Verstappen takes advantage of Mercedes "gremlins" to claim 10th F1 win
Max Verstappen took full advantage of Mercedes power unit "gremlins" to secure the 10th victory of his Formula 1 career.
The Red Bull driver led the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix from lights to flag to at least finish an intense season on a high after playing second fiddle to Mercedes for the majority of the campaign.
Verstappen finished 16 seconds clear of Valtteri Bottas, the sixth successive season a driver has won from pole position at the Yas Marina Circuit, with seven-time champion Lewis Hamilton having to settle for third, a further 2.4s adrift, with Alex Albon fourth in his Red Bull.
Mercedes, however, ran its MGU-K at slightly reduced power across the weekend due to what motorsport boss Toto Wolff described as "gremlins" in the system, arguably leading to Verstappen claiming pole for the third time in F1 and his second race win of this season.
The win, though, was not enough to lift Verstappen into second place in the drivers' standings, with Bottas taking the 'honour' behind Hamilton by nine points over the Dutchman.
It was ultimately a cruise for Verstappen, who pulled away cleanly at the start, and again at a safety car restart after 14 laps that followed Sergio Perez's retirement in his final race with Racing Point.
A week after the euphoria of clinching his maiden F1 victory by taking the chequered flag in the SakhirGP, it was obvious heartbreak for Perez.
After starting 19th due to a power unit penalty, the Mexican had risen five places towards the end of lap eight when his car suffered a loss of power.
Given the stranded nature of the RP20, a virtual safety car was called, resulting in a number of drivers diving into the pits to take on fresh rubber, including the top five at that stage of Verstappen, Bottas, Hamilton, Alex Albon and McLaren's Lando Norris.
But with Perez's Racing Point unable to be recovered safely, it led to the calling of a full safety car for the first time at this circuit since 2012.
The retirement of the 30-year-old was a costly one for Racing Point, that started 10 points clear of McLaren in the fight for third in the constructors' championship.
By the end of the race, it finished seven points behind the Woking-based marque, and with it £4million worse off given the prize money difference between the two teams.
Norris finished fifth, followed by team-mate Carlos Sainz - in his final race for the team prior to his move to Ferrari for next season - and with the lone Racing Point of Lance Stroll down in 10th.
The Canadian finished behind Renault's Daniel Ricciardo, who claimed the point for fastest lap off Verstappen on the final lap, Pierre Gasly in his AlphaTauri, along with Renault's Esteban Ocon.
There is a spanner in the works for McLaren as Sainz is under investigation for driving unnecessarily slowly in the pit lane that allowed the team to perform a double-stack pit stop while the VSC was in operation.
GPFans is a multi-platform, multi-language brand dedicated to Formula One coverage. We bring you all the ins and outs of the sport, 24/7, everything from up-to-the-minute news and features to the latest viral stories and clips.
We believe that a new generation of exciting, outspoken drivers will make F1 more popular than ever before, and we want to give our users access to as much of their heroes as possible, on and off the track. From Lewis Hamilton to Max Verstappen, Daniel Ricciardo to Sebastian Vettel, we provide in-depth analysis of every every Grand Prix in the season, from Australia to Abu Dhabi.
With Formula One under the new ownership of Liberty Media, how the sport is being covered is evolving, and GPFans will look to be at the heart of this progression into new media, as one of the fastest-growing sites covering the king of motorsports.