Verstappen Dominates 2022 Finale As Leclerc Beats Perez To Drivers P2

F1 Grand Prix Of Abu Dhabi
F1 Grand Prix Of Abu Dhabi

Dutchman Max Verstappen took a dominant 15th win of the 2022 season in Abu Dhabi as the curtain came down on the F1 season, winning at the Yas Marina circuit for the third year in a row.

Never pushed to anything other than a pace that managed his tyres, Verstappen eased to victory.

Red Bull were denied a Drivers’ Championship 1-2 as Charles Leclerc survived a late charge from Sergio Perez to take second to Verstappen in the Drivers’ Standings.

After his 35th career victory, Verstappen said: “Incredible to win again here and 15th win of the season – unbelievable.

“It’s been really enjoyable to achieve something like this this year, I know it will be hard to replicate but it is good motivation to try and do the same next year.”

“It was a good race, the one stop really worked for me and it was all about tyre management today. As a Team, we did everything we could to get Checo up there ahead of Charles, we had split strategies, but it didn’t work out today. Overall, we’ve achieved a lot this year as a Team and we can all be proud of that, its great motivation heading into next year. We’ve had an incredible season and I want to thank everyone in the Team out here in Abu Dhabi and back at the factory, this sport requires dedication, and everyone at Oracle Red Bull Racing has that, it’s clear to see. I’m really looking forward to a break now and I hope everyone has a good Winter and much needed time with family and friends,” the 25-year-old added.

Ferrari also clinched second in the Constructors’ Championship, helped by Mercedes first mechanically caused DNF of the year with Lewis Hamilton late on.

Sebastian Vettel scored a final world championship point as he completed his final race before retirement, following McLaren’s Daniel Ricciardo over the line in 10th place.

Alpine secured fourth in the Constructors’ despite a water leak seeing Fernando Alonso retire from the race ahead of his departure to Aston Martin for 2023.

Elsewhere in the Constructors’ Championship, Alfa Romeo held on to sixth despite Aston Martin’s eighth and 10th place finishes, while Haas secured eighth ahead of AlphaTauri.

Leclerc and Ferrari hold on despite Red Bull strategy gamble

After missing out on a front row slot for the start of the race, achieving second in the Drivers’ Standings looked a tall order for Charles Leclerc.

And the task appeared even steeper when the Red Bull pair checked out at the front in the opening stint on the medium tyres.

However, with Leclerc running six laps longer in the opening phase than Perez and the Ferrari responding well to the hard tyres, the Monegasque began to reel in his Mexican rival.

Closing rapidly, Red Bull gambled with Perez and boxed for a second time, conceding track position to the Ferrari driver.

Leclerc, it turned out, was running to the end on a one-stop strategy, something Red Bull converted the leading Verstappen onto as well.

Catching at almost a second a lap, Perez did his utmost to catch the Ferrari, but the tyres were still in good shape for Leclerc to minimise the damage and cross the line second to Verstappen in both the race and the championship.

Ferrari fans will be disappointed that a season that promised so much, where the Italian team won two of the opening three races, ended in such an emphatic defeat by Red Bull.

Season finale a snapshot of Verstappen’s season

Round 22 of the 2022 season was a direct representation of the whole season, over the course of 58 laps.

At times, Ferrari looked capable of a challenge but ultimately Verstappen and Red Bull had too much both on the track and on the pit wall.

Having sealed pole, as well as giving team mate Perez a slipstream in Qualifying, F1’s latest double World Champion eased into a lead of a few seconds.

“It was a race of tyre management,” the Dutchman said after the race, the pace of the Red Bull in the lead always enough to keep Verstappen in front.

Ferrari never looked likely to challenge, even with Leclerc on the one-stopper, and Verstappen was comfortable across the line.

The final result of the season summed up the year as a whole, Leclerc, on occasion able to match the Verstappen/Red Bull combination, but through various errors from Ferrari and Leclerc, the Dutch driver has won his second title at a canter.

15 race wins, a new record, with only two podium appearances where the 25-year-old was not on the top step, as well as the most points scored by a single driver in one season, 2022 is a year to remember for Max Verstappen.

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