Already confirmed as world champions for a third consecutive year, Max Verstappen and Red Bull won their 19th race of a record-shattering season
Red Bull won 21 out of 22 races this season, with Sergio Perez securing two victories. Max Verstappen’s stellar season concluded with a comfortable win in Abu Dhabi on Sunday, marking his 19th win of the campaign and his 54th overall. This moved him to the third position in the all-time list, with only Michael Schumacher (91) and Lewis Hamilton (103) ahead of him.
Verstappen finished ahead of Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc and Mercedes driver George Russell, earning an extra point for the fastest lap. His 54th career win pushed him past Red Bull’s former great, Sebastian Vettel, placing him just behind Schumacher and Hamilton.
“What an unbelievable year,” Verstappen said after crossing the finish line.
Red Bull dominated the season, winning 21 of the 22 races, with Sergio Perez claiming two victories.
Red Bull team principal Christian Horner praised Verstappen over the radio, saying, “You’ve taken it out of the park this year. We are all incredibly proud of you.”
Perez crossed the line in second place but slipped to fourth due to a five-second penalty for a second-lap overtaking move. Leclerc let Perez through on the final lap, hoping that Perez would finish more than five seconds ahead of Russell, as both Mercedes and Ferrari were fighting for second place in the Constructors’ Championship.
Russell’s teammate Hamilton finished ninth with two points, while Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz Jr. missed out on points. In the Constructors’ Championship, Mercedes secured the second position behind Red Bull.
“It wasn’t enough, unfortunately,” Leclerc said.
Verstappen started from pole position for the 12th time this season, more than any other driver, with Leclerc and McLaren’s Lando Norris in third. The Marina track is one of the toughest, and Verstappen made a good start, fending off Leclerc’s attacks.
On lap 17, Verstappen switched to hard tires, and on the next lap, Leclerc, who led the race after Alfa Romeo’s Yuki Tsunoda retired, was in a rare position of leading a Grand Prix in the closing laps before a scheduled pit stop, giving way to McLaren’s team principal Franz Tost in a unique situation.
Verstappen regained the lead shortly after and faced no further challenges.
Perez was penalized for a late pit stop for fresh tires alongside McLaren’s Lando Norris, although it seemed that Norris had enough space and switched to the right tires ahead of Perez.
“Why have we been penalized? I was ahead,” a surprised Perez questioned on the team radio.
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