2022 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix: Vettel’s Final F1 Race

The race to second in the Drivers' Championship was the box office draw for the season's final race.


By Ben Bush
Updated on March 14, 2024

2022 Abu Dhabi F1 Grand Prix

The Yas Marina Circuit hosted the 2022 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, the final race of the 2022 F1 season, on Sunday, November 20th.

This race saw Max Verstappen clinch victory, followed by Charles Leclerc and Sergio Pérez. Leclerc’s performance in this race was crucial, securing him second in the Drivers’ Championship, edging out Pérez.

Daniel Ricciardo, driving for McLaren, entered the race with a three-place grid penalty due to his involvement in a collision with Kevin Magnussen during the previous São Paulo Grand Prix. Additionally, the weekend was a momentous occasion for four-time World Champion Sebastian Vettel as it marked the end of his F1 career, his 300th Grand Prix race entry, and his 299th and final race start.

2022 Championship battles

As the weekend approached, the winners of the Drivers’ and Constructors’ Championships were already decided during the Japanese and United States Grand Prix, respectively.

Max Verstappen held a commanding lead in the 2022 Drivers’ Championship, having amassed 429 points. His closest rivals, Charles Leclerc and Sergio Pérez, were tied in second position, each with 290 points.

In the 2022 Constructors’ Championship, Red Bull Racing had established a significant lead, outpacing their nearest rival, Ferrari, by 195 points and Mercedes, in third place, by 214 points. It was the first time since 2014 that Mercedes hadn’t won the Constructors’ Championship.

The race to second in the Drivers’ Championship was the box office draw for the season’s final race and would play out on track until the chequered flag.

What happened in the 2022 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix?

Opening laps

At lights out, drama ensued. Starting from 5th, Lewis Hamilton passed Carlos Sainz into 4th, maintaining his advantage until turn six. Here, Sainz attempted an inside overtake on Hamilton, who, to maintain his position, chose to cut the corner over the sausage kerb, briefly going airborne. By lap five, Hamilton received instructions over team radio to yield his position to Sainz, and while they continued to vie for position over several laps, Sainz eventually won over and extended his lead over Hamilton.

Meanwhile, Hamilton’s teammate, George Russell, incurred a five-second penalty for an unsafe pit stop release, narrowly avoiding a collision with Lando Norris. This penalty relegated Russell to sixth after his subsequent pit stop.

Mid-race battles

On lap 27, Fernando Alonso faced retirement due to a water leak, marking his fifth technical failure-induced retirement of the season and sixth overall.

As the race progressed, a strategic split emerged among teams concerning pit stops. Max Verstappen, Charles Leclerc, Sebastian Vettel, Daniel Ricciardo, Valtteri Bottas, Kevin Magnussen, and Lewis Hamilton opted for a one-stop strategy, differing from each of their teammates’ two-stop approach. Sergio Pérez, after pitting from second position on lap 33 and rejoining in sixth, struggled to regain ground, hindered by lapped cars and a tussle with Hamilton.

A collision between Mick Schumacher and Nicholas Latifi on lap 39 at turn 5, caused by Schumacher’s inside pass, resulted in both spinning out and Latifi hitting the barrier. Although Latifi initially continued, he later retired due to an electronics issue, while Schumacher received a five-second penalty for the incident.

Final laps

On lap 55, a hydraulic system failure caused Hamilton’s car to get stuck in seventh gear, forcing his retirement and eliminating Mercedes‘ chances of leapfrogging Ferrari in the Constructors’ Championship. This also marked the first season in Hamilton’s 16-year career without a Grand Prix win.

Verstappen led the race from the start, securing a comfortable victory—his third consecutive win in Abu Dhabi and fifteenth of the season, setting a new record.

Leclerc’s second-place finish, narrowly ahead of Pérez, secured him second place in the Drivers’ Championship by a margin of three points. In their final race before leaving the grid in 2023, Daniel Ricciardo and Sebastian Vettel scored points, finishing ninth and tenth, respectively. This season marked Vettel’s first full season without a podium finish, excluding his single race with BMW Sauber in 2007. Lance Stroll‘s eighth-place finish was insufficient for Aston Martin to claim sixth in the championship, finishing level on points with Alfa Romeo but losing out on countback due to Alfa’s highest finish of fifth compared to Aston Martin’s sixth.

2022 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix post-race debrief

The 2022 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix marked a significant milestone and a series of farewells in Formula One.

For four-time World Champion Sebastian Vettel, it was a particularly notable event as it represented his 300th Grand Prix entry and his 299th and final start. Vettel, driving for Aston Martin, concluded his illustrious career with a tenth-place finish, adding one last point to his impressive Formula One legacy.

2022 Abu Dhabi F1 Grand Prix Podium
2022 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix podium of Max Verstappen, Charles Leclerc and Sergio Perez

The race also served as a final appearance for several other notable drivers. Daniel Ricciardo for McLaren, Nicholas Latifi for Williams, and Mick Schumacher for Haas all participated in their last Grand Prix, as they could not secure seats for the 2023 season. However, in a twist of events, Daniel Ricciardo returned before the 2023 Hungarian Grand Prix, taking over Nyck de Vries‘ seat at AlphaTauri. De Vries’ performance prompted a change, as he failed to score points in the first ten races of the 2023 season.

The Grand Prix was a swansong for Fernando Alonso with Alpine and Pierre Gasly at AlphaTauri. Alonso moved to Aston Martin, and Gasly transitioned to Alpine.

2022 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix Race Results

1Max VerstappenRed Bull Racing-RBPT25
2Charles LeclercFerrari18
3Sergio PérezRed Bull Racing-RBPT15
4Carlos SainzFerrari12
5George RussellMercedes10
6Lando NorrisMcLaren-Mercedes9
7Esteban OconAlpine-Renault6
8Lance StrollAston Martin Aramco-Mercedes4
9Daniel RicciardoMcLaren-Mercedes2
10Sebastian VettelAston Martin Aramco-Mercedes1
11Yuki TsunodaAlphaTauri-RBPT
12Zhou GuanyuAlfa Romeo-Ferrari
13Alexander AlbonWilliams-Mercedes
14Pierre GaslyAlphaTauri-RBPT
15Valtteri BottasAlfa Romeo-Ferrari
16Mick SchumacherHaas Ferrari
17Kevin MagnussenHaas Ferrari
18Lewis HamiltonMercedes
19Nicholas LatifiWilliams-Mercedes
RetFernando AlonsoAlpine-Renault

2022 Post-Race F1 Championship Standings

2022 Post-Race F1 Drivers’ Championship Standings

2022 Post-Race F1 Constructors’ Championship Standings

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About The Author

Chief Editor

Ben Bush

Ben is our chief editor specialising in F1 from the 1990s to the modern era. Ben has been following Formula 1 since 1986 and is an avid researcher who loves understanding the technology that makes it one of the most exciting motorsport on the planet. He listens to podcasts about F1 on a daily basis, and enjoys reading books from the inspirational Adrian Newey to former F1 drivers.

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