For the final round of this year's brilliant season at the Yas Marina Circuit, both Ferrari drivers Charles Leclerc and Sebastian Vettel were looking to make up ground after qualifying out of the top ten, in twelfth and thirteenth respectively.
Leclerc took the medium compound Pirelli tire for the start of the race, as Vettel opted for the hard compound, looking to go longer into the race and make up positions.
It was a clean start all round for the grid, with pole sitter Max Verstappen maintaining the lead from the two Mercedes behind. Despite a lock up for the Haas of Kevin Magnussen, all 20 cars remained in the race, with Vettel and Leclerc swapping positions in the opening laps.
Last weekend's race winner Sergio Perez was looking to make moves from the back of the grid due to an engine penalty, in what could potentially be his final F1 Grand Prix.
However, the Mexican would only get to lap 10, when his Racing Point cut out with an issue. The incident brought out a virtual safety car before a full safety car was deployed. Multiple cars opted to pit under the safety car, however both Ferraris of Vettel and Leclerc opted to stay out, promoting the drivers up into the points in seventh and eighth.
Racing resumed on lap 14, with Verstappen holding onto the lead as Mercedes looked to struggle. Red Bull looked to have the better car during the first half of the race, as Alexander Albon also looked to close up to Lewis Hamilton for the final podium position in third.
It was a different story for Leclerc on the medium tire, who dropped down the order over the next 10 laps due to the cars on fresh tires behind from the early stops. Ferrari pitted the Monegasque driver on lap 24,with Leclerc re-joining the race in 19th and last of the current runners.
Vettel lost eighth to AlphaTauri's Pierre Gasly on lap 32, while a lap later, a recovering Leclerc was warned by the stewards for exceeding track limits. Holding ninth position, Vettel was looking to keep ahead of Lance Stroll, who looked to be struggling. Leclerc was making his way back up the order, taking 14th from George Russell.
Vettel then pitted for his only stop on lap 37, taking on a fresh set of the medium compound tires, re-joining the race in 15th, hoping to take advantage of the fresh tires in the closing 20 laps of the race.
With 10 laps to go, Verstappen was worried about vibrations from his tires, however his team were not concerned that the issue would be a problem. Albon started to close in on Hamilton in third, looking to make a late charge on the Mercedes for the final podium spot.
Leclerc was shown another black and white flag for exceeding track limits at the final on lap 47 as he pushed to challenge Alfa Romeo's Kimi Raikkonen for 12th.
As the final race came to a close, it was Verstappen that took his second victory of the season, ahead of Valtteri Bottas. Lewis Hamiton came home third, as Albon could not close enough to challenge for the podium, despite a good race for the Thai driver.
Unfortunately, Ferrari ended a difficult season outside the points in 13th and 14th, as fifth and sixth for McLaren ensured third place in the constructors championship for the team.
With promises of a much improved power unit and chassis developments for next, Ferrari will now be looking to put 2020 behind them and move back towards the front next season.
As Vettel now leaves the team for Aston Martin in the new year, it will be an interesting season to come for the Italian team with Leclerc partnering Carlos Sainz for 2021. Best of luck to both Vettel as he moves on and to Sainz as we look forward to welcoming him to Maranello in the new year.
Hamilton and Bottas signed out of the season in traditional fashion with doughnuts on the home straight, as Magnussen also joined in on the celebrations as he moves to the States and the IMSA series for 2021.
Written by Cóilín Higgins. Join our email list if you’re interested in receiving the latest on our online magazine and store.
Leave a comment