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Abu Dhabi Grand Prix: 5 Things We Learned From Yas Marina

The final curtain came down on the 2023 Formula 1 season under the Arabian sky, but it was Max Verstappen who shone the brightest at Yas Marina.

Max Verstappen

The final curtain came down on the 2023 Formula 1 season under the Arabian sky, but it was Max Verstappen who shone the brightest at Yas Marina.

The triple world champion put his Red Bull on the pole, and despite a valiant effort from Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc at the start, comfortably won his 19th Grand Prix of the season. He led a total of 1003 laps across the season and finished on 575 points.

We take a look at five things we learned from the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

Verstappen’s record-breaking season – The Red Bull driver has been in imperious form recently and his victory at Yas Marina was his seventh in a row. One of Verstappen’s incredible statistics is that he became the first driver to lead over 1000 laps in one season. “It’s been an unforgettable season. It was emotional on the in-lap driving the RB19 for the last time, this car and team has given me so much. I have to say a big thank you to everyone at Red Bull, we’ve had an incredible year,” Verstappen said. 

Fernando Alonso secures fourth place in the championship – The two-time world champion helped Aston Martin to their best finish yet with a total of 280 points in the constructors’ championship. The Spaniard battled well to finish seventh at Yas Marina which led to securing fourth place in the drivers’ standings. “I think I got the maximum from the car all season. The whole Aston Martin team has worked incredibly hard, and I am already looking forward to going into the winter and starting work for next season,” Alonso said. 

Leclerc scores second podium finish in a row – The Ferrari driver hauled himself to finish fifth place in the championship after good results recently. Leclerc gave Verstappen a hard time in Las Vegas last weekend and on the opening lap, he was on the RB19’s gearbox. However, the Ferrari’s tyres suffered from more graining and the Monegasque driver couldn’t find a way past the Dutchman. 

Mercedes miraculously secures P2 in championship – The Brackley-based team scooped second ahead of Ferrari by three points. George Russell’s third-place finish and Lewis Hamilton scoring two points saw them brush a late push by Ferrari. It’s the first time in 10 years that Mercedes has failed to win a Grand Prix in a season. Speaking to Sky Sports, Hamilton said the 2023 season was a write-off. “It’s not been a great year in general. There’s not a lot to take from the year in general. The fact that I survived it, probably that’s about it,” the seven-time world champion said. 

Every point counts for AlphaTauri and Williams – F1 teams are awarded prize money based on where they finish in the constructors’ championship. In their bid to finish seventh in the standings, AlphaTauri brought a new floor to Yas Marina as a “little joker in the back pocket” to “chase down Williams”. Ultimately, Yuki Tsunoda’s strong performance to finish eighth wasn’t enough for the Faenza-based team as they fell four points short. Williams secured seventh place. 

Sean Parker is a motorsport journalist and sports content creator at The South African. He has worked for the country's premier motoring publications, and is a Formula 1 contributor to, the Bet Central podcast, and Vision View Sports radio.

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