Max Verstappen finishes record season with a win at Abu Dhabi with a battle behind

Max Verstappen capped out a dominant season with an equally dominant win at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

The victory extends his record-breaking streak of winning 19 races in one season, only missing out on the top spot of the podium three times and becoming the first driver ever to lead 1000 laps in a single season.

That included a win at the brand-new Las Vegas Grand Prix in a thriller despite some controversy from Vegas locals.

The race was won by the first corner when Verstappen held off Charles Leclerc, blocking him before moving away and cementing a strong lead that he built up throughout the race.

“An incredible season,” Verstappen said after the race. “It was a bit emotional on the in lap, the last time I was sitting in the car that has, of course, given me a lot.”

“I’m very proud to win here also at the last race. I have to say a big thank you to Red Bull, it’s just been an incredible year. It will be hard to do something similar again, but we definitely enjoyed this year,” he said after performing doughnuts on the frontstretch in a cloud of smoke.

“It will be very hard to have another season like this, we know that,” Verstappen concluded. “We’ll see. We are working hard for next year to have, again, a very competitive car. For sure other teams are as well, they want to try to beat us next year and we are ready for the battle but in the meantime we’re going to enjoy this year as well.”

Like so much of the season, though, the real battle happened behind Max where things were much tighter. His Red Bull teammate Sergio Perez crossed the line in second after getting past Charles Leclerc, but a five-second time penalty from earlier contact on track with Lando Norris demoted Perez to fourth.

That means Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc and Mercedes’ George Rusell round out the podium, the two drivers in the middle of the hottest constructors fight of the race. With Lewis Hamilton scoring two additional points for Mercedes, that team ended up second in the constructor championship, three points ahead of Ferrari.

Leclerc was full of mixed feelings. His Ferrari team showed speed throughout the year but was let down by poor strategy calls that hurt them in the points overall.

“On the one hand I’m really happy because on a weekend like this, honestly, there wasn’t one thing we could have done better as a team. I think it was definitely not a given that we were the second fastest car this weekend. But we did an incredible job doing everything right – strategy, qualifying,” he said.

“It’s just a shame that we finished third in the constructors. That’s all that mattered to me at the end of the season and we didn’t achieve that,” Leclerc added.

As for the start, he just didn’t have enough.

“I obviously wanted to get first place,” he explained his tough battle with Verstappen for the lead on the first lap, “but we obviously know that in the race we lack some pace compared to them. So even if I passed Max I probably would’ve gotten overtaken in three or four laps. At the end my only target was to beat the Mercedes.

Leclerc’s teammate Carlos Sainz failed to score points at all, with his strategy forcing him to pit and fall to the back of the field. This cost three points in the points, as Alonso, Leclerc, and Norris all overtook Sainz as he fell to seventh.

For George Russell, finishing third was a strong result and the points made it even sweeter. He had to manage tire falloff to get in range to secure the final podium spot after hearing that Sergio Perez had received his penalty.

“It was really tense at the end,” Russell described. “The tires were dropping off. But just really pleased to have secured P2 for the team and I’m sure everyone will have a few drinks tonight.”

Lando Norris rounded out the top five, followed by his McLaren teammate Oscar Piastri in sixth. Fernando Alonso, Yuki Tsunoda, Lewis Hamilton, and Lance Stroll rounded out the top ten.

Daniel Ricciardo finished eleventh, just outside the points. Ricciardo rejoined his former employer to get back behind the wheel of a Formula One car midway through the season and helped the team in its battle with Williams for seventh in the points. Ultimately, though, Ricciardo and teammate Yuki Tsunoda ended up three points short.


1 1 Max Verstappen RED BULL RACING HONDA RBPT 58 1:27:02.624 26
2 16 Charles Leclerc FERRARI 58 +17.993s 18
3 63 George Russell MERCEDES 58 +20.328s 15
4 11 Sergio Perez RED BULL RACING HONDA RBPT 58 +21.453s 12
5 4 Lando Norris MCLAREN MERCEDES 58 +24.284s 10
6 81 Oscar Piastri MCLAREN MERCEDES 58 +31.487s 8
7 14 Fernando Alonso ASTON MARTIN ARAMCO MERCEDES 58 +39.512s 6
8 22 Yuki Tsunoda ALPHATAURI HONDA RBPT 58 +43.088s 4
9 44 Lewis Hamilton MERCEDES 58 +44.424s 2
10 18 Lance Stroll ASTON MARTIN ARAMCO MERCEDES 58 +55.632s 1
11 3 Daniel Ricciardo ALPHATAURI HONDA RBPT 58 +56.229s 0
12 31 Esteban Ocon ALPINE RENAULT 58 +66.373s 0
13 10 Pierre Gasly ALPINE RENAULT 58 +70.360s 0
14 23 Alexander Albon WILLIAMS MERCEDES 58 +73.184s 0
15 27 Nico Hulkenberg HAAS FERRARI 58 +83.696s 0
16 2 Logan Sargeant WILLIAMS MERCEDES 58 +87.791s 0
17 24 Zhou Guanyu ALFA ROMEO FERRARI 58 +89.422s 0
18 55 Carlos Sainz FERRARI 57 DNF 0
19 77 Valtteri Bottas ALFA ROMEO FERRARI 57 +1 lap 0
20 20 Kevin Magnussen HAAS FERRARI 57 +1 lap 0
Owen Johnson