The Formula 1 circus is preparing for the last race of the season. The championships have already been handed to Max Verstappen and Red Bull Racing, but the battle for second place is far from over. Sergio Perez can move up to another place in the drivers’ championship, and Mercedes will hope to be able to overtake Ferrari in the teams’ standings. What can we expect from the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix?
The Sao Paulo Grand Prix sharpened the ties between a few teams once again. For example, there was a rather relaxed atmosphere at Red Bull Racing this year, but during the race in Brazil, it turned out that there were some differences of opinion internally. In addition, the race at Interlagos showed that Fernando Alonso could not wait to move to Aston Martin and it seems that the Mercedes team has run a W13. Thus, all the ingredients are in place for the closing event in Abu Dhabi to finish the season successfully.
Fight for second place
For Charles Leclerc and Sergio Perez, there is still a prestige battle at stake. Both drivers have currently collected 290 points, but Monegask is currently in second place. Leclerc has managed to win three times this year and Checo has only done so twice, so the Mexican will have to finish ahead of Monegask in Abu Dhabi if he wants to beat his rival. Not only is there still a fight for second place in the drivers’ standings, the battle is not over in the Constructors’ Championship either, for the spot behind the champion. Mercedes appears to have found the line up and the German team must make up nineteen points on Ferrari. Scuderia hopes to retain the position, as that will bring more prize money, but will the F1-75 be able to keep up with the W13 at Yas Marina Circuit?
Perverted relations Red Bull
The race at Interlagos showed that things are not quite right at Red Bull. Max Verstappen was still looking for the record for the most victory in a season before the Brazilian Grand Prix, but the RB18 simply lacked pace in Sao Paulo. In addition, ignoring team orders put relationships within the team on edge. Sergio Perez was not happy with the Dutchman’s action, and Verstappen, in turn, had reasons not to comply with the order. According to the team, the fight was resolved in private and Verstappen said he would assist his teammate in Abu Dhabi if needed. However, no one can deny that the relationship between the two drivers, which seemed good in the past, has had some scratches.
The race in Abu Dhabi means the final appearance in the Premier Division for likely four drivers. Not much is known about Mick Schumacher’s future, but Sebastian Vettel, Daniel Ricciardo and Nicholas Latifi will not compete in Formula 1 next year. The four-time champ announced his retirement earlier this year and the sport is losing something cool, who wants to focus on his activist activities and also wants to spend more time with his family.
For Daniel Ricciardo, this is a forced retirement, although he could have joined the Haas team, but he was not interested. The race in Abu Dhabi is the Australian’s last chance to convince teams to choose him for the time being. Finally, the royal class bids farewell to Nicholas Latifi. The Williams driver has been largely colorless in Formula 1, but he created one of the most controversial moments in the sport’s history with his late crash at last year’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. In addition, Latifi managed to set the fastest time in the third free practice in Hungary, which is likely to be seen as the highlight of his Formula 1 career.
Struggle in the Constructors’ Championship
In the standings of the teams there is still a lot of fighting for a number of places. It all has to do with sporting prestige, but also primarily with prize money for a higher place. AlphaTauri is currently 9th in the championship, but needs only 2 points to beat Haas. There is also a struggle for the sixth place. Alfa Romeo is sixth, but Aston Martin only needs five points to tie the table. It seems that the battle between Alpine and McLaren is over. The French team has a nineteen-point lead, and given the speed of the A522, it seems McLaren will have to settle for fifth place.
Did Mercedes find the key?
The German racing stable is hoping to continue the streak from Brazil in Abu Dhabi, where it has managed to fish in a one-two race. George Russell took his first ever victory and Team Brackley has won every season since 2012. In 2022, after a difficult opening stage of the year, in which the Porpoises struggled a lot, Mercedes fought for a team that could fight for victory. The race in Abu Dhabi will have to determine if the leak is really gone, but the team has important starting points for developing next year’s car.
Is the tension between teammates over?
In Sao Paulo, not only did the fight between his Red Bull teammates go viral, it was also confirmed that the love between Esteban Ocon and Fernando Alonso had cooled. During the sprint, the two men collided with each other several times, with Alonso eventually receiving another penalty, as he collided with his teammate. Sebastian Vettel and Lance Stroll couldn’t keep it clean either. Stroll felt it necessary to push his teammate onto the grass heading into turn four. Both teams will welcome the newcomer next season and that tense atmosphere will be less at least until next year.
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