Abu Dhabi Grand Prix 2022: Plenty up for grabs in dramatic final race of the season

The main prizes in the Formula One championship have already been decided but there could still be drama ahead

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The Formula One finale is just around the corner and, despite the main prizes being off the table, there are still points to be made at Yas Marina Circuit over the weekend.

Max Verstappen won his second consecutive title four races ago, with this season’s 14 triumphs already being an F1 record, while Red Bull wrapped up the constructors’ championship three races ago.

This leaves the driver’s runner-up slot as the main prize up for grabs in Abu Dhabi, and that will be a straight fight between Red Bull's Sergio Perez and Charles Leclerc of Ferrari.

One of the main talking points from the last F1 event in Sao Paulo last weekend was an apparent bust-up between Verstappen and teammate Perez.

Things appeared to get heated at the end of the race when the Dutch driver refused to give up his sixth place position, which would have aided his cohort’s fight for second place in the championship with Leclerc.

After arriving in Abu Dhabi, Verstappen was keen to indicate that he would not do the same thing again and that he would support Perez if a similar situation arose.

“If the opportunity is there to help, as a team we’re going to do that,” the reigning and soon to be recrowned champion said when asked about what he might be prepared to do for his teammate.

Verstappen admitted to being affected by some of the negative publicity surrounding the incident. “It does get to me,” the driver said.

Lewis Hamilton, who will celebrate 200 races for Mercedes on Sunday, was wary of making predictions about the team’s chances over the weekend, but teammate George Russell was more bullish about a possible podium finish.

“We’ll be going for it,” Russell said, after revealing how high morale was within the camp after his own storming victory in Brazil, backed up by Hamilton’s second place.

Abu Dhabi GP 2021

Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel will be retiring from F1 at the end of this season, but there was some jocularity between the drivers on Thursday, with Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton both intimating a return to F1 for the German driver would not be far away.

“He’ll be back,” Hamilton said in an amused tone, with a similarly smiling Vettel not contradicting him.

“I’ll need to find a lot of things to keep me busy,” the German driver admitted about what lay ahead in his immediate future.

On Thursday it emerged Mick Schumacher may be left without an F1 race seat next year after Haas signed the more experienced Nico Hulkenberg to replace him.

The German’s results were not deemed good enough in his two seasons with the US-based team to convince seniors to retain him for 2023.

Schumacher, for his part, seemed unfazed about the decision, saying he still aimed to finish on a high in Abu Dhabi.

So, with everything largely decided, the atmosphere among the drivers at Yas remains cordial and upbeat. However, if previous events in an up-and-down season are anything to go by, there could well still be drama ahead.

Updated: November 17, 2022, 2:18 PM
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