max verstappen winner 2023 F1 abu dhabi gp

Abu Dhabi GP: Mercedes beat Ferrari. Max beats them all

max verstappen winner 2023 F1 abu dhabi gp

Red Bull’s triple World Champion Max Verstappen won the 15th edition of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, the 22nd and final round of the 2023 Formula 1 World Championship, the sun aptly setting on a gruelling season at Yas Marina Circuit.

The battle between Ferrari and Mercedes for P2 in the Constructors’ standings went the way of the German team but was a thriller until the last lap of a Championship in which the two great teams were shamed by Red Bull.

As for the winner, there are not enough superlatives to fling at Verstappen, Red Bull and the remarkable RB19 penned by Adrian Newey and his excellent propeller heads. It was a fitting way to put a full stop on one of the greatest F1 seasons delivered by a driver.

Once again F1’s most potent combination of 2023, probably ever, outclassed their rivals comprehensively, as they have done pretty much in a totally lopsided season.

At the seven-star Yas Marina Circuit the Dutch ace, from pole was too determined to relinquish the lead on the opening lap in which a game Charles Leclerc poked his nose ahead only for the Red Bull to shut him out.

Clearly intent on seeing his mega season out on a high and fastest lap to rub it in even further on his hapless rivals which he obliterated this season. Typical Verstappen.

Verstappen: Very proud to win the final race


On the occasion of his 54th Grand Prix victory today, Max reported in Parc Ferme: “Was an incredible season, it was a bit emotional on the last lap. The last time sitting in the car which of course has given me a lot.

“Of course, very proud to win the final race, I have to say thanks to everyone at Red Bull it’s been an incredible year. It will be hard to do something similar, but we definitely enjoyed this year.

“It will be very hard to have another season like this, we know that, you always want to do better, but doing better is not always race wins and winning the championship.

“We are working hard for next year for a very competitive car. For sure all the other teams want to try and beat us next year, but we are ready for the battle and in the meantime, we’re going to enjoy this year as well,” added Verstappen.

After that, Leclerc chased gamely. But Verstappen eked out the gap to five seconds after the stops. Thereafter pulling away slowly but surely. In control, and in command as he took a remarkable 19th victory of the season.

Max hammering home his rule as the King of Formula 1 right now as the incredible 1000 laps he led this season testify.

Behind him, it was drama right at the very end as Mercedes and Ferrari tussled for the final points for the honour (?) of being runner-up. Mercedes did enough with George Russell in P3 and Lewis Hamilton P9 to keep the Reds at bay despite Leclerc’s gallant attempt to deny them.

Leclerc: It’s just a shame we finished third in the constructors

ferrari Leclerc: It's just a shame we finished third in the constructors

P2 was the Ferrari driver’s reward, albeit 17.9s behind Verstappen when they crossed the GP finish line for the final time this year.

Leclerc explained the thinking behind allowing Perez past late in the race, Leclerc explained: “Checo had a five-second penalty, so we had to help him in a way to finish in front of George with a five-second penalty with DRS and a slipstream but that unfortunately wasn’t enough.”

He added after his 30th top three finish in F1: “On one hand I’m really happy because on a weekend like this, there wasn’t one thing we could have done better as a team. It was not a given that we were the second-fastest car this weekend.

“We did an incredible job doing everything right – strategy, qualifying. It’s just a shame we finished third in the constructors’. That’s all that mattered to me in this end of season and we didn’t achieve that.  I would like to thank the team for doing such incredible work and working so incredibly hard since the first race,” acknowledged Leclerc of his Ferrari team.

On the night, Russell did what he had to do, salvaging pride for his team in a season Mercedes never won a Grand Prix for the first in two decades: “It was tight with Checo at the end and I thought Charles was going to back me up, but respect to him for keeping it clean. Woah, I can chill out now!”

Russell: I’m sure the team will have a few drinks tonight

ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - NOVEMBER 26: Race winner Max Verstappen of the Netherlands and Oracle Red Bull Racing, Second placed Charles Leclerc of Monaco and Ferrari, Third placed George Russell of Great Britain and Mercedes and Jamie Meades, Head Of Supply Chain Operations at Red Bull Racing celebrate on the podium during the F1 Grand Prix of Abu Dhabi at Yas Marina Circuit on November 26, 2023 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images) // Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool // SI202311260273 // Usage for editorial use only //

Of his race in Abu Dhabi today, Russell said: “I came out of the pits on the second set of hards, managing a bit, and Checo came from nowhere. I don’t know hat happened, there, they had great pace, it was really tense at the end.

“The tyres were dropping off but really pleased to have secured P2 for the team. I’m sure the team will have a few drinks tonight,” declared the Mercedes driver before celebrating his 11th podium in the top flight.

Sergio Perez in the other Red Bull was forced to fight back from P9 on the grid, he drove gamely, although clumsily when battling Norris, to carve his way into contention thanks to stopping later than most for fresher rubber.

Banging wheels with the McLaren of Lando Norris cost him a five-second penalty and what might’ve been a podium. Nevertheless, Perez’s fightback inadvertently cost Ferrari P2 in the 2023 F1 WCC.

Norris settled for P5 ahead of McLaren teammate Oscar Piastri, the pair perhaps expected more. But the rookie was in just about every battle on his way to the end of the rookies’ 22nd race and a great start to his F1 career.

Fernando was his feisty self, going toe-to-toe with his nemesis Lewis Hamilton. The Aston Martin driver bringing it home in P7 and sealing P4 in the 2023 F1 WDC. Teammate Lance Stroll was tenth.

Hamilton was ninth, points that helped his team finish ahead of Ferrari. Yuki Tusnoda ended his season on a high, delivering arguably his best weekend of the season for AlphaTauri to finish P8

2023 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix Result

2023 Abu Dhabui Grand Prix Graphic

How the 2023 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix unfolded:

ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - NOVEMBER 26: Max Verstappen of the Netherlands driving the (1) Oracle Red Bull Racing RB19 on track during the F1 Grand Prix of Abu Dhabi at Yas Marina Circuit on November 26, 2023 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)


Stroll, Sainz and Bottas on Pirelli white stripe Hards, the rest on Mediums for the start. Verstappen and Leclerc make so-so starts but the Red Bull driver bravest through Turn 1.

The pair side-by-side many times. Big pressure but by the end of the lap the Ferrari got ahead very briefly, Leclerc backed off or Verstappen took control or both. Gritty aggressive defence by the Champ.

Norris takes P4 from Russell and is immediately glued to Piastri. Perez passes Hamilton on Lap 3. Norris takes P3 on lap 4 from his teammate. Gasly up two places to P8. The biggest slider was Hulkenberg, down six places in P14.

A DRS train ensued. On Lap 6, very early Magnussen was the first to stop to change tyres. Mediums for Hards. Top ten within seven seconds and a stalemate until Russell attacked Piastri but to no avai. Lap 8 Ricciardo pits to remove tear-off from the AlphaTauri’s brake duct.


Got feisty between Russell v Piastri as well as Perez v Gasly. But it is not that easy to overtake at Yas Marina Circuit. Verstappen’s lead was pegged at 1.3s by Leclerc in P2 who was a similar distance ahead of Norris in P4, with the PIA-RUS battle a further two seconds down.

In Turn 9 on Lap 11, Russell finally took P4 from Piastri, the McLaren driver’s mirrors full of Tsunoda. At the same time, Perez was all over the back of Gasly, and a lap later the RBR was past and into P8.

That became P7 as Alonso boxed on P13 to swap to Hards. Earlier than expected. Hamilton pressuring Gasly for P8. On lap 14 Piastri pits and emerges just ahead of Alonso. Undercut failed but the pressure was on the rookie by the sport’s most experienced driver.

Norris called to pit, Mercedes do the same thing with Russell behind, but as they emerged it was the Black car ahead of the Orange car for a position swap. Hamilton clips Gasly as they duelled.

Verstappen pits from a two-second lead on Lap 17, and emerges P7. Leclerc in the next lap, joining behind the #1 Red Bull. Three seconds the gap, RBR found a second during the pitstops.

Anonymous until then, Sainz took the lead briefly, then Tsunoda led!


Somehow Alpine, during the pitstops somehow managed to swap their cars which irked Gasly who found himself behind his teammate, despite starting ahead of Ocon. In contrast, Sainz gave his Ferrari teammate Leclerc a free pass at that point.

Only Tsunoda, Stroll and Sainz still to stop among the top ten. But did so on Lap 24. Top ten had all stopped at that point.

Leader Verstappen was 5.0s ahead of Leclerc in P2, who was 1.7s ahead of Russell, followed by two McLarens, Norris ahead of Piastri. Perez was up three places in P6 and chasing the second McLaren.

Alonso followed within DRS with Hamilton 4.0s adrift, ahead of Tsunoda and Ricciardo.


Verstappen leads by 6.4 seconds over Leclerc, chased by Russell a further 2.1s back. Another stalemate at this point, none in the top ten within DRS. Make that the entire of 20 runners at that stage. Stroll sets the fastest lap at this point.

On Lap 35 Verstappen led by 8.8s. Norris pitted at this point to undercut Russell, who responds by stopping a lap later. The Mercedes remained ahead of the McLaren. Undercut fail.

Lap 36 Leclerc and Hamilton stop again. Up front RBRs led, with Verstappen 16.1s ahead of Perez as a flurry of stops began on Lap 38, on which Hamilton cruised past Alonso who reports his car was “the slowest by far” falling short of going the F2 route!

But the Spaniard was not finished as he dug into the black arts of brake-testing to get by Hamilton again. It was naughty but not unexpected from Alonso who tends to be cleaner, or best put less malicious in the dusk of his career.


Perez was matching Verstappen at this point, the Mexican going long as possible and setting himself for an interesting final laps of the GP on fresher tr=yres than those ahead.

Perez pits on lap 43 fo another slick service by the Red Bull, crew. Full attack from P6. Verstappen in next emerging five seconds ahead of Leclerc in P2. With Russell thrre seconds adrift, chased by Norris a further four seconds down.

Perez is 1.5s down no Norris on Lap 44. Tsunoda in P6 and Sainz in P8, the only ones in the top 10 not to have made a second stop.

On Lap 45, Verstappen leads by 7.2s and sets the fastest lap, the first of a slew of them, as Perez moves into Norris DRS. Alonso and Sainz battling hard for P8, with Hamilton in sight and getting by the Ferrari at Turn 9, on lap 48.

Perez and Norris made contact when the Red Bull attacked on lap 47. A lap later, Perez was past into P4. Norris was not happy. Neither were F1 Stewards who handed the Mexican a five-second penalty.

On Lap 5o Verstappen was nearly ten seconds ahead of Leclerc.

Stalemate until lap 55, when Perez got past Russell. Tsunoda in P7, one stopping but Alonso into the AlphaTauri DRS.

Verstappen seeing his mega season out on a high and fastest lap to rub it in even further on his hapless rivals which he obliterated this season.

Sainz pits on lap 56, no safety car to save his strategy meant he dropped down to P15.

Leclerc was smart and helped Perez get past to attempt to outscore Mercedes, but it did not quite work. Too little too late.

verstappen abu dhabi donuts f1

Abu Dhabi Grand Prix Preview

2023 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix grid graphic f1 cloouseau

Finally, the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix is upon us, Round 22 and the end of a mammoth Formula 1 season, made apparently longer by the monotonous domination of Red Bull and their three-time World Champion Max Verstappen.

[Note: This preview will be updated with the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix report and results after the race. Please refresh this post for the updated version. Thank you. Enjoy!]

After Qualifying on pole position for today’s race at Yas Marina Circuit – his 12th P1 start this season – Verstappen raised a hearty laugh when he claimed he had “no clue” how his race pace will be today in the race!

Even that bumbling Pink Panther detective – Inspector Clouseau – would have no problem finding those clues and solving a slam-dunk case! Simply put, Max will win this one too. With ease, with the kind of control and mastery that has him seeking, incredibly, victory number 19 of the season!

If you want the full script for today’s GP: Verstappen gets a bullet start, leads, controls even with safety cars etc. He just gets on it and does the business as he has done all year. Sleep. Race. Win. Repeat.

Also mirroring most of this season, once again Sergio Perez was way down on his teammate in the second Red Bull. The Mexican was only good enough from P9 in Qualifying, aka the same old story at RBR. However, with the mighty RB19, it should be a one-two for the team this weekend.

Let’s face it, although he did labour to runner-up in the F1 Title race this year (a first for Red Bull) Perez did not do the car justice. The veteran owes his team P2 today, in other words, another one-two for the Blues.

Ferrari vs Mercedes: May the best of the losers come second

mercedes vs ferrari abu dhabi gp f1tv grab

For the Reds, Charles Leclerc starting P2 will chase as he has done the whole season. He may get the Ferrari in front for a bit, a few laps maybe, but right now there is not a car/driver combo that can match or stop Max in full flight, let alone keep him behind.

Thus Leclerc has work to do for his team to change this perception. Or is it simply the uncontrollable reality he must endure right now in F1?

F1 Stats show that Ferrari are only four points adrift of Mercedes for P2 in the 2023 F1 Constructors’ Championship, while his teammate Carlos Sainz has even more on his plate from P16 on the grid.

Unlike Max, Mercedes and their drivers are really clueless about what their car is doing or whether the troublesome and enigmatic W14 that turns up in Abu Dhabi is the Not So Shit Car (NSSC) or the Very Shit Car (VSC), neither of which the team understand after two seasons of these aero rules.

Lewis Hamilton and George Russell have not had a Very Good Car (VGC) all year. No surprise that Russell who drove VSCs at Williams made the most of the one he drove on Saturday to take P4, despite dominating practice with an NSSC. Between FP3 and Qualy, it became a VSC of its own accord, it seems!

Unlike his younger teammate, Hamilton has seldom had an NSSC let alone a VSC has been used to VGCs most of his career as the 103 victories testify. Five of those scored in Abu Dhabi, but unlikely to add any more today.

McLaren to humble their Power Unit suppliers yet again?

verstappen leclerc piastri abu dhabi gp f1 qualifying

Expect George to be in the hunt for a podium, while Lewis will find it hard to graft from P11, after a disappointing Saturday to crown a miserable season for the seven-time F1 World Champion. A strong comeback to the podium would be ideal for LH44. But it all depends on which Merc W14 lines up on the grid today: the NSSC or the VSC?

Humbling their Power Unit suppliers (aka Mercedes works team), also chasing at the sharp end, as they have been for the latter part of this season, are the McLaren boys. They start nose-to-tail on today’s grid, with Oscar Piastri (P3) cheekily outqualifying his teammate Lando Norris (P5) who felt he had a crack at pole until he didn’t of course.

Expect Oranges on the podium, one at least if not two. They will be forgiven a prayer wishing Verstappen takes a wrong turn during the Grand Prix and finds himself driving down to Dubai, instead of Turn 1 at Yas. Unlikely but you know what I mean.


Abu Dhabi Grand Prix and other sideshows to watch out for:

  • Fernando Alonso and Yuki Tsunoda are also an interesting mix in a very close midpack; expect the Aston Martin driver to excel. Yuki? Who knows?
  • Nico Hulkenberg is way out of place in P8, setting the Haas up for freefall down the order;
  • Provided they don’t take each other out, expect the Alpine lads Pierre Gasly and Esteban Ocon (among many others) to be blitzing past the Haas
  • Apart from Perez, Hamilton and Sainz needing a big result for their teams today, so does Kevin Magnussen, Daniel Ricciardo and most of the rest of the grid;
  • With so many talented drivers ready to step up to F1 as FP1 on Friday testified, it’s hard to see any justification for Logan Sargeant to remain with Williams. This could be his last Grand Prix.
  • Who will bin it first? Hard to tell, but what I would bet on I will hazard a guess based on history: Sargeant does a Nicholas Latifi at some point during the race. Ends his last race walking away from a DNF, which would aptly summarise his tenure as an F1 driver. Full stop. Next!
  • And of course, may none be harmed or get hurt in the making of this Netflix episode, the final one of a 22 chapter season: the 15th edition of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

abu dhabi grand prix yas marina circuit aerial view

2023 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix Info & Stats by Reuters

  • Round 22 of the 2023 FIA Formula 1 World Championship
  • Yas Marina Cicuit: Lap distance: 5.281km. Total distance: 306.183km (58 laps)
  • 2022 pole position: Max Verstappen (Netherlands) Red Bull One minute 23.824 seconds.
  • 2022 winner: Verstappen
  • Race lap record: Verstappen 1:26.103, Red Bull 2021. (The Circuit was modified after the 2020 race)
  • Start time: 1300 GMT (1700 local)
  • Sunday will be the 15th Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, and 12th season-ender at Yas Marina’s anti-clockwise track.
  • Three current drivers have won there, with five-times winner Lewis Hamilton (2011, 2014, 2016, 2018, 2019) the most successful. Verstappen won in 2020, 2021 and 2022 and Valtteri Bottas in 2017.
  • Hamilton has been on pole five times.
  • Only once has the winner not started on the front row: Kimi Raikkonen from fourth in 2012 with Lotus.

Victories, Pole Positions & Podiums

Abu Dhabi Grand Prix verstappen red bull

  • Verstappen has won a record 18 of 21 races, ensuring a record win percentage for a season, and has 53 wins from 183 starts, putting him third equal with Sebastian Vettel on the all-time list.
  • Red Bull have won a record 20 races, one more than Mercedes in 2016, with Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz winning in Singapore.
  • Red Bull also had a team record six one-two finishes in 2023.
  • Hamilton has a record 103 victories from 331 starts but has not won since Saudi Arabia in December 2021.
  • Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso has 32 wins, most recently in Spain in 2013 with Ferrari, from a record 376 starts.
  • Hamilton has a record 104 poles.
  • Red Bull have been on pole 13 times this season.
  • Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc took the top slot in Azerbaijan, Belgium, Austin, Mexico and Las Vegas
  • Hamilton in Hungary and Sainz in Italy and Singapore.
  • Verstappen has 11 poles for 2023 and has converted all of them into wins.
  • Leclerc is one pole short of equalling Rene Arnoux’s 1979-82 record of 13 successive poles without winning any of them.
  • Six teams and 11 drivers have made a podium appearance this season: Red Bull, Alpine, Aston Martin, McLaren, Mercedes and Ferrari.
  • Verstappen has been off the podium only once since Brazil last November.
  • Verstappen holds the record for most podiums in a season 20 this year.
  • Michael Schumacher remains the only driver to have stood on the podium in every race of a season (2002).

yas marina circuit f1 grand prix abu dhabi track map

Abu Dhabi Grand Prix Milestones

  • Verstappen’s win in Las Vegas made him the first driver to win three races in one country in a single season.
  • The Red Bull driver has now led a record 75.06% of all laps in the season and is sure to finish the season beating the previous record of 71.47% set by Jim Clark in 1963.

2023 F1 World Championship

  • Red Bull and Verstappen have won both championships already, Verstappen his third and Red Bull their sixth.
  • ReBR are also assured of first and second place in the drivers’ standings for the first time thanks to Sergio Perez.
  • Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton is sure of third place overall but is facing his second successive season without a win.
  • Verstappen leads teammate Sergio Perez by 276 points and is set to end the season with a record margin as well as a record haul, although scoring systems have changed over the years.
  • The gap between Verstappen and Perez is greater than the amount of points Perez has scored (273).
  • The previous record margin was 155 between Vettel and Fernando Alonso in 2013.
championshipo standings f1 20923 after las vegas round21