Verstappen rounds out the season with second in Abu Dhabi

Max Verstappen on the podium in Abu Dhabi with race winner Lewis Hamilton
Max Verstappen on the podium in Abu Dhabi with race winner Lewis Hamilton

Max Verstappen drove a faultless drive but was powerless to prevent Lewis Hamilton from cruising to this 11th victory of a dominant 2019 campaign.

The Dutchman, who won the previous round in Brazil, was the best of the rest behind the Mercedes duo of Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas in qualifying, but the Finn would start from the back after taking an engine penalty.

Alex Albon

Alex Albon

For Verstappen, it was a pretty straight-forward route to second place. Despite dropping behind Charles Leclerc in the early running, he ran far deeper into the race on his first set of tyres. Coming out just behind Leclerc, Verstappen hunted down the Ferrari driver, and with a bold move, which also saw the pair lap George Russell's Williams, he got the move done into the second chicane.

He said: “Of course I’m very happy to finish the season with a podium and to be third in the championship ahead of both Ferraris is also a good achievement. On this track today Mercedes and Lewis were just a bit too quick but as a Team we had a good strategy, good pit stops and the car was working really well so second place is a good result on this track. The pace was good and overall we were quite a bit faster than the other guys which is a nice feeling.

Team-mate Alex Albon meanwhile needed a podium finish to snatch sixth place in the championship after finishing out of the points in Brazil. But he came home sixth after falling behind Sebastian Vettel late on, meaning he would have to settle for eighth in his rookie season, four points adrift of Carlos Sainz Jr and three behind Pierre Gasly, who he replaced at Red Bull during the summer break.

"The race didn’t turn out quite how we wanted but we will have a look at it," he said afterwards. "We pitted early to try and undercut Seb but it didn’t work and then we got stuck behind a train of traffic without DRS. That made for a long second stint and the tyres just didn’t last until the end and Seb cleared a lot of cars quicker than we probably expected.

"It’s one of those things but looking back over the season I can be happy."