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F1: 2022 ends with 15th Verstappen victory of the year

Max Verstappen crowns his 2022 World Driver Championship with a win in the final race in Abu Dhabi, while Red Bull and Sergio Perez are just pipped to second place by Ferrari's Charles Leclerc.



Red Bull's Max Verstappen raises the trophy after winning the Abu Dhabi F1 GP, Abu Dhabi, Nov. 20, 2022. (AFP Photo)


Some number of miles away from the opening of the controversial 2022 World Cup in Qatar, Formula One returned to the also controversial Abu Dhabi for the final race of the 2022 season. The last race weekend had an even more present sense of finality than in previous years, alongside the feeling of a great change yet to come. A final race for the legendary Sebastian Vettel, possibly one for Daniel Riccardo and perhaps goodbyes from Nicholas Latifi and Mick Schumacher whose futures remain up in the air. With much of the focus of the wider sporting world already switching across the gulf to Qatar the close of the season was unusually muted as Max Verstappen cruised to victory in both qualifying and Sunday's race.

Verstappen’s 15th victory extends his record for most wins in a season, a staggering achievement for a driver with evidently more to give in his career. Yet eyes were drawn away from the Dutchman at the weekend as second place remained up for grabs for both his Red Bull teammate Sergio Perez and Charles Leclerc, who had spent the early half of the season vying for the championship himself.


Perhaps trying to make up for last week's end of race drama Verstappen helpfully towed Perez to second position in qualifying, one ahead of Leclerc. Ferrari were effective and strategically sound with a one-stop race that proved just too fast for Sergio Perez to catch as the Monégasque finished second and three points ahead in second, consolation that seems small when we look back to his 46 point lead after the first three races that held so much promise for the Scuderia. A hydraulic failure for Lewis Hamilton early ensured he would finish the season without a win for the first time in his storied career.


In his final race Vettel could not defy the capabilities of his Aston Martin or his teammate Lance Stroll in eighth but still finished tenth and with one last F1 point to accompany the doughnuts that brought the night's biggest cheers. The final composition of the midfield remained unsolved into Abu Dhabi, and it was a strong Alpine and Esteban Ocon that secured fourth in the constructor's championship just ahead of McLaren.


Hopes up and down the grid, with fresh drivers and ideas now carry themselves into 2023. Red Bull will surely just hope for more of the same.


Results:


1 Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing, 1:27:45.914

2 Charles Leclerc, Ferrari, +8.771

3 Sergio Perez, Red Bull Racing, +10.093

4 Carlos Sainz, Ferrari, +24.892

5 George Russell, Mercedes, +35.888

6 Lando Norris, McLaren, +56.234

7 Esteban Ocon, Alpine, +57.240

8 Lance Stroll, Aston Martin, +76.931

9 Daniel Ricciardo, McLaren, +83.268

10 Sebastian Vettel, Aston Martin, +83.898

11 Yuki Tsunoda, AlphaTauri, +89.371

12 Guanyu Zhou, Alfa Romeo, +1 lap

13 Alexander Albon, Williams, +1 lap

14 Pierre Gasly, AlphaTauri, +1 lap

15 Valtteri Bottas, Alfa Romeo, +1 lap

16 Mick Schumacher, Haas F1 Team, +1 lap

17 Kevin Magnussen, Haas F1 Team, +1 lap


DNF


Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes

Nicholas Latifi, Williams

Fernando Alonso, Alpine

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