Verstappen closes season with 15th win as Leclerc clinch second in standings | Formula One
Max Verstappen won the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix with a dominant, trouble-free ride ahead from pole to flag in the Formula 1 season finale. He beat Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc into second. Leclerc led a masterful race and his team pulled off a tactical coup to seal it, securing the Monegasque driver second in the championship, depriving Red Bull of their first one-two in the Drivers’ Championship. Red Bull’s Sergio Pérez finished third, unable to catch Leclerc on death.
Lewis Hamilton had to abandon his car due to a hydraulic problem, ending a difficult season, the first of the seven-time champion’s career in which he did not win a single race.
Verstappen’s victory was a pedestrian affair, he went unchallenged with another display of total control and pace that characterized his season, which ended with a record 15 wins from 22 races. Behind him, Leclerc and Pérez were in a separate fight and took it to the wire as they adopted alternate strategies. Ferrari’s single save finally paid off as he rubber-stamped to the flag to seal second place despite a charge from Pérez, leaving Red Bull thwarted at the end.
Leclerc and Pérez were level on points heading into this final round and Leclerc battled to beat his rival despite starting behind him on the grid. It’s the least Ferrari could have hoped for after starting the season so strong, but it will be cold comfort given that Red Bull have comfortably secured the drivers’ and constructors’ titles. Red Bull are yet to claim a Championship double despite the dominance they have enjoyed this year and with Sebastian Vettel winning four titles between 2010 and 2014. The second is Leclerc’s best result in the Championship.
For Hamilton, it ends his remarkable and unique F1 record of being the only driver to claim a victory in every season he has competed in F1 since his debut in 2007. It is the latest disappointment after what has been a brutal season. where the uncompetitive Mercedes has not only been out of pace, but a handful to drive and extremely physically demanding in the form of the bouncing and porpoising it has suffered with for most of the year.
He finished in sixth place, behind his teammate, George Russell, who finished fourth and took fifth place in Abu Dhabi. It is only the third time Hamilton has been outclassed by a team-mate, with Nico Rosberg in 2016 and Jenson Button in 2011.
The result also saw Ferrari secure second place in the constructors’ championship by beating Mercedes in third. Mercedes were 19 points behind at the start of the race and overcoming it was a major issue, but the Scuderia nevertheless closed with a solid race. After a season littered with driver and team errors in operation and execution, the end of the season offers the team a badly needed chance to reset.
Third place is the lowest Mercedes has finished since finishing fifth in 2012 and this year is the first since 2014 not to win the constructors’ championship.
Vettel ended his F1 career with Aston Martin’s 10th place finish at the track where he won his first title in 2010. The German is retiring after racing in F1 for 16 years. He enjoyed huge success winning four titles with Red Bull between 2010 and 2013 but was unable to replicate that when he joined Ferrari. The 35-year-old fought for the title twice in 2017 and 2018 but both times were denied by Hamilton as he and Mercedes took on the challenge from the Scuderia.
Vettel made his debut in 2007 with Toro Rosso and ends his career after having played 299 races, he won 53 victories, the last of which for Ferrari in Singapore in 2009.
Carlos Sainz was fourth for Ferrari, Lando Norris and Daniel Ricciardo sixth and ninth for McLaren, Esteban Ocon seventh for Alpine and Lance Stroll eighth for Aston Martin.