Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen eased to win F1 Abu Dhabi GP from Mercedes duo Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton, with Alexander Albon just behind.
It was a clean start in F1 Abu Dhabi GP at Yas Marina circuit with Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen leading Mercedes duo Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton, where the Finn had a bit of a twitchy moment but managed to hang on to track position.
McLaren’s Lando Norris held onto fourth from Red Bull’s Alexander Albon as the other McLaren of Carlos Sainz was sixth from AlphaTauri’s Daniil Kvyat with Racing Point’s Lance Stroll eighth from Renault’s Esteban Ocon and AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly.
It was a gain for Ocon with Gasly behind as Renault’s Daniel Ricciardo was 11th from Ferrari duo with Sebastian Vettel getting ahead of Charles Leclerc. At the back, Racing Point’s Sergio Perez couldn’t gain much on the hard tyres he started on.
While the leaders started to create a gap, Albon was catching Norris and eventually made the move stick to take fourth after couple of wheel-to-wheel battle. Behind, Stroll passed Kvyat for seventh as Gasly cleared both Ocon and his teammate for eighth.
Ocon was told to give way to Ricciardo as he had Vettel on his tail quickly. As things started to settle in Abu Dhabi GP, it was heartbreak for Racing Point and Perez as he stopped on track with a potential engine issue – the steering wheel suggesting oil pressure trouble.
It resulted in a Virtual Safety Car which later turned into a full Safety Car, where majority of the field pitted, except Ricciardo, Vettel, Leclerc, Alfa Romeo’s Antonio Giovinazzi and Haas’ Kevin Magnussen, as the Australian and the Ferrari duo gained track position.
It was Verstappen ahead of Bottas, Hamilton, Albon, Ricciardo, Norris, Vettel, Leclerc, Sainz and Stroll in the Top 10 behind the safety car. The re-start worked well for the Dutchman as he led the pack nicely, with the only change coming in behind.
It was Sainz who cleared Leclerc for eighth as Stroll then tried to move ahead of the Monegasque. The Canadian passed the Ferrari driver but he came back to keep track position, as the Spaniard was put under investigation by the FIA stewards.
It stated that he was driving unnecessarily slowly in the pitlane while McLaren tried to double-stack its drivers. It didn’t deter him from gaining places as he passed Vettel to take seventh, while his teammate Norris tried to hustle Ricciardo ahead.
Stroll, meanwhile, eventually passed Leclerc for ninth as the Monegasque quickly lost 10th to Gasly. The Ferrari driver came under pressure soon from Ocon and Kvyat, as he lost to the Frenchman, which propelled his team to pit him for the hard tyres.
He dropped to last eventually as Vettel stayed out on his starting hard tyres, keeping Stroll behind well. The Canadian was catching his future teammate but locked-up to go wide, which brought Gasly in the game as the train continued.
Before Stroll could pass Vettel, it was Gasly taking away ninth from the Canadian in the left-hander. They also had a small touch as the Frenchman then got on the tail of the German, with the two then dueling for eighth but the AlphaTauri having the last laugh.
Vettel was holding up the pack well as Stroll couldn’t clear as much with Ocon and Kvyat joining the fight as well. The German eventually pitted, leaving Ricciardo the only one to stop even after over 35 laps in the F1 Abu Dhabi GP at Yas Marina circuit.
Ricciardo finally pitted on Lap 40 and returned to track in seventh ahead of Gasly as Norris and Sainz moved up to fifth and sixth. The Top 10 then had Stroll and Ocon, with Kvyat just outside, where Leclerc started to come back after a fight with Kimi Raikkonen.
The Monegasque couldn’t get past the Finn, though, but was shown the black and white flag for track limits infraction. He had three strikes and one more would have resulted in time penalty. At the same time, Hamilton had two strikes by Lap 48.
At the front, it started to ease up with Verstappen with no pressure from behind to win the F1 Abu Dhabi GP ahead of Bottas and Hamilton, despite some late catching up from the Mercedes drivers and also Albon, who ended up a fine fourth.
He was only 1.572s in the end. Third place in the constructors’ championship was sealed by McLaren, where Norris and Sainz ended up fifth and sixth, with Ricciardo seventh from Gasly, Ocon and Stroll, after the Frenchman cleared the Canadian for ninth.
It wasn’t a grand slam for Verstappen in the end after Ricciardo took the fastest lap on the final lap. The Dutchman would have become the youngest but he didn’t. Outside the Top 10 was Kvyat in 11th with Raikkonen holding off Leclerc eventually with Vettel in 14th.
Williams’ George Russell ended up 15th from Giovinazzi from Williams’ Nicholas Latifi as Haas’ Kevin Magnussen and Pietro Fittipaldi rounded out the 19 runners, where everyone from Kvyat until the Dane were one lap down and the Brazilian finishing two laps down.
UPDATE: The FIA had no further action in the investigation for Sainz for driving slowly in the pits when he pitted just behind Norris and ahead of Stroll. It was a complaint from Racing Point but the stewards didn’t think it was deemed to be penalised.
“The Stewards viewed video evidence, radio transmissions and telemetry data, heard
from the driver of car 55 (Carlos Sainz), the driver of car 18 (Lance Stroll) and team
representatives,” said the FIA statement. “Car 55 was advised by its Team, that it was 2.4 seconds in front of Car 18 approaching the Pit Entry.
“There was no instruction by the Team to slow down. On approaching the Start of the Pit Lane Car 55 accelerated then as per normal practice, braked briefly to less than 80 km/h just prior to the line and then accelerated up to 80. This was exactly the same as Car 5. (Car 18 also braked to below 80 prior to the line then accelerated up to 80 as it crossed the line).
“Within the Pit Lane, Car 55 was at 80 km/h for all but approximately 5 seconds when it dropped to no less than 70 km/h. We estimate this resulted in Car 55 arriving at the pit stop around 0.6 second later than if it had maintained a speed of 80 km/h. Therefore, we are not of the view that this action in any way resulted in the Team avoiding a “double stack” situation as Car 5 was well clear of the Pit Stop at this time.
“We also accept the explanation of the driver of Car 55 that he was exercising a degree of caution as video evidence confirms the presence of a lot of other teams’ personnel in the Pit Lane at the time. Car 18 was able to maintain a speed of 80 km/h in the Pit Lane except for a very short period of time (approximately 1 second) and therefore we do not consider that it was materially impacted by the actions of the driver of Car 55.
“We also checked the relative speeds of the cars after leaving their pit stops and can see no evidence of Car 55 driving unnecessarily slowly. It should be noted that normally the Stewards prefer to take decisions of this nature during the Race however in this case the necessary telemetry was only available shortly before the Finish.”