Until the end, the insatiable Max Verstappen left only crumbs to his competitors. Sunday November 26, the Dutch driver won the last Formula 1 Grand Prix of the season, in Abu Dhabi, to complete a year 2023 during which his Red Bull led most of the races, to win a whopping 19… on 22. Starting from pole position in the capital of the United Arab Emirates, Verstappen only trembled during the first lap, before definitively distancing Charles Leclerc and continuing the 58 laps until he raised his arms under fireworks.
Could it ultimately be otherwise for a pilot ured for many weeks of a third world champion title, within a dominant stable for several years? Runner-up to Verstappen in the general clification, his teammate Sergio Perez collected the famous crumbs left by “Mad Max”. The Mexican managed to add two trophies to his personal collection at the start of the season (Saudi Arabia and Azerbaijan).
The bull stable thus managed to reign over all the races. All? No. The irreducible Carlos Sainz has indeed added his name to the season’s list of winners by winning the Singapore Grand Prix in September, giving Ferrari valuable points. Because beyond knowing to what extent the domination of Max Verstappen and Red Bull would extend this season, the last race in Abu Dhabi was mainly used to determine the places of honor in the final table, particularly in the manufacturers’ clification.
Mercedes by one breath ahead of Ferrari
With a four-point lead, Mercedes was under pressure from Ferrari, especially as Charles Leclerc had managed to secure his place on the front row during qualifying. A slightly crazy end to the race – whose positions were long made illegible by the seconds penalties distributed by the race commissioners – later, the Silver Arrows retained their position thanks to George Russell (3e of the race) and Lewis Hamilton (9e), while Carlos Sainz (18e) failed to help his teammate Charles Leclerc (2e) to pocket points.
Finally, this race was also an opportunity for the French Pierre Gasly and Esteban Ocon to measure themselves once again against each other, and to define who would be the best Alpine driver of the season. Far from the score, Gasly (12e) and Ocon (13e) finished outside the points zone in Abu Dhabi, allowing the first named to stay ahead of his compatriot thanks to his small margin (4 points) at the start of the weekend.
After a break of a few weeks, the teams will meet in Bahrain on March 2, 2024, for the start of a new season of which Max Verstappen will still be the big favorite. On Sunday, the Dutchman became alone third in the game of races won (54), at the same time overtaking his glorious elder in the Red Bull team, Sebastian Vettel. If he is still far from Michael Schumacher (91) and especially from Lewis Hamilton (103), his current pace and especially his age (26 years) allow him to hope to quickly join the two legends of F1.