F1: 5 Takeaways from the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix (Yas Marina)

ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - NOVEMBER 20: Race winner Max Verstappen of the Netherlands driving the (1) Oracle Red Bull Racing RB18 crosses the finish line as fireworks are seen during the F1 Grand Prix of Abu Dhabi at Yas Marina Circuit on November 20, 2022 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Rudy Carezzevoli/Getty Images) // Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool // SI202211202866 // Usage for editorial use only //

The 2022 Formula 1 season concludes to cap off an underwhelming title fight. Five takeaways from the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

The finale of the Formula 1 season, the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, was a step down in entertainment compared to Brazil. There was no change at the front of the race and limited action, but everyone came together to give a proper send-off to a legend in the sport.

1) Verstappen retains the throne

Max Verstappen had the perfect season as he retained his title in a record-setting 15-win season in 2022. He ended the 2022 season on a high with a hat-trick of wins at Yas Marina. The start of the year was not ideal with two DNFs in the opening three rounds but turned it around to win his second title, this time by 146 points. No one came close to the flying Dutchman in an all-conquering Red Bull car. Now he heads into the next season as the top dog. Verstappen will head into the winter break to begin celebrations, while everyone else gets to work on closing the gap. With two titles to his name, how long can he continue this new era of Verstappen?

2) Danke Seb

Sebastian Vettel said goodbye to the sport that made him a legend. During his luxurious 16-year career, he had 53 wins, 299 starts, and four World Championships. The lead-up to his final race touched the hearts of the F1 community as drivers and fans showed their appreciation. A late DNF for Lewis Hamilton ushered Vettel into the final points position in his final race, and then came the donuts to give the fans one last show. Next season will feel odd without Vettel on the grid, but all good things must come to an end. Vettel leaves a legacy as one of the best to ever do it, an amazing human being, and iconic F1 memories.

3) Positive outlook for Ferrari

Ferrari had such a rollercoaster of highs and lows. After the last few years of underperforming, they managed to secure second in the Constructors. Their first time since the 2019 season. Charles Leclerc also managed to grab second in the Drivers Championship over Red Bull’s Sergio Perez. Although their title run came to an end early on in the year, Carlos Sainz and Leclerc both made huge improvements for the team. With rumors going around of changes to team management, Ferrari needs to get take the right step to eliminating the strategic issues that cost them so many points in 2022. This season saw the prancing horses heading in the right direction.

4) Goodbye to Mick and Daniel…for now

Sunday also saw the departure of McLaren’s Daniel Ricciardo and Hass’ Mick Schumacher. Ricciardo managed to secure two points in his final race, while Schumacher had a disappointing end after causing a spin with the other departure this season, Nicholas Latifi. While both drivers won’t be on the 2023 grid, this should not be the last time they are in F1. Daniel has been rumored to become the reserve driver for Red Bull in 2023. Mick, on the other hand, has his options to be a reserve driver for any team that is interested in the 23-year-old. Their way out may have been sad to see, but they can find their way back.

5) Russell’s impressive first season with Merc

George Russell’s first season with the Silver Arrows was not ideal after Mercedes dominated the previous cycle of F1 regulations. But he managed to have a strong season despite the team being behind on development. Russell managed to beat his teammate Lewis Hamilton in the driver standings, only the third driver to ever accomplish that feat. He had the only win for Mercedes and achieved 19 (!) top-5 finishes. Coming into the season his highest career finish in F1 was an 8th with Williams.

This was a season to forget for Mercedes, but the success they managed to achieve at the latter end of the year will give them confidence heading into the off-season. The W13 will not be retired and the team’s focus turns to regaining the top pedestal as the top team in F1. Russell’s improvement should go hand and hand with Mercedes’ climb over the next few seasons.

Featured Image Credit: Rudy Carezzevoli/Getty Images