Max Verstappen has caused a stir by not attending the Formula One drivers' end of season dinner in Abu Dhabi, breaking an unwritten tradition. The dinner is meant to bring all 20 drivers together to celebrate the conclusion of the campaign.
This year's dinner had several notable absences, including world champion Verstappen. Only 11 drivers posed for a picture in the restaurant, with the likes of Lewis Hamilton, Charles Leclerc, Carlos Sainz, George Russell, and Daniel Ricciardo in attendance. Lando Norris and Oscar Piastri were also present but missed out on the group photo.
While seven drivers, including Sergio Perez and Fernando Alonso, missed the dinner, Verstappen's absence is causing the biggest stir. As the reigning world champion, he is expected to foot the bill according to an unwritten rule. Former Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg confirmed this secret ruling on social media, stating that the world champion usually pays.
However, at last year's dinner, it was Hamilton who paid the bill despite Verstappen being the champion in 2022. This goes against the tradition, but Verstappen got away with not paying once again.
Last year's dinner was a rare occasion where all 20 drivers were present. It served as a farewell to retiring driver Sebastian Vettel after his last season on the grid. Pierre Gasly, who attended the dinner, described it as an authentic moment where the drivers showed their real side and formed closer relationships.