Abu Dhabi Grand Prix: Mercedes can topple Ferrari in constructor’s battle
16 November 2022
Formula One’s 2022 season will conclude at the Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi, the traditional venue for the curtain-closer.
Abu Dhabi joined the Formula One calendar in 2009 with a circuit constructed on the specially-made Yas Island, which has since grown to a major sports and entertainment hub in the Emirate. It has since hosted Formula One’s title decider on 10 occasions, resulting in championship triumphs for the likes of Sebastian Vettel, Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg.
Last season’s showdown was ultimately the most enthralling and controversial as Max Verstappen overhauled Hamilton on a contentious last-lap restart to take victory and the championship. That marked Verstappen’s maiden world title, but he arrives in Abu Dhabi this year already a two-time champion in the wake of his dominant 2022 crown.
What is there left to decide?
For the second successive season two drivers from the leading two teams head into the finale tied on points, though this year it is only for the runner-up spot. Charles Leclerc and Sergio Perez are tied on 290 points and both will be eager to end the season as Verstappen’s nearest opponent in the standings.
It is a far more lucrative battle for the teams as each position in the Constructors’ championship yields not only prestige, but prize money. Off the back of its surprise one-two in São Paulo, Mercedes has firmly given itself a chance of beating Ferrari to second in the championship. It will still take quite the reversal in Abu Dhabi, with Ferrari currently sitting 19 points ahead of their closest rivals, but the recent form of the Silver Arrows will give them confidence.
Fourth is being contested by Alpine and McLaren, and it is the French marque that holds a relatively comfortable buffer after McLaren’s double retirement in São Paulo. Alfa Romeo leads Aston Martin by only five points in the scrap for sixth, while Haas holds a slender two-point advantage on AlphaTauri in the fight over eighth.
The end of every season marks the ending of several chapters, and the most high-profile this time around is the retirement of Sebastian Vettel. After almost 300 grands prix, 53 wins and four world titles, Vettel will bow out of Formula One at the end of Sunday’s race. It was in Abu Dhabi where Vettel secured his maiden crown in 2010, but saying goodbye with a points finish is likely to be the main aim of his farewell weekend.
Also exiting – he hopes not for good – is Daniel Ricciardo. The amiable Australian will depart McLaren but already begins on the back foot after sustaining a three-place grid penalty in São Paulo. He hopes to return to the grid in 2024, but there are no guarantees in Formula One.
It will also be the last grand prix for Williams’ Nicholas Latifi, though he is unlikely to have as big an impact on the Abu Dhabi race as in 2021, when his crash triggered the Safety Car period that facilitated the controversial end to the title battle.
Abu Dhabi Grand Prix Predictions
Max Verstappen to take pole position @ 2.22
Max Verstappen to win the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix @ 2.35
Lewis Hamilton to finish top three @ 1.55
George Russell to finish top three @ 1.85
16 November 2022