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Drivers compete at the start of the Abu Dhabi Formula One Grand Prix at the Yas Marina Circuit in the Emirati city of Abu Dhabi on November 20, 2022.

Strategic battles and emotional farewells at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

The race was full of strategic battles and emotional farewells as we close out the 2022 season

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Max Verstappen wins the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix ahead of Charles Leclerc and Sergio Perez.

Verstappen, Perez, Abu Dhabi Grand Prix race start
Verstappen narrowly stays ahead of teammate Sergio Perez (Image Credit: @F1 on Twitter)

A tribute for Sebastian Vettel had taken place before the race had started. A guard of honour, including all of the drivers, took place to acknowledge the four-time world champion’s incredible achievements in Formula 1.

On track, there are many battles for the championships still. The most notable ones being Charles Leclerc vs Sergio Perez and Ferrari vs Mercedes.

Every driver decided to start on the medium tyre. The only drivers not on the medium tyre are Magnussen and Bottas on hard tyres, and Pierre Gasly the only one on the soft compound tyre.

Lights out

Max Verstappen narrowly maintained the lead going into Turn One from his teammate Sergio Perez. Charles Leclerc maintained his grid position on lap one as the Monegasque is battling Perez for second in the championship.

George Russell did not have a good start. The Mercedes driver fell back behind Lando Norris.

Lewis Hamilton had to take avoiding action after going side-by-side with Carlos Sainz. The Briton’s car bumps directly over the sausage kerb.

The seven-time world champion was instructed by his team on lap four to give the position back to the Spaniard. However, a lap later, Hamilton breezed past Sainz with the use of DRS. Ferrari look to be struggling on race pace, as shown in Friday’s practice sessions.

Lap eight would see Sainz re-overtake Hamilton. The Briton could not pull away from the Spaniard, resulting in the seven-time world champion being overtaken into Turn Nine.

Lift off for Hamilton after tussling with Sainz with Turn 6. The Mercedes driver runs wide and cuts the corner at Turn 7
Hamilton’s car launches into the air from the sausage kerb after battling Sainz (Image Credit: @F1 on Twitter)

Elsewhere, Sebastian Vettel made a move around the outside of Esteban Ocon at Turn Nine. However, the German ran wide on the kerb, allowing the Frenchman back past into eighth place.

Hamilton struggling for pace

It would get worse for Hamilton a lap later. His teammate George Russell would breeze past before Turn Nine, showing a lot more pace than his more experienced teammate.

As for Ferrari, Sainz’s engineer says that the Spaniard’s pace is good and the tyre degradation. However, the 28-year-old did not agree with his race engineer.

Lap 12 saw Sebastian Vettel yet again battle with Esteban Ocon. However, the German still could not get past the Frenchman, leaving the four-time world champion frustrated.

Lewis Hamilton was adamant that his car is wrong as the 37-year-old struggles for pace. Furthermore, the Briton has been given two track limits warnings at Turn One. Meanwhile, Esteban Ocon decided to pit at the end of lap 14, releasing Vettel into free air.

First round of pitstops

Sergio Perez was the first of the frontrunners to go into the pits. The Mexican had a smooth stop of 2.4 seconds, switching onto the hard tyre. George Russell and Lando Norris followed the Mexican in.

Unfortunately for Russell, he had a 5.2 second pit stop when switching to the hard tyre. To make things worse for the Briton as he was released straight into fellow Briton Lando Norris, resulting in a five-second time penalty for the Mercedes driver.

Sergio Perez made a move to get past Sebastian Vettel into Turn Six on lap 16. However, the Mexican ran wide, allowing the German to go back through to frustrate the Red Bull driver. However, Perez would get past a lap later.

Lap 17 would see Carlos Sainz make a pitstop onto the hard compound tyre. A lap later saw Lewis Hamilton make his first stop of the race. The Briton said on the team radio, “I think the floor is broken”.

Fernando Alonso would then make his first pitstop after being stuck behind fellow world champion Sebastian Vettel. The Spaniard had a smooth stop, filtering out in 14th.

Max Verstappen would then pit from the lead of the race on lap 20 onto the hard tyre. The Dutchman had a steady stop of 3.4 seconds. Charles Leclerc responded, pitting a lap later onto the hard tyre. The Monegasque was put under pressure by his teammate Sainz but managed to stay ahead.

Aston Martin decided to go for the one-stop. However, Vettel was not happy, complaining of being a “sitting duck” on his aging medium tyres. Therefore, the German pitted on lap 25 onto the hard compound tyre, filtering out into 19th.

Fernando Alonso, Alpine retires from the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix
Alonso retires from the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix (Image Credit: @F1 on Twitter)
 Alonso retires from the race

Fernando Alonso before the race said that he will “take care” of Sebastian Vettel in the German’s final Formula 1 race. The pair were close together for the majority of the race, mainly behind Esteban Ocon.

However, the Spaniard was told to retire from the race on lap 28, adding to the Alpine driver’s reliability woes this season. It was believed that the 41-year-old’s car had a water leak.

Six laps later would see Sergio Perez make a bold move to make a second stop onto another set of hard compound tyres.

Schumacher and Latifi collide

Lap 39 saw Mick Schumacher collide with Williams driver Nicholas Latifi going into Turn Five. The pair ended in the barriers but were both able to get back running, meaning no safety car. The collision resulted in a five-second time penalty for the German.

Replays show Schumacher tapping Latifi sending both drivers spinning off. The Haas driver gets a 5-second time penalty for causing a collision
Mick Schumacher crashes into Nicholas Latifi on lap 39 (Image Credit: @F1 on Twitter)

The same lap would see Carlos Sainz also make his second stop of the race onto another set of hard tyres. George Russell also pits on the same lap, serving his five-second time penalty, resulting in an 8.8 second stop.

Lap 45 would see Sergio Perez go ahead of Lewis Hamilton into Turn Six. However, the Mexican made another mistake at Turn Six, allowing the Briton to get back past into Turn Nine.

Perez would get past Hamilton on the next lap into Turn Nine, hunting down Charles Leclerc for second place in the championship.

Vettel was not happy with his team after being passed by Lance Stroll, who was on the two-stop. The German was put onto the one-stop and said: “How did we get the strategy so wrong?”

Meanwhile at the front, Sergio Perez is pushing extremely hard to get past Charles Leclerc, who is on the one stop. The winner between the pair will claim second in the drivers’ championship.

Hamilton, Mercedes, Abu Dhabi Grand Prix
Hamilton retired from the race due to a hydraulic problem (Image Credit: @F1 on Twitter)
Hamilton has a hydraulic problem

Lap 55 saw Lewis Hamilton not being able to shift properly, going out of Turn Seven. Carlos Sainz was able to breeze past the Briton. It is the first mechanical failure for the Mercedes team in 2022.

Another important battle is Sebastian Vettel vs Daniel Ricciardo. Vettel needs to get past the Australian to earn Aston Martin sixth in the constructors’ championship ahead of Alfa Romeo.

However, both scenarios did not happen with Alfa Romeo claiming sixth and Charles Leclerc claiming second.

Results
  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
  11. Yuki Tsunoda
  12. Zhou Guanyu
  13. Alex Albon
  14. Pierre Gasly
  15. Valtteri Bottas
  16. Mick Schumacher
  17. Kevin Magnussen
  18. Lewis Hamilton
  19. Nicholas Latifi
  20. Fernando Alonso

Feature Image Credit: BEN STANSALL/AFP via Getty Images

 

 

 

 

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