Max Verstappen eased to a record-extending 19th victory in the 2023 season at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, ahead of Charles Leclerc and George Russell in an entertaining season finale.
The big championship battles stayed alive until the end of the race, with both Leclerc and Russell staying abreast of the latest developments in the Ferrari–Mercedes battle for fourth.
Leclerc did all he could, but Carlos Sainz finished outside the points meaning Russell‘s third-place finish – just his second podium of the season – was enough to secure the place for Mercedes.
Sainz was running in the top 10 for much of the race but ran hards on his first two stints, meaning he would’ve needed a red flag to save his race.
“What the f**k does that mean? How are we doing in the championship are we good?George Russell’s team radio
Sergio Perez finished second on the road but had picked up a five-second penalty for colliding with Lando Norris – Leclerc even let him by attempting to help him build up a cushion to Russell but ultimately Perez dropped to fourth.
It capped a good recovery drive from the Mexican who was jumped by Lewis Hamilton at the start but fought his way through thanks to a very strong long second stint.
Oscar Piastri faded after jumping Russell early and was just ahead Fernando Alonso in a crucial second place.
Yuki Tsuonda became just the second Japanese driver to lead a race at one point, but was hampered by AlphaTauri selecting a one-stop strategy in Franz Tost‘s last ever race as team principal.
He finished eighth, but needed sixth for AlphaTauri to jump Williams in the constructors’ championship.
Alonso holds on for fitting fourth
Fernando Alonso‘s seventh-place finish means he secured a deserved fourth in the drivers’ championship.
He finished level on points with Leclerc and the pair went to second-countback, both winless in 2023 and with the same number of second-place finishes.
However, Alonso recorded more third-places to clinch the position after Norris led the battle at one point even after suffering a five-second pit stop.
His tumble down the order late-on put paid to that though, while Sainz started the weekend fourth but ends the season in seventh.