Formula 1 managing director Ross Brawn said Red Bull won the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix on “merit” with Mercedes powerless to stop them.
The season-ending Abu Dhabi GP at Yas Marina Circuit has traditionally been a stronghold for the Silver Arrows. After all, they had won every race at the venue since 2014 heading into the 2020 staging.
But that streak was snapped in impressive fashion as Max Verstappen went from pole to victory, leading every lap under the lights.
Mercedes looked a shadow of their dominant selves, and since team boss Toto Wolff had suggested that the engines were turned down on the W11s for qualifying, some expected the same happened in the race.
Even Verstappen himself suggested it.
But Brawn said that Red Bull won on “merit”, and felt it proved just how hard the Austrian outfit have worked over the season to reel in Mercedes.
“It was great to see Red Bull and Max Verstappen win on merit and the result can give us some optimism that there will be more great battles at the front next year, especially as the cars aren’t changing that much,” he wrote in his column for the F1 website.
“This weekend in Abu Dhabi proved that Formula 1 is all about fine margins. This time, Mercedes were off a little bit – and Red Bull executed their weekend brilliantly.
“What is encouraging is if you think back to the beginning of the year, Mercedes had a big advantage but over the course of the season, Red Bull have been chipping away at that. The RB16 didn’t work but they got it sorted.”
— Aston Martin Red Bull Racing (@redbullracing) December 14, 2020
Perhaps if there had have been a few more stops on the 2020 calendar, then Red Bull could have shown the world whether Abu Dhabi indeed was a solid step forward.
But, Brawn was keen to pay tribute to the sport and everyone involved for putting together a 17-race season and completing it in the middle of the pandemic.
“This has been a remarkable year, with the Covid-19 pandemic making life challenging for everyone across the globe,” he added.
“It is testament to the ingenuity of the many brilliant people who work in the sport that we have been able to complete a 17-race Championship.
“The rules have been tough – but they have been necessary for us to go racing.
“We’ve carried out around 80,000 PCR tests, with fewer than 100 positive results – a rate of 0.11%. That’s an impressive statistic and proves that the biosphere system worked.”
Red Bull do have a habit of starting a season slow and showing up towards the end, something which Mercedes were keen to point out on social media.