The 2023 Formula 1 season drew to a close this weekend with the final race once again taking place in Abu Dhabi in the UAE. The drivers and constructors championships were long since decided, but many of the remaining positions for both teams and drivers came down to the final laps, delivering the last bits of drama of the season in some unexpected ways. Our own Blake Buettner was at the race, coming out of Dubai Watch Week the week prior, so this is a special episode recounting the experience, the race, and the season as a whole. The race in Abu Dhabi capped the most dominant season of the sport ever witnessed, with Max Verstappen claiming his 19th victory of the 22 race season, and his 3rd consecutive driver’s championship in the process. Red Bull as a team won all but a single race this season, and did so with what appeared to be relative ease. As decisive as the season was, there was still plenty of racing to enjoy behind the Red Bulls, and plenty to look forward to in 2024.
Going into the race in Abu Dhabi, 4th place in the drivers championship was closely contested by 4 drivers separated by just a handful of points, while the constructors championship was far from settled pretty much down the grid. Despite some late strategic moves from Charles Leclerc, it was enough for Ferrari to take 2nd place in the constructors away from Mercedes, who ended up a mere 3 points ahead of them. McLaren also took a decisive hold on 4th place in the constructors, ahead of Aston Martin, thanks to a heroic second half of the season, becoming a mainstay on the podium after the summer break. On the driver side of the equation, 4th place through 7th place ended up separated by just 6 points, with Fernando Alonso coming out ahead of Leclerc, Norris, and Sainz.