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Verstappen in a league of one as F1 says Danke Seb - What we learned at the Abu Dhabi GP

Verstappen in a league of one as F1 says Danke Seb - What we learned at the Abu Dhabi GP

Verstappen in a league of one as F1 says Danke Seb - What we learned at the Abu Dhabi GP

Verstappen in a league of one as F1 says Danke Seb - What we learned at the Abu Dhabi GP

Max Verstappen led home Charles Leclerc and Sergio Perez to finish the season with another win at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

The results saw Leclerc clinch runner-up in the drivers' standings after Ferrari cornered Red Bull with an inspired strategy call.

Mercedes fell backwards on a weekend that saw much of the focus turned to Sebastian Vettel for his final F1 race.

GPFans takes a look at what we learned at Yas Marina.

Verstappen lays down a marker ahead of 2023

If there was any doubt still remaining this season that Verstappen was in a league of his own, the two-time champion confirmed his status at Yas Marina.

Team-mate Perez made the better start but Verstappen covered off that threat instantly, before keeping the Mexican at arms' length for the first stint.

When Red Bull switched Perez to a two-stop, Verstappen regulated the gap to Leclerc's Ferrari with such ease you could be forgiven for thinking the Dutchman wasn't trying.

Verstappen's dominance has made Red Bull look like a vastly superior team in the second half of the season. The fact of the matter is, without him the gaps are an awful lot closer.

Ferrari CAN execute a perfect race

For all the team's failures across the campaign, Ferrari managed to close the season out with an exemplary performance.

Leclerc started behind Perez knowing that it was winner takes all in terms of second in the championship.

But a clever dummy strategy call from the Scuderia's pit wall scared Red Bull into pitting Perez for a second time, laying the foundations for Leclerc to secure the runner-up spot.

Bigger than that, though, it proves that Ferrari can function operationally as it targets another title tilt next season.

Hamilton retirement sums up Mercedes season

From the highs of Brazil came a thudding crash down to earth for Mercedes with a weekend of struggles in Abu Dhabi.

On paper, the circuit was never going to suit the team but a void between the W13s and Red Bull and Ferrari would have raised eyebrows.

It was as if we had gone back in time five races, with high drag and bouncing hindering its performance.

George Russell was able to finish fifth but a first mechanical retirement of the season saw Lewis Hamilton pit just three laps from the end.

The final pain for Mercedes sums up the year, frankly, but there is plenty of optimism that there will be a three-way title fight next season.

Schumacher doughnut highlight Haas fractures

Ahead of the weekend, Haas announced Nico Hulkenberg as Kevin Magnussen's team-mate for 2023, leaving Mick Schumacher without a seat.

A strong qualifying for the German saw him line up ahead of Magnussen for one final time.

Even with a penalty for a clumsy penalty for a tangle with Nicholas Latifi, Schumacher finished ahead of Magnussen on track to take the head-to-head battle up to 14-6 in his favour.

Doughnuts came at the end of the race, as is now traditional in Abu Dhabi, but when a team radio message came in with a seemingly harsh tone telling Schumacher to stop, he quipped, "Love you too".

That may be an indication of how badly the relationship between Haas and Schumacher has soured, and why the partnership is coming to an end.

Vettel support adds weight to F1's loss

It was an emotional weekend for Vettel and indeed F1 with the German bowing out of the sport.

The four-time world champion was treated to a dinner attended by the entire grid, an F1 rarity, and he took to the track with almost the whole paddock on Saturday night.

The respect shown was an indication of how much Vettel means to each and every person within the travelling show that is F1.

On the track, it was fitting then that Vettel would secure a point on his final appearance.

It could have been so much better had the strategy played out better, but nevertheless, Vettel was able to doughnut his way out of F1 with just reward. Danke Seb.

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