Max Verstappen wins Abu Dhabi GP after dominating flag to flag

Verstappen won abu dhabi
Mark Thompson/Getty Images

After cruising for 55 laps, Max Verstappen won the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix by an easy margin of nearly 16 seconds. Verstappen launched from the pole and was never seriously challenged. It was his second victory of 2020 and first since round four at Silverstone.

After dramatic openings to the last two Formula 1 races that resulted in a fiery crash for Romain Grosjean in the Bahrain GP and a three-car accident in the Sakhir GP that sent its eventual winner Sergio Perez to the pits and brought out a safety car, the Abu Dhabi GP got off to a clean start. At the green, polesitter Verstappen pulled away in the opening laps with second-place starter Valterri Bottas and third-place Lewis Hamilton following the leaders.

Last week’s Sakhir GP accident forced Verstappen to retire with crash damage after he went off course to avoid the spinning Sergio Perez and Charles Leclerc. This week showcased a reversal of fortune.

Verstappen exacted revenge for last week’s early retirement with this victory. Notably, the Sakhir GP winner went from first to last. Perez brought out the only caution of the race when his car lost power on Lap 10 to bring out a full course caution.

“It was really enjoyable; yesterday already of course” said Verstappen after the race. “But we had a great start … and of course you look after the tires, but the car had really good balance.

“Once you get to start up front, you can control the pace and it makes your life a bit easier. … I enjoy that I won. I’m going to enjoy the podium, then I’m going to enjoy going home.”

Verstappen’s previous win this season also came over the pair of Mercedes drivers. Hamilton finished 11.326 seconds behind at Silverstone in second with Bottas another eight seconds back in third. In the Abu Dhabi GP, it was Bottas who stood on the second step of the podium.

“I think Red Bull was too quick today, surprisingly quick,” Bottas said. “We thought the race pace would be pretty identical, but he was able to control the race and get the gap when needed. I was trying all I could, but couldn’t keep up with him.

“I feel I did a solid race from my side. No mistakes and I couldn’t get more out of the package we had today.”

After missing one week for testing positive with novel coronavirus (COVID-19), Hamilton had an opportunity to set a personal record for his most wins in a season at 12. Hamilton has five previous wins on this track including three of the last four. He has stood on the podium in seven consecutive races now.

“You can’t win them all,” Hamilton said. “I think considering the past couple of weeks I’ve had, I’m generally happy with the weekend. It’s obviously not 100 percent; it’s not as good as I’d like. … That was a really hard race for me physically. All year, physically I’ve been fine. Today I definitely wasn’t, so I’m just glad it’s over.

“I don’t think I’ve ever been so blown. My body is not feeling great, but I look on the bright side. I made it through. I didn’t think anytime last week that I would be here, so I’m really truly grateful for my health.”

After practice and qualification for the Abu Dhabi GP, Hamilton admitted that he was not at 100 percent while still suffering lingering symptoms from his fight with the virus.

“The Red Bulls this weekend were just too far out of reach for us,” Hamilton continued. “We couldn’t hold onto the pace they had. Fantastic job to see Alex [Albon] right up there with us, so we had a two team battle, which is what the sport needs. I really hope in 2022 the cars are better to follow because – I don’t know if it was a boring race to watch – but as soon as you get within like four seconds, you’re just sliding around in turbulence the whole time.”

McLaren takes third in the constructors championship behind Mercedes and Red Bull. Lando Norris finished fifth with Carlos Sainz in sixth. They finished seven points ahead of Racing Point. Sainz ended the race under investigation for a pit lane infraction when he was alleged to intentionally slow on pit road. He was cleared of the penalty post-race.

Norris finished more than eight seconds ahead of Daniel Ricciardo.

2023 SuperMotocross Power Rankings after Seattle: Cooper Webb, Eli Tomac overtake Chase Sexton


Another crash while leading at Seattle dropped Chase Sexton from the top of the NBC SuperMotocross Power Rankings while solid performances by Cooper Webb and Eli Tomac allow them to climb the chart and threaten to make this a two-rider battle with six rounds remaining in the 2023 Monster Energy Supercross season.

SuperMotocross Power Rankings Seattle
Cooper Webb wags his finger at Chase Sexton after winning his heat in Seattle. – Feld Motor Sports

During the race, Webb knew he had ground to make up. Riding behind both Tomac and Sexton early in the Main, he was as far back as fifth on Lap 7 at Seattle. That position would cost him the red plate and give away the advantage he began to build with his first win of the season in Tampa. Sexton is often at his best as he battles from the back and he methodically worked his way through the field. At the end of the feature, he was nearly five seconds off Tomac’s pace, but during the past 45 days, he holds the advantage. A resurgent Tomac that could erase that advantage quickly though.

Tomac struggled in Indianapolis with a neck strain. That contributed to his worst performance of 2023 and his second result outside the top five. He finished third in Detroit two weeks ago, but it was a distant third after finishing off the podium in his heat during that round. In Seattle, it appeared the same thing might happen when Tomac finished third in the prelim behind his two principal competitors Webb and Sexton. The Main was a different story.

Tomac dropped to fourth in the opening laps behind both of his rivals early in the race, but he got around Webb on Lap 2 and kept charging. When Sexton fell to the ground on Lap 11 and dropped to fourth, Tomac was in position to strike. He scored his sixth win of the season to tie James Stewart for second on the all-time wins list. He now shares the red plate with Webb as the rounds wind down.

MORE: Eli Tomac gets rebound win in Seattle

Sexton has the speed, but he lacks the seasoning of Webb and Tomac. He’s pressing hard on every lap and that has bitten him several times this year. Sexton’s mistakes are costing him with a 10th-place finish at Indy, the loss of seven points at Detroit and a fifth in Seattle as the riders he’s battling stood on the podium. No one seriously questions Sexton’s talent or speed, but ultimately the results are what counts.

Justin Barcia is hitting his stride. He advances two positions this week after scoring his fourth consecutive top-five and second podium in that span of races. Barcia finished between sixth and eighth in five consecutive rounds from Anaheim 2 through Arlington, but he’s mostly avoided controversy and that puts him fourth in this week’s SuperMotocross Power Rankings after Seattle.

Jason Anderson had a solid performance in Seattle, but with a fifth-place finish in his heat and fourth in the Main he just keeps losing a little ground to the leaders. The biggest impact to his standing in the NBC Power Rankings is a 10th-place finish in Indianapolis that will take a while to age out of the 45-day formula. He’s tied for fourth in the championship points with Ken Roczen, who sits sixth in the rankings below. It’s important to be the rider “best in class” with Webb, Tomac and Sexton stealing the show.

450 Rankings

Rider Power
1. Cooper Webb 87.77 2 1
2. Eli Tomac 86.23 3 1
3. Chase Sexton 85.77 1 -2
4. Justin Barcia 80.71 6 2
5. Jason Anderson 80.69 4 -1
6. Ken Roczen 80.46 5 -1
7. Aaron Plessinger 75.86 7 0
8. Adam Cianciarulo 71.13 8 0
9. Christian Craig 69.86 9 0
10. Justin Cooper 62.88 10 0
11. Justin Hill 59.86 11 0
12. Dean Wilson 52.86 12 0
13. Josh Hill 49.00 15 2
14. Colt Nichols 48.67 13 -1
15. Shane McElrath 45.62 14 -1
16. Benny Bloss 43.00 16 0
17. Grant Harlan 38.08 20 3
18. Max Miller 37.67 24 6
19. Lane Shaw 36.67 21 2
20. Cade Clason 34.67 19 -1

Supercross 450 Points

The 250 West riders were back in action in Seattle and that gave Jett Lawrence the opportunity to break out of a tie with his brother Hunter Lawrence on the all-time wins list. It also provided Jett the opportunity to take back the top spot in the NBC SuperMotocross Power Rankings after Seattle.

SuperMotocross Power Rankings Seattle
Jett Lawrence regained the top spot overall in the NBC SuperMotocross Power Rankings with a near-perfect race in Seattle. – Feld Motor Sports

Jett has stood on the podium in every race this year with the exception of the second Triple Crown race at Anaheim 2 and that level of perfection gives him bragging rights. Rest assured that while the two brothers have a bond that is unapparelled in motorsports, there is no one they would rather beat. Neither has been particularly successful in Triple Crown rounds this year, however, and Jett could lose his advantage in two weeks in Glendale, Arizona under that format.

Lawrence is now two wins away from capturing the fourth-most wins at this level.

A rivalry is developing between Lawrence and Cameron McAdoo. Tired of losing to the affable Australian, McAdoo pushed the envelope last week in Seattle. He crowded Lawrence in the whoops during their heat race and sent both to the ground. That frustration could bubble over with four rounds remaining. One thing is certain, when these two riders are in proximity on the track, the cameras will be aimed in their direction.

Supercross 250 Points

A little means a lot this season. Finishing second to Lawrence in four of five rounds, RJ Hampshire would be losing ground to the leader no matter what, but an 11th-place finish in the overall at Anaheim 2 places him eighth on the chart below behind two of the 250 West riders and five 250 East competitors.

In the mains, Levi Kitchen has been all over the board with a win, one more top-five, two results on the high side of the single digits and a crash-induced 21st at San Diego. He’s really shown his speed in the heats, however, with a perfect record of top-fives and a win.

Mitchell Oldenburg makes the top five list among West riders with a perfect record of top-10 finishes. He’s heading in the wrong direction, however, falling from ninth overall to 11th after finishing outside the top five in both his heat and the Main last week.

250 Rankings

Rider Power
1. Jett Lawrence – W 90.75 2 1
2. Hunter Lawrence – E 90.43 1 -1
3. Nate Thrasher – E 84.00 3 0
4. Cameron McAdoo – W 80.50 4 0
5. Haiden Deegan – E 78.21 5 0
6. Jeremy Martin – E 78.00 6 0
7. Jordon Smith – E 76.77 7 0
8. RJ Hampshire – W 76.75 10 2
9. Levi Kitchen – W 76.67 8 -1
10. Max Anstie – E 74.43 11 1
11. Mitchell Oldenburg – W 73.67 9 -2
12. Max Vohland – W 72.55 13 1
13. Tom Vialle – E 72.07 12 -1
14. Pierce Brown – W 68.64 19 5
15. Enzo Lopes – W 67.83 17 2
16. Chris Blose – E 67.43 15 -1
17. Chance Hymas – E 67.10 16 -1
18. Michael Mosiman – E 65.80 18 0
19. Stilez Robertson – W 64.45 14 -5
20. Phil Nicoletti – W 59.25 20 0

* The NBC Power Rankings assign 100 points to a Main event winner and 90 points for each Heat and Triple Crown win, (Triple Crown wins are included with heat wins below the rider’s name). The points decrement by a percentage equal to the number of riders in the field until the last place rider in each event receives five points. The Power Ranking is the average of these percentage points over the past 45 days for the 450 class and last 90 days for 250s (because of the split nature of their season).

POWER RANKINGS AFTER WEEK 10 AT SEATTLE: Chase Sexton narrowly leads Cooper Webb
POWER RANKINGS AFTER WEEK 7 AT ARLINGTON: Jason Anderson narrowly trails Tomac
POWER RANKINGS AFTER WEEK 6 AT OAKLAND: Perfect night keeps Tomac first
POWER RANKINGS AFTER WEEK 4 AT HOUSTON: Tomac rebounds from A2 crash, retakes lead
POWER RANKINGS AFTER WEEK 3 AT ANAHEIM 2: Consistency makes Ken Roczen king
POWER RANKINGS AFTER WEEK 2 AT SAN DIEGO: Roczen moves up, Sexton falls
POWER RANKINGS AFTER WEEK 1 AT ANAHEIM 1: Tomac, Jett Lawrence gain an early advantage