Max Verstappen: Untouchable and unstoppable at Abu Dhabi, and in 2023

Talk about a mic-drop moment for Max Verstappen at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix! There he was, owning the podium like a boss, wrapping up the 2023 Formula One season with a win that screamed, "I’m unstoppable!” His victory at the Yas Marina circuit wasn’t just any old win – it was a 17-second lead. Meanwhile, poor Charles Leclerc let Sergio Perez by easily, aiming to widen the gap to George Russell and aid Ferrari's bid for second in the constructors' standings. It ultimately proved futile, and Mercedes snagged second place.

Despite already clinching his third world championship, Verstappen wasn’t just racing for fun – he was on a mission to make history. Determined to be the first driver to lead over 1,000 laps in a season, he nailed that too. His stats are something else – 19 wins out of 22 races, beating his own record and leaving Vettel and Schumacher quite far behind. 

The final countdown

The final race itself? Classic Abu Dhabi – more a parade than a nail-biter. But hey, the real drama was in the Mercedes vs. Ferrari showdown for second place. George Russell was Mercedes's man of the hour, keeping cool as Pérez tried to chase him down. Perez finished second but was relegated to fourth due to a five-second penalty for an incident with McLaren's Lando Norris, promoting Leclerc to second and Russell to third. Norris ended in fifth, reflecting his starting position impacted by a qualifying error, while his teammate Oscar Piastri took sixth. Fernando Alonso and Lance Stroll made some noise for Aston Martin, while Yuki Tsunoda and Hamilton also made the top ten. 

Best of the rest

Alpine drivers Esteban Ocon and Pierre Gasly left unrewarded, with Gasly experiencing a minor collision with Hamilton. Williams' Alex Albon led his team, followed by Haas' Nico Hulkenberg, who couldn't capitalize on his Q3 appearance, finishing 15th. Williams' rookie Logan Sargeant and Alfa Romeo's Zhou Guanyu completed the lineup, with Carlos Sainz, Valtteri Bottas, and Kevin Magnussen rounding the field.

The race witnessed numerous overtakes, and strategic plays, with tyre choices and pit stops significantly influencing the outcome. Verstappen led most of the race, with Leclerc and other contenders briefly taking the lead during pit rotations.

But let's face it, 2023 was all about Max Verstappen rewriting the rulebook and leaving us all wondering: what’s next?