Will Mercedes end 2022 on a high at Abu Dhabi F1 finale?

Still feeling the anguish of 2021’s made-for-TV Abu Dhabi Grand Prix? Lewis Hamilton has unfinished business here

2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

More fireworks in Abu Dhabi?

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The controversial end to the 2021 Formula 1 World Championship will live long in the memory, and the sport returns to Abu Dhabi almost a year since the course of history was changed in the dying moments. Lewis Hamilton was cruising towards a record-breaking eighth title, but a late Nicholas Latifi crash and Michael Masi, F1 race director, only allowing a certain amount of drivers to unlap themselves during the safety car, paved the way for a one lap shoot-down to the championship between Hamilton and Max Verstappen.

On fresher tyres, Verstappen took the lead and became champion, which lost Masi his job, while today Mercedes is still reeling from what happened. That pain will be even greater now considering the title protagonists from last year have had contrasting luck ever since.

Red Bull managed to master the new technical regulations to help Verstappen dominate his way towards another world title, while Mercedes has largely struggled leaving Hamilton some way off his rival.

Abu Dhabi will cap a disappointing campaign for the Silver Arrows, who head into the finale knowing a streak of eight consecutive constructors’ world titles is over. But Mercedes still visits a circuit where its six victories are bettered by nobody.

For the last two years Verstappen has won in Abu Dhabi, and 2021 was the first time F1 visited the modified Yas Marina Circuit. The chicane at Turn 5 and 6 had been removed, while Turn 9 is now a long, fast bend as opposed to a series of corners, leaving sector two as the best chance of an overtake.

However, with a mere 36 overtaking manoeuvres at last year’s race, Abu Dhabi was still lacking that wheel-to-wheel action but now the ground effect cars will visit for the first time which may change things. Yet, as has been the theme in 2022, the main question is can anybody stop Verstappen from winning?

Jubilant Max Verstappen

Just add safety car for perfect results… A jubilant Max Verstappen at the Yas Marina

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Valencia, Spain, November 4-6

As it has done every year since 2002 – 2020 excepted – MotoGP will visit Valencia for its final round. The Spanish port has a 14-turn circuit which saw Ducati’s Francesco Bagnaia set a lap record of 1min 31.042sec en route to victory there last year.

Phoenix, Arizona, November 6

For the third consecutive year, Phoenix Raceway will host the NASCAR season finale. After three play-off rounds, the title fight is whittled down to a ‘championship four’ where the highest finisher of those drivers in this race takes the NASCAR Cup Series crown, which currently belongs to Kyle Larson.

Bahrain International Circuit, November 10-12

Toyota and Alpine head into the final weekend level on points in the Hypercar standings, while Toyota’s second entrant also has hopes of championship glory. It’s a title decider in the lower categories, too, before WEC embarks on a new era with the merger of LMDh and LMH cars.

Aichi Prefecture, Japan, November 10-13

With neither Sébastiens Ogier or Loeb competing the full season, 2022 has seen 22-year-old Kalle Rovanperä rise to stardom. The season will close out with 176 miles of asphalt, as Rally Japan returns for the first time in 12 years.

Punta del Este, Uruguay, November 26-27

2022 has seen defending champions Rosberg X Racing continue its winning habits. After rounds in Saudi Arabia, Italy and Chile, this season will culminate along the city seaside resort of Punta del Este which reportedly plans to be the first round to allow a live crowd since Extreme E’s inception.

More events

Nov 5-6 Formula Ford 1600 – Silverstone, UK
Nov 11-13 F1 – São Paulo, Brazil
Nov 19-20 Superbikes – Phillip Island