The Formula 1 season fizzled out at the 2023 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix in a story that was symbolic of the 22 races as Max Verstappen took the fastest lap with a 1:26.933 on Lap 46 on in cruise mode on his way to his 19th victory of the season in a record-breaking campaign.
As far as the race win was concerned, Max Verstappen had it in the bag after a brief, but futile, challenge from Charles Leclerc‘s Ferrari on Lap 1 of the race. After repelling the attack, the world champion just simply pulled away as he has done in the majority of races in the season.
Behind them, the race had some battles but it was hardly a classic. The memorable moment was Oscar Piastri’s defences against George Russell as the Mercedes frantically looked for a way past in the early stages.
There was a couple of contact for Lewis Hamilton on the Alpine of Pierre Gasly, giving him front-wing damage that left his Mercedes performing better than earlier for some reason.
On Lap 47, Sergio Perez sent a move up the inside on Lando Norris and as he understeered wide he hit the McLaren who tried to hold the position but accused the Brit of turning into him. Perez would get the move sealed one lap later. He was handed a five-second time penalty for his transgression, finishing fourth after it was applied.
Mercedes retained their grip of second place in the constructors’ to Ferrari, despite the position ebbing and flowing between the pair throughout the race as the teams’ drivers exchanged positions.
The German outfit got the job done by three points in the end to earn some more millions for their shareholders. Ferrari, however, are compensated by some extra wind tunnel and CFD time for 2024 over Toto Wolff’s team.
Yuki Tsunoda delivered an excellent and spirited race to finish eighth but AlphaTauri fell short of catching Williams for seventh in the constructors’ championship by three measly points.
When does F1 return?
F1 will start again when the cars head out for preseason testing on February 21-23 in 2024, which will be held at the Bahrain International Circuit, where the season opener takes place one week later on Saturday, March 2.
The season opens with a double-header as the paddock quickly heads over to Saudi Arabia on March 9, with both races happening on Saturday due to the Muslim religious festival of Ramadan occurring at the time.