Max Gunther cherishing Jakarta E-Prix win ahead of Portland race

Max Gunther cherishing Jakarta E-Prix win ahead of Portland race
Maximilian Gunther of Maserati MSG Racing celebrates winning the Jakarta E-Prix. (Supplied)
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Updated 13 June 2023

Max Gunther cherishing Jakarta E-Prix win ahead of Portland race

Max Gunther cherishing Jakarta E-Prix win ahead of Portland race
  • Victory was Maserati’s first single-seater motorsport podium since 1957

Maximilian Gunther has described his Jakarta E-Prix victory as one of the proudest moments of his career after steering Maserati to the top step of the podium in the single-seater category for the first time since 1957.

The Maserati MSG Racing driver sealed his first win of this season’s ABB FIA Formula E World Championship in the second race of the Jakarta E-Prix doubleheader earlier this month. It was his first for Maserati after Juan Manuel Fangio won the Formula One German Grand Prix 66 years ago.

The next race will take place in Portland on June 24.

The 25-year-old Gunther, who started on pole, said it was a great feeling to end Maserati’s long wait.

“It was a big weekend and very happy with what I achieved in Jakarta,” he said. “The momentum changed a few weekends ago at Berlin and everything was coming together. We had some good testing sessions in-between the races and from Berlin we started becoming really competitive. It was great to continue this progress and I hope we can maintain this form for the rest of the season.”

He added: “It was a very proud moment for me and for Maserati, and to listen to my name said in the same sentence as Juan Fangio — race A winner for Maserati — is a great feeling.”

Meanwhile, Jakarta E-Prix race one winner Pascal Wehrlein admits he would need to keep up the consistency in scoring points if he wants to become world champion.

The 28-year-old German holds a one-point advantage ahead of second-placed Jake Dennis in the drivers’ standings with five more races go, including stops in Portland, Rome and London. It was his third win of the season following his double triumph at the Diriyah E-Prix in January.

He said: “I think consistency in scoring points is very important. I feel sixth and seventh places are not enough to fight for the championship so definitely scoring points in the top three and five is where I need to be. Having a couple of race wins would obviously help us take a bigger step forward so I’m glad we found our form back as this is where we need to be.

“Portland is a bit unknown as we don’t know the track but I’m looking forward to Rome as it’s one of my favorite tracks on the calendar. London will be very different from before with the Gen3 cars, so I’m looking forward to racing there.”

Five off-track takeaways from 2023 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix weekend

Five off-track takeaways from 2023 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix weekend
Updated 27 November 2023

Five off-track takeaways from 2023 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix weekend

Five off-track takeaways from 2023 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix weekend
  • Reem Abulleil sheds some light on paddock conversations and celebrity sightings at Yas Marina Circuit

ABU DHABI: The Formula One season came to a close in Abu Dhabi with one last Max Verstappen win of the year — his 19th in 2023 — and Mercedes edging Ferrari to P2 in the Constructors’ Championship by just three points.

It has been a busy four days at Yas Marina Circuit with lots of takeaways from the conversations we have had with the drivers and team principals, as well as numerous celebrity sightings around the paddock all weekend.

Here’s what you may have missed from some of the action off the track.

Tennis players rock the paddock

The F1 paddock is always a popular destination for celebrities and Abu Dhabi this year has been no exception with the likes of Chris and Liam Hemsworth, Priyanka Chopra, Naomi Campbell, and Jason Statham among the A-listers making an appearance at Yas Marina Circuit.

From the football world, Sergio Aguero rocked a custom-made Manchester City race suit and presented the DHL Fastest Lap award to Verstappen on Saturday, while Patrice Evra was in an all-white linen suit when he turned up to the paddock on Sunday.

However, what stood out the most was the number of tennis stars in the house this weekend. Tunisian Ons Jabeur attended both qualifying and the race as a guest of title sponsors Etihad Airways.

The three-time Grand Slam finalist got to catch up with retired Russian ace Maria Sharapova, who walked into the paddock with the Hemsworths, Chopra and Statham before going up to the stands to watch the race.



Poland’s world No. 9 Hubert Hurkacz is a big fan of the sport and came to the track from Friday to Sunday. A guest of F1, Hurkacz told me he has always loved cars and was thrilled to attend his first grand prix.

Danish world No. 8 Holger Rune was spotted at the Ferrari hospitality villa and had a quick catch-up with Charles Leclerc before the race, while tennis pair Denis Shapovalov and his fiancee Mirjam Bjorklund arrived just in time for the action as guests of Aston Martin.

“It’s that Canadian connection,” said Shapovalov with a laugh, referring to his compatriot Lance Stroll, who drives for Aston Martin.

Other tennis players in attendance included Hemsworth look-alike Karen Khachanov and Alexander Zverev.



Gasly not interested in entertainment and sport debate

The Las Vegas Grand Prix last weekend reopened the debate of how much of a spectacle a sport is allowed to be. Several drivers said the inaugural race in Vegas was more of a “show” than anything else, and many complained about the tough scheduling that made them see no sunlight for the whole weekend.

Sport, of course, is a business and is entertainment and it cannot survive without generating a great deal of interest from fans around the world.

Alpine driver Pierre Gasly was asked to weigh in on the debate and whether he felt F1 got the balance right between putting on a show and highlighting the sport.

“I love the sport and personally I’m quite fine with the entertainment side of things,” said Gasly.

“I think it’s very personal and it depends how you can cope with it. I know I’m not someone that is really disturbed with that side of the sport. Obviously the priority needs to always remain on the actual sport.

“What I’d like is to almost have more priority on the driver side of things, where I feel at the minute it’s too much driven by car performance. So that’s more something that I’ll be focusing on as a sport rather than entertainment, sport, blah, blah, blah. At the end of the day we survive and everyone is paid here because people are watching us, so it’s a balance you need to find.

“But what I care the most about is that all drivers will be given fair chances to fight for the best positions, where at the minute there’s clearly a sort of imbalance in the performance of all 10 teams. It’s always been the case in F1, I’m fine with it, but I do see a lot of talk of this entertainment versus sport balance kind of thing and I think it’s really personal how you deal with it.”

Toto Wolff: Sport is a meritocracy

Speaking of “fair chances,” Mercedes’ team principal Toto Wolff was asked about the massive gap between Red Bull and the rest of the field, and whether the Austrian team’s dominance is hurting F1.

“The numbers that we are seeing are strong. When we go on social we see races that are packed and sold out,” said Wolff on Sunday.

“But as a matter of fact it is all around the spectacle and if the spectacle is not good, fans are going to follow us less. What I always say is that the spectacle follows the sport. And the sport is a meritocracy; whoever is doing the best job wins and if somebody is doing a much better job than everybody else, then they’re winning 19 races.

“It is us and Ferrari and all the other teams that have to do a better job in order to compete with Red Bull Racing.”

Hamilton focused on growing his legacy

So much of Lewis Hamilton’s pre-race press conference was dominated by Christian Horner’s claims that the British driver had reached out to Red Bull to see if they had a seat for him.

As Hamilton clarified, it was in fact the Red Bull team principal who had contacted him and not the other way round, but something way more interesting caught my attention in what he said.

One of the journalists asked Hamilton — a seven-time world champion — if driving for Red Bull was an appealing prospect for him, given he would be racing in a winning car. The 38-year-old said building toward beating Red Bull with Mercedes would be much better for his legacy in the sport.

“Let’s be realistic. Every single driver that’s racing here dreams of being in a winning car. I think probably in my younger days when I hadn’t maybe had a lot of success, maybe in those McLaren days, it would have been a lot more attractive,” he explained.

“When I think about (it), just from a racing perspective and my viewpoint of things, when I moved to this team I enjoyed moving from a more successful team to a team that hadn’t had success, with the vision of growing and building on the team. Because when we did then win, it was such a better feeling.

“Whilst every driver here looks at the Red Bull and would love to drive that car, and I’m not saying I wouldn’t love to drive that car and experience how good that car (is), every driver would want to feel that. I feel that we’ve had two very difficult years and if we work towards beating that car that’s going to be a way better feeling than just stepping into the best car.

“It wouldn’t do much for me in the sense of just stepping into the car that’s been the most dominant car of all time. Working with my team to build, to be able to beat them, I think would be better for my legacy, for sure.”

It is fascinating to see how clear his perspective is on the matter.

Alonso welcomes added pressure in 2024

Fernando Alonso deemed his 2023 campaign a “dream season” for himself and his Aston Martin team after securing fourth in the Drivers’ Championship with an impressive eight podiums.

No one expected the 42-year-old could pull off a season like that at the start of the year, and the Spanish two-time world champion acknowledges the pressure will be much higher in 2024. It is something he is welcoming with open arms.

“It has been a historic season for Aston Martin and for myself. Eight podiums, 300 points nearly for the team. Twelve months ago this was unthinkable,” said Alonso on Sunday following his P7 finish in the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

“This is the best season ever for the team as well, with whatever name they had before. It’s an incredible year to remember. The expectations were low, so we exceeded the expectations this year. Maybe next year is the opposite, expectations will be very high, so we have some pressure on our shoulders.

“This is Formula One, this is not a charity event. We have to have the pressure, we have to deliver. Fifth in the constructors’ hurts a little bit because I think we were better than that. We were hoping for better than that at the beginning of the year.

“To finish fourth in the drivers’ is a little bit unreal. Fighting with the guys that we were fighting with, in fact, if we are fifth in the constructors’ you should be ninth or 10th.

“So, it’s a dream season for many people in Aston Martin, including myself.”

Max Verstappen completes majestic season with record-breaking triumph

Max Verstappen completes majestic season with record-breaking triumph
Updated 26 November 2023

Max Verstappen completes majestic season with record-breaking triumph

Max Verstappen completes majestic season with record-breaking triumph
  • The three-time world champion came home 17.993 seconds ahead of Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc

ABU DHABI: Max Verstappen completed a majestic and record-breaking season in familiar style on Sunday when he cruised to a record-increasing 19th win of the year for Red Bull at an action-packed Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
The three-time world champion came home 17.993 seconds ahead of Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc whose bold drive was not enough for the Italian team to claim the runners-up place in the constructors’ championship.
That went, finally, to Mercedes by just three points as although Sergio Perez came home second behind Verstappen on the road he was relegated to fourth with a five-second penalty, for a mid-race clash with McLaren’s Lando Norris, which promoted George Russell to third.
Norris was fifth ahead of his McLaren team-mate Oscar Piastri, Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso, Yuki Tsunoda of Alpha Tauri and seven-time champion Lewis Hamilton in the second Mercedes.
Verstappen ended the season as the only driver to complete every lap of the season, more than 1000 laps led, and also broke Jim Clark’s 1963 record for the highest percentage of laps led in a season.
“An incredible season,” said Verstappen, who also paid tribute to retirement-bound Alpha Tauri boss Franz Tost who nurtured his early F1 career. “I felt quite emotional on the in-lap as it’s the last time in this car that has given me such a lot.
Russell said: “It was really tense at the end as the tires were dropping off, but it’s a massive relief to bring the car home P3. It means a huge amount to so many people back at the factory.”
Leclerc, who slowed to allow Perez to pass him in the closing laps, said: “He had a penalty and we had to help him finish in front of George with the five seconds... but, unfortunately, it wasn’t enough... It’s a shame we finished third.”
The race began in hot conditions, with an air temperature of 27 degrees Celsius and the track cooling rapidly as the sun went down and the floodlights blazed on the Yas Marina Circuit. The top 12 cars started on medium compound tires.
The Dutchman led from pole and fended off three early challenges from Leclerc to open up a one second lead before Drag Reduction System (DRS) was enabled on lap three when Perez swept inside Hamilton for ninth and Norris passed Piastri for third, having already passed Russell.
As the leaders all pitted for hards, Yuki Tsunoda took over on lap 18, giving Alpha Tauri and Tost a memorable moment, only the second time a Japanese driver had led a Formula One race.
He stayed there as Verstappen weaved his way back to the front, finally taking control again on lap 23 when Tsunoda pitted, returning in 12th behind Hamilton, who survived an early bump into the rear of Pierre Gasly’s Alpine with front wing damage.
By lap 30, it was a familiar story. Verstappen led Leclerc by 6.5 seconds with Russell 2.1 behind in third and Norris fourth. Hamilton was eighth and Sainz 14th.
As the second stops began, Norris pitted again on lap 34, taking fresh hards. He re-joined 10th. Mercedes responded, bringing Russell in — and he came out in P9 while Hamilton battled Alonso for ninth and Sainz, on an aggressive strategy, rose to eighth.
As it stood, it was advantage Ferrari again while, at the front, Verstappen came in again on lap 44, retaining his lead to emerge with a 15-lap cruise to the flag before Hamilton passed Sainz for ninth with 10 laps to go.
It was advantage Mercedes again, but when Russell was passed by Perez, for third, the ‘silver arrows’ hopes hung on the five-second penalty the Mexican was given for an earlier clash with Norris as the flag came out for Verstappen.

F1 champion Verstappen takes pole position for season-ending Abu Dhabi GP

F1 champion Verstappen takes pole position for season-ending Abu Dhabi GP
Updated 25 November 2023

F1 champion Verstappen takes pole position for season-ending Abu Dhabi GP

F1 champion Verstappen takes pole position for season-ending Abu Dhabi GP
  • Victory on Sunday would take the Red Bull driver onto 54 career wins
  • The three-time F1 champion’s 12th pole of the season took him to 32 overall

ABU DHABI: Max Verstappen took pole position for the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix on Saturday and will look to finish a crushingly dominant year with a 19th win.
Victory on Sunday would take the Red Bull driver onto 54 career wins, past former Red Bull star Sebastian Vettel and into third place all time.
“It’s been a very special season and we’ve been enjoying it a lot,” Verstappen said. “Very proud of what we have achieved.”
The three-time F1 champion’s 12th pole of the season took him to 32 overall. He starts the race ahead of Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc in second place and McLaren’s Oscar Piastri in third.
“Never bet against me,” Verstappen said afterward, jokingly referring to a comment made by his Red Bull team principal Christian Horner.
Horner informed Verstappen that he had won a bet for 500 euros ($547) made with Red Bull boss Helmut Marko as to where Verstappen would qualify.
“You’ve just won me 500 euros,” Horner told Verstappen over radio when he crossed the line.
With a few minutes left, Verstappen led from McLaren’s Lando Norris and Piastri under floodlights at the Yas Marina circuit.
Norris slid late while pushing too hard on his last timed lap and Piastri moved ahead of him, while Leclerc jumped up the leaderboard with an excellent lap to place .14 seconds behind Verstappen.
“Everything felt good, I’m very happy with that lap because I didn’t expect to be on the front row,” Leclerc said. “It’s a good surprise.”
Mercedes driver George Russell qualified in fourth ahead of Norris with AlphaTauri’s Yuki Tsunoda in sixth and Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso seventh. Nico Hulkenberg (Haas), Sergio Perez (Red Bull) and Pierre Gasly (Alpine) completed the top 10.
It was a bad session for Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton (11th) and Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz Jr. (16th).
Sainz failed to make it into the second part of qualifying — known as Q2 — and complained of too much traffic near the end of Q1 with several drivers coming out of their garages late.
Still, for a leading driver — Sainz is the only driver other than Verstappen or Perez to win a race this season — it was a poor performance after he crashed early in Friday’s second practice session. Potentially costly, too, with second place in the constructors’ championship at stake.
Heading into Sunday’s race, Mercedes was in second and held a four-point lead over Ferrari. Teams get more money at the end of the season the higher they finish.
“I hope tomorrow goes well,” Leclerc said. “It is the target to beat Mercedes in the constructors’ championship. That is all that matters this weekend.”
But Mercedes is struggling for form, and Hamilton was knocked out of Q2. The seven-time F1 champion said there was “something not right with this car” and faces the strong likelihood of a second straight season without a win.
Williams driver Logan Sargeant goes from last on the grid with his F1 future still uncertain. The American has only one point this season with a best result of 10th place at the United States GP last month.
Earlier Saturday, Russell topped the third and final practice session ahead of Norris and Piastri with Verstappen in sixth.
“What a turnaround because in practice it was not looking good,” Verstappen said. “Around here on the tires you have little slides, it can cost you a lot of lap time and that is what was happening in practice. But then in qualifying it was a bit more connected.”
When his form picked up, Horner was happy to win a bet in a season where Red Bull has lost only one race out of 21.
Piastri, meanwhile, was pleased to bounce back from a difficult qualifying session last weekend at the Las Vegas GP. He started from 18th and finished the race in 10th.
“The car is very quick this weekend,” the 22-year-old Australian said. “Happy to be back in the top three.”

Albon, Sargeant confident of strong finish to season for Williams in Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

Albon, Sargeant confident of strong finish to season for Williams in Abu Dhabi Grand Prix
Updated 25 November 2023

Albon, Sargeant confident of strong finish to season for Williams in Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

Albon, Sargeant confident of strong finish to season for Williams in Abu Dhabi Grand Prix
  • Alex Albon (L) and his teammate Logan Sargeant (R) are keen to end a Williams losing streak in Abu Dhabi and hold off AlphaTauri

ABU DHABI: Alex Albon is well aware that Yas Marina Circuit has not been a happy hunting ground for Williams, but the Thai-British driver is hoping his team can finish the season on a high and secure seventh place in the constructors’ championship this weekend.

A Williams car has not scored points in Abu Dhabi since Felipe Massa finished 10th in 2017, but Albon and his teammate Logan Sargeant are keen to end that streak and hold off AlphaTauri, who are seven points behind in the standings.

Seventh would be Williams’ highest finish in the championship since 2017 — when they placed fifth — and Albon, who has scored points on seven occasions this season, believes his team have been “one of the surprises” of 2023.

“I think I can speak for Logan and the whole team, we’re all burnt out massively. We’ve obviously just come from Vegas, but we’ve had a great season,” Albon said at a Q&A session organized by team sponsors Jumeirah ahead of the race weekend.

“For Williams, historically, we’ve had a few years now where we haven’t been where we want to be. We’ve been more towards the back of the field. But this season we’ve had some great results, we’ve been able to get some top 10s. I think we’ve been one of the surprises of the year, which has been a lot of fun.”

Albon’s best performances of the campaign were seventh-place finishes in Canada and Monza, while F1 rookie Sargeant became the first American driver to score a point since Michael Andretti in 1993, thanks to his 10th place showing in Austin.

“It’s been a great morale boost for everyone back in the UK, back where the team is. We’re on the up, we’re fully focused there into next year, but I think, at least from what I’ve seen, from speaking to people in the team, it’s been maybe the strongest (season) they’ve had in six or seven years. Things are going really well,” said Albon.

Sargeant is the only driver on the grid yet to secure a seat for next year but the 22-year-old does not sound too worried about his chances. He had the best qualifying result of his career last weekend in Las Vegas, and started the race in sixth place.

“We need to try and have a good weekend and beat AlphaTauri, which is the last goal of the season. I believe we both want to end out pretty strong, so hopefully we have a good weekend,” said Sargeant.

“Realistically, it’s not going to be the best track for us, however we have also thought that in the past and we’ve gone okay.

“We’re always optimistic that it’ll play in our favor, but it’s one of those things where you’re never completely sure until you put the car on the ground. Some weekends when you don’t expect it to be good it surprises you, and some weekends you expect it to be better and it’s not really there. You have to play it by ear and take it as it comes.”

Yas Marina Circuit receives FIA three-star recertification ahead of Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

Yas Marina Circuit receives FIA three-star recertification ahead of Abu Dhabi Grand Prix
Updated 24 November 2023

Yas Marina Circuit receives FIA three-star recertification ahead of Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

Yas Marina Circuit receives FIA three-star recertification ahead of Abu Dhabi Grand Prix
  • Venue recognized for new and established sustainability initiatives

ABU DHABI: Ahead of the 15th Formula 1 Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Ethara has announced the recertification of its FIA three-star environmental accreditation as part of Yas Marina Circuit’s sustainability progress in 2023.   

The certification was extended ahead of the 2023 season finale in recognition of the event’s environmental performance and its continued green management and sustainability evolution.  

Saif Rashid Al-Noaimi, CEO of Ethara, said: “We are delighted to have been recertified by the FIA for our range of environmental management efforts, providing global recognition of our ongoing work across the whole Yas Marina Circuit community.  

“The award is another key milestone in our journey to net-zero operations, driven by innovative low-carbon solutions. We look forward to showcasing our practices on a global stage and to our record crowds at our greenest ever edition of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.” 

Ethara has unveiled a raft of green initiatives at Yas Marina Circuit for this year’s Abu Dhabi GP, including a 100 percent upgrade of all track lights. With a switch to LEDs and new RGBW track lights, the system has reduced the number of lighting fixtures by 17 percent, power consumption by 40 percent, and carbon emissions by 30 percent. 

This year will see Abu Dhabi Hill again being fully powered by a 75kW panel and battery storage solution, following the system’s introduction in 2022. Ethara has also installed its first solar-powered car park, with a capacity of 1 MW.  When the system goes live in the first quarter of next year, it will provide an average of up to 40 percent of daytime power consumption throughout the year. 

Other green measures include all staff uniforms being made from recycled plastics, a “plastic-free” environment at the media center, paddock and pit lane as well as in the team villas. 

The environmental certification of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix is in line with the Formula 1 environmental sustainability plan, which should enable the championship to reduce its carbon footprint, hosting sustainable events by 2025 and achieving net-zero carbon status by 2030.  

In 2022, Ethara become a signatory to the UN Sports for Climate Action Framework and will work to achieve net zero greenhouse gases and emissions certification by 2040. The organization also achieved ISO 14001 and ISO 20121 accreditation status this year for its environmental management and sustainable event management systems.

Ethara has become the only circuit operator in the region to currently hold ISO 14001 and ISO 20121 accreditation status, a FIA three-star rating and be a signatory on the UN’s Sport for Climate Action Framework, making it a leader in its commitment to sustainability in the events and venues sector.