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Red Bull's Max Verstappen celebrates with the trophy on the podium after winning the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix at the Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, November 26 2023. Picture: RULA ROUHANA/REUTERS
Red Bull's Max Verstappen celebrates with the trophy on the podium after winning the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix at the Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, November 26 2023. Picture: RULA ROUHANA/REUTERS

Red Bull’s triple world champion Max Verstappen wrapped up a year of unprecedented dominance with his record-extending 19th win in 22 races at the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix on Sunday.

The pole-to-flag victory, for the fourth year in a row under the Yas Marina floodlights, left the 26-year-old alone in third place in Formula One’s all-time list of winners with a career 54.

Only seven times champions Lewis Hamilton (103) and Michael Schumacher (91) have won more.

Sergio Perez finished second on the road for Red Bull but a 5sec  post-race penalty dropped the Mexican off the podium, behind Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc and Mercedes’ George Russell.

“It was an incredible season,” said Verstappen, who also became the first driver to lead 1,000 racing laps in a single championship and scored a record 575 points.

“It was a bit emotional on the in-lap, it was the last time I was sitting in the car which has of course given me a lot,” he said. “It will be hard to do something similar again but we definitely enjoyed this year.”

Mercedes ended their first winless season since 2011 as best of the rest behind runaway champions Red Bull, who scored a whopping 860 points to Mercedes’ 409 and Ferrari’s 406.

McLaren secured fourth overall, 22 points clear of Aston Martin, with Lando Norris fifth and Australian rookie teammate Oscar Piastri sixth.

Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso finished seventh, winning a close battle with Leclerc, Norris and Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz for fourth overall in the championship, with AlphaTauri’s Yuki Tsunoda eighth.

Tsunoda led a race for the first time, for five laps after Verstappen and Leclerc pitted on 17 and 18 respectively, providing a nice farewell for retiring AlphaTauri team boss Franz Tost.

The points were still not quite enough to overtake Williams in seventh place overall.

Hamilton finished ninth and Canadian Lance Stroll took the final point for Aston Martin. 

Reuters

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