November 26, 2023

Verstappen ends F1 season with commanding victory in Abu Dhabi

November 27, 2023 — 1.52am
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Red Bull’s triple world champion Max Verstappen wrapped up a year of unprecedented dominance with his record-extending 19th win in 22 races at the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix on Sunday.

The pole-to-flag victory, for the fourth year in a row under the Yas Marina floodlights, left the 26-year-old alone in third place in Formula 1’s all-time list of winners with a career 54, one ahead of former Red Bull great Sebastian Vettel. Only Michael Schumacher (91) and Lewis Hamilton (103) remain ahead of him.

Race winner Max Verstappen crosses the line in Abu Dhabi.Credit: Getty Images

“What an incredible year,” Verstappen said after crossing the line.

Red Bull won 21 of 22 races this season, with Sergio Perez claiming two wins.

“You’ve smashed it out of the park this year,” Red Bull team principal Christian Horner told him on the radio. “We’re all incredibly proud of you.”


Perez crossed the line in second place but dropped to fourth because of a five-second time penalty. Leclerc let Perez go past him on the final lap in the hope that Perez would finish more than five seconds ahead of Russell, with Mercedes and Ferrari both fighting for second place in the constructors’ championship.

“Unfortunately it wasn’t enough,” Leclerc said.

Mercedes ended their first winless season since 2011 as best of the rest behind runaway champions Red Bull.


Oscar Piastri finished seventh for McLaren after starting third on the grid, while his fellow Australian Daniel Ricciardo crossed 11th for AlphaTauri.

Verstappen started from pole position for the 12th time this season – more than twice as many as any other driver – with Leclerc alongside him and Piastri third.

The Yas Marina track is one of hardest to overtake on and Verstappen made a good start, holding off a couple of attacks by Leclerc.

Verstappen switched to hard tires on lap 17 of 58, followed by Leclerc on the next lap, leaving AlphaTauri’s Yuki Tsunoda in the rare position of leading a race on team principal Franz Tost’s last grand prix before retiring.

Verstappen regained the lead a few laps later and was never troubled.

Perez was given a penalty for bumping tires with McLaren’s Lando Norris late on, although it appeared that Norris had enough space and turned into Perez’s front right tire.

“Why are we given this penalty? I was ahead,” a bemused Perez said on team radio.

Reuters, AP

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