That's a Wrap! Verstappen Closes Out Historic F1 Season with Abu Dhabi Win

f1 grand prix of abu dhabi
Verstappen Closes Out Historic F1 Season with WinMark Thompson - Getty Images

Formula 1’s longest season finally came to a conclusion at the flashy Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi on Sunday, with a dominant sign-off by Max Verstappen, and an auf wiedersehen to Sebastian Vettel.

Autoweek recaps the talking points.

Verstappen Signs off with 15th Win

The 2022 season started with the promise of a close fight between Max Verstappen and Charles Leclerc, but from one-third of the way through the season the reigning world champion just cruised clear.

f1 grand prix of abu dhabi
Max Verstappen is the first driver in Formula 1 history with 15 wins in a single season.Eurasia Sport Images - Getty Images

Abu Dhabi was a reflection of most of 2022 as Verstappen simply eased away from his opponents to pick up a record-extending 15th victory of the season. Verstappen's margin of victory over LeClerc was a comfortable 8.7 seconds.

At the insipid Yas Marina Circuit Verstappen executed a straightforward one-stop strategy to triumph at the venue for a third successive year, albeit with his 2022 win not quite as emotional as the title-sealing 2021 showdown victory. It was a dreary encounter beneath the lights in the desert.

“It has been a great team effort, especially after the tough start to the year, I think nobody would have imagined it,” said Verstappen, who faced a 46-point deficit after two failures in the first three races. “It has been really enjoyable to be part of the team, we focus on performance but you need to appreciate the moment. We will do, but we are of course focusing on next year—it’s hard to do a lot better than this but you should always try to aim to do that.”

Leclerc Takes Second Place in Championship

f1 grand prix of abu dhabi
Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc celebrated his second-place finish in the standings on Sunday in Abu Dhabi.Rudy Carezzevoli - Getty Images

For a second successive season, two drivers from front-running teams entered the finale race of the season tied points.

This year, it was Ferrari's Charles Leclerc and Red Bull's Sergio Perez in the points battle for second spot in the standings. Fittingly, the two waged their battle during the race for second place behind the dominant Verstappen.

Perez held second place early in the race, but Red Bull executed a two-stop strategy, while Leclerc opted for a one-stopper, staying out to gain track position. On fresher tires, Perez reeled in Leclerc but ultimately fell 1.3 second short after the full 58 laps of racing, sealing second place in the standings for Leclerc, and third place for Perez.

“Our goal was to do something different,” said Leclerc. “And with the tyre management we made the one-stop work and we got the second place. It was really difficult, especially on the medium stint as the first part trying not to fight too much.”

Leclerc’s runner-up position marked Ferrari’s best overall result since 2018 but it was still a mixed campaign for the Scuderia.

“Obviously if I take a step back, considering from how far we have come from last year it is an amazing step forward,” he said. “But obviously I cannot ignore that we went from leading to quite a bit of points to being behind by quite a bit of points.”

Vettel Says Quiet Goodbye to F1

f1 grand prix of abu dhabi
Four-time F1 champion Sebastian Vettel says his farewells to his fellow drivers in Abu Dhabi.Dan Istitene - Formula 1 - Getty Images

With no championship on the line, and very few talking points elsewhere, much of the focus through the weekend was on retiring Sebastian Vettel.

On Sunday, Vettel received a guard of honor from his fellow drivers and was able to sign off from Formula 1 with a point after classifying in 10th position.

“I think it’s a huge privilege to be in the position we are in and with that comes a huge responsibility,” said Vettel. “I hope to pass on some of the good work. It’s great to see that we have the power to inspire you [fans] with what we say. There are far bigger and far more important things than racing in circles, but obviously it’s what we love. Through that, if we can transfer some of those important values, I think that’s really big and for that, I think the last two years have been great for me.

"Thank you for the support, thank you for all the messages, and all the love in general. I will miss that. It’s been an absolute joy throughout my career, so thank you.”

Of the other drivers bidding farewell (for now at least) Daniel Ricciardo was ninth for McLaren, while unfortunately Mick Schumacher clumsily ran into Nicholas Latifi. Schumacher finished 16th though Latifi retired three laps from home.


F1 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

  1. Max Verstappen, Red Bull, 58 laps

  2. Charles Leclerc, Ferrari, +8.7 seconds

  3. Sergio Perez, Red Bull, +10.0

  4. Carlos Sainz, Ferrari, +24.8

  5. George Russell, Mercedes, +35.8

  6. Lando Norris, McLaren, +56.2

  7. Esteban Ocon, Alpine, +57.2

  8. Lance Stroll, Aston Martin, +1:16.9

  9. Daniel Ricciardo, McLaren, +1:23.2

  10. Sebastian Vettel, Aston Martin, +1:23.8

  11. Yuki Tsunoda, AlphaTauri, +1:29.3

  12. Zhou Guanyu, Alfa Romeo, +1 lap

  13. Alex Albon, Williams, +1 lap

  14. Pierre Gasly, AlphaTauri, +1 lap

  15. Valtteri Bottas, Alfa Romeo, +1 lap

  16. Mick Schumacher, Haas, +1 lap

  17. Kevin Magnussen, Haas, +1 lap

  18. Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, +3 laps

  19. Nicholas Latifi, Williams, +3 laps

  20. Fernando Alonso, Alpine, +31 laps

Final Standings


  1. Max Verstappen 454

  2. Charles Leclerc 308

  3. Sergio Perez 305

  4. George Russell 275

  5. Carlos Sainz 246

  6. Lewis Hamilton 240

  7. Lando Norris 122

  8. Esteban Ocon 92

  9. Fernando Alonso 81

  10. Valtteri Bottas 49

  11. Sebastian Vettel 37

  12. Daniel Ricciardo 37

  13. Kevin Magnussen 25

  14. Pierre Gasly 23

  15. Lance Stroll 18

  16. Mick Schumacher 12

  17. Yuki Tsunoda 12

  18. Zhou Guanyu 6

  19. Alex Albon 4

  20. Nicholas Latifi 2

  21. Nyck de Vries 2

  22. Nico Hulkenberg 2


  1. Red Bull 759

  2. Ferrari 554

  3. Mercedes 515

  4. Alpine 173

  5. McLaren 159

  6. Alfa Romeo 55

  7. Aston Martin 55

  8. Haas 37

  9. AlphaTauri 35

  10. Williams 8