Red Bull Racing's Max Verstappen cruised to victory on Sunday at the 2022 Formula 1 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, closing out the season not only with the championship but also a record 15 wins.
Verstappen had already claimed the championship, the second of his career, during October's Japanese Grand Prix. The battle for second was very much alive going into Sunday's race, with Ferrari's Charles Leclerc and Red Bull Sergio's Perez both going in with equal points.
Leclerc ultimately claimed second in the championship after an impressive run to second in Abu Dhabi, approximately 8.7 seconds behind Verstappen. Perez claimed third following his third-place finish in Abu Dhabi, approximately 10 seconds behind his teammate.
The race started with both Red Bull drivers on the front row. Verstappen, on the pole, pulled into the lead and was never really challenged from there. Behind them were Leclerc and fellow Ferrari driver Carlos Sainz. Leclerc focused on Perez, while Sainz was left to battle with Mercedes-Benz AMG's Lewis Hamilton, who would swap places with Sainz multiple times throughout the race.
Charles Leclerc at the 2022 Formula 1 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix
Between Leclerc and Perez, the Red Bull driver was the first to pit, coming in on lap 15. Perez fell behind Leclerc after the first stop but was back in second when Leclerc made his first pit stop on lap 21. Perez then made a second pit stop on lap 33 while Leclerc stayed out. The one-stop strategy worked in Leclerc's favor, as Perez never managed to catch up, though Leclerc had to work hard to manage his tires to last until the end.
Further down, Sainz finished fourth while Mercedes' George Russell finished fifth. Russell moved up after Hamilton, who attempted a one-stop strategy, retired in the pits three laps from the end.
Following the weekend's action, Verstappen closed out the 2022 Drivers' Championship with 454 points. Leclerc finished second with 308 points and Perez third with 305 points. In the Constructors' Championship, Red Bull finished with 759 points, versus the 554 of Ferrari and 515 of Mercedes.
With the season's close, F1 also bids farewell to Aston Martin's Sebastian Vettel. The four-time world champion in July announced plans to retire from F1 after the current season, ending a career that dates back to 2007. McLaren’s Daniel Ricciardo, Haas’s Mick Schumacher, and Williams’ Nicholas Latifi are also out next year, though some may return in future seasons. Ricciardo is already considering a deal with Red Bull Racing as a backup driver. New faces on the grid in 2023 will include American Logan Sargeant, who is poised to fill the last remaining seat at Williams, as well as previously confirmed AlphaTauri driver Nyck de Vries, Haas driver Nico Hülkenberg, and McLaren driver Oscar Piastri.
Red Bull Racing at the 2022 Formula 1 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix
Below are the full results from the 2022 Formula 1 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix:
1) Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing
2) Charles Leclerc, Ferrari +8.771 seconds
3) Sergio Perez, Red Bull Racing +10.093 seconds
4) Carlos Sainz, Ferrari +24.892 seconds
5) George Russell, Mercedes-Benz AMG +35.888 seconds
6) Lando Norris, McLaren +56.234 seconds
7) Esteban Ocon, Alpine +57.240 seconds
8) Lance Stroll, Aston Martin +76.931 seconds
9) Daniel Ricciardo, McLaren +83.268 seconds
10) Sebastian Vettel, Aston Martin +83.898 seconds
11) Yuki Tsunoda, AlphaTauri +89.371 seconds
12) Alex Albon, Williams +36.016 seconds
13) Zhou Guanyu, Alfa Romeo +1 lap
14) Pierre Gasly, AlphaTauri +1 lap
15) Valtteri Bottas, Alfa Romeo +1 lap
16) Mick Schumacher, Haas +1 lap
17) Kevin Magnussen, Haas +1 lap
18) Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes-Benz AMG - DNF
19) Nicholas Latifi, Williams - DNF
NC) Fernando Alonso, Alpine - DNF