Verstappen 'emotional' at end of record-breaking season

© XPB 

Max Verstappen admitted that he was feeling emotional after concluding a remarkable record-breaking season which his 19th win of the year, having missed out on just three victories all season.

That gives him a win percentage for the year of 86.36 per cent, breaking the record previously set by Alberto Ascari that had stood since 1952. He claimed 575 points out of 620, of 92.7 per cent of points available.

His winning margin over team mate Sergio Perez was 290 points. Along the way he was on the podium in 21 of the 22 races and led 1003 laps out of the full amount on offer of 1383.

These are records unlikely to be beaten any time soon - probably not in a generation, if ever - and leave no room for doubt that we have seen an extraordinary achievement by Verstappen and the Red Bull team.

“It will be very hard to have another season like this, we know that,” admitted Verstappen, who said it had been emotional sitting in the cockpit of the mighty RB19 for the last time in race trim today.

“It was a bit emotional on the in-lap,” he said in parc ferme. “It was the last time I was sitting in the car, which has of course given me a lot.

"I have to say a big thank you to everyone at Red Bull," he continued. "It’s just been an incredible year. It will be hard to do something similar again, but we definitely enjoyed this year.”

Verstappen had qualified for the race in pole position - his 12th of the season - and lined up alongside Charles Leclerc for the start of the race. The Ferrari did its best to take the lead on the opening lap, but never managed to do so.

Max Verstappen (NLD) Red Bull Racing RB19 leads Charles Leclerc (MON) Ferrari SF-23 at the start of the race. 26.11.2023. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 23, Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, Race Day. -, EMail: © Copyright: Batchelor / XPB Images

Although he didn't run away with the race, and dropped out of the lead for a spell after the first round of pit stops, his return to the front appeared preordained. There was little to challenge him in the second half of the race.

Crossing the line with an 18s advantage over Leclerc, Verstappen said he was pleased to sign off this most remarkable of seasons with yet another win.

“Of course very proud to win also here, the last race," he confirmed. “Of course you always want to do better, but sometimes doing better is not only race wins and potentially winning the championship.

“We are working hard for next year to have again a very competitive car," he continued. "For sure all the other teams out there, they want to try and beat us next year and are ready for the battle.

Race winner Max Verstappen (NLD) Red Bull Racing RB19 celebrates with doughnuts at the end of the race in parc ferme. 26.11.2023. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 23, Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, Race Day. -, EMail: © Copyright: Batchelor / XPB Images

"But we’ll see," the 26-year-old concluded. "in the meantime we are going to enjoy a little bit this year as well!"

Word is that when it comes to the celebrations, team principal Christian Horner is donating the proceeds of his winning bet with Helmut Marko over Verstappen taking pole in yesterday's qualifying session.

“You’ve smashed it out of the park,” Horner told Verstappen over the team radio as the chequered flag came out. “It’s been a privilege watching you.”

Along with Verstappen's third world championship, Red Bull had already long since clinched he constructors crown for 2023. Last week saw Sergio Perez tie up the runners-up spot in the drivers battle in Vegas.

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