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Max wraps up in style!

Updated on: 27 November,2023 07:40 AM IST  |  Abu Dhabi

Red Bull Racing’s world champion Verstappen wins final race of record-breaking season, clinching an amazing 19 of 22 races

Max wraps up in style!

Max Verstappen celebrates with the Abu Dhabi GP trophy. Pic/AFP

Max Verstappen completed a majestic and record-breaking season in familiar style on Sunday when he cruised to a record-increasing 19th win of the year for Red Bull at an action-packed Abu Dhabi GP. 

The three-time world champion came home 17.993 seconds ahead of Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc whose bold drive was not enough for the Italian team to claim the runners-up place in the constructors’ championship.

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Penalty for Perez

That went, finally, to Mercedes by just three points as although Sergio Perez came home second behind Verstappen on the road he was relegated to fourth with a five-second penalty, for a mid-race clash with McLaren’s Lando Norris, which promoted George Russell to third. Norris was fifth ahead of his McLaren teammate Oscar Piastri, Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso, Yuki Tsunoda of Alpha Tauri and seven-time champion Lewis Hamilton in the second Mercedes. 

Verstappen ended the season as the only driver to complete every lap of the season, more than 1000 laps led, and also broke Jim Clark’s 1963 record for the highest percentage of laps led in a season. “An incredible season,” said Verstappen, who also paid tribute to retirement-bound Alpha Tauri boss Franz Tost who nurtured his early F1 career. 

Emotional final moments

“I felt quite emotional on the in-lap as it’s the last time in this car that has given me such a lot,” said Verstappen. 

Russell said: “It was really tense at the end as the tyres were dropping off, but it’s a massive relief to bring the car home P3. It means a huge amount to so many people back at the factory.” 

Leclerc, who slowed to allow Perez to pass him in the closing laps, said: “He had a penalty and we had to help him finish in front of George with the five seconds... but, unfortunately, it wasn’t enough... It’s a shame we finished third.” 

The race began in hot conditions, with an air temperature of 27 degrees Celsius and the track cooling rapidly as the sun went down and the floodlights blazed on the Yas Marina Circuit. The top 12 cars started on medium compound tyres. 

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