Leclerc ruins Red Bull’s hopes of a perfect season: PlanetF1

A summary of the 2022 season seemed to be a consensus for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, with the three best drivers in the championship taking the podium in the same order.

Lewis Hamilton agreed with the Yas Marina race summing up Mercedes’ difficult campaign, while there was no deviating from what Fernando Alonso considered the norm in terms of Alpine’s unreliability.

For the drivers we may not see racing in F1 again, at least not for some time, fortunes have been mixed – although the pair on the more experienced end of that spectrum have taken away one last positive memory .

Here are our final driver ratings for the 2022 campaign.

Max Verstappen: Would the world champion be required to help his teammate to finish second in the standings? In the end, due to the strategy chosen by Red Bull, this prospect never entered the equation.

Not that Verstappen would have been too worried, especially since he never had a moment of anxiety ahead as he set a formidable new record of 15 wins in a season.

He netted a hat-trick in Abu Dhabi for the Dutchman – three straight wins from pole position. And inevitably much less controversial than 49 weeks earlier. ten.

Charles Leclerc: No one could blame Leclerc for ending a turbulent season on a high note, doing exactly what was needed to outclass Sergio Perez for the runners-up spot in both the race and the Championship.

For once, Ferrari won the strategic battle against Red Bull and Mercedes as the Monegasque’s one-stop, 36-lap stint on hard tires saw him clear the Mexican by two stops.

It could have been a long winter with plenty to ponder for Leclerc, but at least this result will give him the optimism to launch a more sustained title challenge in 2023. 9.5.

Sergio Perez: Race engineer Hugh Bird was confident Perez could catch and pass Leclerc after his second stop, but his man came just wide.

There was a brief reversal of the Abu Dhabi script in 2021 as Hamilton briefly held off Perez, and having to find his way past the stragglers at a crucial moment also played a part in the futile pursuit.

In the end, the league margin between Leclerc and Perez was three points, so at least that was the key result rather than Verstappen’s refusal to make way for Perez in Brazil – not that it will be any consolation for the winner of Monaco and Singapore this year. seven.

carlos sainz: After an early die with Hamilton that saw him overtake the Mercedes on lap eight, Sainz was about to repeat that maneuver when the Briton suffered a terminal problem with his W13 in the closing stages.

Fourth place was the best position the Spaniard could have hoped for in the end – and meant he also finished ahead of Hamilton in the championship. seven.

george russell: Never any prospect of a second victory just seven days after his first, and a problem with the right rear tire during his pit stop led to a dangerous clearance which triggered a five-second time penalty.

Mercedes were nowhere near as competitive at Yas Marina as at other recent races, but a solid end to a strong first season with the Silver Arrows for Russell. seven.

Lando Norris: With Esteban Ocon starting and finishing just behind Norris, there was no real chance of McLaren overcoming their 19-point deficit to Alpine.

The Briton did everything he could in this race, ‘the best of the rest’ again – an expression he says he doesn’t like – and also on the whole season. Worthy of a rating upgrade for setting the fastest lap. 8.

Esteban Ocon: An overtake on Daniel Ricciardo by Ocon with 14 laps to go would have been satisfying for everyone at Alpine, and he was just one second behind Norris at the checkered flag.

The closeness between the duo is also reflected in the fact that between them Norris and Ocon have finished P7 in exactly half of the races this season. seven.5

Spear StrollIt wouldn’t have done Stroll’s popularity any good had he passed teammate Sebastian Vettel for the paying final position with nine laps to go, but at the finish line it all made sense.

With the forward momentum of a different two-stop strategy for his colleague, the Canadian also passed Ricciardo and having started 14th, this has to be considered one of his best performances. seven.5.

Daniel Ricardo: Seemingly struggling for pace in the first half of the race, Ricciardo joined Leclerc to improve his fortunes with a one-stop strategy.

He was under threat from former Red Bull team-mate Vettel at the end, but whether we see him back on the grid or not, it was at least a respectable end to the Australian’s McLaren career. seven.

Sebastian Vettel: It was great to see a swashbuckling Seb for his last races and even if it was just a solitary point, at least he gave an emotional farewell with a reward for his last efforts.

Ultra-competitive all the way, he berated Aston Martin about the team’s radio strategy and certainly deserved a bit more. 7.5.

Yuki Tsunoda: The AlphaTauri driver looked in danger of spoiling Vettel’s swansong as he closed in on the Aston Martin after switching to a set of soft tires on lap 39.

However, 19 laps on this compound seemed like a big ask and Tsunoda pulled away from the Ricciardo-Vettel duel in the closing stages. 6.5.

Zhou Guanyu: Another to opt for the soft tires for his final stint, Zhou put them on for a more manageable 13 laps.

They allowed him to overtake Alex Albon and it must end as another weekend in the second half of the campaign where he outclassed team-mate Valtteri Bottas. seven.

Alex Albon: A strong start from Albon saw him move up a few places early on, giving more credence to the theory that his disappointing performance in qualifying had not been a fair reflection of an impressive training pace.

The points never really looked on the cards, but it’s still not a bad night’s work. seven.

Pierre Gasly: Starting on soft tires didn’t really work for Gasly and he hadn’t made much progress when he switched to hard tires on lap 15.

If ever a driver needed a fresh start, it’s the Frenchman, and his exploits with Alpine next year are eagerly awaited. 6.

Valtteri Bottas: Powerless to do anything about Aston Martin’s latest push to 6th place among the constructors, Bottas will have been relieved to see his team cling on despite their level of points finish.

His P5 at Imola in April proved decisive in this respect, but this weekend he has always struggled and will have to mark his authority as a team leader again in 2023 with Zhou gaining experience and in trust. 6.

Mick Schumacher: A run with a few promising passes over teammate Kevin Magnussen and Bottas was unfortunately ruined by a lunge over Nicholas Latifi that sent them spinning in unison.

An unfortunate end to Schumacher’s time with Haas and he now heads into an uncertain future when it comes to his racing career. 5.5.

Kevin Magnussen: Pole position in Brazil seemed a long time ago as Magnussen found himself something of a sitting duck for his rivals.

He still finished behind Schumacher despite his teammate’s collision with Latifi, but the year has still produced a lot more for the Dane than was thought in February. 5.

didn’t finish

Lewis Hamilton: Nowhere near as painful as 2021 at the same venue, but not a race the former seven-time world champion will remember fondly.

Hamilton was struggling with a series of problems – “loss of power”, “something with the car”, a suspected “broken floor” – before becoming stuck in seventh gear and having to return to the pits to retire in the last rounds.

An early joust with Sainz that resulted in a trip across the pavement and a black-and-white flag for going over the track limits compounded a disappointing day. 6.5.

Nicholas Latifi: Nothing extraordinary for Latifi in what will surely be his farewell to F1.

As usual he was off the pace but at least wasn’t guilty this time around as his duel with Schumacher brought back memories of last year’s race – thankfully without a repeat of the circumstances triggered at the time. 5.

Fernando Alonso: To say he felt “so slow” at one point turned out to be the least of Alonso’s problems as he earned yet another retirement due to an engine problem.

The Spaniard hopes his move to Aston Martin for 2023 will allow him to get rid of the Alpine unreliability issues. seven.

Read more: Lewis Hamilton’s stark assessment as he ends F1 2022 with zero wins

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