Verstappen wins Abu Dhabi prix

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    MAX Verstappen brought the curtain down on the 2020 Formula One season with a lights-to-flag cruise to victory on Sunday in the year-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

    The Dutchman led every lap of what turned out to be a processional race in his Red Bull to cross the line 15.9 seconds ahead of Mercedes pair Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton on an uncharacteristic off day for the otherwise dominant champions.

    “It was really enjoyable out there today,” said Verstappen, who ends the season third behind Bottas in the overall standings, after taking his 10th career win and second this year.

    “We did basically everything alright.”

    Mercedes, which wrapped up a record seventh straight title double, had no answer to the pace set by Verstappen’s Honda-powered car.

    Unbeaten in Abu Dhabi for six years in a row, with Red Bull’s 2013 win in the Gulf Emirate the last time another team tasted victory at Yas Marina, Mercedes was running its cars with engines turned down due to reliability concerns.

    That denied them the satisfaction of capping a dominant season on a high, with the Brackley-based team signing off with 13 wins from 17 races.

    “We thought race pace would be really identical,” said Bottas, who was back on the podium for the first time since the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix at the start of November.

    “But they could really control the race and get the gap when needed.”

    Verstappen’s victory denied Hamilton a 12th win of the season, which would have made 2020 his most successful year yet, with the Briton never having won more than 11 races in a single campaign.