Verstappen led from the start of the race and only briefly relinquished his lead to Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc in the pit stop cycle. The race was spiced up by divergent tire strategies between Leclerc and Sergio Perez’s second Red Bull in their fight for second place in the world championship.
The one-stopping Leclerc was caught in the closing stages by two-stopper Perez, aided by tire information from Verstappen, who was also on a one-stop lead.
But Perez just couldn’t get close enough to attempt a move, so Leclerc was second by 1.3 seconds both in the race and in the points.
2022 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix Results
How the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix unfolded
Verstappen just kept his pole advantage going into Turn 1, most of the field starting on the medium compound tyres, ahead of Perez, Leclerc, Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) and Carlos Sainz (Ferrari). On the run into Turn 6, Sainz invaded Hamilton and sent him wide at the exit, briefly sending the Mercedes airborne over the curb.
Hamilton initially held his position, having made it to the top of turn 7 in a straight line, but was asked to leave Sainz back in front, which he did on lap four. A lap later, Hamilton DRS overtook Sainz into Turn 9, but Sainz stayed within DRS range and returned the favor at the same corner four laps later.
In the second Mercedes, George Russell then overtook Hamilton – who was complaining of a loss of power – for fifth.
Verstappen took a 2.7 second lead over Perez on lap 10, with Leclerc and Sainz tied 3 seconds behind them. Behind the Mercedes duo, Lando Norris was seventh for McLaren, while Sebastian Vettel dueled the Alpines of Esteban Ocon and Fernando Alonso in his last ever Grand Prix.
Ocon was the first of the top 10 to pit on lap 15 due to hard tyres, followed a lap later by Perez and Russell (who had a very slow stop and was released in Norris’ path resulting in a 5 second time penalty ). Perez rejoined the fight against Vettel, costing him time in his battle for second place with Leclerc – both in the race and in the world championship.
Sainz pitted on lap 18 and also got caught up behind Vettel as Verstappen and Leclerc were long in the first two places. Verstappen retired on lap 20, leaving Leclerc in the lead until pitting two laps later. A slow stop meant he revived just ahead of Sainz, but well behind Perez, who overtook Verstappen in this stint and was 2 seconds behind his teammate at half distance.
Leclerc moved closer to Perez, who pitted again on lap 34 for new hards – as teams juggled the pros and cons of opting for a one-stop or two-stop strategy. Ironically, Leclerc was told to pit if Perez didn’t, so the scenario could have been reversed.
Sainz and Russell pitted for a second time on lap 40, Russell taking his 5 second penalty at this point, giving the one-stopping Hamilton a wide lead.
Perez was delayed by having to pass and then re-pass Hamilton as their strategies converged with 12 laps to go, with Hamilton using the second DRS zone to good effect. But once clear, Perez had to chase the 10 second gap to the one-stopping Leclerc in second.
Sainz caught and passed Hamilton for fourth just as Hamilton was forced to slow down with a hydraulic problem and he revved in to retire – the team’s first mechanical retirement of the season.
Despite Verstappen telling him he could go “full send” on the tyres, Perez didn’t have enough speed to get close enough to get into Leclerc’s DRS range on the last lap.
Verstappen won by more than 8 seconds from Leclerc and Perez, with Sainz a distant fourth, ahead of Russell, Norris, Ocon, Lance Stroll (Aston Martin), Daniel Ricciardo (McLaren) and Vettel – who scored a point in his final race thanks to Hamilton’s retirement.
Mick Schumacher (Haas) and Nicholas Latifi (Williams) came together in turn 5, but both rejoined without triggering a safety car. Schumacher was penalized 5 seconds for causing the collision.
Alonso retired on lap 28 with a water leak from his Alpine F1 career.
2022 Formula 1 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix fastest laps
|3||55||Carlos Sainz Jr.||Ferrari||1’28,879||0.488||50||213,904|
|4||11||Sergio Perez||Red Bull||1’28,972||0.581||52||213,680|
|6||1||Max Verstappen||Red Bull||1’29,392||1,001||54||212,676|
|7||22||Yuki Tsunoda||AlphaTauri/Red Bull||1’29,489||1,098||40||212,446|
|8||24||Zhou Guanyu||Alfa Romeo/Ferrari||1’29.600||1,209||53||212,183|
|9||18||Lance walk||Aston Martin/Mercedes||1’29.620||1,229||42||212,135|
|15||5||Sebastian Vettel||Aston Martin/Mercedes||1’30.312||1,921||35||210,510|
|16||77||Valttery Bottas||Alfa Romeo/Ferrari||1’30.352||1,961||47||210,417|
|19||10||Peter Gasley||AlphaTauri/Red Bull||1’31.081||2,690||17||208,732|