The final round of the 2023 Formula 1 World Championship takes place this weekend in Abu Dhabi, but Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen was already named this season’s champion in October at the Qatar Grand Prix.
Fellow Red Bull driver Sergio Perez has also been named second in the championship, and Mercedes-Benz AMG’s Lewis Hamilton third. Verstappen isn’t likely to slow one bit however, as each additional win increases his record for wins in a season. His record tally stands at 18 ahead of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. The previous record of 15 was set last season, also by Verstappen.
The Abu Dhabi Grand Prix is an annual round and takes place each year at the Yas Marina Circuit. The Hermann Tilke-designed circuit was opened in 2009, and some minor changes were made in 2021 to improve the action. Several turns were widened and a chicane previously forming Turns 5 and 6 was replaced with a straight. The changes provide more overtaking opportunities and also increase speeds and loads through some corners.
The track surface is still relatively smooth, generating only average stress on the tires in terms of wear and degradation. As a result Pirelli has nominated its three softest compounds: the C3 as the white hard, the C4 as the yellow medium, and the C5 as the red soft.
Yas Marina Circuit, home of the Formula 1 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix
The weather forecast calls for dry, warm conditions throughout the weekend. However, like other races in the Middle East, the Abu Dhabi race starts at twilight and runs into the night to avoid the heat of the day. That poses a challenge to the engineers and drivers who must accommodate for the changes in tire and car behaviour owing to the differing ambient and track temperatures.
Going into Saturday’s qualifying session and Sunday’s race, Verstappen’s unbeatable points tally in the 2023 Drivers’ Championship stands at 549 points. Perez is second with 273 points and Hamilton is third with 232 points. In the Constructors’ Championship, Red Bull sits on 822 points. Mercedes is second with 392 points and Ferrari is third with 388 points. Last year’s winner in Abu Dhabi was Verstappen, driving for Red Bull.
As the race closes out the season, it will be the last for Alfa Romeo which announced its plans to exit F1 in 2022. Alfa Romeo is represented in F1 by Swiss team Sauber which will compete under its own name in the coming seasons but swap to Audi in 2026, when it becomes the automaker’s official factory team.
McLaren has also announced ahead of this weekend’s race that it will continue to use Mercedes power units to 2030, meaning it will be among the customer teams to use Mercedes’ power unit being developed to meet 2026’s new regulations.