2022 Abu Dhabi GP: Post Race Analysis

The final race of the 2022 season. Unrelated to the actual race, but my cable provider had the race start time wrong, so I missed the first hour and had to find a way to watch it after seeing the last 20 laps or so.

Red Bull concludes the season in familiar territory, with Max Verstappen winning the race in controlling fashion. 15 wins, unbelievable. Sergio Perez finished 3rd but failed to claim 2nd in the WDC. Has to be a bit of a disappointment for the team, but when you look at the overall picture, it’s a fair result and still a good accomplishment.

Ferrari managed to avoid perhaps the biggest failure in F1 history by managing to hold onto 2nd in both championships. To be completely fair, Ferrari did an outstanding job this race. Charles Leclerc looked to be in top form in the race, and while the car looked good, it still was a good step behind the Red Bulls. Leclerc admitted in post race that they purposely threw a dummy pit and Red Bull fell for it. Nice to see Ferrari getting strategy right for a change. Sainz did okay. 4th is a good result, likely would have passed Hamilton for that position had Lewis not DNF’d. Though 16 seconds off of his teammate, similar to how the season started.

Mercedes coming off a 1-2 in Brazil did not look very good in Abu Dhabi. Both drivers looked pretty equal to one another. George Russell still very vocal about controlling his strategy on the radio. Unsure if this is a good thing or bad thing yet. It’s worked for him and against him at times, but the there seems to be good chemistry with the team, so let it be. Hamilton had the teams very first mechanical failure of the season. That is flat out incredible. Ignore the fact their car underperformed, the team deserves an A+ for following the “first you must finish” mentality. I thought the overtake vs Sainz on lap one could be considered a racing accident. Sainz didn’t leave more than half a car width at best which kind of forces Lewis off, and while Hamilton did cut the track and regained the position, they both lived to keep the fight going. In the end, it didn’t matter.

McLaren finished strong but were too far behind to overtake Alpine in the WCC. Lando looked good all race, had some strong pace on the hard tires. He didn’t really see much battle between him and Ocon, yet they finished the race just 1 second apart. Ricciardo’s final race with McLaren, and perhaps in F1 ever and he gets a couple of points. Nice to see that. Hopefully he can find his mojo again. Lando did talk post race how their car is good when the front end is on point, but he loses loads of time when the front tires or the balance falls off. He said it’s been the same issue for years. Perhaps this is why Ricciardo has struggled so much with McLaren. Who knows.

Alpine have to be very happy with their season. The race not so much. Ocon did finish 7th and he does finish ahead of Alonso in the standings, but let’s be real. Alonso was the star of the team. If he didn’t have bad luck, he wouldn’t have any luck at all. There were times where Ocon did a better job, but for the most part Alonso was the better driver all season. Hard to go from the 4th best team to a car that at times, was one of the worst, but it doesn’t matter if the car can’t finish a race.

Aston Martin finished their season in great shape. The car seemed to come around, I guess the team started to figure out their Red Bull copy & paste. Stroll had the right strategy and a clean race to finish 8th. Vettel, the sad final race of his career ends in a point. That’s great. However the team really didn’t recognize their strategy was falling apart. That’s a shame, as he was driving so well, he easily could have finished ahead of Stroll, and likely would have been battling with Lando and Ocon.

Alpha Tauri have to be happy 2022 is over. Rough year for them. Yuki however can be very proud. He was one of the worst drivers in 2021, ranked at the bottom with Latifi and Mazepin, yet out performed Gasly in many races this season. Most improved driver for sure. Gasly’s disappointing 2022 finishes with another disappointing race. At his point about him, I think he’s just checked out of the team. If that is the case, that’s unfortunate as the Red Bull family (particularly the AlphaTauri team) did so much for his career.

Alfa Romeo didn’t have the car today. No points at all, but they hold onto 6th in the Constructors championship. That’s big. Zhou again did another great job, outperforming Bottas. Not sure what happened to Bottas, but this season has dropped his stock and many will wonder if he was ever any good. Or perhaps Zhou is just that much better than anyone expected.

Williams had Albon looking really good in their final race. They always have to rely on him to get any kind of result. The car still isn’t capable of battling for points on merit, so 13th is as good as it gets. Latifi leaves F1 with another forgettable performance. He’s a nice likeable guy, but he is one of the most undeserving drivers ever. Always finishing a race dead last of the running cars. We should hope the best for him, and perhaps he can find some success in other forms of motorsports.

Haas is another team that lost all their pace by midseason. Both drivers struggled all race long. A hugely successful season considering 2021. Mick Schumacher definitely improved as a driver, and even managed to beat his teammate today. Despite the hope he could carry his father’s name to a long career, he has never really had the outright pace or the consistency. And he has cost the team millions and millions of dollars in damage from self induced mistakes. Magnussen deserves the credit. Getting the last minute call to be the full time driver. He had some incredible performances. He earned the seat for 2023.

Driver of the Day: Charles Leclerc. He made the difference in that Ferrari. The car simply is not as good as the Red Bull, yet he stayed in check with them all race. He somehow had pace on very old tires vs. Perez on new tires. His drive kept his 2nd place in the standings.

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