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By John Floyd

Motorsport columnist

FLOYD ON F1: Abu Dhabi perfect finish to memorable season

Whether you like Max Verstappen or not, he has raised the bar together with Red Bull in 2023.

What a season it has been, with the latter half providing some really good racing, although the battle for the top step of the F1 podium has been almost a foregone conclusion.

With Red Bull storming to 21 wins in the 22-race Formula 1 season, the only other man on the top step was Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz, who took victory in Singapore. The Milton Keynes driver combination saw Sergio Perez win in Saudi Arabia and Azerbaijan and team-mate Max Verstappen taking the balance.

F1 records galore

The 26-year-old Dutchman has not just won 19 of the 22 races, but has the highest win percentage ever at 86.36%, a record previously held by Alberto Ascari since 1952. Verstappen was on the F1 podium 21 of the 22 podiums, has led for 1 003 laps, has the most consecutive wins at 10 and the largest points gap to the second driver in the championship with 290 from the 575 points he scored.

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Whether you are a fan or not, one has to admit the combination of Verstappen’s ability, Christian Horner’s management and Adrian Newey’s RB19 design, the team has significantly raised the bar in F1.

We have, unfortunately, witnessed an increase in the amount of whining and bickering between driver and pit wall during races as well as the continual winging regarding other competitors “breaking the rules and regulations”.

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Breath of fresh air

Abu Dhabi was a real breath of fresh air as we witnessed Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc prepared to drop back and allow Perez through, in an attempt to take second spot ahead of Mercedes, in the F1 constructors championship, by slowing a hard charging George Russell, it didn’t work, but great sportsmanship.

Very impressive was the attitude of Alpine’s Pierre Gasly, following the steward’s decision to possibly penalise McLaren’s Oscar Piastri for impeding Gasly during qualifying. The Frenchman appeared before the stewards and stated emphatically he had not been impeded by Piastri and the case was dropped, a real demonstration of fair play.

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2024 F1 teams

The 2023 F1 season will see a few renamed teams but most retain their driver line up as follows:

Red Bull: Verstappen (end of 2028) and Perez (end of 2024).
Ferrari: Leclerc (end of 2024) and Sainz (end of 2024)
Mercedes: Russell (end of 2025) and Lewis Hamilton (end of 2025)
Alpine: Esteban Ocon (end of 2024) and Gasly (end of 2024)
McLaren: Lando Norris (end of 2025) and Piastri (end of 2026)
Alfa Romeo: Valtteri Bottas (end of 2025) and Zhou Guanyu (end of 2024)
Aston Martin: Fernando Alonso (end of 2024) and Lance Stroll (end of 2024)
Haas: Nico Hulkenberg (end of 2024) and Kevin Magnussen (end of 2024)
AlphaTauri: Yuki Tsunoda (end of 2024) and Daniel Ricciardo (end of 2024)
Williams: Alex Albon (end of 2024), TBA

Au revoir

It has been an amazing end to the season and sadly it’s an end to this column. Many thanks to The Citizen Motoring team and colleagues and to all of you who have journeyed the last nine years with me, make sure you keep your passion for F1 burning in future years.

Cheers from “Floyd on F1”.

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