Verstappen ends championship winning season with a commanding win

Verstappen ends Championship-winning season with commanding win

November 21, 2022

Red Bull’s Max Verstappen rounded off his second Championship-winning season with a cruise to victory at the 2022 Formula One season finale in Abu Dhabi.

Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc finished second and managed to pip Sergio Pérez for the second place in the Drivers’ Standings, with the Mexican finishing third in the race and the Championship standings as well.

Carlos Sainz finished fourth, ahead of George Russell, Lando Norris, Esteban Ocon, Lance Stroll and Daniel Ricciardo. Aston Martin’s Sebastian Vettel, who was taking part in his final Formula One race, finished in the final points place, at P10. 

With both Ferrari drivers finishing in the top 10 and only one Mercedes seeing the chequered flag, the Scuderia managed to hold on to their second place in the Constructors’ and will look to build on this to take the Championship fight to Red Bull next season.

Mercedes, meanwhile, have already expressed their relief at ending the 2022 season with the current machinery, which just did not work for them. The Brackley-based team now look forward to the upcoming season to re-join the Championship fight. 

Pole-sitter Verstappen led as the lights went off for the final time this season, though it was his teammate Sergio Pérez who got a better start; the Dutchman had to hold him off for the lead.

Behind the front two, Carlos Sainz attacked Lewis Hamilton and got his elbows out, pushing the veteran Brit wide and off the track. Luckily, the coming-together didn’t cause Hamilton a lot of damage.

By Lap 8, Verstappen was two-and-a-half seconds in the lead from Pérez, while Leclerc trailed the Mexican.

The first to pit were Alex Albon and Lance Stroll on Lap 15, as they switched to the hard compound. Amongst the front-runners, Pérez and George Russell came in on Lap 16. Russell was later handed a five-second penalty for an unsafe release after his stop, while Pérez came out in P6 and had to fight the outgoing Sebastian Vettel for a lap longer than he would have liked to before taking back P5. 

Race-leader Verstappen came in for his stop on Lap 21 and re-joined the field in P2, ahead of his teammate. Leclerc, meanwhile, was the last of the front-runners to pit on Lap 24. He came out in P3, behind the two Red Bull cars and ahead of Russell and Sainz.

Lap 29 saw the first retirement of the race in Alpine’s Fernando Alonso, who saw a reliability issue-ridden season capped out with yet another disappointing result.

Pérez was the first of the top three to make his second stop, with Red Bull hoping that an early second stop would see Ferrari react to it, which would play into the Austrian team’s hands. Pérez rejoined in P6 and had 24 laps to chase down Leclerc and take home the second place not only in the race but in the Drivers’ Championship as well. Sainz and Russell pitted on Lap 40, which saw Hamilton move into the podium places, with Pérez in P4, 13 seconds behind Leclerc. 

Verstappen, up ahead, was in a league of his own, much like what he had done for the majority of the season, and by Lap 42, he was more than eight seconds clear of Leclerc in P2.

Hamilton was the second retiree of the night. The seven-time World Champion retired on Lap 56 due to a mechanical failure, which meant that, for the first time in his career, Hamilton finished a complete season without a victory.

The final two laps saw Pérez give everything to take that second place from Leclerc, but the Monégasque was masterful in his tyre-management and made sure he crossed the line second behind Verstappen to secure a second-place finish in the Drivers’ Championship. 

While Verstappen scored a record 15th victory of the season, Red Bull also enjoyed their most successful season till date with 17 wins and took home their fifth Constructors’ Championship.

The season finale also saw one of the the sport’s greatest, Sebastian Vettel, bid adieu to the sport. The four-time World Champion retired from the sport after putting in yet another solid performance, after being let down by his team with regards to strategy and pit-stop to score points. Although he scored points in his final race with a P10 finish, this turned out to be the first season for Vettel since 2007 which he finished without a podium finish.

Along with Vettel, Nicholas Latifi also bid goodbye to Williams. He will be replaced by Logan Sargeant in 2023. Daniel Ricciardo also leaves the grid for the next season after failing to secure a seat, as does Mick Schumacher. 

As another record-breaking season comes to an end, the teams and their drivers now head into the winter break to recharge their batteries and look forward to resume the on-track battles when the new season gets underway in March 2023.

Aditya Chaudhuri

Hailing from the City of Joy, the things that bring me joy are cricket, a good non-tilt CS:GO session, F1 and movies.

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