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10 issues we discovered from the 2023 F1 Abu Dhabi GP

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Max Verstappen’s nineteenth win of the season, placing him on 1,003 laps led throughout the whole marketing campaign, was by no means actually unsure from the second he made it out of Flip 1 within the lead.

After Charles Leclerc’s valiant try to hassle the 2023 dominator failed, his focus switched to these behind him and hauling Ferrari above Mercedes within the constructors’ championship, which got here to no avail regardless of some spectacular lateral considering.

As Fernando Alonso took fourth within the drivers’ standings with a late transfer on Yuki Tsunoda, inadvertently confirming AlphaTauri simply missed out on catching Williams for seventh, the ultimate prizes and positions have been handed out on the Yas Marina circuit because the season drew to an in depth.

Right here’s the ten key issues we discovered from F1’s 2023 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix finale.

1. Verstappen indicators off with yet one more new F1 file

Picture by: Glenn Dunbar / Motorsport Images

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Verstappen led a complete of 1,003 laps in 2023

Verstappen’s waltz to the 2023 world title had been a very long time coming, his triumph sealed again in Qatar almost two months in the past. Since then, he’s been demolishing after which extending the file he broke final yr for wins in a single season. Together with his Abu Dhabi triumph, that stands now at 19.

However as soon as he’d crossed the road and set off the massed pyrotechnics on the Yas Marina monitor, Verstappen ended the yr with another file. This was for whole laps led, his last tally at 1,003. This makes the Dutchman the primary driver to achieve 1,000 laps led in a single season and equals the overall McLaren led in its well-known domination of 1988 – albeit the overall in that case cut up between two extra F1 legends, Alain Prost and Ayrton Senna.

Verstappen was additionally the one driver to finish each single lap of the 2023 marketing campaign and he revealed afterwards the 1,000-lap milestone was one thing he was fascinated by at the same time as he nonetheless had another pitstop to make final Sunday.

PLUS: Why F1’s 2023 Abu Dhabi GP finale wasn’t a better race

When Autosport requested why he’d informed Pink Bull it ought to think about pitting Perez first for his or her second providers with the Mexican far behind and battling others within the pack, the world champion replied: “It was to attempt to lead for 1,000 laps within the season.

“I knew that that was on the playing cards. So, I mentioned to GP [race engineer Gianpiero Lambiase], he was additionally in fact conscious of that, simply to guarantee that they would not pit me too early.” AK

2. Mercedes grabs second place forward of “Mount Everest” job

Russell's results saw Mercedes finish 'best of the rest' as it aims to chase down Red Bull over the winter

Picture by: Steve Etherington / Motorsport Images

Russell’s outcomes noticed Mercedes end ‘better of the remaining’ because it goals to chase down Pink Bull over the winter

For all of the negativity and disparagement hurled at Mercedes’ W14 by its personal higher-ups, the Brackley squad nonetheless managed to lock down second within the constructors’ championship – albeit after going through a renewed problem from Ferrari within the second half of the yr. Not successful races isn’t fairly what the crew had in thoughts final winter, however robust reliability ensured that the crew may constantly decide up factors all year long.

George Russell put collectively a stable drive to safe fourth on the highway, which grew to become third with Sergio Perez’s penalty – the Briton admitted that “Lady Luck” had been on hand to assist the crew after a less-than-hoped-for season. Lewis Hamilton endured a lacklustre day by his requirements, however the two factors he’d secured additionally supplied one thing of a security web – though he was in little temper to have a good time the constructors’ runner-up place.

Now, Mercedes has the possibility to vary tack utterly with its design for 2024. The W13 of 2022 hinted at untapped potential, and a continuation of its design idea for this yr confirmed that it might proceed to stay untapped because the Pink Bull faculty of thought had confirmed to be the easiest way ahead because the daybreak of the 2022-spec aero rules. Mercedes has since gone again to the drafting board and should hope an all-new idea for subsequent yr will provide a return to successful methods.

“There is a Mount Everest to climb with a view to meet up with Pink Bull,” mentioned crew principal Toto Wolff. “I’ve little doubt that McLaren goes to be proper within the combine subsequent yr, and perhaps Aston Martin and perhaps others. We should go away no stone unturned which we do in Brixworth and Brackley. And as powerful as it’s to be reminded that it is simply P2, it is also an excellent, nice alternative to return again and try for the celebrities.” JBL

3. Leclerc exhibits Sainz-like lateral considering in Ferrari P2 bid

Leclerc thought outside the box to try to haul Ferrari ahead of Mercedes

Picture by: James Sutton / Motorsport Images

Leclerc thought outdoors the field to attempt to haul Ferrari forward of Mercedes

Carlos Sainz’s tactical nous supplied one of many season’s highlights in Singapore, when he strung Lando Norris together with DRS to make sure the quicker George Russell couldn’t make a late play for victory on the Marina Bay Circuit. The race stands as an extra spotlight having been the one non-Pink Bull win of the 2023 season.

PLUS: The multiple facets behind Sainz’s growing stature at Ferrari

At Yas Marina, Charles Leclerc showed that he can flex his grey matter simply as a lot as his team-mate. Conscious of the championship stakes and the importance of the positions behind, Leclerc was knowledgeable that Sergio Perez had a five-second penalty to serve after clashing with Lando Norris. This may make any hopes that Perez may place his automotive between Leclerc and the third-placed Russell considerably extra unlikely; Ferrari wanted the Mexican to take third, guaranteeing the Scuderia could be degree on factors with Mercedes and assume P2 on countback owing to Sainz’s Singapore win.

“As quickly as I used to be conscious in regards to the 5 seconds penalty, I used to be asking continuously the hole between George and Checo,” defined Leclerc. “Then they informed me that Checo had handed George, so I knew Checo was behind me, and his greatest likelihood was clearly to get the DRS from me and attempt to draw back as a lot as doable from George.

“I knew that there was fairly a bit of dialogue between my engineer and myself, and I let him know as effectively that this was my plan. Nevertheless it did not work out…”

But when it had, it might have been a precious masterstroke by Leclerc, who maybe doesn’t obtain the identical credit score for a cerebral method to racing in comparison with his Ferrari stablemate. Maybe he now instructions that respect. JBL

4. FIA officers eye crew headgear violations

All F1 teams faced the stewards at the end of the Abu Dhabi GP for an unusual reason

Picture by: Steven Tee / Motorsport Images

All F1 groups confronted the stewards on the finish of the Abu Dhabi GP for an uncommon cause

The closing levels of the Abu Dhabi race featured an uncommon stewards’ investigation – all of the groups have been suspected of getting pitcrew members not wearing sufficient eye protection throughout tyre adjustments.

This began with particular investigations into the stops involving Lewis Hamilton and Pierre Gasly, however by the top of the race Verstappen, Williams drivers Logan Sargeant and Alex Albon and Alfa Romeo’s Zhou Guanyu had additionally been cited.

After the race, the stewards summoned all crew managers in regards to the state of affairs, which is known to have been noticed by pitlane marshals and officers. It centred on Article 34.13 of F1’s sporting rules.

This states: “All crew personnel finishing up any work on a automotive within the pitlane when the automotive is in its pitstop place throughout the qualifying session, the dash shootout, the dash session or throughout a race pit cease, should be sporting helmets which meet or exceed the necessities of ECE 22.05 – European motorbike highway helmet, DOT – USA motorbike highway helmet or JIS T8133-2015, class 2 – JPN protecting helmets for car customers. The usage of applicable eye safety is obligatory.”

It’s understood that a number of crew members throughout the sphere have been seen engaged on vehicles with their helmet visors open or partially open. However because the stewards’ concluded “the video proof was in some {cases} insufficiently clear to find out the place, for instance, a visor was open, [but] the crew member involved might have been sporting glasses or different eye safety”, no penalties have been dished out.

In any case, these would’ve been monetary hits to the groups slightly than sporting penalties for the drivers concerned.

All groups and the officers have agreed to make sure “this text is revered by all crew members sooner or later”, per the stewards’ bulletin revealing no sanctions could be forthcoming. AK

5. Pitlane complaints over impeding proceed to rage

The issue of pitlane dawdling before out-laps continues to blight F1

Picture by: Simon Galloway / Motorsport Images

The difficulty of pitlane dawdling earlier than out-laps continues to blight F1

When Max Verstappen was feeling considerably impatient after two purple flags had sapped away at working in FP2, he displayed the type of driving abilities that is perhaps useful in an underground resort automotive park. He nudged forward of each Mercedes vehicles within the circuit underpass, after which set about transferring previous Pierre Gasly after the pit exit line. Race director Niels Wittich elected to nip that sort of action in the bud, which was backed by the drivers throughout their briefing.

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However the visitors queues in qualifying have change into rather more prevalent following the utmost lap time rule, making it onerous for drivers to seek out house with out slowing down on the exit of the pitlane. Impeding throughout qualifying laps has been lower down on considerably, though Carlos Sainz reckoned that a new trend has emerged to hamper rivals’ lap times with out incomes the stewards’ ire.

“We all know that in case you do a nook two seconds in entrance of one other automotive, one second or two seconds in entrance, you are going to make him lose a tenth or two in that nook. When it is tight in Q1 and Q2, I see individuals giving a little bit of soiled air on goal in some corners to perhaps make the others lose a while in corners, which we do not think about impeding, as a result of it isn’t like you should elevate,” he hypothesised.

Daniel Ricciardo laughed that off, suggesting that Sainz “goes to get what he is given. However he began it!”, though admitted that a few of the area would interact in such gamesmanship.

“Yeah, we all know what we’re doing,” he mentioned. “My method is that if I do it to somebody, they will do it again to me,” he added. “So I am like, I am going to attempt to be good to everybody and hopefully get it again to me in a pleasant manner.” JBL

6. Alonso earns fourth in drivers, as Aston Martin loses it

Alonso couldn't lift Aston Martin high enough to match his own finishing position in the standings

Picture by: Andy Hone / Motorsport Images

Alonso could not elevate Aston Martin excessive sufficient to match his personal ending place within the standings

Abu Dhabi was bittersweet within the Aston Martin camp, as Fernando Alonso secured his greatest drivers’ championship end since 2013 with fourth place total – tied on factors with Charles Leclerc at season’s finish. However Aston’s dwindling fortunes after an explosive begin to the yr meant that it had dropped behind McLaren within the constructors’ battle, and lacked the tempo to problem the papaya vehicles within the season finale.

Alonso opened the season with 5 podium finishes within the first six races, whereas each McLaren drivers had a greatest end of sixth between them. However their fortunes switched in Austria, as McLaren’s bold improve path began to bear fruit. Norris grabbed fourth on the Pink Bull Ring to complete forward of Alonso, beginning off a a lot larger run of kind over the second half of the season.

Though Aston’s presence within the points-paying positions has not been assured over the second half of the yr, Alonso has been in a position to make one of the best of it and saved himself within the hunt for fourth, which he secured with a late overtake on Yuki Tsunoda to make sure he may beat Leclerc on countback – scoring 5 third locations to the Monegasque’s three.

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“It’s utterly sudden, utterly unreal to be fourth within the championship,” Alonso gushed. “As I mentioned on Thursday, 2012 and this season, for me are one of the best in my profession. It’s a place that I may by no means think about firstly of the yr or with the automotive efficiency that we had.” JBL

7. AlphaTauri retains F1’s improve growth warfare going proper to the top

AlphaTauri's new floor almost helped Tsunoda deliver seventh place in the final standings

Picture by: Jake Grant / Motorsport Images

AlphaTauri’s new ground nearly helped Tsunoda ship seventh place within the last standings

AlphaTauri brought a major floor upgrade to the Abu Dhabi race in an in the end unsuccessful bid to win its battle with Williams for seventh place within the constructors’ championship.

Crew CEO Peter Bayer told Autosport the new floor was a “little joker in the back pocket” to “chase down Williams”, however AlphaTauri was additionally utilizing the change as an opportunity to guage the method for doable use within the 2024 marketing campaign.

The brand new ground featured a brand new major physique and sides, plus considerably revised extra airflow-altering strakes, that are geared toward including extra downforce. Within the paddock, this raised concern at different groups contemplating AlphaTauri’s potential future collaboration work with Pink Bull in what is about to be a serious political speaking level over the winter and into the 2024 marketing campaign.

Elsewhere, Aston Martin’s beam wing and rear wing endplate alterations and Alfa Romeo’s entrance wing adjustments have been the one different updates delivered to the ultimate race.

At Haas, which once more ran with its vehicles in numerous specification following its main sidepod redesign for the Austin spherical, Kevin Magnussen revealed at Abu Dhabi, “the upgraded automotive is extra according to the plan for subsequent yr, the idea appears like what we consider for subsequent yr”.

He additionally mentioned: “It is not really obtained extra downforce on paper, it isn’t quicker, however it’s higher to drive, it is simpler, the stability is extra constant and that is why you do not see a step again after we run the brand new spec”. AK

8. Sargeant nonetheless not sure if he has clinched the ultimate 2024 seat

Will Sargent be the final member of the 2024 F1 grid?

Picture by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

Will Sargent be the ultimate member of the 2024 F1 grid?

Sargeant completed sixteenth within the Abu Dhabi finale having began final resulting from not setting a lap in qualifying after repeated monitor limits violations at Flip 1. Within the early levels of the race, Williams tasked him with holding up Daniel Ricciardo following the Australian’s early cease as a part of its constructors’ battle with AlphaTauri.

The ultimate end result meant Sargeant’s rookie season ended with a greatest results of tenth at Austin and his factors whole at one, behind team-mate Alex Albon’s 27, as Williams persevered within the battle with AlphaTauri over seventh place within the 2023 standings. That is value a $9 million gain to the Grove-based squad thanks to the gap between seventh and eighth by way of how F1’s $1 billion whole prize pot is distributed.

Forward of the race, Sargeant had admitted “I don’t know” on whether Williams would retain him alongside Albon for 2024. The American driver endured a rookie season with many high-profile crashes, however his progress to safe his first level in Austin (because of Hamilton and Leclerc being disqualified from the ultimate outcomes) and his robust qualifying in Vegas did not less than level to the progress Williams had tasked him with exhibiting earlier than the season’s finish.

He mentioned “this again half of this season, I’ve actually discovered some momentum” after the Abu Dhabi race, however Williams continues to be set to return again to Grove and conduct a last evaluate of Sargeant’s season and enhancements earlier than making a last resolution and revealing its accomplished 2024 line-up. AK

9. McLaren pledges long-term allegiance to Mercedes powertrains

McLaren has kept its ties to Mercedes ahead of the new engine rules

Picture by: Steven Tee / Motorsport Images

McLaren has saved its ties to Mercedes forward of the brand new engine guidelines

Additional bulletins have been made to stitch up extra of the 2026 powertrain market, as McLaren unveiled an extension to its deal with Mercedes to run until the end of 2030. This may therefore run for the primary 5 years of the brand new energy unit components which is able to redefine the stability between inside combustion engine and hybrid methods.

PLUS: The key ingredients changing as F1’s 2026 engine war shapes up

McLaren reunited with Mercedes in 2021 after an ill-fated change to Honda in 2015 coincided with a major downturn in on-track fortunes. This prompted McLaren to work out a deal to put Honda with Toro Rosso, taking over a Renault deal for 3 seasons earlier than committing to make use of the Brixworth-designed powertrains on an preliminary five-year deal.

Following the signing of Toyota World Endurance Championship racer Ryo Hirakawa as a reserve driver, there have been mutterings that McLaren was looking to tempt the Japanese giant back to F1, however the long-term extension with Mercedes has largely put these admittedly tenuous rumours to mattress.

“It was fairly simple, as a result of we’re very pleased with the continuing collaboration,” Stella mentioned. “They have been completely instrumental, even within the progress of the crew this yr, I’ve to say.

“However above all, the type of reassurance we obtained from a technical perspective, the operational requirements, simply how stable is what we noticed, after we checked what was at stake for 2026, made this resolution fairly easy for us. We’re simply delighted that we have now this degree of continuity and stability as we glance ahead.” JBL

10. Alpine abandons its push to get equal F1 engine energy

Alpine will be down on power against its rivals for 2024 and 2025

Picture by: Zak Mauger / Motorsport Images

Alpine can be down on energy towards its rivals for 2024 and 2025

After arriving in Abu Dhabi from Las Vegas, Autosport revealed on the eve of the ultimate occasion that Alpine’s hopes of addressing an approximate 20-33hp gap on F1 engine power to its rivals Honda, Ferrari and Mercedes had been ended.

This was on the crew’s personal request after the FIA’s Energy Unit Advisory Committee had been tasked with discovering methods to get Alpine’s Renault engine again on phrases with the merchandise of the opposite producers, that are all carefully matched.

Alpine was understood to be left livid behind the scenes {that a} ‘good religion’ settlement between the groups apparently made when the present engine guidelines have been signed off in 2021 that meant design adjustments could possibly be made if a number of have been deprived was, within the crew’s view, reneged upon by unnamed different squads.

With out the unanimous help required to make adjustments to the Renault energy models, Alpine determined it was higher to not waste any extra time or assets and as an alternative focus its efforts on the brand new engine guidelines coming for 2026.

This leaves the crew down on grunt for 2 extra years, however its work after its Monza struggles to make beneficial properties by way of aerodynamic tweaks in slicing drag not less than gave the impression to be paying off come the season’s finish judging by its kind at Vegas earlier than heading to Abu Dhabi. That gives some appreciable encouragement for the Enstone crew heading into the low season. AK

The sun sets on another F1 season

Picture by: Andy Hone / Motorsport Images

The solar units on one other F1 season

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