Abu Dhabi GP: Verstappen victorious as Mercedes secure P2 in Constructors'

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Max Verstappen took an unprecedented 19th win in 2023 with victory at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

The three-time world champion surpassed 1,000 laps led this season as he enjoyed another dominant performance at the Yas Marina Circuit.

Charles Leclerc claimed second as George Russell overcame a tense final few laps to finish third and secure Mercedes P2 in the Constructors' Championship.

Race Review

Verstappen just held off an aggressive start from Leclerc on the opening lap to retain the lead as Lando Norris got the jump on Russell upto fourth behind teammate Oscar Piastri.

Pierre Gasly and Lewis Hamilton both gained two places into the top 10 as Sergio Perez slipped down in the second Red Bull.

Starting 16th, Carlos Sainz also improved three positions upto 13th on Lap 1.

Norris continued his strong start when DRS was enabled, taking third from Piastri with a move into Turn 6.

Russell was next to challenge the Australian and finally found a way past the McLaren at the third time of asking into Turn 9.

Perez made up for his poor start, passing Lewis Hamilton and the two Alpines to run seventh behind Yuki Tsunoda.

Tyre wear proved higher than expected during the first stint with Fernando Alonso triggering the first round of pit-stops.

The two McLarens and Russell followed in consecutive laps, but a slow stop for Norris allowed the Mercedes to jump ahead.

Verstappen also made his first stop, briefly giving the lead to Leclerc until his stop put Tsunoda into P1 in team boss Franz Tost's last race at AlphaTauri.

Hamilton and Gasly made small contact at Turn 6 after the Frenchman locked up and Lewis bumped the rear of the Alpine.

The hard tyre starters eventually made their first stop promoting Max back into the lead, followed by Leclerc with Russell the big gainer upto third, just behind the Ferrari.

Perez continued his progress after the pit-stop phase, passing Alonso and Piastri to run fifth.

Norris commenced the second round of pit-stops with 25 laps to go, but couldn't quite undercut Russell, who stopped a lap later.

Leclerc also responded to those behind to retain a nett second as Perez and Tsunoda temporarily moved up into the podium places.

Hamilton and Alonso had a strange moment as the Spaniard slowed on the straight to Turn 5, with Lewis suggesting it was a brake test.

The Briton would then overtake the Aston Martin only for Fernando to re-pass the next lap as they battled just outside the points.

Out front, Verstappen gave permission for Red Bull to pit Perez first in his battle with Norris before making his final stop of the season to retain the lead.

Checo caught Lando with the pair making contact as the Mexican went for a move down the inside at Turn 6.

Perez though would make a clean move at the same corner on the next lap to claim fourth.

Sergio almost played a major role in the Mercedes-Ferrari duel as he overtook Russell for third with five laps to go.

However, a five-second penalty for the incident with Norris meant he would have to pull out a big margin in the closing laps.

Leclerc tried to help by allowing Perez through into second and then backing Russell up but it was to no avail as George finished four seconds behind the Red Bull, demoting Checo to fourth after the chequered flag.

As a result, Mercedes held on to second in the Constructors' Championship by just three points over Ferrari.

Ahead, Verstappen cruised to a fourth consecutive win in Abu Dhabi, 18 seconds clear of Leclerc after the late shenanigans.

Russell was third, Perez fourth followed by Norris and Piastri as the two McLarens had an underwhelming race.

Alonso claimed seventh with Tsunoda beating Hamilton in a last-lap duel to finish eighth as Lewis followed in ninth.

Lance Stroll took the final point in 10th for Aston Martin.

Daniel Ricciardo was 11th after his race was compromised by a tear-off entering his brake duct early on, followed by the Alpines of Esteban Ocon and a frustrated Gasly.

Alex Albon was 14th, Nico Hulkenberg 15th, Logan Sargeant 16th and Zhou Guanyu 17th.

A late pit stop dropped Sainz to 18th as Valtteri Bottas and Kevin Magnussen completed the final standings.