Abu Dhabi Grand Prix: Race team notes - Pirelli


Max Verstappen produced the best possible finish to what was the best season of any driver in the history of Formula 1.

Today, he took his 19th win from 22 races, bringing the triple world champion's total number of victories to 54, which puts him alone in third place on the all-time winners list. Verstappen is also the only driver to have covered more than one thousand laps, 1003 to be precise, in a single season and this year, he is the only driver to have completed every lap of all 22 Grands Prix.

The majority of drivers opted to start on the Medium tyre for the first stint, with only Sainz, Bottas and Stroll, all starting from a long way back, going with the Hard. At his first pit stop, Ferrari's Spanish driver took on another set of the C3, which meant he would be making two stops, although the second one was delayed all the way until lap 57. In the end, only three drivers, Bottas, Ocon and Tsunoda, got to the chequered flag having made just a single stop. The Finn ran two very equal length stints, while the Japanese drivers stopped on lap 22, before putting in no fewer than 36 laps on a set of Hards and the Frenchman brought his first stop forward to lap 15, which meant he went for 43 laps on the C3. The rest of the field all stopped twice.

Yet another award for Max Verstappen in what has been an amazing season for him. The Dutch driver has secured the 2023 Pirelli Pole Position Award of the Year for having been quickest in qualifying at 12 races, more than any other driver. Today, he was presented with the award, a personalised Pirelli P Zero soft tyre, by Kalle Rovanperä, winner of the World Rally Championship drivers' title for the past two years.

Mario Isola: "The race was an accurate reflection of the season as a whole, with Max Verstappen totally dominant, while behind him a close battle raged for every place, with the hierarchy changing, sometimes significantly, from race to race.

"As was generally forecast, the C3 compound was far and away the most popular, while the C5 was only used by Sainz for one lap, which he didn't even complete, at the very end of the race. The difference between the one-stop and two-stop strategies was very small in our pre-race simulations, but in the end, almost everyone opted for the two-stop, mainly for tactical reasons given that degradation was relatively low. In fact, on a track where the undercut is always very effective, it's clear that when a driver started the run of pit stops, any other drivers battling with them had to do the same to avoid being passed by anyone exploiting new tyres and a clear track ahead. This was seen not only amongst the leaders, but also in those further back, while a few drivers tried to go for something different, some going for a one-stop (Ocon, Tsunoda and Bottas), some, like Sainz, hoping for a Safety Car, others going for a longer second stint, trying to make the most of the difference in grip levels between new and used tyres in the closing stages, in particular Perez and Stroll. Verstappen, from his position of superiority, reacted to the moves of his closest rivals in the first stint and then waited for them to pit again, before making his second stop in perfect safety.

"Graining was a factor especially for those who spent a lot of time in traffic, but was far less significant for drivers who were able to run in clean air and this applied to both the Medium and Hard."

All the Formula 1 teams are staying on in Abu Dhabi for a day's testing on Tuesday. Each team can use two cars, one for their race drivers, the other for a rookie. With no new compounds to evaluate, track time will be used to work on optimising tyre management for next season with the help of the additional sensors that they can fit. The data acquired will then be shared with Pirelli. The cars used by the race drivers will have ten sets of tyres available: one C1, one C2, two C5, three C4 and three C3. The young drivers can use a maximum of eight sets: two C4, two C5 and four sets of C4.

Check out our Sunday gallery from Yas Marina here.

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Published: 26/11/2023
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