Abu Dhabi Grand Prix 2022: World champion Max Verstappen victorious again

Red Bull driver showed no signs of weakness in an assured performance at Yas Marina Circuit

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Max Verstappen won the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix in a spectacular fashion on Sunday, battling to lead from the moment the lights turned green and taking the honours for the third year running.

The Red Bull driver already had the championship wrapped up, but he was clearly intent on extending his record number of season wins to 15 with victory at Yas Marina Circuit.

The battle for the championship runner-up slot went to Charles Leclerc, who finished second in the race.

This followed a manic battle between the Ferrari driver and Sergio Perez, his rival in the end-of-season rankings, which continued right from the off.

Leclerc had more than a 10-second lead over Perez at one point in the race, but the Red Bull team appeared confident their car could make up that difference in the latter stages.

It was an erroneous assumption, and, despite a gritty attempt, Perez could not catch him.

Carlos Sainz in the other Ferrari managed to place fourth, nudging George Russell into the No 5 spot.

For his part, Lewis Hamilton, the Mercedes driver’s teammate, endured a disappointing end to a tough season as he failed to finish.

Verstappen was understandably happy with how things turned out. “Incredible to win again here,” the double world champion said.

“It's been really enjoyable to work with the whole team and to be able to achieve something like this.

“I know it is going to be hard to replicate something like this but it is also very good motivation to try and do well again next year.”

Right from the outset, the jockeying for position was intense, with many near misses in the first lap.

At the first corner, Perez tried to undertake Verstappen, with the world champion only just managing to keep the lead by a matter of centimetres.

Just seconds later a move from Sainz saw Hamilton nudged off the track and forced to cut a corner, a manoeuvre which allowed the Mercedes driver to stay ahead of his counterpart.

Fortune wasn’t with the Englishman though, and a couple of laps later he lost out to the Ferrari, as well as teammate Russell, after complaining about a loss of power.

In his last Grand Prix, Sebastian Vettel started off well but was soon nudged back down the roster, leading him to refer to himself on the team radio as a “sitting duck”.

He recovered though, and, given the situation, was fittingly given F1’s Driver of the Day accolade.

Despite his disappointment, the German remained upbeat. “Overall a big day, and a big thank you to all the support,” he said.

“So many flags and so many smiling faces, which has been very special, very nice.”

Fernando Alonso appeared to be on target for a top 10 slot in his last drive for Alpine, but he was forced to retire with a water leak on lap 28.

Drama came on lap 39 for Mick Schumacher, serving out his last race for Haas, and Williams’ Nicholas Latifi.

The pair collided at turn 5 and both ended up near stationary and nudging the barrier. Amazingly, both managed to keep their cars going and carried on.

Many fans had wondered how the last few races were going to plateau out.

When his world championship was assured, Verstappen indicated he was just going to enjoy himself. Not so, though. The Dutch driver showed no signs of doing anything but remaining as competitive as possible and his tally of 15 wins this season is a record that will be very difficult to beat.

Updated: November 20, 2022, 4:15 PM