This Grand Prix – Abu Dhabi

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Hello, welcome to This Abu Dhabi Grand Prix the final race of the season one which in my view really summed up the season a dominant victory by Max Verstappen as the Dutchman took his nineteenth win of the season by seventeen seconds. It goes down as one of if not the most dominant season in the sports history.

2024 Sprint Format

This weekend the F1 Commission have backed a proposal to change the format of sprint races for next season. The plan, yet to be confirmed, would see qualifying for the sprint on Friday and the sprint on Saturday before qualifying for the main grand prix.

There is also some consideration being given to reversing at least some portion of the grid for the sprint. Among other changes, an extra cooling duct will be permitted after concerns of heat exposure in extreme conditions. This follows the Qatar Grand Prix in October, when several drivers needed medical attention after the race.

The plan is set to be formal approval in January, following a meeting of the commission after fears the sprint format has become confusing But it was felt the arrangement put too big a gap between qualifying and the grand prix and raised questions about the merit of Saturday’s action, as the consequences of the sprint, with its reduced points, are minimal.

A statement from the FIA said the Commission had given “overall support” to the changes to the sprint format. The plan will be discussed again at the next meeting of the F1 Commission in the new year.

Among other changes announced were:

  • A further test of devices aimed at reducing spray from the cars in wet weather, after a failure of a first attempt earlier this year
  • An agreement that “development of future tyres should be focused on reduction of overheating and improving raceability” has led to a decision to abandon the ban on tyre-heating blankets for 2025
  • An agreement that no work may be carried out by teams on development of their cars for the new 2026 technical regulations that accompany a change of engine format before the start of 2025.

Weekend Recap

FP1 saw George Russell top the times with a 26.076 going two-tenths faster than Aston Martin reserve driver Felipe Drugovich. All of the teams were running rookies in one of their cars to full the regulations of two sessions during the season for drivers with less than two starts. Daniel Ricciardo was third half a second off and was

FP2 was topped by Charles Leclerc with a 24.809 just over four hundredths faster than Lando Norris after setting his fastest time in the closing moments of the session. Max Verstappen put his Red Bull third the three times champion over a tenth behind Norris. The Dutchman appeared at one stage to be unhappy with the car complaining it was “bouncing like a kangaroo” in the final sector of the lap around the marina.

FP3 was topped by Russell who set a 24.478 going just under a tenth faster than Lando Norris. Norris’s McLaren teammate Oscar Piastri was two-tenths further behind in third. Russell went fastest early in the session but the assumption was that when all the cars switched to soft tyres in the closing stages, the likes of Verstappen and Leclerc would rise to the top.

Verstappen beat Leclerc by a tenth and a half to take pole bouncing back following a set up change after struggling in practice to his record-breaking form beating Leclerc as well as top all three parts of qualifying. Leclerc was two-tenths faster than the McLaren of Oscar Piastri, who looked to be a serious threat to challenge Verstappen for pole

Verstappen took his nineteenth win of the season by seventeen seconds which really sums up the season. Leclerc was second after being fended off by the Dutchman on the opening lap of the race before winning the race. Russell took third and teammate Hamilton ninth. Perez finished a second off what he needed to negate the penalty following the collision as they fought for position with ten laps to go.


Lewis Hamilton has denied Christian Horner’s claims that he reached out over a potential switch from Mercedes, and says the Red Bull team principal attempted to arrange a meeting with him.

In an interview on Wednesday, Horner claimed that a reprehensive of the seven-time world champion approached Red Bull earlier this year before the seven-time champion signed his two-year Mercedes contract renewal in August.

This story, if true, I think is one of those games we know drivers play during contract negotiations to try and get better terms. I however believe that it would take something major or multiple things after spending his whole career in some way linked to Mercedes, that’s about twenty-five years.

Hamilton told Sky Sports, “I don’t really know where that story has come from. I mean I know it’s come from Christian. I don’t really understand what he’s been talking about because no one, as far as I’m aware, from my team has spoken to him. I haven’t spoken to Christian really in years.”

Hamilton and George Russell suffered contrasting Fridays in Abu Dhabi with the seven-time world champion less than happy with how practice panned out. Following FP2 the seven-time champion said he was not happy adding, “It was not the greatest of days. I think I only got like four timed laps really.

“So that’s not a lot in a day in terms of your knowledge of the car and the track. But the car doesn’t feel bad, I think we were not in a terrible place, I just hope I get some more running tomorrow.” Hamilton believed going into qualifying it would be difficult to fight for Q3.

Russell had been the fastest driver in FP1 and he followed that up by going sixth fastest in the second hour of running, just over three-tenths off pace-setter Charles Leclerc.

Russell said, “A pretty positive Friday I must say. Obviously in FP1 a lot of young drivers in the car so difficult to gauge where the pace of the car was at, [and] FP2 [was] very interrupted. But I felt happy, I felt good out there. The long run pace seemed good which was the most important.”

Hamilton’s prediction of him struggling to get through to Q3 came true with him missing out on the final part of qualifying by seven hundredths after teammate Russell made a late improvement. Explaining what happened, the seven time champion says he struggled for balance.

Saying, “We set our cars up the same but they don’t read the same so there’s something not right on our side. I’m sure we will deep dive into it but I’ve been off all weekend, we have struggled with the car. Two elevenths…it takes some good going for me not to get into Q3, so I will try and move my way up.”

It is the first time since 2014 that Hamilton has failed to make the top ten in qualifying for two races running. He has not looked like the most comfortable Mercedes driver all weekend and Russell has been the stronger driver this weekend, topping FP3 as Hamilton hasn’t had the grip.

Russell qualified fourth, three and a half tenths off pole, he said, “I’ve been really ill the last two weeks and I’ve been really, really quick so I don’t know if I need to be more ill more often, or what is.But the last two weeks I have felt super comfortable in the car, had about on average three hours sleep per night, so maybe that is the secret everybody is missing.”

Russel went onto finish third in the race, after Perez had a five-second penalty, allowing Mercedes to clinch second in the constructor’s championship. Perez earned a five-second penalty for clashing with Lando Norris at Turn 6, where the Red Bull driver appeared to block off the corner to stop Norris from turning in.

Leclerc hoped to help Perez claim third in the race, and let the Mexican through with the intent to help him build enough of a gap ahead of Russell to cover off the penalty. But it wasn’t enough with Perez a second short of the five second buffer he needed to finish on the podium.

Russell admitted the incident had been a lucky break for Mercedes, but that it was fair on balance given his own poor luck at times. Russell said, “Yeah, it was a great weekend. I’m really pleased to finish on this high because it’s been a really challenging season. It’s been a difficult one as a team, but on a personal side, just not getting the results that we probably deserve. The pace has been really strong on so many occasions, but just results kept on slipping through our fingers.”

Asked by when he had decided to let Perez through, the Monegasque replied, “Quite a few laps before. As soon as I was aware about the five-second penalty, basically. Then I was asking constantly the gap between George and Checo; they told me that Checo had passed George. I knew Checo was behind me, and his best chance was obviously to get the DRS from me and try and pull away as much as possible from George.”

Following the eighteen-second win by Verstappen, Hamilton admitted that Red Bull’s pace was a concern, the seven time champion finished the race ninth following minor damage midway through the race. Mercedes beat Ferrari to second in the Constructors’ Championship by two points despite Hamilton’s disappointing race.

Asked by Sky Sports if he could take any satisfaction from that, Hamilton said: “Not particularly. It’s not been a great year in general. The fact I survived it. Probably that’s about it.”

It’s the second season in a row where Hamilton has failed to win a race and Mercedes first winless season in eleven years.

Toto Wolff says his team are “so motivated and has “so much good things on the pipeline” but is also aware of their deficit to Red Bull going into next year. Adding “Let’s be honest they have a gap because they got well out of the blocks with the new regulations and in order to catch up, that’s a monumental endeavour… hopefully they level off with their development and speed and we can catch up.”

A small positive for Mercedes is they edged out Ferrari by two points in the battle for second in the Constructors’ Championship as Sergio Perez’s five-second penalty promoted Russell up to third in Abu Dhabi.

Red Bull

Max Verstappen has blamed rivals driving too slowly and getting in his way as the trigger for “silly” pitlane antics in second practice. Following the restart following the red flag the three-time champion muscled his way past other drivers despite the narrow pit exit tunnel.

At one point, he barged his way ahead of George Russell and found his path briefly blocked by Lewis Hamilton before finally finding a clear run to get caught up behind Alpine’s Pierre Gasly. While it may have appeared that Verstappen was being impatient, the Dutchman said the situation was all the fault of others.

He said “I mean, they have to move. They are all driving slow, and I want to go out because we are limited on time, and they just keep on driving in the middle. Then, when I tried to pass, they tried to squeeze me in the wall. So yeah….a bit silly.”

Speaking about his on-track performance where he finished third in FP2 he said the car was lacking balance and the car did not feel great. He added, “From our side, the balance is very off. A lot of understeer, a lot of jumping – so definitely a few things to figure out for tomorrow.”

“I didn’t expect it to be so far off, and also that is a bit of a question mark for us. I mean, we are still P3, it’s not too bad, but balance-wise I think it can be a lot better. So, we will try and have a look what happened there.” I think that Red Bull often get things perfect as we move into Saturday and Sunday, balance should be an easy thing to fix.

Sergio Perez also struggled with the balance saying, “was struggling a bit with some front end initially, but obviously we hardly got any running, especially on the medium. Then, on my soft run, I had traffic with people doing high fuel at the end, so it wasn’t a very straightforward day, obviously.”

Despite the struggles on Friday, Verstappen took what he said was a “very weird” pole beating Leclerc by a tenth and a half. He managed to do that despite failing to improve on his last attempt in Q3 with his nearest rival failing to improve.

Verstappen, who missed FP1 so that Formula E champion Jake Dennis could contest the session as a rookie for Red Bull, said: “Very weird. I mean, the whole weekend so far has been a bit of a struggle. We definitely improved the car for qualifying. From lap one, it all seemed a bit more together. We could definitely push more.”

After snatching pole, Verstappen’s race engineer Gianpiero Lambiase radioed: “I reckon you owe this [beep] box an apology” in deference to his driver’s less than complimentary comments about the car. I think Verstappen in a similar way to Hamilton has that magic to be able to not get flustered and turn things around, we know this season that Red Bull in the Dutchman’s hands has been so brilliant.



Ferrari chairman John Elkann says he “couldn’t be happier” about the prospect of the team returning to the top in F1 under Frederic Vasseur. Elkann, who picked Vasseur to replace Mattia Binotto as team principal last year, says Ferrari is “100%” moving in the right direction, and he has “definitely” seen the positive change he was hoping for.

In a rare interview with BBC News, He said, “What’s really important, and this is the thinking we had, is that accountability is really one of the biggest determinants in what our competitors have achieved well. “And also nimbleness, despite their larger organisations.

“They tend to be nimbler, faster. And Fred had those attributes, having been working in motorsport all his professional life and having been very successful in different categories, but also in F1 having managed a smaller team [both Renault and Sauber/Alfa Romeo].”

Carlos Sainz will not be penalise after a bump which he says has ‘got worse’ since last year caused him to crash in FP2. Sainz crashed early in the session as he passed the pit exit, bringing out the first of two red flags that greatly reduced the track time available for all drivers, with Nico Hulkenberg causing the second.

His crash in FP1 last weekend in Vegas caused him a ten-place grid penalty for replacing his energy store but Ferrari had confirmed that the damage was to his Friday PU and gearbox, meaning they always intended to change it going into the remainder of the weekend.

Explaining what happened Sainz said, “For some reason, there’s been a change in the track compared to other years. There are two bumps, one at the exit of Turn 2, and one at the entry of Turn 3, that with this new generation of cars it’s upsetting the car a lot. It nearly caught me out in FP1, I changed a few things in the setup and in the line trying to get rid of it.”

It is understood that Sainz went both stiffer and lower on ride height between the two sessions, although he declined to elaborate.

Charles Leclerc missed out on pole by just over a tenth which he described as a “big surprise” as he feared being knocked out in both Q1 and Q2. Leclerc ultimately lapped only 0.139 seconds shy of polesitter Max Verstappen in Q3, with the Red Bull driver failing to improve on his last flying lap.

Leclerc said: “For some reason, again, our car is very peaky so whenever we are on scrubbed tyres, like the first run in Q3 was a very good lap, but we were last. I didn’t have many hopes. But then when we put on the new tyres, everything comes alive. It felt great. Again, I did a great lap. Really happy to be on the front row. But it’s a big surprise.”

I think we have to expect that from Leclerc who we know is a very good qualifier, but that final attempt was really impressive from P9 to P2. That Ferrari we know is very good in qualifying, but we know Ferrari has been weaker on its tyres in the race. That might be why, given the tight battle with Mercedes, he said on Saturday night his foucs for the race was to consolidate second position rather than take the fight to Verstappen.

Sainz believes drivers are deliberately handicapping following rivals in qualifying by “giving a bit of dirty air” without technically being guilty of impeding. The Spaniard was caught out in traffic as he tried to improve to avoid a Q1 knock out after a difficult week which continued with his FP1 crash.

Sainz suggested that drivers deliberately try to make life harder for rivals. He said, “It’s tricky. There were cars out there today… Between us drivers, we know, we know that if you do a corner two seconds in front of another car, one second or two seconds in front, you’re going to make him lose a tenth or two in that corner. I see people as the weekends have combined relaxing a bit on that.”

“When it’s tight in Q1 and Q2, I see people giving a bit of dirty air on purpose in some corners to maybe make the others lose some time in corners, which we don’t consider impeding because it’s not like you need to lift.” Its been a difficult two weeks and we saw him have crashes in practice both in Vegas and Abu Dhabi, but while Vegas wasn’t his fault that bound to have a bit of an impact on the driver.


McLaren has agreed a new engine deal with Mercedes continuing their partnership after the new power units are introduced in 2026 until the end of the decade. The current deal was due to end in 2025,  But ahead of the F1 season finale in Abu Dhabi, McLaren announced that a new five-year deal was in place.

McLaren has been a partner of Mercedes since 2021, having previously enjoyed a period of world championship success with the company in the late 1990s, as well as being.  The works Mercedes team between 1996 and 2009. It remains the most recent customer winner in F1, with Daniel Ricciardo’s triumph at the 2021 Italian GP.

Lando Norris qualified fifth despite looking to be a threat following the first run in Q3 going four-tenths behind. On his final run he believed he “threw away” the chance of pole position with him losing time in the hotel section when he looked fractionally faster than Verstappen, but that loss of time lead to him being leapfrogged by Leclerc, Piastri and Russell.

He told Sky Sports “The car was very good out there. I was on a lap quick enough to go P1, but didn’t do it. Another Saturday that I’ve thrown away, disappointed. It was the mistake in the last sector that ruined everything. I don’t know what happened.”

“The car ahead, I’m not going to blame him for getting in my way, it makes the tiniest difference but we are close enough on the limit on the final qualifying lap, that the tiniest difference can upset the car completely, like I had. The pace is there. It’s been there all weekend, the car has been very strong since the first lap we did in FP2”

That’s the second pole he feels he has lost this season, he had his time deleted in Lusail GP qualifying and was then beaten to Sprint pole by a tenth by Piastri, who then converted it into victory with Norris third.

Piastri outqualified Norris for just the seventh time this season and avoided a grid penalty after being investigated for allegedly impeding Pierre Gasly in Q3.

Aston Martin

Fernando Alonso explained that a close call with Lewis Hamilton during the Grand Prix was prompted by a desire to secure DRS for the main straight. The Spaniard finished fourth in the drivers championship after finishing the race in seventh but was noted by the stewards for an incident following his second pitstop in the season finale.

As he re-joined the circuit, with Hamilton’s Mercedes closing behind, Alonso moved to the right-hand side of the road on the approach to the hairpin, then appeared to lift off the throttle. This caught Hamilton off-guard, reporting to his team that Alonso had brake-tested him, however the stewards decided not to take any action after considering a charge of driving erratically.

Hamilton immediately passed Alonso using DRS, but the Spaniard retook the place and eventually finished two positions ahead of Hamilton after the Brit failed to make his final lap move on Yuki Tsunoda’s AlphaTauri stick. Speaking after the race, Alonso explained that he had slowed with the intention of allowing Hamilton through so he could instead gain DRS on the long drag towards Turn Six.

Responding to those claims, Alonso replied: “Lewis is obviously very clever and understands the sport really good and has a lot of experience but I have more.”

Asked to clarify whether he was surprised by Hamilton’s comment, Alonso added: “Yes and no. We did the same in Canada in 2012, so 11 years after that episode, we tried to give the DRS to the other guy, breaking for Turn 5 but in both cases, I won so it is okay.”

Alonso clarified that Aston Martin “need a lot more pace to overtake, we were a little bit slow on the straights”, which he said had been “our weakness all throughout the season”.

There’s this Harry Potter meme, “why is it always you three” Hamilton and Alonso’s careers are intertwined but these two are really hard racers and always want to out do each other, but they have kept it really clean and fair this season. They were fighting hard knowing how important personally beating each other for third in the drivers.


Logan Sargeant remains unsure if he will be retained by Williams for the 2024 season, as the team’s end-of-year decision deadline arrives with the final race in Abu Dhabi. The American driver has endured a tough rookie season that has included a spate of crashes, while his team-mate Alex Albon has scored a series of points finishes.

In theory, the second seat at Williams is still open, as the team has opted to wait until the current campaign has concluded before making its call on Sargeant’s future. In the Americas, he has scored his first F1 point after being promoted to tenth in the final classification at Austin following Lewis Hamilton and Charles Leclerc being disqualified there and qualified a career-best seventh at last weekend’s race in Las Vegas.

I think that while he isn’t rookie of the season Sargeant has in recent races started to deliver results, I also think it’s always hard to judge drivers after one season and if he gets another season he has to perform regularly and match Albon.

Goodbye 2023

Another season done, while its not the most exciting season you have to say it belonged to Max Verstappen’s nineteen wins something I though we would never see. The Dutchman hasn’t had it as easy all season some of those wins he did fight for, that incredible run wins from Miami to Monza the whole European season, plus Montreal, undefeated is mind-boggling.

Verstappen three in a row puts him up there with the likes of Niki Lauda, and Ayrton Senna, but how many more titles? I think we will, in the same way as Hamilton in say ten twenty years time how incredible this season has been for Verstappen. But I am hoping as we all are, for someone to give us a real fight for the championship.

While the quick look at 2023 will be a sea of Verstappen wins, behind we have had some great battles. Mercedes v Ferrari went all the way and Mercedes recovered well given they ditched the concept in Bahrain. But I think in these closing rounds battle between them has kept it interesting as we got into the second half of the season, but I feel that they need to close the gap.

Aston Martin and McLaren have almost switched places, the opening races of the season Fernando Alonso showing there’s life in the old dog left. But McLaren in this second half of the season has scored the second most points behind Red Bull, and Oscar Piastri took the sprint win in Qatar, he is the rookie of the season the best since Lewis Hamilton in 2007. The challenge however is the same as they head into 2024, challenging Red Bull.

Thank you for reading, thanks to Ashley for fixing this website and keeping it going. We will be back (hopefully) with This Year over Christmas and a review of the season, This Week continues over the winter This Grand Prix will be back the weekend of 28 February – 02 March in Bahrain, in ninety eight days time.

Results Summary

Pole Position


Max Verstappen

Red Bull – Honda RBPT









1 Max Verstappen NED Red Bull – Honda RBPT 01:27:02.624 26
2 Charles Leclerc MON Ferrari +00:17.993 18
3 George Russell GBR Mercedes +00:20.328 15


Max Verstappen NED Red Bull – Honda RBPT 01:26.993 1

Championship Standings

Drivers’ Championship
Constructors Championship
1 Max Verstappen 575 Red Bull 860
2 Sergio Perez 265 Mercedes 409
3 Lewis Hamilton 286 Ferrari 406
4 Fernando Alonso 234 McLaren – Mercedes 302
5 Charles Leclerc 206 Aston Martin – Mercedes 280
This Grand Prix will be back on Sunday 6th March at the earlier time of 09:00 GMT with the opening race being Thursday 2nd – Saturday 4th March in Bahrain. This Week will be back soon most Sunday mornings over the winter.
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