'Ultimate thief': Dan Ricciardo's brutal act against ex-teammate

Andrew Reid
·5-min read
Dan Ricciardo can be seen here laughing with former Red Bull teammate Max Verstappen.
Dan Ricciardo stopped his old teammate Max Verstappen sealing a special slice of F1 history. Pic: Getty

Max Verstappen brought the curtain down on the 2020 Formula One season with a lights-to-flag cruise to victory in the year-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

However, it was a stunning final lap from Daniel Ricciardo that stole many of the headlines after the race.

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Dutchman Verstappen led every lap of what turned out to be a processional race in his Red Bull to cross the line on Sunday 15.9 seconds ahead of Mercedes pair Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton.

Red Bull team principal Christian Horner thought Verstappen had also claimed a rare Grand Slam or Grand Chelem - meaning he'd taken pole, led every lap, won the race and claimed the fastest lap.

“Max, that was absolutely clinical, start to finish, fastest lap as well, you’ve been fantastic all year but especially today,” Horner said over team radio at the end of the race.

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As David Croft said in Sky Sports commentary, however, Horner wasn't aware that Ricciardo had denied his man his the honour on the final lap of the race.

“Someone might like to tell Christian Horner that when he last looked at his screen, Max had the fastest lap, when he looks at his screen again, Daniel Ricciardo has the fastest lap.”

Ricciardo bowed out from Renault in his last race in some style, recording the day's fastest lap at the death to beat Verstappen's time by 0.032 seconds - finishing seventh in the race and fifth overall in the drivers' championship.

Ricciardo also denied Max Verstappen becoming the youngest-ever F1 pole-sitter at Mexico in 2018.

Fans couldn't help but see the funny side as the Aussie once again thwarted his ex-teammate in the season finale.

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"It was really enjoyable out there today," said Verstappen, who ends the season third behind Bottas in the overall standings, after taking his 10th career win and second this year.

"We did basically everything alright."

Mercedes, who have wrapped up a record seventh straight title double, had no answer to the pace set by Verstappen's Honda-powered car.

Unbeaten in Abu Dhabi for six years in a row, with Red Bull's 2013 win in the Gulf Emirate the last time another team tasted victory at Yas Marina, Mercedes were running their cars with their engines turned down due to reliability concerns.

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That denied them the satisfaction of capping a dominant season on a high, with the Brackley-based team signing off with 13 wins from 17 races.

Verstappen's victory denied Hamilton a 12th win of the season, which would have made 2020 his most successful year yet, with the Briton never having won more than 11 races in a single campaign.

But the 35-year-old, still struggling from the after effects of COVID-19, was relieved to simply get through the race.

"That was a really hard race for me physically," said Hamilton who wrapped up a record-equalling seventh title last month.

"I'm just glad it's over."

Max Verstappen is seen here celebrating his Abu Dhabi GP win.
Max Verstappen ended his F1 season on a high in Abu Dhabi. Pic: Getty

Alexander Albon, who faces an uncertain future with Red Bull considering whether to retain him, put in a solid drive to take fourth place.

Lando Norris took fifth ahead of Ferrari-bound McLaren team mate Carlos Sainz in sixth, allowing the Woking-based squad to overhaul rivals Racing Point and secure third in the overall constructors' standings.

Sebastian Vettel brought the curtain down on his Ferrari career by finishing a lap down on Verstappen and behind Charles Leclerc in 14th.

Sergio Perez, who became F1's newest winner in Sakhir last weekend, was the only casualty of the race.

Still without a drive next year, his Racing Point suffered a loss of power just 10 laps into his swansong for the Silverstone-based team, which brought out the virtual safety car.

The 30-year-old still claimed fourth in the overall standings, edging out Ricciardo.

with AAP

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