RACE DEBRIEF

    Abu Dhabi was the season-closer for 2023, the last race delivering drama until the very final lap. The celebrities were out in force to watch Max Verstappen win for Red Bull, the Dutchman following his emphatic victory with some donuts on the main straight.

    But there was plenty going on behind the scenes – some cheeky, some wholesome and some deeply meaningful. Here is all the best social media you might have missed from Yas Marina…

    Tsunoda's dedication

    Yuki Tsunoda came into the sport under the tutelage of Franz Tost at AlphaTauri. A tumultuous first season saw Tost insist on his protégée moving from the UK to Italy to go fully under his wing.

    READ MORE: No regrets for Tsunoda as AlphaTauri narrowly miss out on P7 in the championship to Williams

    And that has paid off big time, with Tsunoda not just still in the sport but equalling to boot. With his boss retiring, the Japanese racer decided on a special helmet design to pay tribute.

    Cuteness overload

    Sweet isn't the usual word we use to describe what's going on in the garage – try frantic, stressful or euphoric for a usual Grand Prix weekend. But Kevin Magnussen had his little daughter in tow for the final race, and she decided to audition to be his new race engineer.

    She helped him with both gloves and shut his visor for good measure, and must surely be in the running for a spot on his side of the garage next year, if Haas can manage to squeeze her salary into the budget cap...

    READ MORE: Norris hails ‘exciting times ahead’ for McLaren after team clinch P4 in constructors’ in Abu Dhabi

    Dedication to the cause

    Everyone be quiet – whatever you do, don't tell this fan that Alfa Romeo are set for a name and sponsor change next year. The original Sauber team, who are still based at Hinwil in Switzerland, have bid farewell to their partnership with Alfa Romeo from 2024 onwards.

    Will he need a new tattoo next season when that name gets revealed?

    READ MORE: What the teams said - Race day in Abu Dhabi

    Back to school

    In FP1 back on Friday, there were 10 rookie drivers on show across nine teams. As such, the fulltime F1 drivers did seem to be supervising proceedings – even if it was them that wound up making the mistakes.

    READ MORE: Russell delighted to seal P2 in constructors' for Mercedes as Abu Dhabi podium concludes 'challenging season'

    Mercedes couldn't help but poke fun at George Russell as he topped the session from the brood of youngsters, while veteran headmaster Lewis Hamilton was content to sit this one out and watch as Russell navigated his way through the gaggle of up and comers.

    The sticker prankster

    Ferrari and Red Bull have been teasing each other all season long, their backroom staff trying to brand each other's garages, suitcases and hospitality suites with their own logo.

    Come the final race, and Verstappen took the prank one step further, managing to get a Red Bull onto the back of the Prancing Horse race suit.

    READ MORE: ‘P2 is all that mattered’ – Leclerc explains late-race tactics with Perez in bid to help Ferrari overhaul Mercedes

    Given that Charles Leclerc actually tried to do Red Bull a favour in the race with Sergio Perez, maybe some of that Red Bull energy did rub off on the Ferrari man.

    Star gazing

    It would be pretty hard to beat the grid of the Las Vegas Grand Prix for celebrity royalty, but Abu Dhabi did a pretty good job. From footballing legends, to a Norse god and a cult golf hero, the stars were out in force to enjoy the final race of the season.

    READ MORE: ‘Emotional’ Verstappen praises Red Bull for ‘incredible season’ after scoring 19th win of the year in Abu Dhabi

    Retired tennis pro Maria Sharapova was on the grid, along with model Naomi Campbell, singer will.i.am, Orlando Bloom and a whole host of cricket stars from around the globe.

    The collaboration we've been waiting for

    You want to see it happen. Think action movie, think legendary double act, hard man and wise cracking sidekick, Batman and Robin – Jason Statham and Yuki Tsunoda.

    HIGHLIGHTS: Relive the action from the Abu Dhabi GP as Verstappen takes his 19th win of 2023

    Can Hollywood make it happen? There is a movie about F1 being filmed after all, and it might not be too late to change the script...

    Ice, ice, baby

    Pierre Gasly needed to cool off in Abu Dhabi, in more ways than one. He took to the ice bath after a frantic qualifying session, but arguably needed it more after a frustrating race.

    Having lambasted his team over the radio during the Grand Prix for his strategy, the Frenchman cut a frustrated figure at the end of his first season with Alpine. Perhaps he just needed another ice bath to cool his overheating emotions.

    READ MORE: Gasly says damage with Hamilton and Perez 'finished me' after P13 result at Abu Dhabi GP

    The sweetest-tasting selfie

    Alex Albon might not have come home in the points in Abu Dhabi, but his performances earlier in the season along with Logan Sargeant's points from Austin were enough for Williams to bag their best finish in the constructors' since 2017.

    All the teams took their formal 'end of season' photos pre-race, and while this one from Albon isn't as polished, it carries far more emotion.

    FACTS AND STATS: Verstappen becomes first driver in history to lead 1,000 laps in a season

    Off-season goals

    And that's that for 2023, the drivers supposedly flying off into the sunset to start their off-season with some relaxation before the heavy lifting for 2024 begins.

    But instead, a few decided they weren't sick of the sight of each other just yet, and went for one last celebratory dinner. Special props to Daniel Ricciardo for getting his Christmas jumper out for the occasion.

    READ MORE: Hamilton admits final race of season ‘couldn’t have been much worse’ with Red Bull’s pace ‘definitely a concern’ for 2024