By Robert Haile
Abu Dhabi might only be a short 500km trip away, where the season started in Bahrain almost 250 days ago but it has been a long road to get there.
Max Verstappen became a double world champion and won his fifteenth Grand Prix in Abu Dhabi breaking the record set by retiring driver Sebastian Vettel.
Record breaker and Double World Champion Verstappen said: “It was incredible to win here again and to get 15 wins in total this season is unbelievable. It was a good race, the one stop really worked for me and it was all about tyre management today.
“As a Team, we did everything we could to get Checo up there ahead of Charles, we had split strategies, but it didn’t work out today. Overall, we’ve achieved a lot this year as a Team and we can all be proud of that, its great motivation heading into next year.
“We’ve had an incredible season and I want to thank everyone in the Team out here in Abu Dhabi and back at the factory, this sport requires dedication, and everyone at Oracle Red Bull Racing has that, it’s clear to see.
“I’m really looking forward to a break now and I hope everyone has a good Winter and much-needed time with family and friends.”
After holding onto the lead at the start of the race when challenged by team mate Sergio Perez, Verstappen went on to claim his fifteenth win in comfortable fashion.
There was early drama as Mercedes and Ferrari were battling for second in the constructors championship with Prancing Horse driver Carlos Sainz taking on Silver Arrow Lewis Hamilton.
Pushing Hamilton off the track and over the bumps the Mercedes driver kept his foot down and all four wheels left the ground and he rejoined in front of Sainz before giving the place up.
The day ended badly for the seven time world champion as three laps from the end he returned to the Mercedes pits and retired from the race leaving Russell the only Mercedes driver out.
Ferrari secured second in the constructors championship and Mercedes third.
In the drivers championship Perez and Leclerc produced a tactical, nail biting finish with Perez pitting twice and Leclerc going for a one stop strategy.
This lead to a potential final lap winner takes all situation as Leclerc had second with Perez closing in quickly but unable to find a way past.
That meant Leclerc took second in the championship no 1-2 for Red Bull.
In the race Sainz finished fourth with Russell fifth.
Then there was the McLaren-Alpine battle for fourth in the constructors, Lando Norris took sixth and the fastest lap bonus point for McLaren but Esteban Ocon came seventh and secured fourth in the constructors championship for Alpine.
Lance Stroll and Sebastian Vettel made it a double points finish for Aston Martin and joint fifth in the constructors coming in either side of Daniel Ricciardo who finished ninth.
AlphaTauri missed out on points with Yuki Tsunoda in eleventh, Alfa Romeo’s Zhou Guanyu took twelfth and Alex Albon thirteenth for Williams.
Then came Pierre Gasly for AlphaTauri, Valtteri Bottas for Alfa Romeo and the two Haas drivers finished the runners with Mick Schumacher beating Kevin Magnussen.
Fernando Alonso, Lewis Hamilton and Nicholas Latifi did not finish.
With the chequered flag waving F1 said farewell to four time world champion Sebastian Vettel who is retiring along with Mick Schumacher, Nicholas Latifi and Daniel Ricciardo who part company with their teams.
That is it for the 2022 Formula One season the teams will stay in Abu Dhabi for their end of season test with drivers getting a chance in an F1 car or those moving a chance to get to know their new team.
- Max Verstappen (Red Bull) – 454
- Charles Leclerc (Ferrari) – 308
- Sergio Perez (Red Bull) – 305
- George Russell (Mercedes) – 275
- Carlos Sainz (Ferrari) – 246
- Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) – 240
- Lando Norris (McLaren) – 122
- Esteban Ocon (Alpine) – 92
- Fernando Alonso (Alpine) – 81
- Valtteri Bottas (Alfa Romeo) – 49
- Daniel Ricciardo (McLaren) – 37
- Sebastian Vettel (Aston Martin) – 37
- Kevin Magnussen (Haas) – 25
- Pierre Gasly (AlphaTauri) – 23
- Lance Stroll (Aston Martin) – 18
- Mick Schumacher (Haas) – 12
- Yuki Tsunoda (AlphaTauri) – 12
- Zhou Guanyu (Alfa Romeo) – 6
- Alex Albon (Williams) – 4
- Nicholas Latifi (Williams) – 2
- Nyck De Vries (Williams) – 2
- Nico Hulkenberg (Aston Martin) – 0
- Red Bull – 759
- Ferrari – 554
- Mercedes – 515
- Alpine – 173
- McLaren – 159
- Alfa Romeo – 55
- Aston Martin – 55
- Haas – 37
- AlphaTauri – 35
- Williams – 8