Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | The 17th and final round of the 2020 Formula 1 World Championship, the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, will be live from the Yas Marina Circuit on the afternoon of Sunday 13 December 2020.
The campaign is set for a thrilling finale and perhaps another surprise result with Racing Point’s Sergio Perez claiming a first career victory when he capitalised on a pit-stop error from Mercedes at this past weekend’s Sakhir Grand Prix.
The Silver Arrows mixed up their tyres in ‘stacking’; George Russel – who stood in for Lewis Hamilton due to his Covid-19 absence – and Valtteri Bottas in pit-stops at the start of a safety car period, possibly denying a fairytale win for the young British driver, who had to stop twice again to fit the correct tyres and then replace a set hit by a slow puncture.
“Overall for us, it was just a colossal f*** up,” Mercedes boss Toto Wolff said. “I’m not allowed to say that but it was. Simply put, one of the tyre crews didn’t get a call. We had a radio failure in the garage and when the car came in they didn’t know to change the tyres and had the wrong tyres.
This is accidentally why we had the wrong set of tyres out.”
Perez was the delighted beneficiary, having put in a stellar drive considering that at the start of the race he found himself in last place after getting tangled up in an incident with Max Verstappen and Charles Leclerc.
“I am a little bit speechless,”; said the Mexican, who took his first F1 race win in his 190th start. “I hope I am not dreaming because I dream so many years being in this moment – 10 years it took me, I don’t know what to say. Incredible; after the start I thought the race was again gone but it was all about not giving up and recovering. The luck has not been with us this year but we won the race on merit. Yes, the Mercedes had some issues but we had the pace to hold George.”
For the Abu Dhabi GP, Hamilton returns after negative Covid tests, while Perez will hope to hold onto fourth place in the Drivers’ Championship after opening a 13-point lead over nearest chaser Daniel Ricciardo. On the Constructors’ Championship front, Racing Point have a 10-point lead over McLaren in the hunt to finish third, but Renault are also not entirely out of the running.
The race will also see a farewell for Kevin Magnussen, who – along with Romain Grosjean – will be released by Haas, while Abu Dhabi also presents perhaps the last chance Alex Albon will have to save his Red Bull seat – if it has not already been lost to Perez after his heroics this past weekend.
Sebastian Vettel will be in for his 118th and last race as a Ferrari driver having scored just one of his 14 Ferrari wins in the past two seasons, the German driver has pinpointed the 2018 season as a “decisive moment” in his time with F1’s most famous team.