Max Verstappen wraps up F1 season with victory in Abu Dhabi

Max Verstappen led from start-to-finish to win Formula One's concluding round of the year at Sunday's Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

On a turgid evening under the lights of the Yas Marina Circuit, pole-sitter Verstappen took the chequered flag 15.9 seconds clear of Valtteri Bottas, with Lewis Hamilton completing the podium.

McLaren took third in the constructors' championship – their best result since Hamilton left the British team for Mercedes in 2013 – after Lando Norris and Carlos Sainz finished fifth and sixth.

Seven-time world champion Hamilton was back in his Mercedes after missing the Sakhir Grand Prix with coronavirus.

But following a chaotic race in Bahrain last weekend, the 17-round campaign fizzled out on Sunday as Verstappen, Bottas and Hamilton finished in the same places they started.

The 21-corner, 5.3-mile Yas Marina circuit, which has been a mainstay on the calendar for 11 years, rarely throws up a thrill-a-minute spectacle.

And when the top three elected to pit for their only change of rubber, after Sergio Perez broke down in his Racing Point and the virtual safety car was deployed, a predictable finished ensued.

Hamilton, who admitted on Saturday he was yet to shake off the effects of Covid-19 which left him bed-ridden in Bahrain isolation for a week, questioned Mercedes' move to bring him in on the same lap as Verstappen and Bottas.

"That doesn't feel like a good strategy," said Hamilton over the radio following the stop on lap 10 of the 55-lap race. He finished 2.4 sec adrift of Bottas in the other Silver Arrows.

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Mercedes' British driver Lewis Hamilton raises his 3rd-place trophy on the podium after the Abu Dhabi Formula One Grand Prix at the Yas Marina Circuit in the Emirati city of Abu Dhabi on December 13, 2020. (Photo by Bryn Lennon / POOL / AFP) (Photo by BRYN LENNON/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - DECEMBER 13: Race winner Max Verstappen of Netherlands and Red Bull Racing and Red Bull Racing Head of Car Engineering Paul Monaghan celebrate on the podium during the F1 Grand Prix of Abu Dhabi at Yas Marina Circuit on December 13, 2020 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Bryn Lennon/Getty Images)
ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - DECEMBER 13: Race winner Max Verstappen of Netherlands and Red Bull Racing and third placed Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain and Mercedes GP talk in parc ferme during the F1 Grand Prix of Abu Dhabi at Yas Marina Circuit on December 13, 2020 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Dan Istitene - Formula 1/Formula 1 via Getty Images)
ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - DECEMBER 13: Race winner Max Verstappen of Netherlands and Red Bull Racing celebrates on the podium during the F1 Grand Prix of Abu Dhabi at Yas Marina Circuit on December 13, 2020 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Mario Renzi - Formula 1/Formula 1 via Getty Images)
ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - DECEMBER 13: Third placed Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain and Mercedes GP stands on the podium during the F1 Grand Prix of Abu Dhabi at Yas Marina Circuit on December 13, 2020 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Giuseppe Cacace - Pool/Getty Images)
Mercedes' Finnish driver Valtteri Bottas (background) and Mercedes' British driver Lewis Hamilton do doughnuts after the Abu Dhabi Formula One Grand Prix at the Yas Marina Circuit in the Emirati city of Abu Dhabi on December 13, 2020. (Photo by Bryn Lennon / POOL / AFP) (Photo by BRYN LENNON/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - DECEMBER 13: Race winner Max Verstappen of Netherlands and Red Bull Racing celebrates in parc ferme during the F1 Grand Prix of Abu Dhabi at Yas Marina Circuit on December 13, 2020 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Dan Istitene - Formula 1/Formula 1 via Getty Images)
ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - DECEMBER 13: Second placed Valtteri Bottas of Finland driving the (77) Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team Mercedes W11 does donuts after the F1 Grand Prix of Abu Dhabi at Yas Marina Circuit on December 13, 2020 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Mario Renzi - Formula 1/Formula 1 via Getty Images)
ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - DECEMBER 13: Max Verstappen of the Netherlands driving the (33) Aston Martin Red Bull Racing RB16 during the F1 Grand Prix of Abu Dhabi at Yas Marina Circuit on December 13, 2020 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Clive Mason - Formula 1/Formula 1 via Getty Images)
Ferrari's German driver Sebastian Vettel drives during the Abu Dhabi Formula One Grand Prix at the Yas Marina Circuit in the Emirati city of Abu Dhabi on December 13, 2020. (Photo by Giuseppe CACACE / POOL / AFP) (Photo by GIUSEPPE CACACE/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - DECEMBER 13: Race winner Max Verstappen of Netherlands and Red Bull Racing is presented with his trophy on the podium during the F1 Grand Prix of Abu Dhabi at Yas Marina Circuit on December 13, 2020 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Clive Mason - Formula 1/Formula 1 via Getty Images)
ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - DECEMBER 13: Second placed Valtteri Bottas of Finland driving the (77) Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team Mercedes W11 does donuts after the F1 Grand Prix of Abu Dhabi at Yas Marina Circuit on December 13, 2020 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Dan Istitene - Formula 1/Formula 1 via Getty Images)
ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - DECEMBER 13: Sebastian Vettel of Germany driving the (5) Scuderia Ferrari SF1000 makes a pitstop during the F1 Grand Prix of Abu Dhabi at Yas Marina Circuit on December 13, 2020 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)
ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - DECEMBER 12: Spectators are seen trackside as the sun sets during qualifying ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Abu Dhabi at Yas Marina Circuit on December 12, 2020 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Clive Mason - Formula 1/Formula 1 via Getty Images)
ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - DECEMBER 12: Third place qualifier Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain and Mercedes GP talks in a press conference after qualifying ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Abu Dhabi at Yas Marina Circuit on December 12, 2020 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by James Moy - Pool/Getty Images)
ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - DECEMBER 11: Lance Stroll of Canada driving the (18) Racing Point RP20 Mercedes during practice ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Abu Dhabi at Yas Marina Circuit on December 11, 2020 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Giuseppe Cacace - Pool/Getty Images)
ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - DECEMBER 12: Pole position qualifier Max Verstappen of Netherlands and Red Bull Racing talks in the Drivers Press Conference after qualifying ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Abu Dhabi at Yas Marina Circuit on December 12, 2020 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by James Moy - Pool/Getty Images)
ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - DECEMBER 12: Pole position qualifier Max Verstappen of Netherlands and Red Bull Racing speaks with third placed qualifier Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain and Mercedes GP in parc ferme during qualifying ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Abu Dhabi at Yas Marina Circuit on December 12, 2020 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Dan Istitene - Formula 1/Formula 1 via Getty Images)
ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - DECEMBER 12: The Red Bull Racing team celebrate the pole position of Max Verstappen of Netherlands and Red Bull Racing during qualifying ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Abu Dhabi at Yas Marina Circuit on December 12, 2020 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)
ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - DECEMBER 11: Lance Stroll of Canada driving the (18) Racing Point RP20 Mercedes on track during practice ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Abu Dhabi at Yas Marina Circuit on December 11, 2020 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Clive Mason - Formula 1/Formula 1 via Getty Images)
ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - DECEMBER 12: Pole position qualifier Max Verstappen of Netherlands and Red Bull Racing celebrates with his team in parc ferme during qualifying ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Abu Dhabi at Yas Marina Circuit on December 12, 2020 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Dan Istitene - Formula 1/Formula 1 via Getty Images)
ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - DECEMBER 12: Kevin Magnussen of Denmark driving the (20) Haas F1 Team VF-20 Ferrari during qualifying ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Abu Dhabi at Yas Marina Circuit on December 12, 2020 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Dan Istitene - Formula 1/Formula 1 via Getty Images)
Alfa Romeo's Finnish driver Kimi Raikkonen (L) and Ferrari's German driver Sebastian Vettel compete during the qualifying session on the eve of the Abu Dhabi Formula One Grand Prix at the Yas Marina Circuit in the Emirati city of Abu Dhabi on December 12, 2020. (Photo by KAMRAN JEBREILI / POOL / AFP) (Photo by KAMRAN JEBREILI/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - DECEMBER 11: Max Verstappen of the Netherlands driving the (33) Aston Martin Red Bull Racing RB16 during practice ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Abu Dhabi at Yas Marina Circuit on December 11, 2020 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)
TOPSHOT - Red Bull's Dutch driver Max Verstappen drives during the qualifying session on the eve of the Abu Dhabi Formula One Grand Prix at the Yas Marina Circuit in the Emirati city of Abu Dhabi on December 12, 2020. (Photo by Giuseppe CACACE / POOL / AFP) (Photo by GIUSEPPE CACACE/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - DECEMBER 12: Daniil Kvyat of Russia driving the (26) Scuderia AlphaTauri AT01 Honda on track during final practice ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Abu Dhabi at Yas Marina Circuit on December 12, 2020 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Clive Mason - Formula 1/Formula 1 via Getty Images)
ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - DECEMBER 12: Alexander Albon of Thailand driving the (23) Aston Martin Red Bull Racing RB16 on track during final practice ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Abu Dhabi at Yas Marina Circuit on December 12, 2020 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)
ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - DECEMBER 12: Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain driving the (44) Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team Mercedes W11 on track during final practice ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Abu Dhabi at Yas Marina Circuit on December 12, 2020 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)
ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - DECEMBER 12: Valtteri Bottas of Finland driving the (77) Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team Mercedes W11 on track during final practice ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Abu Dhabi at Yas Marina Circuit on December 12, 2020 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)
ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - DECEMBER 12: Max Verstappen of the Netherlands driving the (33) Aston Martin Red Bull Racing RB16 on track during final practice ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Abu Dhabi at Yas Marina Circuit on December 12, 2020 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Dan Istitene - Formula 1/Formula 1 via Getty Images)
ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - DECEMBER 12: Alexander Albon of Thailand driving the (23) Aston Martin Red Bull Racing RB16 on track during final practice ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Abu Dhabi at Yas Marina Circuit on December 12, 2020 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Dan Istitene - Formula 1/Formula 1 via Getty Images)
ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - DECEMBER 12: Daniil Kvyat of Russia driving the (26) Scuderia AlphaTauri AT01 Honda on track during final practice ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Abu Dhabi at Yas Marina Circuit on December 12, 2020 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Clive Mason - Formula 1/Formula 1 via Getty Images)
ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - DECEMBER 12: Sebastian Vettel of Germany driving the (5) Scuderia Ferrari SF1000 on track during final practice ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Abu Dhabi at Yas Marina Circuit on December 12, 2020 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Rudy Carezzevoli/Getty Images)
AlphaTauri's French driver Pierre Gasly drives during the third practice session ahead of the Abu Dhabi Formula One Grand Prix at the Yas Marina Circuit in the Emirati city of Abu Dhabi on December 12, 2020. (Photo by Bryn Lennon / POOL / AFP) (Photo by BRYN LENNON/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - DECEMBER 12: Lance Stroll of Canada driving the (18) Racing Point RP20 Mercedes during final practice ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Abu Dhabi at Yas Marina Circuit on December 12, 2020 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Dan Istitene - Formula 1/Formula 1 via Getty Images)
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For Verstappen, it ended up being a straightforward cruise to just his second win of the campaign, his first since the 70th Anniversary Grand Prix at Silverstone back in August, and the 10th of his career.

Behind the front three, Alexander Albon improved his chances of a Red Bull stay for 2021 by taking the chequered flag in fourth – ahead of Norris.

McLaren, Britain's most successful F1 team, have been on an upward curve in recent seasons, and their double-points finish here moved them above Racing Point in the constructors' standings to finish behind only Mercedes and Red Bull.

However, Sainz is under investigation by the stewards for driving unnecessarily slowly in the pit lane.

As it stands, McLaren are just three points ahead of Racing Point so any punishment could yet have a detrimental impact on their position in the standings.

Sebastian Vettel finished a lowly 14th and a lap down on the final appearance of his six-season stay at Ferrari, one spot ahead of George Russell.

Russell, 22, was back racing for Williams, seven days after he was denied victory twice on his debut for Mercedes as Hamilton's stand-in.

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