The final race of the 2023 Formula 1 season is upon us. And while there might not be a fight at the top of the table in both the Constructors’ Championship and the Drivers’ Championship, some fascinating battles are ready to unfold at Yas Marina in the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
Which means we will fire up the live blog one more time for the final 58 laps of the season.
Max Verstappen and Red Bull have already locked up the Drivers’ and Constructors’ titles, respectively, and Verstappen’s teammate Sergio Pérez has clinched second in the Drivers’ standings. But here is what is at stake Sunday at Yas Marina:
- Second in the Constructors’ Championship: Just four points separate Ferrari and Mercedes, with Mercedes in the lead
- Fourth in the Constructors’ Championship: Just 11 points separate McLaren and Aston Martin, with McLaren in the lead
- Seventh in the Constructors’ Championship: Williams is in the lead with 28 points, but AlphaTauri (21), Alfa Romeo (16) and Haas (12) all have a chance in this fight
- Fourth in the Drivers’ Championship: Verstappen and Pérez have clinched first and second, and Lewis Hamilton is locked into third place. But four drivers — Carlos Sainz Jr., Fernando Alonso, Lando Norris, and Charles Leclerc — all have a shot at fourth behind the top three. Sainz and Alonso are tied with 200 points each, and the Ferrari driver has the tiebreaker edge on all three of the other drivers at the moment as he is the only non-Red Bull driver to have won this season. Norris is just five points behind those two and Leclerc, who will start the race second, has 188 points on the season.
Here is the starting grid for the season finale, barring any last-minute changes:
The race gets rolling at 8:00 a.m. Eastern, and we will have updates all morning long. So check back early and often!
Abu Dhabi Grand Prix
Update 10:05: The provisional race classification:
Update 9:39: The top ten in Abu Dhabi:
Update 9:37: Alonso finishes fourth in the Drivers’ standings, his best finish in ten years.
Update 9:34: McLaren has finished fourth in the Constructors’:
Update 9:32: Verstappen is the winner in Abu Dhabi.
Leclerc let Pérez by to try and pull off some strategy, but it is not enough as Russell stays within five seconds of the Red Bull driver. Pérez finishes second but will be dropped. Leclerc gets promoted to second, and Russell to third.
That is enough — at the moment and barring any post-race penalties — to see Mercedes to P2 in the Constructors’
Update 9:30: Max Verstappen has led 1000 laps this season, the first F1 driver to accomplish that feat.
And he is about to win the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
Update 9:27: Sainz still needs to pit, but Ferrari may pull him in for a set of softs to try and steal the fastest lap of the race.
That single point could be huge in the fight for second.
Update 9:25: Pérez gets by Russell for P3.
Russell needs to stay within five seconds of the Red Bull to secure P2 for Mercedes.
Update 9:24: Five laps to go in the 2023 F1 season, friends.
Update 9:18: As noted by F1TV, the fight between Mercedes and Ferrari may very well come down to whether Pérez can pass Russell. Right now Leclerc is over three seconds ahead of Russell, and Pérez is around 3.5 seconds behind the Mercedes.
If Pérez can pass Russell, but not get by Leclerc, that would be enough for Ferrari to finish second.
However, Ferrari gets some bad news, as Pérez has been given a five-second penalty for the collision with Norris.
Update 9:16: The incident between Norris and Pérez is going to be investigated by race officials.
In real-time standings, Mercedes is ahead of Ferrari for P2 in the Constructors’.
Update 9:14: “Clumsy” contact between Norris and Pérez, as described by Alex Jacques.
Hamilton gets by Sainz and into P9. That could be critical in the fight for second.
Update 9:10: Hamilton has been noted for a “pit stop infringement.”
So, that is something else to monitor in the fight for second. The Mercedes driver is currently in P10, but a penalty could be huge in that fight.
Update 9:09: 15 laps to go, and here is the current top ten:
Update 9:07: Russell asks over the radio how things are going in the Constructors’ Championship, and gets a rather wordy non-response.
“What the **** does that mean?” asks the Mercedes driver.
Over at Ferrari, Sainz is told that the team is hoping for a late safety car.
So, things are going well.
Update 9:03: Race stewards have noted that incident between Alonso and Hamilton.
Update 9:01: A fun little scrap is shaping up between Alonso and Hamilton for P11. Alonso with a little brake check on Hamilton which ... well is something you can do at nearly 175 mph, I guess ...
Update 8:57: Russell responds with a pit stop of his own, and he comes out ahead of Norris. It looks as if the undercut attempt from Norris has not paid off.
Now Leclerc comes into the pits, which pushes Pérez up into P2. We have a Red Bull 1-2 at the moment.
Update 8:54: McLaren brings Norris in for a stop, and it goes much better this time. Pérez was all over his back for P4.
Here is the current top ten as we have crossed the midway point of this race:
and Norris, who rejoins the battle in P10
Update 8:46: And now Pérez gets into fifth.
Update 8:44: The RB19 is a rocket right now on the hard tires. Verstappen has pulled over five seconds ahead of Leclerc, and Pérez is now into P6, and is all over the back of Piastri for P5.
Update 8:43: They are discussing the “black and orange” flag, which is a warning for a broken part on a car.
That is one of the many terms in the handy SB Nation “F1 Glossary,” which you can view here.
Update 8:41: In the fight for second, the live update has Mercedes finishing three points ahead of Ferrari.
In the fight for fourth, the live update has McLaren finishing ahead of Aston Martin.
Update 8:39: Sainz comes in for a stop. Bottas is the only driver yet to come into the pits.
Update 8:38: Tsunoda comes in for his stop and a set of hards is bolted on.
If AlphaTauri indeed finishes seventh in the Constructors’, remember his stint to start this race.
Update 8:35: Tsunoda has put together a tremendous run on this set of mediums. He will have to stop, but he has put himself in a position to make this a one-stop race.
Stroll, Sainz, and Bottas are the only other drivers who have yet to pit.
Update 8:31: With Leclerc making a stop, we have a new leader.
Yuki Tsunoda is leading the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, in the final race for Franz Tost.
Update 8:28: Verstappen pits as well. Leclerc is up into P1, with Tsunoda into P2.
Update 8:27: Gasly locks up and Hamilton runs into the back of him. The left front endplate of Hamilton’s W14 is a little wobbly at the moment.
Mercedes brings Hamilton into the pits as a result.
Update 8:25: Mercedes calls in Russell, and McLaren calls in Norris.
Mercedes has the better pit stop of the two, and Russell picks up the spot as they come back onto the track.
Update 8:24: Piastri comes in, looking like a two-stop race for him now. He is on the hards, and comes out just in front of Alonso.
Update 8:23: Alonso pits, which pushes Hamilton up intp P9.
And alters all the math I just did in the previous update ...
Update 8:20: Russell finally gets through and into fourth.
So an update on the fight for P2 in the Constructors’. Leclerc is in second, Russell in fourth, and Hamilton in tenth. If that holds:
Ferrari — 406
Mercedes — 405
So, yeah. Every point matters right now.
Update 8:17: Russell for the second lap in a row tries the outside line against Piastri, but for the second lap in a row he cannot complete the overtake.
Update 8:15: Ricciardo is forced to pit as his AlphaTauri is dealing with spiking brake temperatures. He rejoins the fight in P19.
Update 8:13: A very long DRS train has formed, from Leclerc in P2 back to Stroll in P12.
Update 8:10: Norris is up into P3, and is less than a second behind Leclerc for P2.
Update 8:08: Remember, one of the battles we are watching today is the fight for seventh in the Constructors’ between Williams, AlphaTauri, Alfa Romeo, and Haas.
Right now, AlphaTauri is on the front foot. Tsunoda is in sixth, where he started, while the Williams duo is at the back of the field.
If that holds, AlphaTauri would finish one point ahead of Williams for seventh.
Update 8:06: Hamilton posted the fastest time on the first lap, and has jumped into the points having picked up two spots.
Norris is up into P4.
Oh and Verstappen is already almost 1.5 seconds ahead of Leclerc. So ... yeah.
Update 8:04: They are racing at Yas Marina.
Verstappen holds off Leclerc at the start. Leclerc gets alongside him in the middle sector, but the Red Bull driver holds him off.
Update 8:03: Tsunoda with a radio message for Tost before lights go out:
Update 8:01: The formation lap is underway.
Also, both Albon and Sargeant are on the mediums.
Update 7:58: A note on tires. Stroll, Sainz, and Bottas are on the hards. The Williams duo has apparently not taken tire blankets off just yet.
Everyone else is on mediums:
Update 7:55: So if you are reading this and can clip that moment of Yuki Tsunoda skipping to the grid, please send it along.
Update 7:51: Christian Horner sings Tost’s praises on the F1TV pre-race show. “Wish him all the best for the future,” notes Horner.
“Whatever happens today we’ve won 20 races ... whatever happens it’s been the most amazing year for us,” adds Horner. “This is all down to the men and women in Milton Keynes ... this piece of history [the RB19] that will get retired today has been very special for us.”
Update 7:49: Buxton also describes the RB19 as one of the most “dominant” cars we have ever seen in F1.
One team will be sad to see it go, but nine others cannot wait to see it off the grid.
Update 7:44: On his final grid walk of the season, F1TV analyst Will Buxton notes how critical today is for Williams driver Logan Sargeant, who still has yet to lock down his seat for 2024. Buxton notes that Sargeant failed to post a lap time in Q1, with both of his times being deleted.
Which is something that he experienced at the start of the season in Saudi Arabia. Begging the question: Just how much has he developed?
Update 7:38: This is the final race of the season, and the final race for the long career of AlphaTauri Team Principal Franz Tost. The veteran team boss received a tremendous clap-out as he walked to the grid for the last time:
Update 7:36: Good morning F1 fans!