RACE DEBRIEF

    Max Verstappen topped off his outstanding year with a comfortable victory in the season finale in Abu Dhabi – but it wasn’t such smooth sailing for others. We’ve picked out six winners and five losers from Yas Marina.

    Winner: Max Verstappen

    Verstappen delivered another masterclass in Abu Dhabi, first taking his seventh pole position of the season, then converting it into his 15th win of the year and ninth in 11 races.

    Fifteen wins matches the combined number of victories Alain Prost and Ayrton Senna achieved between them in McLaren’s almost-perfect 1988 season (they won all but one race).

    READ MORE: 'Unbelievable' says Verstappen after taking record-extending 15th win of season

    He ends his record-breaking year 146 points – which is nearly six race wins – clear of the rest of the field, and has now won at the same track for three years in a row for the first time in his career.

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    Verstappen rounded out his season in style

    Loser: Sergio Perez

    Through the first two sections of qualifying, Sergio Perez was favourite to take pole position. But he didn’t get it together in Q3, and while he locked out the front row with Verstappen, he was only one place ahead of P2 rival Charles Leclerc.

    The Mexican lost time in the middle stint behind Verstappen, who was on a one-stop while his team mate was on a two, and that left him with too much to do to catch one-stopping Leclerc.

    FACTS AND STATS: Verstappen takes first one-track hat-trick with third Yas Marina win

    As a result, he missed out on P2 in the drivers’ championship. The two points lost in Brazil – when Verstappen didn’t move over – wouldn’t have made a difference, as he ended up three behind.

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    Perez's season ended with donuts – but not the second in the championship he craved

    Winners: Charles Leclerc and Ferrari

    This was a difficult campaign for Leclerc, who started the year leading the championship by 46 points but fell out of title contention and had to change focus to fight for P2.

    The Ferrari racer managed his tyres brilliantly in Abu Dhabi, with his team also nailing the strategy, and that helped him take second on the road – Ferrari’s best finish at Yas Marina since 2018.

    READ MORE: ‘I was at 110% from start to finish’ – Leclerc hails ‘perfect race’ as he beats Perez to P2 in the championship

    P2 is also his best-ever championship finish (P4 was his previous best) while the podium was his sixth in the final eight races. And P2 in the standings for Ferrari was their best result since 2019.

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    Leclerc did enough to hold onto P2 in the championship

    Losers: Mercedes

    After the highs of Brazil, where Mercedes secured their first one-two in two years, the Silver Arrows were brought back down to Earth in Abu Dhabi as they returned to their new familiar position of third in the pecking order.

    George Russell secured his 19th top-five finish in 22 races this year, but Lewis Hamilton suffered the team’s only mechanical retirement of 2022, meaning they didn’t score well enough to snatch P2 in the constructors’ championship from Ferrari.

    READ MORE: 'We finished with a car that we didn't want' says Hamilton as Mercedes suffer first mechanical DNF of 2022 at Yas Marina

    Winner: Lando Norris

    Lando Norris has been one of the most impressive drivers in 2022, and he delivered yet another brilliant performance in Abu Dhabi, the Briton getting the utmost from a McLaren which hasn’t been as strong as it was last year.

    Sixth and the fastest lap moved his points tally to 122, 30 clear of Esteban Ocon to secure the 'best of the rest spot' in the drivers’ standings.

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    Norris once again found himself 'best of the rest'

    Loser: Nicholas Latifi

    As he said in the TV pen, Sunday’s retirement was not how Nicholas Latifi wanted to end his Williams – and possibly F1 – career.

    The Canadian struggled for pace all weekend and lost a bunch of time – and suffered damage – when he collided with Mick Schumacher. An electrical issue then forced him to retire, in a disappointing finale for the Canadian.

    HIGHLIGHTS: Watch the action from the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix as the sun sets on the 2022 season

    Winners: Alpine

    Alpine secured fourth in the constructors’ championship, fending off McLaren, to finish one place higher than they managed last year.

    Esteban Ocon’s P7 was his best-ever finish in six Yas Marina starts and his 16th points finish in 22 races, to equal his best end-of-year finish in the standings of eighth.

    The only blip was Fernando Alonso’s retirement – the sixth time he has failed to see the chequered flag – with a suspected water leak.

    READ MORE: ‘It’s a little bit sad to finish like that’ – Alonso sets sights on ‘good chapter’ with Aston Martin as time at Alpine ends in retirement

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    Ocon's season finished on a high

    Losers: AlphaTauri

    AlphaTauri boss Franz Tost entered the year targeting a top-five finish in the constructors’ championship but they ended up fighting for P8 at best, and ultimately losing out to Haas.

    Yuki Tsunoda had a strong race, and just missed out on a point in 11th, while Pierre Gasly’s gamble to start on the soft wasn’t enough to haul him into the top 10 on his final race for the team.

    READ MORE: Red Bull ‘high likely the place for me’ in 2023 says Ricciardo, after signing off McLaren career with points in Abu Dhabi

    Winners: Alfa Romeo

    Alfa Romeo may not have scored points, but that was in part because Zhou Guanyu and Valtteri Bottas focused on defending hard against the duo of Aston Martin in a bid to hold onto P6 in the championship.

    Their efforts paid off, with Alfa Romeo finishing level on points with their green rivals but taking P6 courtesy of a better best-finish (Bottas was fifth in Imola).

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    Alfa did enough to hold onto P6 in the championship

    Loser: Mick Schumacher

    With confirmation coming on Thursday that Mick Schumacher would be out of a drive at Haas in 2023 courtesy of an F1 return for Nico Hulkenberg, the 23-year-old was hoping for a strong final race with the team. But a clumsy mid-race tagging of Latifi earned him a five-second time penalty – while with Kevin Magnussen finishing one place behind Schumacher in P17, both the German and Haas’s seasons ended with a whimper.

    ANALYSIS: Why Haas split with Schumacher, how Hulkenberg got the nod – and why Steiner isn’t worried about tension with Magnussen

    Winner: Sebastian Vettel

    Yes, Sebastian Vettel was fortunate to get a point courtesy of Lewis Hamilton’s retirement. But the German had driven a brilliant race in the early phase on his 299th and final start and was in good shape for P6 had his team not given him a slower one-stop strategy.

    Nonetheless, he was voted Driver of the Day by the fans and completed an emotional weekend with some donuts on the start-finish straight. It was his 10th points score and he ends the year with more than double the tally of his team mate Lance Stroll.

    READ MORE: Vettel urges fellow drivers to continue his legacy after retiring from F1 with points finish in Abu Dhabi

    2022 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix: Vettel signs off from last F1 race with donuts at Yas Marina