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Abu Dhabi Grand Prix 2022

Verstappen wins in Abu Dhabi as Leclerc denies Red Bull 1-2

Max Verstappen took victory in the season-closing Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, while Sergio Perez and Charles Leclerc battled until the end for second place in the race and World Championship, with Leclerc coming out on top.

Verstappen Abu Dhabi
To news overview © Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool

Max Verstappen has won the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, while Charles Leclerc took second to secure P2 in the World Championship.

The Dutchman led for much of the race to claim his 15th victory of the 2022 season in an event where strategy proved to be key, with drivers on a one-stop facing concerns over their tyres towards the end of the event.

Verstappen took victory with just one stop under his belt, ahead of Leclerc, who managed to stay ahead of a charging Sergio Perez.

Perez completed the podium in third, with Carlos Sainz finishing fourth and George Russell rounding out the top five in the final race of the 2022 F1 season.

Lewis Hamilton was forced to retire with a mechanical issue while, further back, Sebastian Vettel ended his final F1 race before retirement in P10, behind Daniel Ricciardo.

Result Race - Abu Dhabi

# Driver Team Time Tyre
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A strong start for Red Bull while Mercedes battle Ferrari

As the 58-lap race got underway with the sun setting in Abu Dhabi, Verstappen made a strong start and led away from Perez, while Leclerc and Sainz faced a challenge from a charging Hamilton.

Hamilton was pushed wide in his scrap with Sainz and bounced over the kerb, but was able to get ahead into fourth. The stewards noted the incident before deciding not to investigate further, though Hamilton was soon ordered via his race engineer to give the position back to the Spaniard.

This didn't change the order for long; Hamilton overtook Sainz again on Lap 5, while Verstappen continued to build his advantage at the front.

Russell looked to make a move on Sainz for fifth, and suggested over the radio that Hamilton needed to up his pace ahead in order to prevent Sainz from gaining an advantage from the Mercedes' DRS.

On Lap 8, Sainz retook P4 from a seemingly struggling Hamilton, and one lap later Russell surged past his teammate going into Turn 9. The seven-time World Champion reported that he was losing power.

Further back, Vettel found himself battling with the two Alpines in eighth, ninth and 10th.

			© Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool
	© Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool

Concerns for Hamilton as pit-stops begin

The pit-stops began on Lap 13, with Alex Albon the first to make a stop to switch to the Hard compound, followed soon afterwards by Lance Stroll.

Elsewhere, Hamilton faced a second warning for track limits and voiced his concerns about his W13 over team radio, telling his engineer: "There's something up with the car, mate."

Perez pitted on Lap 16 – also for the Hard tyre – with drivers including Russell and Lando Norris following suit. It was a slow stop for Russell, and the Mercedes was then released into the path of Norris, leading to an investigation by the stewards and a five-second time penalty for Russell.

Meanwhile, Perez emerged into the battle between Vettel and Alonso on track, before eventually getting ahead of the two World Champions, while Hamilton reported his suspicions that the floor on his car may be broken.

Verstappen pitted from the lead on Lap 21, and rejoined the circuit ahead of Perez, despite a slightly slower stop than usual.

Behind them, Leclerc had Sainz on his tail following the pit-stops as the Ferrari drivers looked to boost their chances of securing the final podium position.

Vettel eventually made his pit-stop on Lap 26 for the Hard tyre as part of a one-stop strategy. A slightly slow stop saw the Aston Martin driver emerge near the back of the field.

Leclerc and Perez battle heats up

As the race edged towards the halfway mark, Leclerc looked to be closing the gap to Perez in second place, with the two drivers also battling for P2 in the World Championship.

Meanwhile, on Lap 28, Alonso's two-year stint at Alpine came to an end when the Spaniard was forced to retire with a mechanical issue, marking his sixth DNF of 2022.

While Ricciardo looked to work his way into the top 10 for his final race with McLaren, Leclerc continued to eat into Perez's advantage, cutting it down to around 1.5 seconds by Lap 33.

Perez pitted – seemingly quite early – on Lap 34. Ferrari ordered Leclerc to stay out, while Verstappen was told to increase his tyre managment, sparking questions over a possible switch to a one-stop strategy.

The Scuderia looked to have come alive as the race moved into its second half. With Red Bull warning Perez that they expected Leclerc to go to the end of the race without another pit-stop, the Mexican was given the mission to "reel him in".

			© Ferrari
	© Ferrari

First incident of the race, while different strategies play out

After a relatively quiet race in terms of incidents, a yellow flag appeared on Lap 39 following contact between Mick Schumacher and Nicholas Latifi, both of whom have been left without a seat on the 2023 grid.

Both drivers were able to continue, though Latifi looked to have sustained some damage and was forced to pit. The incident was investigated by the stewards, and Schumacher received a five-second penalty for causing a collision.

Meanwhile, on Lap 40, both Sainz and Russell pitted again, emerging into P5 and P8 respectively.

Hamilton and Leclerc both seemed unsure about their one-stop strategies, while Verstappen was asked about his tyres. The Dutchman suggested that the final laps of the race would be "critical".

By Lap 45, Perez – in fourth – was on the tail of Hamilton in third, with Leclerc a further nine seconds up the road as the Red Bull driver looked to finish ahead of the Monegasque.

Perez initially made a move on Hamilton before the Mercedes retook the place on Lap 46, though Perez eventually took the position back.

Tyres a concern in final stages

The drivers on a one-stop strategy seemed to be having a tough time in the latter stages of the race; Vettel questioned his team about the decision after slipping out of the points, while Leclerc asked Ferrari to leave him to it as he tried to hold on to second place from Perez.

Verstappen maintained his lead at the front as Perez attempted to close the gap to Leclerc, while Hamilton slipped backwards in the final laps after being told of a hydraulics issue. The Briton was forced to retire, marking Mercedes' first DNF with a mechanical issue in 2022.

It was ultimately Leclerc who clinched P2 behind Verstappen, who claimed a record 15th win of the campaign.

Elsewhere, Vettel secured one point in P10 for his final F1 race.

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