AP Photo/Hussein Malla
Max Verstappen capped his dominant 2022 with a win at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, the final race of the Formula 1 season.
The Red Bull driver had clinched the world championship at the Japanese Grand Prix more than a month ago, but he continued to shine down the stretch of the season and secured his 15th win of the year in Sunday’s finale.
The battle for second place remained a major story with Charles Leclerc and Sergio Perez entering the race tied at 290 points, but it was Leclerc who came out on top with a second-place finish on the Yas Marina Circuit.
Perez ended up in third place in the 58-lap race.
Abu Dhabi Grand Prix Standings
1. Max Verstappen
2. Charles Leclerc
3. Sergio Perez
4. Carlos Sainz
5. George Russell
6. Lando Norris
7. Esteban Ocon
8. Lance Stroll
9. Daniel Ricciardo
10. Sebastian Vettel
Verstappen earned the pole position in qualifying alongside teammate Perez on the front row.
From the start, it was clear there would be little competition for the first position as Verstappen pulled out in front:
The second position remains one to watch with several big names battling behind Verstappen.
Leclerc moved into P2 when Perez chose to pit a second time:
Ferrari kept Leclerc out with only one stop, while Lewis Hamilton also made just one stop to remain in podium contention.
A back-and-forth battle between Perez and Hamilton kept the Red Bull driver occupied as the laps ticked down:
Perez finally moved safely into the third spot, putting his sights on Leclerc over the final 10 laps.
The fresher tires helped Perez narrow a gap of nearly 10 seconds down to under two seconds, but there simply wasn’t enough time to make up the full interval as Leclerc held on for second place.
Chris Medland @ChrisMedlandF1
You’ve got to hand it to Ferrari – called Leclerc’s strategy perfectly today #F1 < a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/AbuDhabiGP?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#AbuDhabiGP
Hamilton fell out of contention and eventually failed to finish the race due to mechanical failure.
The race was a good representative of the 2022 season, where Verstappen was too far in front to even make it competitive and the real storylines came down to the other positions.
Each team will now look to make some changes heading into 2023 as they try to catch Verstappen and Red Bull Racing. The next season will begin with the Bahrain Grand Prix on March 5.