Max Verstappen 'in a league of his own' as he targets fourth straight Abu Dhabi GP success

Saif Al Noaimi, part of the team organising F1 race this weekend, expects memorable finale to season at Yas Marina Circuit

Red Bull's Max Verstappen celebrates winning his first F1 world championship at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. PA
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As the Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix prepares to celebrate its 15th anniversary this weekend, all eyes will be on Red Bull's star driver Max Verstappen as he aims for a fourth successive win in the UAE.

Verstappen enters the final stretch of the season on the back of last weekend’s triumph at the inaugural Las Vegas Grand Prix - a record-extending 18th victory of the season.

It was the 53rd win of the triple world champion's career, and sixth in a row.

While Lewis Hamilton holds the record at the Yas Marina Circuit for most wins - five - Verstappen is the only driver to have won the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix three times in a row, and is clearly the man to beat.

“Nobody can dismiss Max Verstappen,” Saif Al Noaimi, chief executive officer of Ethara, the event management company behind the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, told The National when asked to share his thoughts on the final race of the season.

“He is currently in a league of his own. He’s outperformed his teammates and all of the other teams by a big margin. If you had to choose based on the statistics of the last 2022 (Abu Dhabi) Grand Prix, it’s likely to be Max.”

The championship for both the drivers and the constructors may have already been decided, but Al Noaimi insists the final race of the year will be exciting.

“The drivers have a point to prove; they want to finish ahead of their competitors,” he said.

“Many will also look to out-perform their teammates. The second place in the constructor’s championship is still alive and it will very likely be decided in Abu Dhabi.

“The financial rewards are based on where they place in the championship. So, there is still a lot at stake in the final Grand Prix of the year.

“Wheel-to-wheel racing is expected to continue with the changes we made to the track in 2021. We see an amazing number of overtakes at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix and expect to see more this year.”

Updated: November 21, 2023, 12:09 PM