Unfortunately, Sergio Perez had to settle for third place.
Max Verstappen was named the 2022 world champion a few races ago, so when we tuned in this weekend, it was mostly to find out who would claim second place. In true Verstappen style, he pulled ahead and pretty much stayed there for the entire race, finishing nearly nine seconds ahead of Charles Leclerc.
Verstappen now has the most wins per season out of any F1 driver, but it's not as clear-cut as some fans might believe. We'll revisit that in a moment.
For now, the official results. Max Verstappen is the official world champion with 454 points. That's an entire five race wins ahead of Charles Leclerc, who finished second with 308 points. Sergio Perez had his best season in F1, ending in third with 305 points.
Red Bull was untouchable this season, accruing 759 points, followed by Ferrari with 554 points. Mercedes-AMG took third place with 515 points. The latter is one of the biggest surprises of the season. Mercedes-AMG has been a dominant force in the hybrid era, with eight constructor titles.
Alpine Renault emerged as the best of the rest, even though Fernando Alonso failed to finish the race due to a water leak. McLaren's Lando Norris and Daniel Ricciardo both scored points, but fourth in the standings was not to be. McLaren drops from fourth in 2021 to fifth in 2022, costing the team millions.
Williams also had a rough year. In 2021, it finished eighth, and this year it's stone last. Haas finished in last place in 2021 with zero points, but this year it managed to finish eighth with 37 points. It even beat Red Bull's training school, AlphaTauri.
It will be interesting to see what effect these changes have on the cars next season. According to the Concorde Agreement, the higher you finish, the more money you get to spend. Red Bull already lost some of its cash and development time due to a cost-cap infringement, but Ferrari is in a good place and will have more money and development time in the wind tunnel.
We can wait to see what Haas does. As you might know, the American team did some odd things in the past to get cash, but with a better finish this season, Guenther Steiner no longer has to pose with a boat to pay the bills. It's also going into 2023 with two strong drivers. If you haven't heard, Mick Schumacher was dropped in favor of Nico Hulkenberg.
Williams will return without the dead weight of Nicholas Latifi. Thanks to the British team, there will finally be an American driver to cheer for. Logan Sargeant scored the necessary points for a super license and will partner with Alex Albon next year.
Max Verstappen won 15 out of 22 races. That means he holds the record for the most race wins per season, with Michael Schumacher and Sebastian Vettel both on 13 wins. But as Verstappen pointed out earlier this year, the record doesn't mean much, as there are more races per season these days. Schumacher and Vettel scored their 13 wins in the pre-hybrid era.
Not all is lost, however. We can calculate the win rate using the number of races and wins. Schumacher won 13 out of 18 races in 2004. Vettel won his 13 in 2013, with 19 races that season. Schumacher has a win rate of 72.22%, while Vettel is on 69.42%. Verstappen's win rate is 68.18%, which means the Flying Dutchman is still in third place behind the Germans.
But what about his arch-nemesis, Lewis Hamilton? He scored 11 wins in four seasons: 2014, 2018, 2019, and 2020. Hamilton's win rates over the dominant years were 57.9%, 52.4%, another 52.4%, and 64.7% in 2020 when many races were canceled.
As much as it will hurt Hamilton fanboys to read this, Verstappen has a verified higher win rate in the hybrid era.
Verstappen also scored the most points in an F1 season ever. He finished his season on 454 points, easily besting Hamilton's 2019 score of 413 points. There were 21 races in the 2019 season, but even if you remove one of Verstappen's wins, he still emerges victorious.
Oddly, he did not snatch the record for the greatest points difference between first- and second-place finishers. The difference between Verstappen and Leclerc was 146 points, while in 2013, the points difference between Vettel and Fernando Alonso was 155 points.
While Verstappen's raw talent is undeniable, and his performances this season have been dominant, he still has a number of records to break and a lot of work to do to be convincingly mentioned in quite the same breath as four- and seven-time champs Vettel and Hamilton, respectively.
There's no doubt that Lewis Hamilton is one of the greatest F1 racers of all time. But, as we've said before, it's impossible to name the F1 GOAT.
This season was a kick in the guts for Hamilton. It was the first time he failed to get on the podium's top spot. In addition, he was thoroughly trounced by his younger teammate, George Russell. The latter finished on 275 points in fourth place, while Hamilton finished in sixth with 240 points. It was his worst F1 season, following a fifth-place finish in 2009.
Only three racers have beaten Hamilton in equal machinery to date. Jensen Button beat him in 2011, and Nico Rosberg famously claimed the championship in 2016. And now George Russell joins some reasonably esteemed company.
Still, Hamilton is not done with the sport. Despite Hamilton starting a production company earlier this year, his boss Toto Wolff recently stated that he had expressed an interest in staying on for five more years.
Ferrari's number-one driver started the season strong, but thanks to a series of poor strategic choices from Ferrari, he had to be satisfied with second place.
Still, it's a big step in the right direction for the young driver from Monaco. In 2021, he finished seventh. Climbing five places is no mean feat, and we have no doubt he'll be running for the championship in 2023.
Considering everything that happened to Leclerc in 2022, second place is a stunning achievement. Sergio Perez was in "full send" mode during those final few laps, taking massive gaps out of the Leclerc's lead. In the end, Leclerc remained calm under pressure and proved that he deserves a seat in a top-tier car.
Perhaps he'll treat himself to a new Ferrari. He's had his 488 Pista Spider for a while now.
Sergio Perez and Charles Leclerc went into the 2022 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix level on 290 points.
Red Bull's strategy was off, leaving Checo roughly nine seconds behind Leclerc on fresher hard compound tires. Red Bull relied on Verstappen to give feedback up front, and around 10 laps before the end of the race, word came that tire degradation was not as high as expected. Perez was given the go-ahead to go full send.
And full send he went. He closed that nine-second gap to 1.3 seconds when he crossed the finish line. Remember that he had to clear loads of backmarkers in the process. It was some of the best driving we've seen all season and a fantastic achievement.
Third place in the championship is Checo's best finish in his career so far. If you want to argue about Verstappen giving him a place back at the Brazilian Grand Prix, it wouldn't have made a difference.
Let's start with Daniel Ricciardo. McLaren dropped the Honey Badger earlier this year after a series of poor performances. In fact, Danny Ric is the main reason why Alpine stole McLaren's fourth place in the constructors' championship. After reportedly saying no to a few open seats, Ricciardo will now apparently join Red Bull as a test driver. It's a demotion, but at least he gets to stay in the game. If any of the Red Bull or AlphaTauri drivers get sick, Danny Ric will compete in an F1 race next season.
Nicholas Latifi is gone, and thank goodness for that.
Mick Schumacher was dumped by Haas, which is a bit harsh. In 2021, he scored zero points. In 2022, he scored 12. Schumacher Junior was improving and showed real promise. But now that Haas is in a prime position, it wants somebody more consistent.
Is this the last we'll see of Mick? We doubt it. Mercedes-AMG still has a spot open for a reserve driver after Ricciardo apparently turned the position down to go to his old team. Considering Toto Wolff's fondness for the younger Schumacher, that's likely where he'll turn up.
The saddest final race of all was that of Sebastian Vettel. Unlike the other drivers on this list, Vettel chose to leave. There were various tributes, even a rare photo of all the F1 drivers coming together to say goodbye to a legend.
Vettel peaked during his Red Bull years and coasted along until he grew tired. During his final two years, he grew a zero-effs-given beard and the hippie-like hair to go with it. He's also an outspoken environmentalist, for which he has received a lot of flack. We respect his beliefs, as he was often caught doing things without the PR staff in tow. He cleaned bleachers and arrived at F1 races on a bicycle. We respect a man that dares to stick to his convictions.
F1 will miss Vettel's wicked sense of humor and the way he inspected competitor cars, earning him the nickname Inspector Seb, but most of all, his caring manner and welcoming attitude.
Next year will consist of a record-breaking 24 races, though the Chinese Grand Prix still hangs in the balance. The Qatar F1 will return, and the Las Vegas Grand Prix will be the season's penultimate race. Some other races have been moved around to reduce jet lag.
Pre-season testing will kick off on February 23, 2022, in Bahrain. This is another odd departure, as Barcelona used to host pre-season testing.
F1 is bigger than ever, primarily due to Netflix's Formula 1: Drive to Survive. If you were hoping the famous series would launch in December so you could get your F1 fix, think again. Early rumors suggest that Netflix will follow the same route as last year, launching the 10-part series to coincide with the 2023 season's first test.