#1101 2023 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

2022-12-02 23:00

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#2023, Fulvio Conti, Nicoletta Zuppardo,

#1101 2023 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

On Sunday 26th November 2023, at the Yas Marina circuit, on the homonymous island, in the United Arab Emirates, Will be held the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix,


On Sunday 26th November 2023, at the Yas Marina circuit, on the homonymous island, in the United Arab Emirates, Will be held the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, 22nd and last race of the Formula 1 world championship. Initially there were doubts about the course of the event due to the Gaza-Israel conflict, but Formula 1 has stated that there is no risk that the race will be cancelled. The situation was made clear with the teams, who have been assured of the regular running of the event. All the teams and their drivers are preparing themselves for the final rush. After Max Verstappen got the first podium spot at Las Vegas and given that he has won the last three races at the Yas Marina Circuit, everything seems to lead us to think of his victory at this last race of the season. Everyone is then waiting for the result of the entertaining fight between Ferrari and Mercedes for the second place in the constructors’ championship, with the Italian team now within four points of the Silver Arrows. The other question is: will McLaren, who put into place a very strong second part of the season, assure that fourth place in the rankings against Aston Martin, who are 11 points behind? At the same time, in the drivers’ standings, there are just 12 points of detachment among Carlos Sainz, Fernando Alonso, Lando Norris and Charles Leclerc, who are in positions four to seven. Alfa Romeo and AlphaTauri compete for the last time with these names. The Swiss team end their partnership as title sponsor and technical partner, after having collaborated and contributed since the 2018 season with the homonymous Italian car manufacturer. Sauber is ready to become the Audi official team in 2026, as an engine supplier. Regarding the Scuderia from Faenza, there will be a change in the name and a partial transfer to Milton Keynes, in the UK, for a management restructuring. Franz Tost, at the command of the team since it was called Scuderia Toro Rosso, leaves his team principal role, to be replaced by Laurent Mekies, former sport director at Scuderia Ferrari. For this Grand Prix Pirelli, the sole tyre supplier, offers the choice of C3, C4 and C5 compound tyres, the type of tyre that characterizes the central range of the type of tyre made available by the Italian company. It is chosen for the eleventh and last time during this season, after the previous Las Vegas Grand Prix. Starting from the 2019 edition of the Grand Prix, Pirelli has always established the same tyres’ type for this race. In this regards, Mario Isola, Pirelli Motorsport Director, declares:

"We go from the lights of Las Vegas to the Abu Dhabi sunset in the space of just a few days, after a journey of just over 13,000 kilometres, for a race that is now well-established as the season-closer. Yas Marina will host the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix for the 15th time this weekend, and 11 of those have marked the final race of the season. The track was modified in 2021 to make it faster and more flowing, which also created extra overtaking opportunities, as we saw over the last two races there. Yas Marina is on the lower end of the scale when it comes to tyre demands, despite the vertical loads on the front axle in particular. As a result, we've selecting the softest three compounds, with C3 as the hard, C4 as the medium, and C5 as the soft. This is the same choice as last year, and also an identical selection to that seen at Las Vegas last weekend: confirmation of the versatility of the current compounds. As has become customary now, there will be a test day on the Tuesday after the grand prix with each team fielding two cars: one for young drivers and the other in theory for testing tyres. However, there will be no new compounds to try out: the FIA recently communicated that the 2024 compounds will be the same as this year, with the only change being that there are now five rather than six available of them, due to the elimination of the C0 (which was never used during a race weekend this year). So the test could be helpful for the teams to work on tyre management by gathering data for next season. The teams will have a predetermined tyre allocation for the test. The car doing the tyre work will have 10 sets available at the test, consisting of one C1, one C2, two C5, and three sets each of C4 and C3. Meanwhile, the car for young drivers will have two sets each of C3 and C5 available as well as four sets of C4".


Max Verstappen has good memories in Abu Dhabi, as here he won his first Drivers’ Championship:


"Abu Dhabi always brings back good memories for me and the Team, winning my first Drivers' Championship here is a memory that we'll never forget. It's been a long but successful season, I'm looking forward to a break and having some free time. The whole Team has worked incredibly hard and everyone deserves a good rest and time with their friends and families. It's the last push for the year and I'm hoping to end this season on a high".


Sergio Perez, despite a particular season full of high and lows, is happy to have secured the second place in the drivers’ rankings:


"The final race of 2023! It’s been a tough season at times and it’s come with highs and lows for me but to be going to Abu Dhabi with second place in the Championship secured makes me very happy. I want to end the season on a high so I’ll work hard in the time I have in the car to ensure we’re in a good window. We had great pace in Vegas and I’ve had two brilliant weeks of racing, Brazil and then last weekend were so fun. I want to get the most out of the car once again and if we get it right we should have a successful Saturday and Sunday".


Charles Leclerc, after the good performance in Las Vegas, is ready to fight against Mercedes for the second place in the Constructors’ Championship:


"I think it was a good confidence boost, we knew we would have a chance of doing well and we managed it. We could have done even better and won, but the important thing is that the SF-23 delivered, confirming we are going in the right direction in terms of development. I think that so far we have done a good job, but having said that, we know the fight with Mercedes will go down to the wire. Of course we are here in a positive frame of mind after going well in the last few races, even if historically, Mercedes has always gone well here. It will be very close and it will all be down to the small details in terms of who does the best job of optimising their car set-up in free practice. We can’t deny it’s been disappointing. After last year, we thought we could fight for the title, but right from the first race we realised that would not be the case. We have made a lot of progress over the year and that gives me confidence for the future, even if the gap to Red Bull is still pretty big".


Carlos Sainz Jr. is ready too, as this will be a very intense weekend. He is focus on his goals and ready to reach them:


"We are ready for a high intensity weekend. We want to end the year in style here in Abu Dhabi, fighting for the goals that are still within our reach, in other words second place in the Constructors’ and fourth in the Drivers’. The places we are fighting for this weekend only mean something at the moment. In a short while, no one will remember my fight with Fernando, Lando and Charles for fourth place, or even the one between Ferrari and Mercedes for second in the Constructors’. They are good goals to have for the weekend and they help in terms of motivating us to do everything as well as possible and I think we have shown we have the potential to make up the four points that separate us from our closest rivals. It won’t be easy, because at this track we expect that Red Bull and McLaren could be stronger than us, which means we could be fighting for places that are only worth a few points, so being just ahead might not be enough. But we will give it our best shot. We can’t describe this season as positive because we were not competitive enough. We grabbed the opportunity that came our way in Singapore, but for the rest, especially in the early stages, our season was not good enough. However, there have been some positives and I think our ability to react has been impressive. Going into the summer break, we were the fourth best team, but now we are much more competitive, because we have been constantly improving how we manage our package. We must learn from this season because it can be useful for the future. Even if you have a very competitive car, you can have some tough races and the fact we had to deal with several of those this year has given us a lot of knowledge about how to deal with unexpected situations and experience gained in the races is always useful".


Frédéric Vasseur, Ferrari’s Team Principal, is conscious that the car will be less competitive here than it was last weekend, but wants to achieve that second place:


"The end of the season is upon us and it’s time for everyone to put in one last effort before a well-deserved break. We worked very well in Las Vegas, keeping focused even when faced with some rather unusual situations. We must do the same in Abu Dhabi after having closed right up to Mercedes in the battle for second place in the Constructors’ championship. We have a good understanding of our car and we know it won’t be as competitive in Abu Dhabi as it was in Las Vegas, conscious that there’s not much to choose between the teams currently lying second, third and fourth in the standings. The slightest detail can make the difference and every point counts, so we will try to ensure we have the upper hand and will do our utmost to achieve that".


Toto Wolff is ready, with all his team, to give it their all to get the second place in the standings:


"Las Vegas was an extraordinary event. We saw a fantastic race, it was visually spectacular, and overall, a great Grand Prix that I am sure has helped increase the visibility of the sport in the United States. Everyone worked very hard to make it such a success and credit must go to all those involved. On track for us, it was a case of what could have been. The pace of the car was strong. Without the numerous incidents of contact, both Lewis and George would have been challenging for the podium. But that's a case of could have, would have, should have. Ferrari have closed the gap in the Constructors' to just four points and we're ready to give it our all in Abu Dhabi to come out on top. They have shown good form recently, but we know we haven't maximised our performance in the past few races. It will be a close fight and hopefully we can finish the season with a strong performance and on the front foot".


Lando Norris hopes to score precious points:


"The season finale is here! The Las Vegas GP didn't end how I wanted it to end, but I'm feeling good and excited to go racing again. Thank you once again to everyone who's worked hard to ensure I have a car to drive this weekend, and thanks to all the fans who've sent me messages over the last few days. It's been a rollercoaster of a season. From where we started to where we are is all the result of a lot of people's hard work. It's only right for us to go and do our best to finish the season with more points for the team. Let's go".


Oscar Piastri is ready to push to finish with the best result possible:


"I'm looking forward to returning to Abu Dhabi. I have some great memories of racing in the junior categories there and, of course, it's where I did my first rookie test with McLaren last year. 2023 has been fast-paced in so many ways and it's been a great year of steep learning for me. Some of the results I've had will remain with me forever, and the team and I are looking forward to finishing off the season with the best result possible. It's the final push and the sensational spirit within the racing team and back at the factory will get us over the line".


Andrea Stella, McLaren’s Team Principal, thanks the team for their hard work during this season:


"We've arrived at the end of a long season of racing. The Abu Dhabi Grand Prix is an important event for us, as we finish off our battle in the Constructors' Championship. We go into the weekend more positively than the previous one, as the Yas Marina Circuit should suit our car better. As we approach the end of the season, I have to say that I'm so proud of every single person at McLaren, both trackside and back in Woking. The entire team has worked incredibly hard from the challenging start we had in Bahrain, right through to being in a position where we can fight not only for good points, but also for podiums. We'll take this final opportunity to do our best to finish the season on a high".


Alex Albon has a clear goal in mind:


"As we head into the last race of the year, we have a clear goal and objective to achieve with the Constructors' Championship. It's going to be an interesting race; it's not always been our favourite track but with this updated layout over the past few years, it does suit us a little more than before. We'll just need to ensure we stay focused on executing our job and not making any mistakes". 


On Friday 24th November 2023, during the first free practice session, the asphalt temperature is 41 °C; despite this, George Russell, the fastest driver, manages to get a lap 0.6s faster than the last year’s best time. Behind him there is Felipe Drugovich, the best among the ten rookies who participate at the session. Third is Ricciardo, ahead of Bottas; both are driving cars where technical changes have been made. At the end of FP1, Lance Stroll and Frederik Vesti are summoned by the stewards because the Canadian drove slowly, with no necessity, between Turn 15 and Turn 16, involving the Danish driver. Aston Martin are fined 5.000 euros by the Federation. Logan Sargeant and Jack Doohan are summoned because the American driver drove irregularly, bewteenTurn 15 and Turn 16, involving the Australian driver. Sargeant gets a reprimand, the second of the season, while the Williams are fined 5.000 euros by the Federation. Both convocations had been postponed to allow the Formula 2 drivers to participate at the qualifying session. The best of the afternoon session is Charles Leclerc, with Lando Norris second, detached by few tenths. The McLaren driver precedes Verstappen. The reigning world champion was also the author of a misunderstanding, in the pitlane, before the underpass, with the two Mercedes, that didn’t seem willing to give way. The session has been interrupted, after few minutes, due to an incident which involved Carlos Sainz Jr.: the Spaniard went out of track, at Turn 3, when, due to a slipstream problem, didn’t manage to control the car, because of a disconnection and the chatter which the car had already shown in the first practice session. The stop lasted for about half an hour. A little after the restart, Nico Hülkenberg, after the first corner, lost the control of his Haas, because he didn’t manage to bring the tyres to temperature. Also in this case, the interruption of the session has been consisting, so that the drivers had only eighteen final minutes of session. During the first two free practice session on Friday, Esteban Ocon complained about the assembly of a transmission outside the allocation previded by the technical rulement. The Alpine French driver has not been penalized on the starting grid because this operation is one of those carried out in the maximum number allowed by the regulation. In the night between Friday and Saturday, Ferrari, Mercedes and Aston Martin use one of the two curfews allowed during the season to make some operations in their vehicles. The three teams are not sanctioned. Before the start of FP3 on Saturday, on Kevin Magnussen’s car is installed the seventh unit related to the exhaust system. The Haas Danish driver is not penalized on the starting grid because the new installed component is within the maximum number set by the technical regulation. Max Verstappen is not satisfied with the limited track time the team had during FP2, so hopes to have a good qualifying maybe with some improvements on his car:


"We had limited track time in FP2 so we weren't able to learn as much as we wanted to. I didn't expect the balance to be so far off, there was a lot of understeer and jumping. There's a lot to figure out in tomorrow's practice session. Of course, we're still P3 so it's not too bad, I just think balance wise it could be much better. We need to make some big improvements to be good in qualifying tomorrow".


Sergio Perez is of the same advice. However, he thinks they have a good potential:


"We had to do some tweaks to the car towards the start of the session, I was struggling a bit with some front end initially. Due to the red flags, we hardly got any running, especially on the medium and then on my soft run I had traffic with people doing high fuel runs towards the end of the session. It wasn’t a very straightforward day, obviously I didn’t run in FP1 so you lose that and it means we have to be very careful on what route we take with set-up. I think we have some good potential in the car though, we just have to do some tweaks here and there, then we should be in a good place for tomorrow".


Charles Leclerc had a pretty feeling with the car:


"It was a tricky day. We only completed two laps on the short run and not many overall, but the feeling in the car was pretty good so far. The fight is on with Mercedes and they look competitive, so it won’t be easy. We will do everything we can to qualify in front of them tomorrow".


Bad accident for Carlos Sainz, who hit the barrier at Turn 3. He is sure that on Saturday everything will be okay and he will join an interesting qualifying:


"It’s obviously not been the Friday I wanted here in Abu Dhabi. We played a bit with the set up in FP1 and I was looking forward to FP2 after making some changes to the car. Unfortunately, I went over the big bump at the entry to turn 3 and I lost the car over it, bottoming out and hitting the barriers.It was a costly mistake and I’m sorry for the mechanics for giving them extra work today. I’m sure tomorrow we will be back on track and ready to go. It looks like the field is going to be tight so we can expect an interesting Qualifying".


George Russell knows that his team has a lot of data to analyze, so hopes to have a good finish to the race:


"That was a relatively positive Friday for us. There were a lot of rookie drivers out there on track in FP1, so we didn't get a completely clear gauge of where our relative pace was. Fred did a good job for the team though, and we got a lot of useful data to look over. FP2 was clearly an interrupted session so again, we couldn't get a read on where we were stacking up against our competitors or a true picture of where our pace may be. Nevertheless, we have a lot to review overnight and that will hopefully put us in a good place to finish the last race of the season on a high. I'm excited going into tomorrow".


Lewis Hamilton felt the car ok, but is angry that they did not manage to get more running:


"FP2 was a very frustrating session for me, and I suspect for all the drivers out there. We got very little running in the end, and a lack of consecutive laps too, which is what we most want to achieve on a Friday. On the laps we did do, the car felt OK. The grip felt good and there are a few things we will look at overnight to see what we can improve. It was a shame we didn't get more running, but we will look to make up for that in FP3 tomorrow".


Andrew Shovlin, Mercedes’ Trackside Engineering Director, admits that there is a lot to do during this night:


"Fred did a great job for us in FP1. We were able to get some useful work done on his car, which will be helpful as we prepare for qualifying and the race. We're looking forward to having him back in the car for the test on Tuesday. George had a clean FP1. We were missing a lot of the reference cars, so we weren't reading too much into the timesheets. We were able to get a read on high and low fuel balance and made some changes going into the evening session. The second session was badly compromised by the red flags. That was clearly felt most by all those drivers who sat out FP1, and Lewis was understandably frustrated not to be able to get more laps in. We still managed to get a bit of a read on the long run in the cool conditions, and the soft single lap pace. There is plenty to do overnight, but at least we have an idea of where we need to improve the car".


Lando Norris felt comfortable on his car:


"It was a messy day on track with the Red and Yellow Flags, but I think we made the most of the time we had today. We got some good laps in. I got comfortable quickly in FP2, which I was happy with. Obviously, I didn't get a high-fuel or consistent running in my session, so maybe I'm a little bit behind on some areas but we can look at those in the data tonight. Overall, I'm confident I can find it for a positive session in qualifying".


Oscar Piastri  says that the car looked competitive:


"It felt good out there, the car's looking competitive which is a pleasing start to the weekend. There were a few mistakes to tidy-up but overall, I feel like we're in a competitive place. We'll work hard with the data and see what we can do tomorrow on track".


Andrea Stella, McLaren’s Team Principal, explains how the team have been able to analyze a lot of important thing, as for example, the behaviour of the tyres, so hopes to have a good weekend:


"Overall, it's been a productive day, even if the sessions have been largely affected by Red Flags, and so the time available has been significantly restricted. However, we were able to look at the behaviour of the tyres, and we have good data to analyse in order to maximise the performance of the car. So far it looks like we are more competitive than we were in Las Vegas, but the field looks once again very compressed. I would also like to say 'well done' to Pato who ran a solid free practice 1 session for us today. He worked through his performance run, consecutive laps and procedures with no issues at all, and we are very happy with the work he completed ahead of Lando returning to the car this evening".


Alex Albon knows he is not alone in his situation:


"I feel a little bit on the backfoot this weekend but I'm obviously not alone in that, with a group of drivers all in the same situation after sitting out of FP1 and the disrupted FP2 session. Realistically, the long run pace is okay and we're feeling up to speed with this, however the setup direction is also not easy, so we'll have to look at Logan's side of the garage to see what they've learnt from today. I feel confident in ourselves when it comes to the fight for 7th, so we'll just focus on our own race and see how we go". 


Simone Berra, Pirelli Chief Engineer, as always analyzes the cars’ behaviour on track, with a look at the tyres used by the teams:


"Today's sessions left many questions unanswered, at least in terms of the tyres. Despite this weekend running to the "classic" format, the first session was rather unusual, given that half the cars on track were entrusted to the young drivers, who by the very nature of their role, would have run to a slightly different programme to that which their regular race drivers would have undertaken. The second session, starting as the sun began to set with temperatures that were therefore dropping to ten degrees lower than in the first one, was twice interrupted, making it even more complicated to draw any conclusions relating to tyre behaviour. The numbers sum it up, with a total of 318 laps covered in FP2 today, compared to 543 last year. Given the choices made by the teams, the Hard, which was used by just one team, would seem to be the clear favourite for the race. From what we have seen, there was a bit of graining, but the track is rubbering-in quite quickly so this situation could improve. The many laps completed on the Soft and Medium have at least allowed us to establish the gap between these two compounds at around half a second".


On Saturday, November 25, 2023 George Russell sets the best time also during FP3. The two Mercedes diversified their work, so much that Hamilton, focused on the car’s setup for the race, is only twelfth. McLaren on the other hand confirmed their speed, and are second and third. Albon, who seems to be the fastest driver on the first two sectors of the circuit, is fourth. Red Bull Racing showed setup problems, with Verstappen finishing sixth and Pérez eleventh. A few hours later, at the start of qualifying, the drivers get on track only after four minutes. First Sargeant and then Verstappen get the first place, even if the American driver’s time is canceled due to the track limits. Norris is two tenths away from Verstappen, while Sergio Pérez is further. 


Leclerc is third, four tenths away from the reigning world champion, while Sainz Jr. is seventh. The two Mercedes seem to have some difficulties. The track speeds up, from lap to lap. The two Williams rare in the first positions but Logan Sargeant’s time is again canceled. Nico Hülkenberg sets the fourth time, and Hamilton is immediately behind him. Norris beats the Haas driver’s time, and behind him there is Stroll. Yuki Tsunoda manages to improve and is in second position. Valtteri Bottas and Esteban Ocon maage to go out from the drop zone, as Kevin Magnussen and Piastri. Carlos Sainz Jr. is in danger of being eliminated, and it happens with Pérez’ arrival. Together with the Spaniard, the drivers eliminated are Magnussen, Bottas, Zhou and Sargeant. In Q2, Albon sets 1'24"965, time of seven tenths worse of that of Q1. Lewis Hamilton, Russell and Verstappen too, alternate at the command. A little after, Tsunoda gets third. Also the other AlphaTauri, that of Ricciardo, is fast, in P6. Fernando Alonso is fourth, then defeated by Leclerc; Perez is the closest driver to Verstappen, just four tenths behind him. The two McLarens are fast: Piastri takes P3, while Norris is at only 0.180s from Verstappen. Albon improves, and is just seven tenths away from the lead; Hülkenberg is fourth, while Daniel Ricciardo seventh. Leclerc is third, ahead of Gasly, fourth. Tsunoda (P6) and Lance Stroll (P9) manage to get into the top ten. The Canadian’s time is beaten by Ocon, while Alonso is sixth. Then, Hamilton is tenth, but is eliminated by Russell’s fourth time. The drivers who don’t make it to Q3 are, in addition to the former world champion, Ocon, Stroll, Albon and Ricciardo. In the first attempt of the ending phase, Norris gets a better partial, in the first sector, than Max Verstappen, who however closes with the global best time (1'23"445). The best time in the first sector, however, is that of Piastri. Norris closes the lap four tenths away from the Dutch. Behind him there is Pérez, beaten then by Piastri. After a mistake in the last corner, Charles Leclerc closes with the eighth time. Tsunoda is P5, ahead of Hülkenberg and Alonso. Then, the fourth is Russell. 


The McLarens face their second attempt on new tyres, unlike the first fast lap. Norris, penalized by a mistake in the final part of the track, doesn’t improve, while Piastri is able to beat his teammate’s time. Alonso sets the fourth time, while Leclerc gets P2. Verstappen doesn’t improve, while Tsunoda is fifth. Hülkenberg sets the seventh time; Pérez, fifth, sees his time canceled due to the track limits. Russell, third, will start from the second row. Max Verstappen gets the 32nd pole of his career, the twelfth and last of the season, the first since the l Sao Paulo Grand Prix. The three-times world champion equals Niel Mansell’s number of pole positions, in the seventh place of the all-times ranking. For Verstappen this is the fourth ( following) start from pole at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. For Leclerc, second, this is the first start in the front row at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix and the fifth of the season, the longest series of any other driver of the grid. Piastri’s third position sets his third start in the first three places in the championship for his debut season in the last qualifying session of the year. Russell’s fourth position is the best start at Abu Dhabi of his career, while for Tsunoda the sixth position is the best  result ever in qualifying. For Alonso, seventh, this is the best starting position at Yas Marina since the 2012 edition with Ferrari. Hülkenberg, eight, made it to Q3 for the sixth following time at this Grand Prix, and for the eighth time in this season. His teammate Magnussen has been eliminated for the twelfth time in the first phase. With his second time of Q3 canceled due to the track limits, Pérez qualified ninth, for an average starting position of 10.4 in the last seventeenth Grands Prix of the championship. The tenth place sets for Gasly his second Q3 at Abu Dhabi in seven qualifyings. Verstappen and Leclerc will start from the front row for the third following race. After getting the pole, Verstappen talks with this engineer on the radio but doesn’t receive the compliments that he was waiting for. In fact, Lambiase, with a rather harsh tone, warns him:


"I think that you owe this *** box an apology, fried. You are P1". 


All without any enthusiasm or exultation. The reference is obviously to internal criticism made by the world champion to his team during the past hours. However, Verstappen reply without making particular acts of contrition: 


"Sometimes you can do things better, you know. I think that this is what we did, so well done. Great work".


Then, maybe to dampen the tension a little, Christian Horner congratulates Max Verstappen, telling him he just won, thanks to him, 500 euros in a bet with Helmut Marko. 


"Helmut lost a bet? What on earth is happening?"


But on what were Marko and Horner challenged? According to the Austrian manager himself, the bet was on Verstappen’s final placement in qualifying. Marko, pessimistic, predicted the second row, while Horner was convinced of a start in the first two positions of the grid. It looks like that the money won by the Team Principal will be invested in the party organized by the mechanics of the team after the race. Max Verstappen, the last poleman of the season, is of course satisfied with the performance he carried out:


"I'm very happy to be on pole, I didn't expect it. The weekend so far has been a bit tricky but we definitely improved the car for Qualifying, we did everything we could. From lap one the RB19 seemed more together and we could definitely push more, it felt miles better than in practice. It's been a very special season, we've been enjoying it a lot and we're really proud of what we've achieved. We'll try to have a good start tomorrow, focus on our own race and hopefully end the season on a high".


Sergio Perez was competitive at first, but due to a lap deleted didn’t qualify in a good position:


"Things were looking really good, we had a very competitive Q1 and Q2, but unfortunately, we ended up not putting things together in Q3 and it made it worse that we got the lap deleted. It was a little bit of a disaster with the scrub set of tyres, we had an issue with the driveability and then unfortunately I got caught out by track limits. I had a moment coming out of turn one and that made it really difficult for me to get a lap together, it wasn’t a very clean lap in the end. The podium will be the target tomorrow, no one really has much information on how they will perform in the race so we will see, as I always say, anything can happen".


Christian Horner, Red Bull’s Team Principal, expresses his feelings about this year’s excellent season:


"Final qualifying of the season and it was certainly a good one. Both drivers performed very well. Checo was unfortunate at the very end with track limits but its a good track to overtake here and he will take every opportunity tomorrow. For Max, it was a text book drive, his 4th consecutive pole here, its a great summation of his year. Obviously this sets us up well as we head into our last race. Its been a phenomenal season so far, lets see if we can bring that home tomorrow".


Charles Leclerc will do his best to get the second place in the Constructors’ Championship:


"I'm really happy with my lap, and qualifying on the front row is not something we expected today. It's not the ideal track for us and considering the high temperatures, it could be a tough one tomorrow. Our main target is to take second place in the Constructors' championship. We will give it everything to finish the season on a high".


Carlos Sainz had a difficult session, but hopes to recover during the race:


"It was a difficult day for me. We found ourselves in a challenging situation leaving the pits late due to a small issue with the front wing. Then the traffic during the push lap didn’t help and I didn’t manage to put a clean lap together, so that was my bad. So far it has been a tricky weekend but the race is tomorrow and I will push to recover and fight to score important points for the team. It’s not over yet".


Frédéric Vasseur, Ferrari’s Team Principal, analyzes the drivers’ performance:


"It was so tight today that anything was possible to the extent that at one point I thought that not just Carlos, but also Charles might have been out before Q3. Today, the out-lap was very important and towards the end of the session we nailed the right approach and we were finally able to do a good job. Charles only had one set of new Softs available for Q3 as we had to use an extra one in Q1 to be safe. But in that last phase he drove one of his mega laps. Now it’s all about doing a better job than Mercedes tomorrow. We cannot predict what will happen but I think we have the pace. We need to score points with both cars so we will have to be aggressive in terms of strategy with Carlos. Unfortunately, we were late sending him out and he found himself in traffic and was unable to prepare the lap properly. We believe he can move up the field tomorrow, the car seems quite consistent now over a long stint and we can therefore be confident we can do a good job in our fight for second in the championship. We must just focus on ourselves". 


George Russell is overall satisfied:


"Ahead of the weekend, we would have taken P4 in qualifying. Having said that, after the performance in FP3 where we were quickest every single lap, we only improved six tenths from that session to qualifying. Considering that track temperatures dropped and we had less fuel in the car, we didn't extract as much as we should have. That was a little disappointing. I want to end the season on a high so ultimately my goal is to be on the podium and get the most out of the points for the team in the Constructors' Championship so let's see what tomorrow holds for us - we will aim for the best result possible. I'm excited for the final race of the season and although Lewis had a tricky session today, I am sure he will move forward tomorrow".


Lewis Hamilton had a difficult session and didn’t make into Q3, but will work hard during the race:


"It was a challenging session for me today, I've been struggling with the set-up of the car here in Abu Dhabi this weekend, although our cars are set up the same, so we need to understand what it is on my side of the garage that's causing the lack of performance. George managed to get the most out of the car today finishing in P4. It takes some good going for me to not make it into Q3 so we need to do a deep dive and try our best to move up tomorrow. The team here and back in the factory deserves a good result for the final race of the season so we will work hard as always and hopefully it will pay off and we can find improvements ahead of tomorrow".


Toto Wolff, Mercedes’ Team Principal & CEO, says the team is ready to give everything at the race to get the second place:


"FP3 felt strong so we're disappointed that we didn't manage to put it together in Qualifying. Both Lewis and George struggled with grip and overall performance of the car. Our expectations obviously were higher but P4 was the maximum we could achieve today with George and I think we can be content with that; Lewis had a more difficult time, and was knocked out in Q2 by just a few milliseconds. We need to understand why we struggled in qualifying after such a promising FP3 and how we can maximize our performance tomorrow. It was a challenging session for all teams and the field is so close together, so we need to work hard overnight and give it our all tomorrow to end the season on a positive note and secure our position in the Constructor's Championship".


Andrew Shovlin, Mercedes’ Trackside Engineering Director, concludes:


"George had a really solid run over the three practice sessions and it felt like we might have done a bit better than fourth today but it was a decent lap, just seemed that in the cooler conditions we were lacking the strengths that we'd had on a hotter track. Lewis has had a difficult session, he sat out FP1 and only got three laps in due to the red flags in FP2 so was trying to fit low and high fuel work into the session this morning. That wasn't the best preparation for qualifying but hopefully it will help him tomorrow. We've done decent long run work this weekend, plenty of laps and hopefully we have a good handle on how the tyres are going to work. Hopefully we can have a strong race".


Oscar Piastri is happy, despite the issues he had:


"It was a difficult session. It's been extremely tight this weekend. The pace was there, I just made a small mistake, but it would've had to have been quite a last corner to get on the front row. Overall, I'm happy with today, the car is very quick this weekend. It's a nice turnaround from Vegas for the team and I'm happy to be back in the top three. I'm not sure how our race pace will be, but we'll look into the data this evening. For everyone, it's probably going to be the same story. I think the most anyone's done is five laps in a row this weekend so tomorrow is going to be interesting. We'll work hard to secure positive points to finish the season strong".


Lando Norris, on the other hand, is very disappointed as he was expecting more from today:


"A disappointing qualifying in the end for me. I don't know if I should have been P1, but I definitely feel like I should be starting at least P2. The pace has been very strong in the car all weekend which is a positive, so it's frustrating to come away with P5 but I'll look to gain positions in tomorrow's race to score good points for the team".


Andrea Stella, McLaren’s Team Principal, is confident for the race:


"A strong qualifying session here for the finale in Abu Dhabi. The car was competitive which allowed Lando and Oscar to fight for the top positions of the grid. Oscar gained confidence throughout the session, and he found his way to put the car in P3, which is a very good starting position for tomorrow's race. On Lando's side, it was there for pole position until the second to last corner, where unfortunately he had a large oversteer and lost a lot of lap-time. Nevertheless, we are confident for the race and we look forward to finishing the season on a high".


Fernando Alonso admits that the car’s performance exceeded his expectations:


"I'm pretty happy with seventh. We were not competitive earlier today in FP3 - 14th and 15th - so I had doubts about our overall pace this weekend. Then, in Q1, we were stronger than expected: I built up confidence through every session, so P7 is a nice result. It's an art to adjust to the rapid track evolution here and changing from scrubbed soft tyres to a fresh set means there's a lot of mixed feedback from the car. It made qualifying tricky. I think tyre degradation is going to make it a race of survival tomorrow night - let's hope for some chaos".


Alex Albon had a frustrating qualifying, but will see what he can do for the race:


"Our Q2 lap was slower than our Q1 lap, with our tyres just overheating really quickly. When the track goes quicker and you go theoretically faster and faster, by Sector 3 you've got no tyres left so you're having to do tyre management during Qualifying, which is not ideal and makes it tricky. A bit of a frustrating Qualifying but we'll have to look to tomorrow. Overheating will be a problem in the race, so I think it's going to be a toss-up between a one or two stop for most. Our long runs seem to be okay, so we'll do our own race and do the best job we can".


Mario Isola, Pirelli Motorsport Director, analyzes the qualifying session:


"The season is ending on a high note with yet another spectacular qualifying. All three parts were very closely contested, as can be seen from the time gaps, where the slightest detail could prove vital. At Yas Marina it's the third sector which usually makes the difference on a flying lap and to tackle it in the best way possible, one not only has to do a very good job on the preparation lap, but also manage the tyres very carefully through the various key points of the flying lap so as to arrive at the final sector with the tyres in the best possible condition. All this adds further uncertainty to a situation where already the pecking order is very close, and that was very evident this evening. Looking ahead to tomorrow's race, the decision taken by almost all the teams to save two sets of Hard tyres, demonstrates that the C3 is the favoured compound. On paper, a one-stop is quickest, with the Medium for the first stint before switching to the aforementioned Hard. A two-stop race, with the sequence C4/C3/C3, is not that far off in terms of overall race time and could become a valid option especially if there is a neutralisation in the second part of the race. It's hard to see the C5 coming into play, unless someone wants to gamble in the final stages on exploiting the Soft's grip advantage over a used Hard, with a lighter car".


On Sunday 26th November 2023, at the start of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, the poleman Max Verstappen successfully defends himself against Leclerc’s attacks. The two McLaren are behind them, then George Russell, Tsunoda and Alonso. On lap 4, Norris takes the third position from his teammate Piastri. On lap 11, the Aistralian, after some laps under pressure, also gives way to the fourth place, to Russell. Piastri stops on lap 14 to swap for hards, as Fernando Alonso did on the previous lap. On lap 15, both Norris and Russell pit: the Mercedes driver takes advantage of the slower pit stop of his compatriot to take the position. On lap 17, Verstappen pits, whileLeclerc waits for the next lap. Yuki Tsunoda is in the lead, ahead of Stroll and Verstappen. The reigning world champion immediately passes the Aston Martin driver. Tsunoda and Stroll wait for lap 23 to pit: Verstappen is again in the lead, ahead of Leclerc, Russell, the McLaren pair and Alonso. A little after, the Spaniard is overtaken by Sergio Pérez. The Red Bull Racing’s Mexican, on lap 29, passes Piastri, for P5. The other McLaren driver, Lando Norris, five laps later, pits for the second time, maintaining the choice of hard tyres. A lap later, is Russell’s turn, who emerges ahead of Norris. Then, also Leclerc and Hamilton pit. The Ferrari driver remains ahead of Stroll, Russell and Norris. The Canadian is overtaken by the two Britons, with Russell trying to reduce the detachment from Leclerc. At the command there are now the two Red Bull Racing cars of Verstappen and Pérez, with the latter who pits, on lap 43, followed, a lap later, by the Dutchman. Verstappen remains the leader, ahead of Charles Leclerc, Russell, Norris, Tsunoda and Pérez. The Japanese driver is overtaken by Pérez who, on lap 47, tries a move on Norris. This brings him to a collision, which costs the Red Bull Racing driver a five-seconds penalty, on race time. 


After just two laps, Pérez will definitely get the better of the McLaren driver. Five laps to the end and Pérez passes also Russell, and stretches in an attempt to put, between himself and the Mercedes driver, the necessary five seconds, due to the penalty. Leclerc, in order to take away points to Mercedes for the Constructors’ Championship, gives him the second position, hoping to facilitate him in the search for the margin of five seconds overRussell. Two laps from the end and Alonso takes the seventh position from Tsunoda who, on the last laps, resists Hamilton’s return. Max Verstappen wins the 54th Grand Prix of his career, the following seventh, the 19th and last of the season. For Verstappen this is the fourth, following, victory at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. For Red Bull Racing this is the 21st and last victory of the Championship, the following seventh and the number 113 of their own history. Charles Leclerc, second for the second following race, at the 13th podium of his career, the sixth of the season, finishes without victories three of his last four season with Ferrari. IThe Monegasque earns two positions in the ranking and finishes fifth in the Drivers’ standings. George Russell, third, obtains the 11th podium of his career, the second of this championship after that of the Spanish Grand Prix, in the same spot. With Russell’s result, Mercedes finishes second in the Constructors’ Championship, with three points ahead of Ferrari. Sergio Pérez crosses the finish line in second position, but finishes fourth due to the five-seconds penalty on the race time for the collision with Lando Norris. 


With the fifth place, Lando Norris finishes sixth in the final ranking, a point behind the fourth final placement, while with Oscar Piastri’s sixth place, McLaren finishes P4 in the Constructors’ Championship, an additional position compared to 2022. Fernando Alonso is seventh and finishes fourth in the Drivers’ standings, his first placement among the first five since the second place in 2012 and 2013 with Ferrari. Yuki Tsunoda is eighth and ends in points in three of the last five races. Lewis Hamilton is ninth and sets only two points Abu Dhabi in the last two editions of the race. Lance Stroll is tenth, the same position he has in the Drivers’ standings. Aston Martin is fifth in the Constructors’ Championship, two positions higher compared to last season. Max Verstappen, who never won four consecutive times on the same track, is the first driver in history to complete more than 1 000 laps led by race leader in a single season. The total number of laps led in the Championship by the three-times world champion is 1 003, equal to the McLaren’s total number in the 1988 season with Alain Prost and Ayrton Senna. In addition, Max Verstappen sets a new record for points won in a season (575), beating the previous one of 454 dating from the previous championship, and with the greatest margin on the second (290), beating the previous one of Sebastian Vettel (155) dating from 2013. Max Verstappen, at the end of this golden year, is satisfied with how everything went and thanks the team for what they have done:


"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. It will be hard to replicate a year like this but we always want to do better and to improve so let's see what we can do next year. In the meantime, I think the whole Team and everyone in the paddock needs a rest and to spend some time with friends and family. It's been a simply lovely year".


Sergio Perez is happy and awake that his team had the best season so far:


"Overall, we had a good race today. I think I could have maybe stretched it to a one stop, it's something to look at and review. It probably would have been possible, but we will never know! My honest opinion is it was just a racing incident with Lando but unfortunately, the stewards didn't agree with that and I got the penalty and lost second place in the final race of the season. I have learnt this season to never give up, we have had some tough times, ups and downs but it only matters where you finish when the season ends here. I am happy with the whole Team, they have done a tremendous job and we deserved a lot more today and at times this season. We have had the best season in our history and so much credit to Max, he has been outstanding. Next year we have another chance and we go for it".


Christian Horner, Red Bull’s Team Principal, has only beautiful words for his team:


"Well that brings the curtain down on a year that can only be described as incredible. This car is going to go down in the history books as a very, very special car. To have won 21 races out of the 22 is an achievement we never thought possible. What a year, not just for those you see week in and week out at track, but more than anything, all the people behind the scenes back in the factory across the whole business. All the support staff made this happen and played their role in making, delivering, and operating this car. I think everybody can take a huge amount of pride in what they've achieved, because this Team really does have an incredible winning spirit and their determination through it all is incredibly strong. Adding to this, Max and Checo. An extraordinary Team in themselves. Their hard work and commitment delivered our first ever Pl and P2 finish. Throughout the season Max has been as close to faultless as you can get, every week bettering his last performance, turning in his best year yet. Checo by comparison has equally had his best year and his best finish in the Championship. It was not an easy road for him but he turned it up when he needed to and secured second place. Finally, I would like to thank our partners and fans, who equally played their part in this historic season. Their commitment to the Team has been steadfast throughout the season and we are incredibly grateful for their support. We are going to hopefully take all of these lessons out of this car and apply it into our 20th car. It will be another special year for us in our 20th year as we continue to build to try and defend these two titles. Preparation has already began, we will enjoy the break while we have it but look forward to seeing what's to come in the 2024 season".


Charles Leclerc looks back at his season and thinks that it was positive, as Ferrari often managed to take home good results:


"Today, I had a very good car and the strategy was the right one. I could have pushed hard for many laps on the Medium tyres and my second place was never in danger. Unfortunately, in the end, Checo’s (Perez) five second penalty cost us a lot. Towards the end I tried to help him to build a gap over George (Russell) so that he could wipe out the penalty and finish ahead of the Mercedes, which would have put us ahead of them in the classification. However, looking back at the season, we can say it has been positive. We started the year with a car that we could not push to the limit. We knew what the problem was, but it took a while to change things. From Japan onwards my Ferrari became a very different car, capable of very good results. Unfortunately, over the course of the year there were several occasions when we were in a strong position but left points on the table: I’m thinking of my retirement in Bahrain when I was third, or in Brazil, where I qualified on the front row but I never actually started the race. I hope that, over the winter, we will be able to put everything we have learned to good use in order to be competitive right from the start of next season. We want to give something back to our fans for all their continued support".


Carlos Sainz Jr. looks at the positive aspects of the season, as he had a bad weekend:


"Not the way we wanted to finish the season, with a very tough double-header on my side in Las Vegas and here in Abu Dhabi. The race today was never going to be easy. The first stint on the Hard was risky and it didn’t go to plan. From there on our race was a bit compromised and we waited for a Safety Car that never came. It hurts badly to miss P2 in the Constructors but there have been plenty of positives throughout the year and we will of course work on the things we could’ve done better. I want to thank the entire team, here and back home in Maranello, for their incredible effort all season long and also send a massive thank you to every single fan for their relentless support. We will regroup during the winter and come back stronger next year. Grazie a tutti e Forza Ferrari sempre".


Frédéric Vasseur, Ferrari’s Team Principal, analyzes the season, which improved only in the second part, and is ready for the next one:


"We are happy to have finished a far from easy season with a solid performance from Charles. Unfortunately, Carlos’ weekend took a turn for the worse starting from Friday and it’s a shame he was unable to bring home the three points but it’s not today that we lost second place in the Constructors’. Clearly, as Ferrari, we’re never that interested in finishing second, but it would still have been a reward for everyone who worked hard at the track and those who always gave it everything they had back in Maranello ever since the SF-23 first rolled out onto the Fiorano track. But the whole group can be pleased with how it reacted and fought back in the second part of the season. After the summer break that followed the Dutch Grand Prix, we made constant progress, to the point that we are the only team apart from Red Bull to have won a race. Charles ended the season with a string of strong performances and Carlos also had some very positive races including that Singapore win of course. The curtain comes down on Tuesday after the test and we are already looking ahead to the next one. We are determined to continue with the progress we have demonstrated over the past ten races".


George Russell is happy about the team’s P2 in the Constructors’:


"Today's result means a huge amount and I'm really pleased we've secured P2 for the team. There are so many people back at the factory in Brackley and Brixworth, who have worked so hard to achieve this. It's been a really challenging season for us. I've let the side down a couple of times this year so I'm pleased to bring it across the line today. It was really intense at the end and so close with Perez, his pace was just great. I thought Charles was going to back me up but respect to him for keeping it clean. I'm happy to end the season this way with a podium".


Lewis Hamilton in of the same advice and thanks the team for the work done during this tough season:


"I'm happy for the team that we've managed to secure P2 in the Constructor's Championship, it was a great effort by the team at track and both in Brackley and Brixworth. But we're not we're we want to be yet, we want to be competing for the championship and race wins and this weekend showed that we need to dig deep and work hard during the winter to get back to where we want to be and come back stronger next year. I hope everyone at the factory is happy with the result today and I'm grateful for all the hard work the team has put into this season, it's been a long and tough year for us".


Toto Wolff, Mercedes’ Team Principal & CEO, will take home this P2 and look forward to the great things they promise to do next year:


"It was a fight for P2 in the Constructor's Championship up until the very end and so close and today feels like we've won. George's driving was exceptional and Charles showed true sportsman-like behaviour, not trying to slow down. Two great teams and brands that fought until the end. The fight for P2 in the Constructor's in a way was so positive for us and a huge reward for the whole team to be vice champion, but it's also a big motivation to do better next year and that's what we will focus on now. We have so much good things in the pipeline, so much new things and with all the learning we had I am really, really in a good place to see what's coming together. We've got to take the momentum now from the third place here, P2 in the championship and then take that into the factories. We're vice champions and that's a good one to take home - we got to reach for the stars and that's going to happen, I promise".


Andrew Shovlin, Mercedes’ Trackside Engineering Director, explains that the team will work hard to close down the gap to Ferrari:


"Well done to everyone in Brackley and Brixworth for securing P2 in the championship. It's not our ultimate goal but we started this year in a really challenging position with an awful lot of work to do, the team and the drivers have dug in, stuck together and it's some consolation that we have at least come out of it best of the rest. The race was very difficult, we had 58 laps of not knowing which way it was going to go and in the end it was down to the finest of margins. The strategy group did a brilliant job of staying calm, taking some aggressive decisions on the undercuts and making sure that we'd done enough by the chequered flag. We had a one on one pitstop race with McLaren at the first stop and coming out ahead in that was a big part of ending up close enough to Leclerc to score the points needed so that was a really key moment. It's nice to finish the season ahead of Ferrari but we're under no illusion of the gap ahead is large and the whole team is focused on closing down that gap. We will work hard ahead of next season and give it our best to make that happen".


Lando Norris hadn’t a good race, but is overall satisfied with his beautiful second part of the season:


"Tough race! Not the pace that we wanted but we did what we could to score important points to finish the season. We lost out a position in the pit stop so a little bit of a shame, but otherwise, I think I did what I could, we were just not quite strong enough today. Overall, we can be happy with how everything has gone because we've done what we needed to do as a team by securing P4 in the Constructors' Championship. We have had plenty of ups from the start of the season, the last few months have been great for the team, and we'll take that momentum into the winter to come back stronger next year. Thank you to all the team at track and back at MTC who have worked hard this season to give us a car which is able to compete towards the front of the grid. We have made some memories this year and I'm looking forward to pushing on together in 2024".


Oscar Piastri is of the same mind of his teammate:


"It was a slightly tricky day today, but P4 in the Constructors' is still a very good effort. We know we want to aim for more than that next year, but I've enjoyed my first year of F1 a hell of a lot. There's been some great highlights, some trickier moments but it's all part of the experience. I'm looking forward to some time off now. Thank you to the team trackside and in Woking, thank you to all the fans for sticking with us on our rollercoaster this year and we'll be back fighting for more next year".


Andrea Stella, McLaren’s Team Principal, is very proud of his team and what they achieved:


"We would have liked to finish on the podium for the final race of the season, but today we simply didn't have enough pace. This doesn't detract from this having been an incredible season. It has been an amazing turnaround which was made possible by everybody's hard work. To finish fourth in the Championship with nine podiums, achieve a victory in the Sprint race, three more podiums in the Sprint race, two pole positions in the Sprint Shootout, and deliver the fastest pit stop in history is a great achievement for the team. All of this was made possible by the work, commitment, effort and the talent of the men and women at McLaren and our colleagues at HPP. I am so proud and so thankful to all team members. This is a strong foundation for the future, and we can't wait to confirm this next season. Thanks to our fans, sponsors and partners that have been so supportive and enthusiastic. We are on this journey together and we look forward to the next phase".


Fernando Alonso thinks this was his best season since 2012 and is ready for the next adventure:


"If you'd told me before this weekend that I'd finish fourth in the Drivers' Championship, I wouldn't have believed you - so this is a real gift. I'm really pleased with the way I've driven all season - I think this has been my best, most consistent season of driving since 2012. 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. We started this year as an underdog, but we'll start 2024 very much in the spotlight; we need to be ready for that. Finally, a big thank-you and well-done to everybody on the team - this year has far exceeded all our wildest expectations and every single person should be proud of what we've achieved".


Alex Albon thanks the team:


"My race was okay; I don't think it was the best following a bad start, but we seemed to recover for the second and third stint. Unfortunately, Yuki was too fast for us to have any involvement in his race, however it's been the hard work across the year that's allowed us to seal P7 in the Constructors' Championship. Congratulations to the team, including everyone at track and back at the factory. Looking at the progress we've made, it's a great achievement. I'm also very proud of my performance, so I'll give myself credit for what has been my strongest year in Formula 1. The connection I have with the team has allowed us to execute the season well, even when we've been fighting race after race to hold our positions. Looking to next year, we've got a challenge ahead of us but I'm already excited for what's to come".


Franz Tost, AlphaTauri’s Team Principal, on his last weekend in Formula 1, thanks all the fans, the Federation and all the teams, and wishes everyone a wonderful future:


"We started with Yuki in the sixth position and with Daniel in P15. Both of them had a good start and didn’t lose any positions on the first lap. We split our cars on the strategy side, opting for a one-stop with Yuki and a two-stop for Daniel". 


And he adds:


"In the end, it was the wrong decision, because I think with a two-stop strategy we could’ve finished P6 or at least P7 with Yuki, as he was faster than other competitors that overtook him in the final laps. Therefore, we ended the season in P8 in the Constructors’ Championship and of course, it’s disappointing because our target was to finish P7. There are still some positives to take on the aerodynamic side, as the new floor worked quite well, which is a good indication for next year’s car. As this was my last race, I want to take the opportunity to thank all the Formula 1 fans for their support, the FIA, FOM, all the Formula 1 teams, Honda, Pirelli, and everyone with whom we had good cooperation with over the last 18 years, and obviously my team and all the drivers I was lucky enough to work with. I wish them all a successful future".


Mario Isola, Pirelli Motorsport Director, as always analyzes the race and the strategies put into place by the teams:


"The race was an accurate reflection of the season as a whole, with Max Verstappen totally dominant, while behind him a close battle raged for every place, with the hierarchy changing, sometimes significantly, from race to race. As was generally forecast, the C3 compound was far and away the most popular, while the C5 was only used by Sainz for one lap, which he didn't even complete, at the very end of the race. The difference between the one-stop and two-stop strategies was very small in our pre-race simulations, but in the end, almost everyone opted for the two-stop, mainly for tactical reasons given that degradation was relatively low. In fact, on a track where the undercut is always very effective, it's clear that when a driver started the run of pit stops, any other drivers battling with them had to do the same to avoid being passed by anyone exploiting new tyres and a clear track ahead. This was seen not only amongst the leaders, but also in those further back, while a few drivers tried to go for something different, some going for a one-stop (Ocon, Tsunoda and Bottas), some, like Sainz, hoping for a Safety Car, others going for a longer second stint, trying to make the most of the difference in grip levels between new and used tyres in the closing stages, in particular Perez and Stroll. Verstappen, from his position of superiority, reacted to the moves of his closest rivals in the first stint and then waited for them to pit again, before making his second stop in perfect safety. Graining was a factor especially for those who spent a lot of time in traffic, but was far less significant for drivers who were able to run in clean air and this applied to both the Medium and Hard".


Thus concludes one of the most monotonous Formula 1 World Championships in history. Both technical and sporting regulations have failed to deliver the spectacle that Liberty Media hoped for when it introduced this system, later endorsed by the management before Ben Sulayem took over the presidency of the FIA. After all, such a marked and clear dominance by a single team and a single driver during a single season had never been seen before.


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