RACE DEBRIEF

    Max Verstappen says it will be hard for Red Bull to replicate their “incredible” 2023 season after the three-time world champion rounded off his title-winning campaign with a victory at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

    Verstappen started from pole and while he was pushed by Charles Leclerc in the opening exchanges, the Dutchman was able to pull away from the rest of the field to take his fourth consecutive win in Abu Dhabi.

    READ MORE: Verstappen beats Leclerc to victory in Abu Dhabi to end record-breaking year on top

    It caps a year that has seen Verstappen break numerous records, such as winning 19 races, scoring 21 podium finishes, and becoming the first driver to lead over 1000 laps throughout a season.

    He also achieved the highest points total of all time with 575, and the largest winning margin in a championship – with the gap being 290 points to his second-placed team mate Sergio Perez.

    Reflecting on his season, Verstappen said: “An incredible season. It was a bit emotional on the in lap. The last time I was sitting in the car that has of course given me a lot. Of course, very proud to win here, also at the last race.

    2023 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix: Verstappen and Leclerc in thrilling battle for the lead on Lap 1

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

    Asked whether he and Red Bull can improve on this year, Verstappen replied: “Yeah, will be very hard to have another season like this, we know. Of course, you always want to do better but sometimes doing better is not only race wins and potentially winning the championship.

    AS IT HAPPENED: Follow all the action from the 2023 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

    “But we will see. We are working hard for next year to have again a very competitive car. For sure all the other teams want to try and beat us out there.

    "We are ready for the battle but for the meantime as well we are going to enjoy a little bit this year as well.”

    ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - NOVEMBER 26: Race winner Max Verstappen of the Netherlands and
    Verstappen celebrated his 19th win of the season in Abu Dhabi

    Asked to give the final word to fans in the stands at the end of the campaign, Verstappen said: “Yeah, it’s been incredible. Sold out in basically every race we went to.

    "Great fans support and also I hope you guys enjoyed the race today and you saw all your favourite drivers do well. And of course, thank you very much for cheering us on.”