ABU DHABI: Max Verstappen lined up ahead of teammate Sergio Perez on the grid for the Abu Dhabi GP to help his teammate clinch P2 in the drivers’ championship.
However, Max Verstappen was unable to assist Perez in defeating Charles Leclerc after Red Bull put the Mexican on a two-stop strategy. Sergio Perez was unable to close the gap between himself and Leclerc, finishing agonisingly close behind the Monegasque.
At the Yas Marina Circuit, all eyes were on Red Bull following the Brazil team orders controversy. Max Verstappen was the centre of attention about how he would help his teammate.
Once the Abu Dhabi GP started, Max Verstappen sped off into the distance, followed by Perez who started second.
Perez was initially ahead of Leclerc after the first round of pitstops. He pitted again in the middle stages of the race in an attempt to have fresher tyres towards the end.
Once Perez had pitted again, Ferrari switched their driver to a one-stop strategy, and Charles Leclerc managed his tyres beautifully to survive a late charge from Sergio Perez.
With both drivers heading into the Abu Dhabi GP on points amount of points, the race result determined their final positions in the drivers’ standings.
Max Verstappen won for the 15th time this season, setting the new record for most wins in a single season.
Leclerc finished 2nd to claim P2 in the standings, ahead of Sergio Perez who finished third best.
On lap 1 of the race, Leclerc tried to pass Perez as the two Red Bulls took off, but he was unable to do so. That put him in Lewis Hamilton’s crosshairs, who in turn was pounced upon by Carlos Sainz.
The Spaniard braked late into turn 6 which ended up with Hamilton running over the curbs.
As a result, Hamilton had to cut the corner and then relinquish his position to Carlos Sainz. However, in the next lap, he immediately overtook the Ferrari with DRS assistance. Hamilton was chasing down Leclerc and with George Russell getting closer to Sainz, the Spaniard struggled to maintain his pace.
A few laps Sainz overtook Hamilton who seemed to have some damage after the lap 1 incident. Hamilton’s Mercedes teammate Russell followed him through a few corners after Mercedes told them they were “free to race.” Hamilton lamented that he was “losing power.”
Leclerc began to drop behind as the Red Bulls went 1-2 with Verstappen making a significant gap ahead of Perez as the grid settled down after the initial exhilaration at the Abu Dhabi GP.
Lewis Hamilton was put on a one-stop strategy by Mercedes, but the 7-time world champion suffered from hydraulic issues and retired from the race three laps before the end. As a result, Mercedes only had Russell in fifth place.
Lando Norris moved up to P6 for McLaren thanks to Hamilton’s retirement. Esteban Ocon moved up to P7 for Alpine, which finished fourth in the constructors’ standings even though Fernando Alonso had to retire from his final race for Alpine.
Eighth place went to Lance Stroll thanks to his two-stop strategy. With his one-stop strategy, Daniel Ricciardo finished ninth, just six tenths ahead of retiring Sebastian Vettel, who couldn’t get past the McLaren and took one point to leave Aston Martin level with Alfa Romeo but behind Sauber in the standings.
Yuki Tsunoda made a futile attempt to finish the race on soft tyres for the final stint. He finished 11th and out of points. On the other hand, Alex Albon had a good start and finished in P12, ahead of Zhou Guanyu and Pierre Gasly, who started the race on softs.
Mick Schumacher finished 16th in his final Haas race after receiving a five-second penalty for colliding with Nicholas Latifi, who later retired from his last race for Williams. Valtteri Bottas finished 15th. Kevin Magnussen finished 17th after he couldn’t make his one-stop strategy work.
As the 2022 season of Formula 1 concluded in Abu Dhabi, Verstappen, Leclerc, Perez, and Vettel topped off Sunday’s race with some celebratory donuts.
Emotions were high as Sebastian Vettel, the four-time Formula 1 World Champion, bid goodbye to the sport with grace.