With 15 victories Verstappen is crowned champion

Max Verstappen extended his record by winning his 15th race of the year, the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, on Sunday to conclude one of the most dominant seasons in Formula One history.

A year after Verstappen’s tense and controversial victory over Lewis Hamilton to secure his first title, there was no suspense this time around at the Yas Marina Circuit.

“It’s incredible to win here, the 15th victory of the season,” exclaimed Verstappen. “I have really enjoyed working with the whole team to achieve something special like this this year.”

Verstappen remained in front of his Red Bull teammate, Mexico’s Sergio Perez, and never faced a serious challenge on his march to victory. He had the scepter guaranteed for weeks.

Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc made the most of his worn tires and passed Perez to finish second in the race and the drivers’ championship.

The Monegasque thus frustrated Red Bull’s attempt to make it 1-2 in the season.

That second place was pretty much the only thing up for grabs on Sunday. It was a marked difference from what happened last year.

At that time, on the same track, the resumption order generated a controversy that is still in force.

Now, attention was also on Sebastian Vettel, four-time F1 monarch, who was placed 10th by Aston Martin, to retire from F1 after a 16-year career.

A hydraulic problem put an end to Lewis Hamilton’s competition in his Mercedes.

Britain’s Hamilton, a seven-time F1 champion, finished the season without a single win, something that had never happened to him.

the other battle

Pérez and Leclerc entered the race even on points, as happened in last year’s race with Verstappen and Hamilton, although they were fighting for the title.

Leclerc beat Pérez by opting for one less pit stop and managed the tires. The Mexican was never able to get close enough to attempt a pass.

Thus, Verstappen’s contempt of an order from the team to give Pérez sixth place in the Brazilian Grand Prix was not decisive at the end of the campaign.

That decision highlighted the divisions at Red Bull. Verstappen said that he had received all sorts of insults and threats against him and his family on social media.

“I knew that the only chance to beat ‘Czech’ today was with a different strategy and managing the tires well, something we did fantastic today,” said Leclerc. “I really hope that next year we can step up to fight for the championship.”

Spaniard Carlos Sainz was fourth in the other Ferrari. George Russell was fifth despite a five-second penalty, after the Mercedes team released him from a pit lane, obstructing another car.

Lando Norris was sixth for McLaren, ahead of Alpine’s Estegan Ocon, Aston Martin’s Lance Stroll and Daniel Ricciardo, Norris’s teammate and who lacks a contract for 2023.