Verstappen wins in F1 Abu Dhabi finale

Max Verstappen has ended his 2020 in style with an easy win in Abu Dhabi over Mercedes teammates Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton.

The Red Bull Racing driver had no trouble converting pole to victory, with his Mercedes rivals struggling through the race with detuned engines to compensate for reliability concerns.

An early safety car presented the Dutchman’s only hurdle, but one he nailed his restart from the struggling Mercedes duo he needed only manage his tyres over an elongated final stint to cruise to the finishing line for his second win of the season.

This article originally appeared in The Phuket News.

“It was really enjoyable out there,” he said. “I saw that they were dropping off behind me, so I could take it a bit easier.

“Overall it was just a very strong race for the team.”

Bottas led Mercedes home in second ahead of teammate Hamilton but was forced to concede the Mercedes car left him unable to compete.

“I think Red Bull was too quick today — surprisingly quick,” he said. “I was trying everything I could but couldn’t keep up with him.

“I feel like it was a solid race from my side — no mistakes, and I felt like I couldn’t get more out of the package today.”

Hamilton finished third in the final race of his seventh championship-winning year, but the Briton was just pleased to make it to the end of the weekend as part of his recovery from COVID-19, which forced him to skip the previous race in Bahrain.

“You can’t win them all,” he said. “Considering the past couple of weeks I’ve had, I’m really generally happy with the weekend.

“It’s obviously not 100 per cent, not as good as perhaps I would like, but congratulations to Max.”

Alex Albon finished fourth in arguably the most competitive weekend of his season. The Thai driver said he felt he had finally clicked with the car after qualifying, and he was able to close in on Hamilton to challenge the Briton for the final podium place in the final laps for the race.

Albon remains unsigned in 2021, with Red Bull Racing so far unconvinced of his potential.

Lando Norris and Carlos Sainz finished fifth and sixth for McLaren to win the team third in the constructors championship, the British marque’s highest title placing since 2012.

Sainz was under post-race investigation for impeding rivals in the pit lane during the safety car period, but the Spaniard would have to lose four places before the team’s position in the standings would be put in jeopardy.

Inbound McLaren driver Daniel Ricciardo ended his Renault career with a seventh-place finish after a long first stint on the hard tyre to improve four places on his starting position.

AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly finished eighth ahead of Renault’s Esteban Ocon, who raced and passed Racing Point’s Lance Stroll for ninth on the final lap of the race.

Daniil Kvyat finished 11th in what will likely be the Russian’s last Formula One grand prix, with his AlphaTauri seat tipped to be taken by Japanese F2 racer Yuki Tsunoda in 2021.

Kimi Raikkonen finished 12th for Alfa Romeo ahead of Ferrari teammates Charles Leclerc and Sebastian Vettel, the last-named German in his last race for the famous Scuderia before his move to Racing Point next season in its guise as Aston Martin.

Williams driver George Russell finished 15th ahead of Antonio Giovinazzi’s Alfa Romeo and teammate Nicholas Latifi.

Kevin Magnussen ended his Formula One career in 18th for Haas ahead of rookie teammate Pietro Fittipaldi in 19th and last.

Sergio Perez was the race’s only retirement, the Racing Point driver stopping on lap 10 with a power unit problem. The Mexican, who won his first race last weekend in Bahrain, is still unsigned for 2021 but is in contention for Albon’s Red Bull Racing seat in a decision due to be announced in the coming weeks.