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Abu Dhabi Grand Prix
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Abu Dhabi Grand Prix Race Review: Season finishes with Max Verstappen still in charge

The curtain came down on the 2023 Formula One season and Max Verstappen ended the season in typical fashion, producing another dominant drive to win the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

The three-time world champion finished the season with a record-breaking 575 points, over twice the tally of team-mate Sergio Perez and some 164 points ahead of the combined total of the two Mercedes, who finished second in the World Constructors’ Championship.

Check out our preview of Sunday's race here.
Check out our preview of Saturday's qualifying here.

Verstappen’s record-breaking season ends in style

After clinching pole position on Saturday, Verstappen survived a brief period of pressure from Charles Leclerc in the opening laps around the Yas Marina Circuit to win the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix in his typical unrelenting fashion.

As he passed the chequered flag almost 18 seconds ahead of Leclerc, we were left to reflect on a season of unprecedented dominance from Red Bull’s golden boy.

Verstappen has broken almost every record available this season. At the age of just 26, he is third on the list of all-time Formula One wins and now holds the top two positions for most wins in a season.

His victory in the season finale means he holds both first (10) and third (7) positions on the list consecutive Formula One wins, both of which he has achieved this season, and he surpassed 1,000 laps led towards the end of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

The Dutchman is odds-on favourite at 1/4 to win the 2024 World Drivers’ Championship and it is difficult to see anybody challenging in the near future.

Constructors' battle for second goes to the wire

While top spot in both championships was wrapped up a long time ago, some of the battles lower down the pecking order went right down to the wire and one of those was the fascinating tussle between Mercedes and Ferrari for second in the World Constructors’ Championship.

The battle between the two constructors ebbed and flowed throughout the race, with matters complicated by Lewis Hamilton and Carlos Sainz starting out of position after rough qualifying performances.

Eventually, it came down to the final laps of the Grand Prix, with Ferrari’s Leclerc and Mercedes’ George Russell discussing what was needed over the team radio.

Leclerc allowed Perez, who was carrying a five-second time penalty, through in the closing stages in the hope the Mexican could build the necessary gap to demote Russell to fourth. 

Had that masterstroke from the Monegasque been rewarded, Ferrari would have finished level on points with Mercedes and clinched second place on countback, but Perez could not find the pace, eventually finishing a second behind Russell once the penalty was applied.

As a result, Mercedes took the silver medal by a mere three points, while McLaren’s solid race saw them hold on to third in the World Constructors’ Championship ahead of Aston Martin after a phenomenal second-half of the season from the Woking-based team.

Tost rues missed opportunity in final farewell

After 18 years in charge of first Toro Rosso and then AlphaTauri, Franz Tost made his final farewell to the pit wall on Sunday and he was rewarded by seeing one of his drivers briefly lead the race.

Yuki Tsunoda, who was voted driver of the day, looked like he was on course for a top-six finish after a wonderful qualifying session and a solid opening in the Grand Prix.

Unfortunately, the strategy decision that led to him leading the race proved to be his downfall, with a lengthy opening stint putting him at the mercy of the undercut. 

The Japanese driver eventually finished eighth, leaving AlphaTauri just three points shy of Williams in the World Constructors’ Championship and leading to Tost to sign off with a fiery message to his strategists, labelling them "stupid".

He also added: "We messed it up because the technicians who sit in front of the computer for hours couldn’t figure out a strategy that would ultimately work."

Tost will now move into a consultancy role for Red Bull after a long career which has seen him oversee some of the biggest talent development in the sport, with Sebastian Vettel, Daniel Ricciardo, Sainz, Pierre Gasly and Verstappen among those who got their F1 breakthroughs under the Austrian.
 

Abu Dhabi Grand Prix Race Preview: Verstappen set fair for final victory lap

Just 58 laps of the Yas Marina Circuit remain of the 2023 Formula 1 season and, after grabbing his 12th pole position of the campaign, Max Verstappen is poised to round off a record-breaking year with victory in the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

Battle for bragging rights going to the wire

They may have been humbled by a drinks company, but automotive giants Mercedes and Ferrari will be eager to secure second place in the constructors' championship, and their tussle looks set for a grandstand finish.

Ferrari's Charles Leclerc needed a last-gasp effort to haul himself onto the front row for the fifth race in succession, and the Monegasque maestro may well have been expecting more going into the weekend with three pole positions from the previous four races.

Every time Leclerc has started from the front row this year and been a classified finisher in the race he has stood on the podium, and it is 5/6 that that pattern is repeated.

The Scuderia trail Mercedes by four points following a strong run of recent form, but the Silver Arrows were a little unlucky in Las Vegas last week.

Lewis Hamilton was involved in a collision at the start, but still managed to finish seventh. 

His team-mate George Russell put in some stellar late laps to cross the line fourth, but was classified only eighth following a harsh-looking time penalty for a coming together with Verstappen.

Seven-time world champion Hamilton has struggled in Abu Dhabi, and felt there was a problem with his car after qualifying a disappointing 11th, buit he is still rated a 4/6 chance to finish in the top six.

Russell, though, starts fourth and will be keen to make up for the lost opportunity in Vegas. The King's Lynn racer is 10/11 for what would be only his second podium of the season.

Carlos Sainz, in the second Ferrari, will be hoping he has the car under him to recover from 16th on the grid, after being eliminated in Q1. The Spaniard, who is the only non-Red Bull driver to win a race this season, encountered traffic on his last effort of the first segment of qualifying and is 6/4 to end up in the top six.

McLaren out to end up-and-down season on a high

Russell was pipped to third place on the grid by McLaren rookie Oscar Piastri, while the Mercedes man could have his hands full in the early stages keeping his fellow Briton Lando Norris behind him in the other papaya machine.

Norris looked likely to be Verstappen's closest challenger for pole position until a huge slide on his final effort cost him time, and he is rated 9/1 second favourite to win the race.

After a dismal start to the season, McLaren made a huge leap thanks to a mid-season upgrade.

They haven't enjoyed much luck in recent races, with Norris crashing heavily out of the Vegas race last week and Piastri picking up just six points from his last four races.

However, the car seems to be working well around Yas Marina and both drivers will be eyeing podium finishes. It is 11/4 that both the McLarens end up in the top three.

Unlike most circuits, Piastri knows the Abu Dhabi track quite well from his junior days. However, Norris has looked to have the upper hand this weekend and the more experienced McLaren man has come out on top in the race on four of the last five occasions he has started behind Piastri.

Minnows hoping for last-minute boost

A couple of unusual participants in the top-10 shootout have a chance to give a huge lift to their teams' fortunes.

Gaining a place in the constructors' championship carries huge financial rewards and Yuki Tsunoda and Nico Hulkenberg will be hoping to be heroes in their final outings of the season.

AlphaTauri pilot Tsunoda starts a surprise sixth, and if he finishes there the fiery Japanese racer will earn eight points. The team sit just seven behind Williams, who had a disappointing qualifying, and Tsunoda is 7/2 for a top-six finish.

Hulkenberg's Haas team, meanwhile, are propping up the table after a miserable campaign, which a long-awaited upgrade in Texas failed to improve.

They are just four points behind Alfa Romeo, though, and will be praying for something special from the Hulk in the race. The German veteran is 3/1 to finish in the points.
 

Abu Dhabi Grand Prix Qualifying Preview: Leclerc can cause an upset

The curtains close on the 2023 Formula One season this weekend and, after two Free Practice sessions on Friday, attentions now turn to Saturday's qualifying session around the Yas Marina Circuit.

Red Bull Racing and Max Verstappen may have sealed both the World Constructors' Championship and the World Drivers' Championship with time to spare, but there are battles up and down both championships heading into the final Grand Prix of the year. 

Four drivers are still in the hunt for fourth in the World Drivers' Championship and there is plenty to play for in the World Constructors' Championship as teams vie for an increased share of the prize pool.

WhatAbu Dhabi Grand Prix Qualifying
WhereYas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi
When14:00, Saturday 25th November
How to watchSky Sports F1
Odds (Fastest Qualifier)Max Verstappen 4/6, Charles Leclerc 5/2, Lando Norris 7/1, Carlos Sainz 16/1, George Russell 22/1, Lewis Hamilton 22/1, Sergio Perez 22/1

Leclerc can lead the way

Unsurprisingly, Verstappen finds himself 4/6 favourite to take pole position at the Yas Marina Circuit but Charles Leclerc should not be discounted and is priced at 5/2 to be the fastest qualifier. 

The Monegasque driver has been lauded for his ability over one lap and that shows in his record. Only Verstappen has taken more pole positions than Leclerc's five this season and the Ferrari man has been fastest in qualifying in three of the last four races. 

Leclerc topped the timing charts in Free Practice 2 and the Ferrari clearly has the pace to challenge for pole position in Abu Dhabi. 

He has beaten teammate Carlos Sainz in 14 of the 22 qualifying sessions this season and the Spaniard got very little running on Friday after crashing out early in Free Practice 2.

Alfa Romeo target top 10

It has been a season to forget for Alfa Romeo and they head into the final race of the season with only a slim chance of leapfrogging AlphaTauri in the World Constructors' Championship but they could give those chances a boost with a strong qualifying performance on Saturday. 

Race pace has been the big issue for the Switzerland-based team, with them securing just one double-points finish all season and failing to score any points in 12 of the last 13 Grands Prix. 

However, like fellow strugglers Haas, they have shown solid one-lap pace and put in some impressive times in Free Practice 2, with Valtteri Bottas taking fourth on the timing charts and Guanyu Zhou seventh. 

Despite their dismal showings on Sunday, Alfa Romeo have had at least one of their drivers in Q3 in three of the last five race weekends and they will be hoping to do so again after a strong practice showing.

Norris eyes strong finish

McLaren had a torrid time in Las Vegas last weekend but the Woking-based team should be able to finish what has been a promising season on a high around Yas Marina, starting with a strong qualifying showing from lead-driver Lando Norris. 

Norris could still claim fourth in the World Drivers' Championship if he outscores the Spanish duo of Fernando Alonso and Sainz by more than five points in Abu Dhabi and, after crashing out in Vegas, he showed his confidence has not been affected by posting the second-fastest time in Free Practice 2. 

The Bristol-born driver has finished on the podium in five of the last seven Grand Prix's and is 1/2 to qualify in the top three, something which he has managed on six occasions this season. 

The 24-year-old has never finished outside the points in Abu Dhabi and will be looking to sign off in style this weekend.
 

This article was written by a partner sports writer via Spotlight Sports Group. All odds displayed on this page were correct at the time of writing and are subject to withdrawal or change at any time.

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