After destroying the competition throughout the 2023 Formula 1 season, Max Verstappen was one of seven drivers’ who failed to make an appearance at the traditional post-Abu Dhabi drivers meal.
The reigning World Champion wasn’t seen in photos of the meal at the iconic Hakkasan restaurant, meaning he failed to continue F1’s unwritten rule.
According to 2016 F1 World Champion Nico Rosberg, whoever wins the Drivers’ Championship must pick up the bill at the annual meal in Abu Dhabi; however, Verstappen hasn’t once paid in the last three years.
Alex Albon confirmed that Lewis Hamilton paid for the meal in 2022, which all 20 drivers actually attended, despite Verstappen having collected his second consecutive title.
As for who paid for the meal this year, that’s yet to be confirmed but the likelihood is that it was one of the 13 drivers in attendance or perhaps they split the bill!
Every driver attended the meal except Verstappen, Sergio Perez, Fernando Alonso, Kevin Magnussen, Nico Hulkenberg, Esteban Ocon and Logan Sargeant.
Oscar Piastri and Lando Norris were reportedly at the meal, despite not featuring in the images of the event.
Why Verstappen wasn’t in attendance at the meal is unknown, perhaps he was busy with Red Bull celebrating their dominant campaign, something which would also answer why Perez wasn’t present.
At the meal, Hamilton opted to sit next to Charles Leclerc, with the duo having been opposite Lance Stroll, Pierre Gasly and Carlos Sainz.
On the other side of Sainz was George Russell, with Albon and Daniel Ricciardo completing that side of the table.
On the other side next to Leclerc was Yuki Tsunoda, with Zhou Guanyu and Valtteri Bottas completing the row.
It meant that Bottas and Ricciardo were opposite one another, in what sounds like the best place to have been on the table!
Nevertheless, not attending the meal doesn’t hide the fact that Verstappen has been sensational this year and in a complete league of his own.
Nobody has been able to consistently challenge him, meaning that most of his 19 wins this year have by several seconds.
With the regulations not changing until 2026, it wouldn’t be a surprise for the Dutchman to continue his dominance throughout 2024 and 2025.