F1 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix: Mercedes edge out Ferrari in battle for second place

Silver Arrows finish ahead of the Prancing Horse in constructors' championship

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There are rivalries aplenty in any sport. Spectators of Formula One will be aware it isn’t known for being at the extreme end of the spectrum in this regard, but the jostling for position between four teams at the tail end of this year has generated just such a situation.

Going into the season finale, Mercedes led Ferrari by four points in the constructors' championship, while McLaren sat 11 points above Aston Martin.

The race is done and dusted now, of course, and both participants and spectators will know Mercedes and McLaren won these personal battles this time around.

In a season where you had Max Verstappen, Sergio Perez and their Red Bull team streak into the lead from the word go, you can see why the other participants thought it best to concentrate on competition closer to home.

It isn’t just professional pride that causes this.

There is, of course, also the matter of around $10 million in prize money separating each position in the constructors’ championship, and the knock-on commercial effect that a higher placing, even just a single slot, can give you.

Ahead of the race, most of the drivers were relaxed about what lay ahead, with Mercedes’ George Russell and talking about a positive result being good for the team but adding: “It’s not going to change the world.”

To a greater of lesser extent, it was a view echoed by many of those involved in these two clashes ahead of the race at Yas Marina Circuit.

Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc was a bit more blunt though. “It is the target to beat Mercedes in the constructors’ championship,” he said. “That is all that matters this weekend.”

In events where you have one individual as the main focus of attention, it is unusual to hear such a pertinent and frank remark.

Following today’s race, however, that can all now be set aside for the summer.

Still, if Red Bull carry on in the way they’re going there will be plenty of time to spark it all up again next season.

Updated: November 27, 2023, 8:57 AM