a complaint which the stewards will investigate after the race. Verstappen rebuilt his lead on the restart over Bottas.
Leclerc finally pitted on lap 23 after slipping to 12th on the medium tires. He came out of the pits in last place.
Ricciardo pitted for the first time on lap 40 from fifth place and came out seventh behind the two McLaren drivers.
Verstappen dominated to win the race by over 14 seconds. This is his 10th career win and the second of 2020. Bottas finished in second place to guarantee him second place in the driver standings ahead of Verstappen. Hamilton finished third.
Albon finished fourth with one final audition to keep his seat at Red Bull. Norris and Sainz finished fifth and sixth for McLaren, winning them third in the constructor standings pending FIA’s investigation of Sainz during the safety car pit stops.
Ricciardo finished seventh and stole the fastest lap from Verstappen on the final lap. Gasly, Ocon and Stroll rounded out the top 10. Leclerc and Vettel finished 13th and 14th.
The 2021 Formula 1 season will kick off in March with the Australian Grand Prix.