18/04/2024

Max Verstappen celebrates after winning the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. (Photo: @Redbullracing/Twitter.)

The 2022 Formula 1 season was all about Red Bull’s Max Verstappen with the Dutchmen finishing his second World Championship winning campaign in style, taking home the final Grand Prix of the year in Abu Dhabi at Yas Marina.

The Dutchmen was untouchable for the whole Grand Prix winning by more than eight seconds over his main rival this year, Charles Leclerc.

Barely challenged from the moment the lights went out, Verstappen raced his way to his 15th victory of the season leading for basically every lap of the race except for one when he pitted. When Verstappen opted to pit on lap 21 he moved from first place to second however returned on lap 22 when Leclerc did his pit stop.

Verstappen finishes the season scoring 454 points to win his second Championship with Red Bull also winning the Constructors Championship with 759 points.

The team however were unable to finish the first and second in the Driver Standings due to Sergio Perez finishing behind Leclerc in Abu Dhabi. Despite his best efforts late Perez ultimately finished the race in third, while Leclerc was second.

Perez therefore finishes 2022 with 305 points, just three behind Leclerc on 308.

Ferrari also secured second place in the Constructors Championship over Mercedes with Carlos Sainz finishing in fourth, while the Silver Arrows had a disappointing end to the season.

Despite George Russell finishing fifth and showing good pace throughout the Grand Prix, Mercedes was never a chance on chasing down Ferrari following Lewis Hamilton being forced to retire from the race with just three laps remaining due to a mechanical problem. It was the first time this season that Mercedes had to retire a car due to a mechanical problem, a bitter ending to what was a strong second half of the season for the team.

In the end Ferrari finished 39 points ahead of Mercedes, while Sainz also moved ahead of Hamilton in the Driver Standings into fifth, beating him by six points.

Ricciardo’s final drive for McLaren

With the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix being the final race of the season it also meant the last time we could potentially see Daniel Ricciardo racing in Formula 1.

Despite this Ricciardo put on a commendable performance starting in 13th to finish in ninth and claim some points for the team.

It was not the ideal start for the Aussie, falling to 14th on the opening lap, however he was able to work his way up the grid as other drivers began to pit following the first 15 laps of the race. Ricciardo soon found himself in the points getting as high as eighth before pitting himself.

On lap 20 when he did pit, Ricciardo came out in 18th place needing to do a lot of work to make something of his final race with McLaren. He did exactly that being able to pick off drivers one by one to be in ninth by lap 40.

Able to hold onto the position for some time, Ricciardo was challenged over the final eight laps of the race by both Aston Martin drivers, Lance Stroll and Sebastian Vettel, with Stroll being able to get the job done on lap 51.

The final lap was action-packed with fans getting to see two fan favourites, Ricciardo and Vettel battling it out for ninth place, however the Aussie was just able to remain in front to finish in ninth.

Ricciardo finishes the season in 11th in the Driver Standings with 37 points.

Following the news earlier this season of Ricciardo’s time at McLaren being up and having not got a seat with any other team, the Aussie will not be racing in 2023. While there are rumours circulating that he will become the reserve driver for Red Bull next year, nothing has been announced yet.

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Meanwhile teammate Lando Norris had another strong performance in Abu Dhabi, finishing in sixth place to cap off another strong season. Norris proved to be the best of the rest at Yas Marina, with only drivers from the three top teams beating him.

Norris finishes the season scoring 122 points to put him in seventh overall while McLaren as a team scored 159 to finish fifth.

Vettel bails out in style

In the final race of his Formula 1 career, four-time World Champion Sebastian Vettel put in a gritty performance to finish 10th and score a point in his last time around the track.

Vettel fought to the final second, showing he still had some tricks up his sleeve remaining in the top 10 for the majority of the Grand Prix although he was unable to steal ninth place away from Ricciardo on the final lap. The result was bittersweet as if Vettel had passed Ricciardo he would have given Aston Martin an extra point which would have helped them leapfrog Alfa Romeo in the Constructors Championship, with that costing the team 12 million in prize money.

Despite this Vettel will be cherished, having become a beloved figure within the sport in recent years, growing a massive fanbase. This was shown with him being voted Driver of the Day by the fans.

Having first begun his career in 2007, Vettel has spent the past 16 seasons making unforgettable memories for F1 fans around the world. He will always be remembered for his dominance during the early 2010s with Red Bull where through this stretch the German driver won four consecutive titles and made a name for himself as one of the greatest drivers in Formula history.

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