Max Verstappen violates ‘hidden agreement’

Only 13 of the 20 drivers were present at the post-season meal at the Hakkasan restaurant following the 2023 Abu Dhabi GP.

Max Verstappen is believed to have breached a “hidden agreement” following last weekend’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, as he failed to pay for the post-season drivers meal.

According to 2016 World Champion Nico Rosberg, it’s the winner of the title who covers the bill; however, Verstappen was nowhere to be seen.

“The hidden agreement usually is that the world champion pays,” Rosberg revealed on social media in 2016.

In fact, of the 20 drivers on the grid, only 13 were present at the meal, according to photos of the gathering at the Hakkasan restaurant.

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At the long table, Lewis Hamilton sat next to Charles Leclerc on the right-hand side, whilst Yuki Tsunoda, Zhou Guanyu and Valtteri Bottas also sat on the right of the table.

On the left-hand side there were Lance Stroll, Pierre Gasly, Carlos Sainz, George Russell, Alex Albon and Daniel Ricciardo.

Whilst not in the snaps of the meal, Lando Norris and Oscar Piastri were present.

It meant that Verstappen, Sergio Perez, Fernando Alonso, Esteban Ocon, Nico Hulkenberg, Kevin Magnussen and Logan Sargeant were absent.

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Who paid for the meal is unknown, although it was Hamilton who paid for the meal last year which all 20 drivers attended.

The seven-time World Champion supposedly planned the 2022 meal and covered the entirety of the bill, despite the fact Verstappen was Champion then.

Hamilton covering the bill last year was confirmed by Alex Albon, who admitted that the meal was “really special”.

“We had a set menu,” Albon explained, as reported by The Express. “There were a lot of people with dietary requirements like obviously, Lewis Hamilton is vegan.

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“Lewis covered the bill, very nice of him. He organised it as well – very nice of him. The dinner, truthfully speaking, was really special. It was a lot of fun.

“I think every driver, [including] myself, my cheeks were aching just smiling and laughing the whole time, so it was really good.”

Why Verstappen wasn’t at the meal after the season finale last weekend isn’t publicly known, neither is the reason why over a quarter of the grid didn’t attend.