Max Verstappen’s extraordinary season ended with a comfortable victory at the Formula 1 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix on Sunday.
The Dutchman signed a 19e victory this season and a 54e in career, which allowed him to overtake Sebastian Vettel for third place in the history of the sport in this regard. Only Michael Schumacher (91) and Lewis Hamilton (103) are ahead of him.
Verstappen crossed the checkered flag ahead of Ferrari team driver Charles Leclerc and Mercedes team driver George Russell. He also got the bonus point for fastest lap.
“What an incredible year,” Verstappen said as he passed the finish. It was a little emotional coming back to the pits. »
Red Bull has won 21 of 22 races this season, while Sergio Perez has also recorded two victories.
“It will be very difficult to have another season like this, we know that,” Verstappen said. We will see. We will work hard to have a competitive car next year. »
After winning two of the first four races, Perez quickly slipped behind his star teammate.
“You dominated everything this year,” Red Bull team director Christian Horner said on the radio to Verstappen. We are all very proud of you. »
Perez crossed the line in second place, but he dropped to fourth due to a five-second penalty. Leclerc let Perez pass him on the final lap in the hope that the Mexican would finish more than five seconds ahead of Russell. Mercedes and Ferrari were fighting for the second tier of the constructors’ championship.
While Russell’s teammate Hamilton took ninth and Carlos Sainz Jr. collected no points, Mercedes held on to second place behind Red Bull.
“Unfortunately, it was not enough,” said Leclerc. It’s a shame that we finished third among the constructors. That’s all that mattered to me, but we didn’t accomplish it. I want to thank the entire team for their incredible work. »
Quebecer Lance Stroll, aboard his Aston Martin, collected a point thanks to a 10e place. He made sure of the 10e driver championship rank.
Verstappen started from pole for 12e times this season — more than twice as many as any other driver — with Leclerc alongside him and McLaren’s Oscar Piastri third on the grid.
The Yas Marina track is one of the most difficult when it comes to overtaking and Verstappen got off to a good start, fending off a few attacks from Leclerc.
Verstappen opted for hard tires at 17e lap of 58. Leclerc followed him on the next lap, leaving AlphaTauri driver Yuki Tsunoda in control for a rare time.
Verstappen regained the lead a few laps later and was never bothered.
Perez received a penalty for making tire-to-tyre contact with McLaren driver Lando Norris late in the event. Norris seemed to have enough space though and veered towards Perez’s right tire.
“Why are we getting this penalty? I was in front,” a perplexed Perez said on team radio.
Perez took second place in the drivers’ standings, 290 points behind Verstappen.