Max Verstappen cruises to victory in Abu Dhabi, Leclerc claims second spot | The Financial Express

Max Verstappen cruises to victory in Abu Dhabi, Leclerc claims second spot

Verstappen, who had a stellar 2022 season and dominated the race calendar to retain his title, has finished the campaign on a high, emerging victorious on 15 occasions in a 22-race calendar!

Max Verstappen cruises to victory in Abu Dhabi, Leclerc claims second spot
Verstappen of the Netherlands driving the (1) Oracle Red Bull Racing RB18 crosses the finish line as fireworks are seen during the F1 Grand Prix of Abu Dhabi at Yas Marina Circuit.

The 2022 Formula 1 season concluded at Abu Dhabi as two-time World Champion cruised to his record-extending 15th victory of the season. Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc finished second, ahead of Verstappen’s teammate Sergio Perez to secure the second position in the championship with a three-point advantage over the Mexican.

Verstappen, who had a stellar 2022 season and dominated the race calendar to retain his title, has finished the campaign on a high, emerging victorious on 15 occasions in a 22-race calendar!

As the lights went out at the glamour-packed Yas Marina circuit, the Red Bull boys darted to retain their 1-2 advantage with Leclerc on the chase. 

While the Dutchman pretty much seemed comfortable leading the pack, Leclerc’s precision worked wonders as, in what was a rare sight this campaign, Ferrari’s strategic call succeeded as the Italian beat Perez for a second spot thanks to a well-worked one-stop strategy.

Seven-time World Champion Lewis Hamilton had to park his car in the latter stages of the race due to a hydraulics issue. The concluded campaign was Hamilton’s first without a single victory.

Alpine’s reliability woes continued as Fernando Alonso was forced to retire during the Lap 28 – his fourth in the last seven races. “I think there are nine or 10 reliability issues, which at this level is obviously not acceptable and they all happened to my car.”, the two-time Formula 1 champion bemoaned. 

“So I’m happy to finish and start tomorrow the seat fit with Aston, Tuesday the tyre test and hopefully a new project with more luck.”, he added.

Leclerc’s teammate Carlos Sainz Jr saw the chequered flag at P4, ahead of Mercedes’ George Russell. McLaren’s Lando Norris finished sixth as the mid-table tussle resulted in a P7 finish for Esteban Ocon as Aston Martin’s Lance Stroll finished in eighth ahead of Daniel Ricciardo, who has seen out his contract with McLaren and is likely to join his former team Red Bull in 2023.

Vettel, in his last Formula 1 race, followed a one-stop strategy to clinch a hard-fought F1 championship point to add to his enviable tally. Bidding adieu to the sport, the four-time World Champion said, “A big thank you for all the support – so many flags, so many smiling faces, which has been very, very special. I’m sure I’m going to miss it more than I understand right now,”

“The last two years have maybe been a bit disappointing from a sporting point of view, but very, very useful and important to me in my life. A lot of things happened, [there were] a lot of things that I realised,” he noted.

With this, the Grand Prix of Abu Dhabi brings the curtain down to the FIA Formula 1 2022 campaign in what will be remembered as a tale of heroics, hopes, joy and tears, resilience and some emotional goodbyes. 

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First published on: 21-11-2022 at 11:05 IST