Max Verstappen wins the 19th Grand Prix of the season in Abu Dhabi

Max Verstappen wins the 19th Grand Prix of the season in Abu Dhabi

The 2023 Formula 1 season ended as it began, with Max Verstappen winning. In an air of déjà vu and in a relentless manner, the Dutch driver achieved his 19th success this season out of 22 races. The three-time world champion held off timid attacks from Charles Leclerc during the first lap to retain race lead. Verstappen didn’t make much progress in the first stint, but flew wide in the second to take an uneventful win, while passing 1,000 laps spent in the lead.

Red Bull also gave wings to Sergio Perez in this race. Starting from ninth place, the Mexican driver managed to rise to second place continuously, with several overtakes until the end. On lap 47, everything changed with a slightly aggressive attempt on Lando Norris at Turn 6 and a minor collision between the two drivers led to him being penalized for five seconds by the race direction. A penalty had consequences for the final classification, with Perez falling to fourth place, but also at the end of this race.

Vice Constructors Champion Mercedes

One of the challenges of this final race of the season was the battle for second place in the World Manufacturers’ Championship, and this battle animated the final episodes of the Grand Prix. In a somewhat desperate attempt to overtake Mercedes, Leclerc let Perez pass on lap 58 to allow him to limit the impact of the penalty and perhaps interfere between him and Russell in the final standings. But without success since the Briton finally finished third.

Before the race, Mercedes had a short lead (4 points) and this gap narrowed further after 58 laps at the Yas Marina Circuit, where Ferrari fell 3 points behind the star company. While Hamilton finished ninth and scored two points for Mercedes, the Italian team could not rely on Carlos Sainz to achieve its goal. Starting from 16th place, the Spaniard was hoping for a safety car to improve his strategy and hope for a comeback, but that never happened.

Gasly may have regrets

Starting 10th, Pierre Gasly had hopes of scoring points in this final race of the season. The French driver made a good start and soon found himself in eighth place, but the duel with Hamilton went poorly. With the diffuser at the rear of his car damaged, Gasly saw a decline in his good pace and estimated this caused him to lose around 4 to 5 tenths per lap.

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