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Max Verstappen Ends 2023 F1 Season With Win in Abu Dhabi

Max Verstappen capped off his dominant 2023 F1 campaign with a decisive win in Sunday’s (Nov. 26) Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, his 19th win of the 22-race season.

Verstappen led the race from pole to take the checkered flag by almost 18 seconds over second-place finisher Charles Leclerc. George Russell took the final podium position after Sergio Perez, who finished second on-track, was assessed a five-second time penalty which relegated the Mexican driver to fourth place.

“It was an incredible season,” Verstappen told Sky Sports after the race. “It was a bit emotional on the in-lap. It was the last time I was sitting in the [RB19] which has, of course, given me a lot. So, of course, very proud to win here in the last race, but I have to say a big ‘thank you’ to everyone at Red Bull.

“This has been an incredible year. It will be hard to do something similar again, but we definitely enjoyed this year.”

Behind Verstappen was Perez after Leclerc allowed the second Red Bull to pass on-track in an effort to obstruct Russell’s points scavenging, as Ferrari and Mercedes were neck-and-neck for second place in the Constructors’ Championship.

The five-second penalty handed to Perez after making contact with Lando Norris undid Leclerc’s plan, however, as Russell was still able to finish less than five seconds adrift of Perez, giving Mercedes a three-point advantage over Ferrari in the final standings. Consistent form allowed the Silver Arrows to clinch a runner-up result despite going winless on the season – the first season since 1951 where neither a British driver nor a British team won a Grand Prix.

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Yuki Tsunoda earned Driver of the Day with an eighth-place finish and a handful of laps led early in the race. A call to stay out on medium tires before his first pit stop made Tsunoda only the second Japanese driver to lead a Grand Prix, honors he now shares with Takuma Sato.

Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton closed out contrasting seasons with a final battle which ended with Alonso in seventh and Hamilton in ninth. Alonso was noted by the stewards for erratic driving on lap 40, but no investigation was pursued.

The final race of the season came to an early end for the only non-Red Bull winner of the year when Carlos Sainz was made to retire the car on the final lap, resulting in an 18th-place finish. Due to the timing of the car’s retirement, Sainz was able to be classified ahead of Valtteri Bottas and Kevin Magnussen, who both finished one lap down.

American Logan Sargeant finished 16th. The rookie’s seat at Williams is the only entry yet-to-be confirmed for the 2024 season. Williams has indicated their desire to keep the Floridian in the car next year, but no confirmation has come as of yet. Sargeant’s more-experienced teammate, Alex Albon, finished 13th.

2023 F1 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix Results

The 2024 F1 season will begin on Sunday, March 2 with the Bahrain Grand Prix from the Bahrain International Circuit in Sakhir.

About the author

Alex is the IndyCar Content Director at Frontstretch, having initially joined as an entry-level contributor in 2021. He also serves as Managing Director of The Asia Cable, a publication focused on the international affairs and politics of the Asia-Pacific region which he co-founded in 2023. With previous experience in China, Japan and Poland, Alex is particularly passionate about the international realm of motorsport and the politics that make the wheels turn - literally - behind the scenes.

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Nicholas Darinzo

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