• Bassam Radi, Managing Editor

Dutch driver Verstappen finishes Formula 1 Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix 2020 season in style


ABU DHABI -- Max Verstappen secured his first Yas Marina Circuit win at the Formula 1 Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix 2020 victory on Sunday evening as the curtain descended on the 2020 season.


Red Bull Racing’s Verstappen had been in fine form since the start of the weekend as he finished top of the timesheets in both FP1 and FP3, before earning pole position following a blistering final lap in qualifying.


With Mercedes duo Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton starting in second and third respectively, Verstappen was never going to have it all his own way, but the Dutchman started well and managed to keep his rivals at bay comfortably from the off and sealed a solid victory in the 12th edition of the Abu Dhabi race, his second win of the 2020 season.


In the Constructor Standings, meanwhile, McLaren secured a third-place finish behind Mercedes and Red Bull Racing, with the DNF of Sergio Perez and P10 finish of Stroll not enough to push Racing Point over the line.


Saif Al Noaimi, Acting CEO, Abu Dhabi Motorsports Management, said: "Congratulations to Max on a wonderful victory, he displayed fantastic qualities throughout the race and it was a fully deserved win.


"We would also like to say well done to Lewis for yet another championship success. We are delighted that he was able to recover in time to compete here this evening, and it was fitting he played a significant part in the final race of the Formula 1 season given the high level of his performances this year.


"Thank you to all of the teams and drivers for supporting us in the 12th edition of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix weekend, we have really enjoyed watching some top-quality motorsport action over the course of the last three days.


"This year’s event has taken on a different feel, for obvious reasons, but the work which has gone into ensuring it was able to take place at all cannot be overstated. For this reason, we would like to thank everybody who was involved in making it happen, and we hope that next year’s event can revert to a more familiar structure.


"We would also like to pay tribute to the Frontline Heroes for their outstanding efforts during 2020. They are the cornerstone of the local community and this Race Weekend has been dedicated to them. We were so happy to be able to invite 600 guests to watch the event, and enjoy a complete experience on Yas Island, which has hopefully given them a chance to create some fantastic memories at the end of a tough year."


Prior to the race, as is tradition, an eye-catching fly past involving a Boeing 787 Dreamliner from event sponsor Etihad Airways and UAE display team Fursan Al Emarat took place with the UAE national colours on show, followed by a rendition of the national anthem.


The race itself certainly didn’t disappoint as Verstappen/Hamilton showed his quality to emerge triumphant, sending out a serious statement of intent ahead of the 2021 season.


With safety of paramount importance, the format of this year’s event meant there was a significant challenge with an integrated biosphere to biosphere journey, which involved the transportation of both people and cargo between Bahrain and Abu Dhabi following last week’s Sakhir Grand Prix.


Etihad Airways operated 10 flights to transport the protected Formula 1 biosphere, which included management, teams, drivers and crew, between the two locations.


The huge operation, which involved roughly 1,200 people, was executed superbly earlier this week, with Etihad providing a fleet of Boeing 787 Dreamliner, Airbus A320 and A321 for the mission.


During flights the drivers were treated to personalised good luck video messages from Formula 1 fans, including many of the airline’s staff and crew.


This year’s event was dedicated to the work of the Frontline Heroes, with 600 in attendance over the course of Friday, Saturday and Sunday. The guests were able to watch the race action from the iconic Abu Dhabi Hill, which was renamed Frontline Heroes Hill in their honour, while being looked after by Wellness Ambassadors from Etihad Airways.


In addition, they were granted free entry to Yas Island’s theme parks, ensuring they could visit Warner Bros. World, Ferrari World Abu Dhabi and Yas Waterworld as a token of appreciation for their incredible work, providing them with an all-round weekend experience to remember.

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