Max Verstappen, Red Bull, Yas Marina, 2022

Verstappen dominates Abu Dhabi GP as Leclerc resists Perez for runner-up spot

2022 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix summary

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Max Verstappen expertly managed his pace to turn a one-stop strategy into victory in the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix ahead of Charles Leclerc.

Verstappen and Leclerc managed their tyres to secure the top spots on the podium while Sergio Perez only just failed to catch Leclerc on the final lap, taking third place after pitting a second time.

As the lights went out for the final time in the 2022 season, Perez challenged Verstappen into turn one, but Verstappen held the lead. Behind, Leclerc held onto third position to settle in behind the two Red Bulls.

Lewis Hamilton passed Carlos Sainz Jnr for fourth place, but Sainz dived down the inside of the Mercedes into turn six, bouncing over the kerbs and through the escape road, retaining the position. Mercedes instructed Hamilton to hand the position back after they were told by the FIA that they would receive a five-second time penalty if they did not.

Having returned the position to Sainz on lap four, Hamilton used DRS to pass the Ferrari into turn nine for fourth. Sainz was soon under pressure from George Russell behind, but managed to break out of DRS range of Russell and back into DRS range of Hamilton ahead. Sainz overtook Hamilton to take back fourth on lap eight, before Russell passed his team mate on the following lap to demote Hamilton to sixth.

Perez fell away from his leading team mate and into the clutches of Leclerc behind. As soon as Leclerc was within DRS range at the end of lap 15, Red Bull called Perez into the pits, switching him to hard tyres. Russell also pitted for hards but after a slow stop was released in front of Lando Norris, receiving a five second time penalty as a result.

Verstappen made his pit stop at the end of lap 20, moving onto the hard tyres and rejoining in second place, less than a second ahead of team mate Perez. Leclerc was the final of the front runners to make his stop a lap after Verstappen, rejoining the track just ahead of team mate Sainz in third.

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Leclerc kept in touch with the two Red Bulls and was instructed to pit for a second time at the end of lap 33, but stayed out when Red Bull pre-empted Ferrari and brought Perez in instead for a second set of hard tyres. Perez emerged in sixth behind the Mercedes and was immediately the fastest car on the track.

Sebastian Vettel, Aston Martin, Yas Marina, 2022
Gallery: 2022 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix in pictures
With Perez out of Leclerc’s way, Ferrari kept Leclerc out on track, with Verstappen continuing out in the lead. Mick Schumacher collided with Nicholas Latifi at the turn five hairpin, briefly bringing out the yellow flags. Fortunately, the pair managed to resume without the need for any Safety Car intervention.

Sainz and Russell followed Perez by pitting a second time – Sainz for hard tyres and Russell for mediums, serving his five-second time penalty. Perez caught up to Hamilton and overtook him into turn six, but Hamilton countered with DRS to move back into third approaching turn nine. Two laps later, Perez used DRS to complete the pass into turn nine.

With 12 laps remaining, Perez had a gap of nine seconds to make up to Leclerc in second. With six laps remaining, the gap had reduced to five seconds. Four laps from the end of the race, Hamilton reported he had lost gears on his car and slowed on track, pulling into the pit lane to retire.

Verstappen checked off the final laps and crossed the line to win the race and secure his 15th victory of the season. Leclerc held on to take second place in the race and the championship, just over a second ahead of Perez in third.

Sainz took fourth in the second Ferrari, ahead of Russell in fifth and Norris in sixth. Esteban Ocon came in seventh, followed by Lance Stroll. In what could be their final races in Formula 1, Daniel Ricciardo just beat Sebastian Vettel to ninth place. A double points finish for Aston Martin meant they finished equal on 55 points to Alfa Romeo, the latter claiming sixth place in the championship on count-back of results.

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2022 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix reaction

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Will Wood
Will has been a RaceFans contributor since 2012 during which time he has covered F1 test sessions, launch events and interviewed drivers. He mainly...

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42 comments on “Verstappen dominates Abu Dhabi GP as Leclerc resists Perez for runner-up spot”

  1. Another perfect drive from Max. Makes it look easy. Hopefully next season it will go down the wire again.

    1. Seb, Lewis, Max and others before them have all made it look very easy when they’re dominant. In Max’s case, he doesn’t even have a team-mate capable of getting within a few tenths of him most of the time, so it really does become a 1-horse race sometimes. Max is very good at consistently maximising his advantage though.

      I’m also hoping for next season to be down to the wire, like 2021. Needs Merc to have nailed their development for next year’s car. Don’t trust Ferrari to maintain a challenge for a whole season unfortunately.

      1. Vettel had webber though, I don’t see how webber can be considered stronger than perez, they’re up there.

  2. Dominant indeed, which pretty well sums up this season. Hopefully, next season will be tighter throughout.

  3. Aside from Russell’s unsafe release, about the only incident was Sainz-Hamilton. From the replays available so far, it seems marginal whether Hamilton could have stayed on track or not: it looks to me that he could have stayed on only by turning back on track (after Sainz was past and space opened up) just as he hit the curb, which could have caused him to lose control and spin back into the cars behind. So I presumed, actually, that unlike last year, he cut the corner more as he felt he had no option, not for the advantage – as the damage he picked up showed, far too risky to smash the car over one position at the start. The move by Sainz was good but he wasn’t ahead enough to leave Hamilton no room: the question is whether he left enough. Like I said, marginal.

    1. Lewis left the door open it was a normal race move that we want to see if you like racing. For me it was a copy of last year with Max and Lewis. The rules with leaving space changed this year and I don’t think it states anything on the exit of the corner when you pass on the inside. But I’m a bit lost to be honest.

      1. I agree mostly. The move was fine and without the damaging curb would be unproblematic. However given the damage that curbs cause, it’s a legitimate question to ask whether Hamilton could have reasonably avoided contact with Sainz and the curb. More a general issue for the future (racing rules) as the race itself was pretty much irrelevant.

    2. what a rubbish snoozefest season, also classless carlos divebombing Lewis and having the nerve going on the radio whining about 2021…

    3. I think what also did play a role is that after cutting the corner he absolutely floored it and went after Leclerc instead of letting Sainz catching up again.
      Marginal decision, but I think for once the Stewards got it right.

    4. to smash the car over one position at the start.

      A characteristically smart move

    5. Nothing marginal. Hamilton has these sort of ‘incidents’ in corners far too often. He’s good on the straights though, I’ll give him that

      1. Im good on the straights too

    6. I think the rules on leaving enough space and track limits are closely linked. So in this specific situation in order to be within track limits, all Lewis had to do was ensure at least 1 wheel did not 100% cross the white line. Saints left him more than enough room to do that.
      Saints was in front, so no question that the pass was done.

    7. To add to this, Lewis was playing the Stewards, as they all do, no better, no worse. Think about it, the worst that could happen is he has to give the place back, which he would have lost anyway, but by cutting the corner and keeping the spot, there is a chance that the steward maintain their record of inconsistency which might / might not favour him.

      1. Recon when a driver has to give a place back lie this, they should also be without DRS for a lap, else they just do what Lewis did.

  4. FYI
    Binary code:

    1 = 1
    11 = 3

    Checo, you had to choose another number…

    1. Sadly 10 isn’t available

      1. Redbull did not care much for that second place for Checo.
        Guess Max did not want to play ball, and the team does not have the balls to control him. Dominant. End. Of.

        1. Even when Max gave room for checo in brasil he would not end up as second at the end. So what’s your point?

        2. Thanks to Max and DRS Checo could create a gap of 3 seconds with Leclerc. Then thereafter Perez could not hold on to his lead. Checo is not fast enough.

  5. BLS (@brightlampshade)
    20th November 2022, 15:08

    Another race of Verstappen being in a league of one. We’ve got a few months of dreaming of Ferrari and/or Mercedes catching up enough to put up a fight next season before all our hopes are probably dashed next spring :D

  6. Bit of a boring race, in a bit of a boring season. The fact only Norris got on the podium once outside of the top 3 teams, shows how far away the other teams are. It’s not like with budget caps anyone has a realistic chance of closing that gap either. The new rules have allowed cars to follow closely, but pretty pointless if the cars are far away from each other based on performance.
    It’s really sad to see Seb and Danny go, I’m going to really miss that generation when they’re all gone

    1. me too, it’s sad to see them go after well over a decade.

    2. LB, when I read your comment about Norris being the only one not in RB/Ferrari/Merc to get a podium, I thought “that can’t be right”, but I checked and yes, you are right. 66 podiums in the season, and it comes out as:

      Red Bull, 28 podiums
      Ferrari, 20 podiums
      Mercedes, 17 podiums
      All others, 1 podium

      That must make it one of the most mismatched seasons for years. Even the race where Norris got a third place was rain affected.

    3. I thought the start of the season was done of the most exciting F1 we’ve had in a long while. Ferrari faster, Red Bull reliable, 1 vs 2 going at it hammer and tongs most races.

      It’s the middle part where Ferrari sacrificed speed to help reliability, Red Bull pulled away, and Mercedes hadn’t caught up yet that let it down.

      The last few races were competitive again, and in Brazil Mercedes clearly had the fastest car, but the championship was sewn up by then.

      Throughout the season we had great back-and-forth overtakes that we’d have begged for over most of the last decade.

      Judged on racing throughout the grid rather than the standings, I think this was the best season of the hybrid era.

  7. Good job Ferrari! We fans certainly needed that. 4 long months ahead of us but ending on a high note always helps.
    At Mercedes Russell not only won the standings battle but also achieved all the headline results. Happy that Alfa beat Aston and off course, Daniel Seb.

  8. FIA breaking the rules to help dirty driving Hamilton. Lewis should have gotten that penalty luckily karma like in 2021 made sure Lewis paid the price for yet again missing the chicane, taking the short cut avoiding to be overtaken and gaining time.

    1. under a rock…

    2. It’s what Ham has always done – leave the door open then try to argue the position in the corner.

      A smart driver would give up the place, knowing they’d been beaten then try to position themselves for the following straight.

      Most of his crashes with Max could have been avoided had he shown some intelligence. He’d have probably been able to re-overtake Max and gone on to win.

    3. Why do you use a famous driver’s name? I’m sure Rosberg would be quite capable of posting here himself if he wanted to.

      1. I’m amused you say this just underneath a post by “superman”. Using others’ names is common on the internet!

        1. Yes, it may be common, but using “superman”, a fictional character, and you can dismiss it as just a handle. It isn’t quite as strange as using the name of a real living former world champion racer on a racing forum. I am genuinely puzzled why anyone would do this. I doubt Rosberg would want to be associated with the comments this person makes.

  9. We reflect on Red Bull being so dominant, but if Merc and Ferrari had exceeded the cost cap in the same way….I wonder if we would have had the same outcome….Sky strangely do not seem to mention it anymore….but you cannot fool the fans, who booed Max at the end….and also booed him as he lifted the trophy….only careful turning up of the podium music kept that down…..

    1. That booing is the result of the ongoing polarisation we have seen here (and in the worldwide fanbase) and where certain media had a role in. The applause Checo received (after the qualification and the race) is a good example for that.

    2. Countless articles and discussions last year when Hamilton was on the recieving end of the booing. But now it is considered normal? And ..Sky strangely do not seem to mention it anymore….

  10. Words to describe to this year for me.

    Toxic, ultimate narcissism, lack of fair play, innaane comments against fellow drivers, cheaters are rewarded. Spineless adjucation. Fans sexually misconduct.
    Gaslighting, playing victim. Not being a legend. Stupidity, fake narrative.

    1. Well, that’s surely a toxic comment :)

    2. Among all of this political and unpolitical correctness, this is a rare and perfect analysis! Thank you, sir. Not sarcasm as some may think.

    3. To basically Red bull and Merc fans why you have to be toxic all the time

    4. I think you are talking way to negative about Mercedes and their drivers…

  11. Alonso and Hamilton unexpectedly retired from the last race — perhaps a fitting tribute to VET’s retirement. Not that a donut would have made it all better. It’s still sad to see VET retire.

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