2020 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix – Including Post-Race Press Conference
Today we had the final race of the 2020 Formula 1 season and whilst most people said it was a boring race, I think this could mark the start of a positive note for the Red Bull Racing team – or a positive start for Max Verstappen.
In the past month, we have seen a big improvement for the team (and driver) who as mentioned in previous posts, given the right car, he can push and bring in great results for the team – similar to those we saw with Red Bull Racing and Sebastian Vettel.
Overall, it was an effortless race for the driver who seemed comfortable and in control right from the start with Mercedes right behind.
Battles were taking place throughout the grid, especially with Sainz and Leclerc who will be team-mates next year.
Renault were looking positive on the track today – could this also be the start of a positive year for them next year? Fernando Alonso was also at the circuit this weekend, overlooking the race and progress for the team.
Ferrari on the other hand, it wasn’t a great result however we did see Sebastian Vettel with his annual singing over the radio – saying goodbye to the team before moving to a new team for the 2021 season. A sad ending for the driver who joined the Scuderia Ferrari team with dreams to follow in the steps of the person he calls his hero – Michael Schumacher.
I really do hope that his move to Aston Martin in 2021 will bring him a car which will allow him to battle and give him that much-needed boost.
Q: Max well done, great race by you to take the 10th win of your career and what a great way to round out the season?
Max Verstappen: “Yeah, it was an enjoyable race. We had a decent start I think and from there onwards I could manage the gap and could look after my tyres. And then of course the safety car came out at a little bit of an unfortunate time because we then had to do a very long stint on the hard. Luckily the tyre coped with it but you still have to manage it a bit more.”
“The car was really good today. Just a good balance and then you can also look after your tyres and I could then build a gap all the way through the race.”
Q: It was a dominant performance from you. Any anxious moments for you?
Max Verstappen: “Just a little bit of vibration on the tyre, so I was think back a little bit to Spa but also of course Imola.”
“I was keeping an eye on it on every straight. But yeah, luckily all good. The pace was still there. The tyres were still performing.”
Q: The gap to Mercedes, not just today but all weekend really, have you been surprised by it?
Max Verstappen: “To be honest before I got here I didn’t expect to win the race and be on pole, so maybe a little bit. Of course I also read that they had to turn the engines down a bit, so that’s not helping for them.”
In general I think still the car performed very strong and better than expected, so of course very happy with that. It’s a great way to finish the season, it’s a good boost for everyone in the team here and of course at the factory and I just hope of course that we learn from the previous years that we have to be stronger in the beginning of the season to be able to give then a little bit of a harder time.”
Lewis Hamilton: “What’s that about the engine?”
Max Verstappen: “The MGU-UK.”
Lewis Hamilton: “Us?”
Max Verstappen: “Yeah that’s what they said?”
Lewis Hamilton: “Is that right? I don’t think that’s the case….”
Valtteri Bottas: “Maybe it is, but we don’t know.”
Max Verstappen: “Maybe they just don’t want to tell you!”
Q: Valtteri, well done. Ultimately, a pretty lonely race for you this evening. Tell us about your run to the 11th podium of the season.
Valtteri Bottas: “For sure, tried everything I could and I noticed pretty early on in the first stint that Max and Red Bull had more pace. The first stint was quite understeer-y for me.”
“It was a short stint but I felt that was a bit of a limitation but then we made a bit of an adjustment on the front flap for the second stint and that felt actually, balance-wise, not bad, just not quick enough. So, for sure, it was surprising.”
“We thought that the race pace would be pretty much identical to the Red Bull but it wasn’t the case today. So yeah, obviously I’ve had much worse races this year, so it’s actually, in this kind of season, one of the good ones for me.At least it was nice and clean.
“Start was good and everything – so could have been a worse way to end the season. And actually, if we think about the big pictures, now in this team, being beaten by Red Bull at the last race of the season, for sure it motivates us even more to work hard over the winter for next year to make sure this doesn’t happen again.”
Q: And Valtteri, this P2 seals second in the Drivers’ Championship for you as well. How satisfied are you with that?
Valtteri Bottas: “You know, as a driver when you are in the best team overall this season, being second, it can’t be that satisfying. But, you know, it is something.”
“To be able to contribute to the team this season, getting the fourth constructors’ title for me in the team, and seventh in a row for us, so yeah, it’s better than being third, for sure.”
“I guess I will get a small trophy to take home next week and I’m sure when I’m old and grey I can look this year and yeah, I was second, but hopefully I’ll get a bigger trophy one day.”
Q: Lewis, many congratulations to you as well. First up, can you just sum up your run to third place today please?
Lewis Hamilton: “It was the best I could do. Congrats to Max, it’s a great result, great drive from him all weekend and a great showing that Red Bull has a solid car.”
“As far as I’m aware, we haven’t had any changes to our engine so I think it’s just true pace from them rather than us taking a step back, and I think they’ve worked so hard all through the year so congrats to him and his team.”
“It’s a pretty impossible circuit to… it’s not very easy to overtake through at this circuit and I think it showed, considering we were all relatively close to each other – apart from Max, obviously, who pulled away but even Alex was right behind me so it shows the strength that they had today.”
“So yeah, I’m just glad I made it through and finished off still relatively strong in terms of consistency, not making mistakes in the season. I’m glad it’s done.”
Q: Are you frustrated that you didn’t do something different from a strategy point of view during the Virtual Safety Car period?
Lewis Hamilton: “No, not really, I think… I don’t think there was anything else we could have really done. If I’d stayed out, the pace they would have had on that new tyre, that would just have eaten up the gap that I had and then I would have done a pit stop and lost even more time.”
“So, there’s not really a lot that you could have done. It definitely didn’t make the race particularly exciting. But yeah, it is what it is.”
Q: And Lewis, this is podium number 14 for you. How important was it for you to end the season in the car?
Lewis Hamilton: “I don’t know how important. For me, it’s definitely… it would have been a long gap between Bahrain I and race one. I think it definitely was important for me to get back and just get back to that continuity and finish the year off strong with the team.”
“Yes, we didn’t win but still we got a second and third and I think that’s still a strong result.”
“We still scored more points than Red Bull as a team [sic] so that’s still a strong showing this weekend, and we’ve obviously got a fight on our hands next year, without a doubt these guys are going to be strong as this car he’s driving now is next year’s car pretty much, and the same for us.”
“So, I’m excited for that challenge and that battle that we hopefully will get.”