The final F1 race of 2020 took place last weekend in Abu Dhabi. It was a processional race that Verstappen dominated from qualifying through to the chequered flag. In the midfield, there was tough competition over 3rd place in the Constructor’s Championship.
Hamilton returned to his Mercedes this week after recovering from COVID-19. Having said he didn’t feel quite 100% coming into this race, he did well to qualify 3rd and hold that position in the race. Bottas couldn’t beat the new found confidence of Verstappen in the Red Bull.
Verstappen took pole and led every lap of the race, just being pipped at the end for fastest lap by Ricciardo. Albon, in the other Red Bull, held 4th in an effort to mess with Mercedes’ strategy. Albon doesn’t have a confirmed seat for 2021 so following team orders allowing Verstappen to win is exactly what he needed to do.
The McLarens qualified 4th and 6th and finished the race in 5th and 6th, hauling in 18 points to jump Racing Point in the Constructor’s Championship. Racing Point had a bad weekend. Perez retired from the race due to a transmission issue and Stroll found it difficult to overtake, only finishing 10th with 1 point. This was not the finish to his F1 career that Perez would have hoped for after his win at Sakhir last time around. That 15-point penalty Racing Point took at the beginning of the year for unlawfully copying Mercedes’ 2019 brake ducts, and the races missed due to both drivers contracting COVID-19 lost them that important cash bonus this year. Hulkenberg was brought in for those races and scored points (enough to finish 15thin the Driver’s Championship out of the 23 different drivers who made an appearance this year), but he was out of practice.
Renault finished 5th in the Championship and Ricciardo gets an upgrade next year, moving to McLaren. He is replaced by the not-quite-so ‘young driver’, Fernando Alonso. Sainz got the short end of the deal, moving to Ferrari who have definitely underperformed this season. Hopefully, the Sainz and Leclerc partnership can be healthier than Vettel’s this year and will help to boost the team’s performance and morale.
AlphaTauri had their best season yet with Gasly even securing a win at the crazy Italian GP. The team switch up their driver line up for next year with Yuki Tsunoda, 3rdplace finisher in F2 this year, taking Daniil Kvyat’s seat.
Alfa Romeo have had an uneventful season, only scoring 8 points and rarely making it into Q2. Their driver line up remains the same for 2021.
Haas have had a complete switch up for 2021. They lose both Magnussen and Grosjean and replace them with Mick Schumacher, son of Michael Schumacher and F2 champion in 2020, and Nikita Mazepin. Grosjean’s horrific crash at Bahrain would not have been his ideal send off from F1 but he continues to recover well. Toto Wolff has offered him a quick drive in a Mercedes to send off his career properly. Magnussen is set to move onto the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship next year.
Williams are remaining the same for next year, but under new leadership. Russell showed his skills at Sakhir so maybe another Mercedes appearance is possible in 2021, or a full-time seat in 2022.
It’s been a crazy, jam-packed season with 13 different podium sitters across 17 races. Next year can only get bigger and better with a record 23 races set to wow us at every turn.
It’s only a 98 day wait then we’ll be back racing again. For the meantime, stay safe, Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
Update: Perez has been signed by Red Bull and takes Albon’s seat for 2021.