Max Verstappen’s Bold Move Sparks Overtaking Drama in F1 Pit Lane During Abu Dhabi GP Practice

Formula One’s governing body prohibited overtaking in the pitlane exit during the season’s final qualifying in Abu Dhabi on Saturday after Max Verstappen forced his way past rivals in practice.

Race director Niels Wittich issued a change to the event notes to prohibit overtaking in the pit exit road unless a car slowed with an obvious problem.

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“They have to move,” the Red Bull driver explained. “They are all driving slow, and I want to go out because we are limited on time, and they just keep on driving in the middle.

“Then, when I tried to pass, they tried to squeeze me in the wall. So yeah….a bit silly.”

Verstappen and Red Bull won both championships long ago, with the Dutch driver chasing a record-extending 19th win of the season on Sunday. Red Bull have won all but one race so far in 2023.

George Russell topped the times for Mercedes ahead of McLaren’s Lando Norris in Saturday’s third and final practice ahead of the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

On a hot afternoon at the Yas Marina Circuit, Russell’s pace raised Mercedes’ hopes of clinging on to second place in the constructors’ championship as Ferrari, four points behind, struggled to keep pace.

Russell was quickest in a time of one minute and 24.418 seconds to beat Norris by 0.095 seconds with Oscar Piastri third in the second McLaren, three-tenths adrift, ahead of Williams’ Alex Albon, Charles Leclerc of Ferrari and Verstappen.

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Verstappen was unhappy with his car set-up throughout the session. “The car is bottoming again, jumping,” he grumbled in the final minutes. “I don’t know what is going on…”

After Friday’s furore over Verstappen’s attempted passing move on the two Mercedes driver in the pit-lane exit tunnel, the race stewards had reacted to protests aired during the drivers’ briefing and banned the practice.

Once-dominant Mercedes are facing their first season without a win since 2011.