Another Formula One season comes to an end as we head to Abu Dhabi for the final race of the season. A record-breaking season, which saw Red Bull’s Max Verstappen take his second consecutive World Title, also saw Red Bull claim their first Constructors’ Championship since 2013.
Aside from Verstappen’s commanding season, which has the Dutchman at an incredible 14 race wins going into the final race of the season, this year also saw Formula One head to Miami for the first time, while we had a new winner at last weekend’s Brazilian Grand Prix, with George Russell taking home his first-ever Formula One win.
As we close out yet another stellar season of racing, here are a few possibilities for the season finale in Abu Dhabi.
Looking to finish on a high
Mercedes’ win in Brazil was the first win for a non-Red Bull or Ferrari team in the 2022 season, and yet, the Silver Arrows are still in contention for that P2 spot in the Constructors’ Standings.
While Mercedes may have just won a solitary race the entire season, heading into the season finale, there have been some positives for the German team, none being bigger than George Russell. In his first season with a front-runner team, Russell has been tremendous and has easily had the better of his veteran teammate, Lewis Hamilton.
While Mercedes had a lengthy struggle with the porpoising issues, they finally seem to have gotten over them towards the business end of the season, which seems to be evident in their recent performances.
Mercedes have enjoyed three consecutive podiums in the last three races, which include their 1-2 in Brazil. They are finally looking like they are able to challenge the likes of Red Bull and Ferrari, so they will be one to look out for in Abu Dhabi.
The Abu Dhabi track was one of Mercedes’ strongest tracks in the turbo-hybrid era and, given their recent resurgence of form, expect them to once again fight for pole and even win at the season finale.
Pole prediction: Max Verstappen / Charles Leclerc / Lewis Hamilton
Win prediction: Red Bull / Ferrari / Mercedes
Ground to make up
For the majority of the 2022 season, Alpine and McLaren have been neck-and-neck in the battle for P4 in the Constructors’, with McLaren having had an early lead, but lately Alpine have been the ones performing stronger.
After the worst possible weekend for McLaren in Brazil, where neither of their drivers finished, Alpine capitalised on their misfortunes with a double points finish, with two-time World Champion Fernando Alonso taking home a stunning P5.
Alpine’s strong weekend in Brazil and McLaren’s worst weekend mean that the French team are now 19 points ahead in the Constructors’ Standings. With one race to go, McLaren have a lot of ground to make up.
While the French team have had a slight edge over the British team in terms of pace, their reliability has let them down, and that is one of the main reasons why the battle for P4 in the Constructors’ is still so close. Heading into the season finale, Alpine should once again have the faster car. It would take an extremely strong weekend from the Woking-based team to edge out Alpine in the Constructors’ fight.
Dark horses for podium: Alpine / McLaren
Going out on a high
The 2022 Abu Dhabi race will be a poignant one as well. The season finale will also be the final race for four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel, who will be retiring following the race.
Vettel, one of the all-time greats of the sport, has enjoyed considerable success for the majority of his career, and while the last couple of years has been rough for him, Vettel has gone on to rediscover some of that old form this season.
Vettel has been one of the main reasons Aston Martin are fighting for P6 in the Constructors’ and not P8 or P9, with the German driving the wheels of an Aston Martin car that really shouldn’t be where he takes it on most weekends. His race-craft in 2022 is probably the perfect answer to those who question his place among the greats.
Vettel has been showing stellar form of late. He was on for a strong points finish last week in Brazil as well, had it not been for a debatable strategy and a late Safety Car that ruined his race.
The Abu Dhabi race should be one where the German champion goes well. Vettel should be signing off a glorious career with a good showing at the season finale in Abu Dhabi.
Race details: When and where to watch (India)
Circuit: Yas Marina Circuit
Venue: Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
Practice Session 1 time: 15:30 (IST), 18 November
Practice Session 2 time: 18:30 (IST), 18 November
Practice Session 3 time: 16:00 (IST), 19 November
Qualifying Session time: 19:30 (IST), 19 November
Main race time: 18:30 (IST), 20 November
Where to watch: Star Sports Network | Disney+ Hotstar