Signing off on 2020 with his first pole position and his second win of the campaign, Max Verstappen says that’s a “good boost” for next year but Red Bull still have a lot to work on.
Verstappen dominated Sunday’s season finale at the Yas Marina circuit, starting from pole position and taking the victory by 16s ahead of Valtteri Bottas.
It was a good end to the season for the Dutchman, who on the Saturday was delighted, and a bit relieved, to have finally claimed his first pole position of the campaign.
But while there were moments to celebrated, Red Bull were by no means in the title fight.
They lost the Constructors’ to Mercedes by 254 points with the Brackley team winning 14 of the year’s 17 races.
Verstappen was third in the Drivers’ standings, nine points behind Bottas but a whopping 133 shy of championship winner Lewis Hamilton.
The Red Bull driver concedes the team has “a lot” of areas that need improving.
“We know we have to work hard over the winter to be better and stronger because you can’t just rely on this result,” he said in the post-Abu Dhabi GP press conference.
“We know that we still have to improve the car a lot and we know it’s some areas where we have to really work on and that’s not only on the car but also power-wise – we need more.
“I hope we learn from the last few years, it’s not like we do it on purpose but yeah, we will definitely go into the winter with a good feeling.
“It’s always nice to win the last race, I think, for the whole team, especially after a year like this when it’s very tough and a lot of races followed up after each other so yeah, it’s been hard on everyone, especially mechanics but also the people back in the factory manufacturing all the new parts because we brought quite a lot this year.
“Yeah, good boost and yeah, I just hope that we learn from our mistakes – also at the beginning of this year (those) we made and hopefully build a better car to start next year.”
— Aston Martin Red Bull Racing (@redbullracing) December 13, 2020
Verstappen was happy with his performance over the weekend, although he did miss out on the grand slam with Daniel Ricciardo pipping him to fastest lap.
He is nonetheless the first non-Mercedes driver to win the Abu Dhabi GP in the turbo hybrid era.
Asked if he was ‘surprised’ by his advantage over Mercedes, he replied: “To be honest before I got here I didn’t expect to win the race and be on pole, so maybe a little bit.
“Of course I also read that they had to turn the engines down a bit, so that’s not helping for them.
“In general I think still the car performed very strong and better than expected, so of course very happy with that.
“It’s a great way to finish the season, it’s a good boost for everyone in the team here and of course at the factory and I just hope of course that we learn from the previous years that we have to be stronger in the beginning of the season to be able to give then a little bit of a harder time.”