ABU DHABI, Nov 20 (Reuters) – Double world champion Max Verstappen signed off on a dominant 2022 Formula One campaign with a record-extending 15th win of the year in Sunday’s season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, as Charles Leclerc secured second in the overall standings.
The Dutchman, who wrapped up the title last month in Japan with four races to spare, was unchallenged as he led from pole position to chequered flag.
He crossed the line 8.7 seconds ahead of Leclerc, who having made just one stop, held on to second ahead of Verstappen’s two-stopping team mate Sergio Perez to edge him in their battle for second.
The pair had gone into the race level on points with Leclerc ahead on a countback of wins.
Sunday’s victory was the 35th of Verstappen’s career and second in a row at the Yas Marina track.
However, unlike last season, it was straightforward and without controversy.
Carlos Sainz was fourth for Ferrari ahead of Mercedes racer George Russell, who served a five-second time penalty for an unsafe release from his pitstop.
Seven-times world champion Lewis Hamilton had his hopes of keeping intact his record of winning a race every season dashed by a hydraulics failure.
The Briton pulled in to the pits to retire on the 55th of the race’s 58 laps.
Sebastian Vettel scored the final point in 10th on what has been an emotional swansong weekend for the Aston Martin driver.
The German raced hard from his ninth-place grid spot but a long first stint compromised him and dropped him down the field.
He signed off with some tyre smoking donuts on the start-finish straight.
Daniel Ricciardo took points in his last race for McLaren with a ninth-place finish.
Fernando Alonso, replacing Vettel at Aston Martin next year, failed to finish his last race for Alpine.
Mick Schumacher, out of a drive next season after being replaced by Nico Hulkenberg at Haas, finished 16th ahead of team mate Kevin Magnussen.
He survived contact with Williams driver Nicholas Latifi that tipped both cars into a synchronised spin.
(Editing by Angus MacSwan and Ed Osmond)