Max Verstappen claimed his fifteenth victory in 2022 at the season finale Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, to round off a dominant year for the now two-time World Champion and the Oracle Red Bull Racing team.
Verstappen led from the get-go after securing pole position for the race on Saturday. The Dutchman started on the yellow medium tyres as did the rest of the top six drivers. Verstappen held of his team-mate Sergio Pérez into Turn One for the lead of the Grand Prix and from then on, he controlled the tempo of the race and came across the finish line to win at the Yas Marina Circuit for the third year in a row.
Verstappen built up a strong lead going into the first pit-stop window, as the World Champion made his one and only stop of the race on lap twenty-one for the white hard tyres which he continued on for the rest of the fifty-eight lap race.
Verstappen ends the season with a record fifteen wins in a season and a record high points total of four-hundred and fifty-four points. Red Bull claimed the Constructors’ Championship as they finished on seven-hundred and fifty-nine points, two-hundred and five points ahead of their rivals this season Scuderia Ferrari as they clinched seventeen victories out of twenty-two races in the season.
The only disappointment for the team was that Pérez was unable to secure second place in the Drivers’ Championship as Charles Leclerc finished the Grand Prix in second place as Checo took the final podium position. The Mexican driver opted for a two-stop strategy whereas Leclerc went for the one-stop, which paid off for the Monegasque driver who finished 1.3 seconds ahead of Pérez for second place in the race and also in the Championship.
Pérez never gave up on the position as he chased Leclerc down for twenty-four laps but, the Ferrari man was able to hang onto second place as he finishes the season on three-hundred and eight points, only three points ahead of Pérez who had to settle for third in this season’s drivers’ standings.
Ferrari secure second place in the Constructors’ Championship
It has been an up and down season for Ferrari who have shone at times this season, but have also got things very wrong when it come to strategy and decision making. However, after a late push from Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula 1 Team for second place in the Constructors’ Championship, Ferrari have got it right when they needed to and in doing so, they take home second place in the standings.
Both Leclerc and his team-mate Carlos Sainz Jr lined up on the second row of the grid for the race with the Mercedes team occupying the third row. Sainz lost a place to Lewis Hamilton into turn one as Leclerc stayed in third and was in pursuit of both the Red Bull’s.
The battle continued over the next few laps between Hamilton and Sainz with the Spaniard winning out in the end as he held fourth place going into the first pit-stop window. Sainz pitted for the white hard tyres on lap eighteen with his team-mate pitting two laps later for the same compound.
Sainz re-entered the track in seventh and got back up to fourth place, before making his second stop of the race on lap forty for the hard compound tyres again. Leclerc only made one stop in the race, but due to Pérez going for the two stop, the number sixteen driver was able to hold onto second place in the race as Checo just couldn’t quite catch Leclerc on fresher tyres.
Sainz was able to finish the race in fourth place after a late retirement from the seven time World Champion, as Ferrari end the season thirty-nine points ahead of Mercedes in the Constructors’ Championship. Ferrari clearly got their strategy right today and it paid off for Leclerc who took home second place in the race and the Drivers’ Championship. Sainz finished fifth in the championship as Ferrari will look to improve and challenge for both titles more closely next season.
Heartbreak for Lewis Hamilton
Mercedes have struggled across most of this season, lacking the pace that they had in 2021 and finding it a challenge to keep up with Red Bull and Ferrari. Their race pace has been pretty good over the course of the year and they have been consistent with finishes but, have found it very difficult to get on the top step of the podium which we are so used to seeing them on.
However, this changed last weekend in Brazil as George Russell secured Mercedes’ their first win of the season and their first one-two finish. Confidence was high coming into the final race weekend of the season in Abu Dhabi but, their pace was only good enough to get them on the third row behind both Red Bull and Ferrari drivers.
Hamilton started the race well as he got into fourth place ahead of Sainz into turn one with Russell dropping a position on the first corner to Lando Norris. Sainz tried to overtake Hamilton heading down into turn six as the Spaniard dived down the inside, which caused the British driver to take evasive action as he went off the track and over the chicane and then re-entered the track ahead of Sainz which the number fifty-five driver was not to happy about.
A couple of laps later, Hamilton would be told by his race engineer to give the place back to Sainz which he did in due course. Hamilton then overtook Sainz a lap later and Russell was also able to get past Norris. Hamilton then began to complain of having damage to his floor and also a loss of power in the W13. Because of this, Russell was able to overtake his team-mate.
Russell pitted on lap sixteen and after having a slow stop, he was deemed to have been released in an unsafe manner back onto the pit straight and was given a five-second time penalty because of this. Hamilton pitted three laps later on lap nineteen still complaining of damage to his car.
As we headed into the final couple of laps in the race, it was heartbreak for Hamilton as he started to slow down before turn nine, as he seemed to be stuck in seventh gear. He was overtaken by Sainz and Russell and made his way slowly back round to the pits where he had to retire with Mercedes’ first mechanical failure of the season. This is the first season in Hamilton’s career that has failed to win a race.
Russell was able to finish the race in fifth place as he claimed fourth place in the Drivers’ Championship with two-hundred and seventy-five points. His team-mate ended the season in sixth place in the standings as Mercedes took home third place in the Constructors’ Championship. The Silver Arrows will be hoping that they can come back stronger next season and be back to where we are all used to seeing them.
What about the rest?
Lando Norris came across the finish line in sixth place as he gained an extra point after setting the the fastest lap of the race. His team-mate Daniel Ricciardo also finished inside the points, as he ended his last race with the McLaren F1 Team and also in F1 for the time being in ninth place. Ricciardo is set to become Red Bull’s reserve driver for 2023, in the hope of being able to be nearer the front of the grid in the future.
McLaren ended the season in fifth place in the Constructors’ Championship with one-hundred and fifty-nine points, with Norris finishing ‘best of the rest’ in seventh place in the Drivers’ Championship.
BWT Alpine F1 Team were able to secure fourth place in the Constructors’ as Esteban Ocon finished in seventh place to help the French team finish above their rivals this season. It was disappointment though for Fernando Alonso who retired from the race on lap twenty-eight, in his final race for the team after his A522 suffered a water leak. It’s the fourth time this season that Alonso has had to retire with the same or similar issue. Alpine in the end, finished on one-hundred and seventy-three points, fourteen points ahead of McLaren.
Aston Martin Aramco Cognizant Formula One Team had a great result as both Lance Stroll and Sebastian Vettel finished inside the points. Stroll finished in eighth place and on his final race over his illustrious career, Vettel took home one point as he finished in tenth. Vettel waves farewell to F1 after winning four world titles, winning fifty-three races and having one-hundred and twenty-two podiums across fifteen fantastic years in the sport.
Both drivers have helped Aston Martin to finish level on points with Alfa Romeo F1 Team ORLEN in the Championship; however, because of Valtteri Bottas’ fifth place finish earlier in the season, Aston Martin finish behind Alfa Romeo in the Constructors’ standings in seventh place.
Scuderia AlphaTauri finish this season in ninth place in the Constructors’ as both Yuki Tsunoda and Pierre Gasly finished outside of the points once again, with Tsunoda taking eleventh place and Gasly in his final race with the team took home fourteenth. It has been a disappointing season for Red Bull’s sister team who will be hoping that they can improve for next season.
Alfa Romeo finish the season in sixth place in the Constructors’ Championship as Zhou Guanyu finished the race in twelfth and Bottas finishing in fifteenth. It’s been a very up and down season for the team but, they have certainly improved on last season with a sixth place finish in the Championship and the rookie of the year award going to the Chinese driver, given that he was the only rookie!.
Williams Racing finish the season in last place in the standings, as they have only been able to score eight points across the season. Alex Albon finished the race in thirteenth place and team-mate Nicholas Latifi who, leaves the sport, did not finish the race in his final Grand Prix for the team after coming into the pits late on in the race. The Canadian driver had earlier collided with Mick Schumacher on lap thirty-nine at Turn five which had caused his car some damage.
Haas F1 Team secured eighth place in the Constructors’, finishing on thirty-seven points and two points ahead of AlphaTauri. Schumacher in his final race in F1 for the time being came home in sixteenth place with his team-mate and last weekends pole sitter Kevin Magnussen finishing right behind him in seventeenth.
Schumacher will be replaced by Nico Hulkenberg for next season but, the German driver may still have a place in the sport as it’s rumoured that he will become Mercedes’ reserve driver for 2023.
Abu Dhabi Grand Prix Full Results:
|1||1||Max Verstappen||NET||Oracle Red Bull Racing||1:27:45.914|
|2||16||Charles Leclerc||MON||Scuderia Ferrari||+8.771 s|
|3||11||Sergio Perez||MEX||Oracle Red Bull Racing||+10.093 s|
|4||55||Carlos Sainz||SPA||Scuderia Ferrari||+24.892 s|
|5||63||George Russell||GBR||Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula 1 Team||+35.888 s|
|6||4||Lando Norris||GBR||McLaren F1 Team||+56.234 s|
|7||31||Esteban Ocon||FRA||BWT Alpine F1 Team||+57.24 s|
|8||18||Lance Stroll||CAN||Aston Martin Aramco Cognizant Formula One Team||+76.931 s|
|9||3||Daniel Ricciardo||AUS||McLaren F1 Team||+83.268 s|
|10||5||Sebastian Vettel||GER||Aston Martin Aramco Cognizant Formula One Team||+83.898 s|
|11||22||Yuki Tsunoda||JAP||Scuderia AlphaTauri||+89.371 s|
|12||24||Zhou Guanyu||CHI||Alfa Romeo F1 Team ORLEN||+ 1 lap|
|13||23||Alex Albon||THA||Williams Racing||+ 1 lap|
|14||10||Pierre Gasly||FRA||Scuderia AlphaTauri||+ 1 lap|
|15||77||Valtteri Bottas||FIN||Alfa Romeo F1 Team ORLEN||+ 1 lap|
|16||47||Mick Schumacher||GER||Haas F1 Team||+ 1 lap|
|17||20||Kevin Magnussen||DEN||Haas F1 Team||+ 1 lap|
|18||44||Lewis Hamilton||GBR||Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula 1 Team||DNF|
|19||6||Nicholas Latifi||CAN||Williams Racing||DNF|
|20||14||Fernando Alonso||SPA||BWT Alpine F1 Team||DNF|