What the last race is about

Ein race is still to be driven in this Formula 1 season. Everything seems decided. And yet, on Friday, the drivers raced to the limit during practice across the Abu Dhabi race track, overshooting the apex of the curves here and there. Braked too fast, too late, misjudged, at least driven by ambition.

If, after winning the Drivers’ World Championship for Max Verstappen and in the Constructors’ Championship for his Red Bull team, nothing mattered, then the men before the finale on Sunday (2 p.m. CET, in the FAZ live ticker for Formula 1 and Sky) take it easy. But what is still at stake?

World champions are world champions because they want to win everything. “There’s more to come,” Max Verstappen declared after his 14th win this season, a new record. The 15th if possible on Sunday. The shape seems correct.

Perez gegen Leclerc

In the early evening, the Dutchman set the best time in the glaring floodlights during the second “free” practice session. In the speed test, he drove around 0.7 seconds faster than his team-mate Sergio Perez (5th). It wasn’t a show of force against the Mexican. But a first indication of how difficult it could be to stabilize the truce in the racing team before the winter break.

Perez wants to finish second in the overall standings, past Charles Leclerc in the Ferrari, who is tied (290), who is ahead because he has won one more Grand Prix this year (3) than the Mexican. Behind Perez is the Red Bull team leadership and their vision of flawless dominance. No place should be occupied between Verstappen and Perez. Which would make the second helmsman look better from the outside, at least as by far the second best in the world champion team. Leclerc in front of him in the pecking order would raise questions: How can the Monegasse have sped past in the ultimately slower Ferrari?

Even before the final act, Red Bull ends up with a topic that the racing team wants to keep as small as possible with a language rule: why did Verstappen brusquely reject the wish of the strategy center at the last race in Brazil to give Perez sixth place and thus give him points?



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