ABU DHABI — Max Verstappen closed his historic F1 season with another victory, earning his 15th win of the year.
Verstappen’s Red Bull Racing machine started on pole, and never relinquished the top spot as the two-time and defending champion dominated at the Yas Marina Circuit.
“It was a good race – it was all about tire management,” Verstappen said. “I think we looked after the mediums quite well and then on hard tires, I was literally managing from lap one to the end. Incredible to win again here and the 15th win of the season is unbelievable.
“It’s been really enjoyable to work with the whole team and to be able to achieve something like this, this year. I know it’s going to be hard to replicate something like this, but it is also motivation to try and do well again next year.”
Behind Verstappen, Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc stole second from Red Bull’s Sergio Perez, solidifying second in the driver’s championship.
Seven-time champion Lewis Hamilton would be forced to retire in 18th, ending the Mercedes driver’s streak of 15 consecutive seasons with a victory.
“This last race was just a good reminder of the whole year and I’m glad it’s over and that we can now look forward to next year,” Hamilton said. “I had a strong start, but the car floor took a big hit during the contact with Carlos (Sainz) and everything else unfolded from there. When it happens, you just lose a little bit of performance, but the balance basically shifts forwards.
“It’s almost like you have loads of front wing and I had to wait for the stop to take out front wing – which did improve the balance. We had a difficult car all weekend and unfortunately, I had to retire right before the race finish because we lost hydraulic pressure. We will have the next couple of weeks at the factory, where we will work hard to make sure we can come back stronger next year so we will focus on that.”
Rounding out the top five, Carlos Sainz steered his Ferrari to fourth, followed by last week’s winner George Russell in fifth.
In his final race of his illustrious career, four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel finished 10th.