This is it – the final race of the 2022 Formula 1 season! It’s a shame the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix doesn’t have the drama and hype around it that we had last year, when the Drivers’ Championship was still up for grabs, but this year has been all about Max Verstappen and his domination over the rest of the field.
Will he end the season with one more win? Read on to inform your predictions ahead of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix with expert insight from Jennie Gow.
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I don’t think anyone would have predicted just how good Verstappen would be this season or just how badly the challenge from Mercedes and Ferrari would be. We have, however, had some cracking races this year and the latest one, in Brazil, didn’t disappoint!
Most people think the straight line speed of the Red Bull will see them win this weekend.
The excitement at Interlagos started early in the weekend when Kevin Magnussen secured an unlikely pole position for the Haas team – his first ever in Formula One. It was a magical moment that I’m certain no one would have predicted! Then George Russell took the Sprint race win on Saturday after an entertaining battle with Max Verstappen.
By Sunday, I think most pundits and fans expected Verstappen to be back in charge and to leapfrog the two Mercedes drivers, who had locked out the front row of the grid for the first time this year, and take the win.
But it wasn’t to be, as he and Hamilton collided when he went for the overtake into turn two on the saftey car restart. Verstappen then had to pit for a new front wing and from there on, his race was compromised. It left George Russell out in front and he drove a masterful race to take his first-ever win in F1.
Abu Dhabi Grand Prix weekend preview: How will Red Bull team dynamics affect the result?
There was more drama in Brazil as Verstappen refused to obey team orders when asked to swap places with his teammate, Sergio Perez – there was no love lost between the two drivers after that and you can guarantee that going into the last race of the season the media will be trying to find out just why Verstappen wouldn’t help the man who has gone out of his way to ensure he has had the easiest possible route to both of his World Championship titles.
Team boss Christian Horner was quick to play down the drama after the race, telling the media that the two drivers had discussed the situation and had agreed to move past it. But these things have a habit of resurfacing and with Perez fighting for second place in the Championship this weekend, we could see the drama spilling out on to the track yet again. If needed, will Verstappen help his teammate outscore Charles Leclerc? Watch this space…
Abu Dhabi Grand Prix betting: Who has the form around the Yas Marina circuit?
The Yas Marina circuit in Abu Dhabi is a modern and sweeping track with plenty of fast straights – especially the 1.2km stretch between turns five and six – which will play right into the hands of Red Bull and Verstappen. There are also some slow-speed corners where overtaking opportunities can be taken and some tricky turns (10, 11, 12) which will test drivers’ abilities.
As the drivers speed around each of the 58 laps of the race, they won’t be slowing to take in the sites of the multi-million-pound yachts bobbing on the water, nor will they be distracted as they speed under the whale-shaped Yas Hotel – a stunning construction at the heart of the track where the rich and famous mingle and chat fast cars.
The first F1 Grand Prix to take place in Abu Dhabi was in 2009 when Red Bull were once again in the ascendancy – they sealed a 1-2 with Sebastian Vettel leading Mark Webber home. Vettel won again in the following year, in a race win that sealed his first-ever world title.
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Out of the 13 F1 races held in Abu Dhabi, there have been six different winners. Hamilton has more wins than any other driver here, with five to his name. That’s a lot of wins at a single track!
Verstappen has won the last two Grands Prix in Abu Dhabi, and prior to that it was definitely a Mercedes stronghold with five wins for Hamilton (2011, 2014, 2016, 2018, and 2019), one for Valtteri Bottas (2017), and one for Nico Rosberg (2015).
Vettel’s third Abu Dhabi win came in 2013 and in 2012 he pulled off a near-miracle, when he started from the pit lane and managed to finish on the podium – collecting third place behind Kimi Räikkönen and Fernando Alonso – and seal another world title.
Abu Dhabi Grand Prix betting: Who will be on pole in Abu Dhabi?
There have been six different pole sitters in Abu Dhabi. Hamilton has five poles to his name and has converted three of them into race wins. However, he has failed to finish two of the races in which he started on pole. The last seven races at Yas Marina have been won from pole – the furthest back the race has been won from was fourth place in 2012.
Charles Leclerc will pick up the trophy for the most pole positions this season but he hasn’t had one since Singapore and could really do with one this weekend just to restore his confidence before the season finishes.
After the surprise Kevin Magnussen pole last weekend, I think it will be a far more predictable affair this weekend with almost no chance of rain to disrupt proceedings. Mercedes look to be in fine form again after battling for so long with their car – pole position is possible for them but can the warring Red Bull drivers be fastest on Saturday night? They probably will be.
Abu Dhabi Grand Prix 2022: Can Hamilton finally get a win in 2022?
Mercedes have a good record at Abu Dhabi but most people think the straight line speed of the Red Bull will see them win this weekend.
This weekend will be full of emotion – this is the track where the end of the season was so badly played out last year. Hamilton has had flashbacks of losing his eighth world title throughout this season and I think it will be tough for the Brit to return to the scene of where it was ripped away from him. But the Mercedes car is so much improved from the start of this season and he will be determined to go out there and seek revenge for last year.
Hamilton in this frame of mind is hard to beat and now that teammate George Russell has his first win under his belt, maybe this will be Hamilton’s weekend. However, it will still take a brave person to bet against Verstappen – he’ll be looking to close out his Championship-winning season in style with his 15th win of the year. I don’t think Perez will be so keen to help him to achieve that though – so let’s see how it plays out.