Verstappen chasing Abu Dhabi hat-trick after Perez spat, Vettel gets set to bow out

By Sports Desk November 16, 2022

Max Verstappen will look to put the fallout from the Brazilian Grand Prix behind him and finish a dominant title-winning season in style with an historic victory in Abu Dhabi.

Verstappen has long had the title wrapped up, winning a second successive drivers' championship by setting the record for the most grand prix victories in a single campaign.

The Red Bull driver has won 14 races in 2022, though he could only manage sixth place last time out at Interlagos and appeared to significantly damage his relationship with his team-mate, Sergio Perez, in the process.

Verstappen overtook Perez following a late safety car to take sixth, having been encouraged by his team to challenge Ferrari duo Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc in third and fourth, as long as he could first overtake Fernando Alonso.

With Verstappen unable to get past the Alpine, he was told to hand his position back to Perez, who remains in a battle with Leclerc for second in the drivers' championship.

The Dutchman refused to do so, however, telling race engineer Gianpiero Lambiase he had given his reasons.

Perez was infuriated by Verstappen's failure to give way, exclaiming over team radio: "It shows who he really is."

Speaking to Sky Sports after finishing seventh, Perez said: "I have nothing to say, really. After all I have done for him, it is a bit disappointing, to be honest. I am really surprised."

Perez went further when asked about the incident in Spanish by ESPN, declaring: "If he has two championships, it's thanks to me."

The Mexican is level with Leclerc on 290 points and, while he will be looking to seal second spot, Verstappen may again have his reasons for targeting individual glory.

Verstappen has won the last two grands prix in Abu Dhabi and could become the first driver to win the race three times in a row.

Though both titles are wrapped up, there will still be plenty of focus on Red Bull and whether they can work in harmony after a rocky end to a dream season.

HAMILTON'S LAST CHANCE

Mercedes finally claimed a 2022 win in Sao Paulo, but it was George Russell who took the chequered flag ahead of Lewis Hamilton.

Seven-time champion Hamilton has never gone an entire season without a win in his storied career, but is now in the last chance saloon.

He has a superb record at the Yas Marina circuit, winning five times, more than any other driver, and that tally must be extended for him to avoid an unwanted first.

SO LONG, SEB

The Abu Dhabi Grand Prix will bring the curtain down on the glittering career of Sebastian Vettel.

Four-time world champion Vettel is to retire from the sport at the end of the campaign, with this marking his 300th grand prix entry and his 299th start.

He has won three times in Abu Dhabi and, while victory for Aston Martin is unlikely, his history at the circuit may boost hope of him finishing on a high.

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    Powell started his quest on a strong note, securing P3 in both qualifying sessions on Saturday morning. However, during Race 1, his clutch started to slip, taking away any opportunity to challenge for the win and valuable points. With skillful management of the slipping clutch, he secured a 3rd place podium finish, although it wasn’t enough to keep him in contention for the overall championship.

    In the reverse grid for Race 2, Powell started in P10, making his way through the field to 8th before half the distance of the race. An over-exuberant competitor forced Alex wide off track into a very sandy area; recovering from the excursion dropped Alex to 11th place, where he finished out of the points.

    While any chance of a Top-3 finish in the championship was now gone, Alex could still finish in the Top-5 with a good result in Race 3. Unfortunately, disaster struck before the very start of the race. While waiting for the red lights to extinguish, signaling the start of the race, the clutch problems resurfaced, this time resulting in his car creeping forward before the actual start, then stalling completely. Powell was out of the race before it began and eventually finished 6th in the Driver’s championship.

    Still, Powell's accumulated points proved to be crucial for the Team Championship, won by his Mumbai Falcons team. He also finished 2nd in the Rookie championship.

    "Not the weekend we hoped for. Some mechanical circumstances were completely out of my control. A special thanks to Prema and the Mumbai Falcons team for all their hard work over the course of the championship! Let’s keep pushing, and I’m already looking forward to the F4 Italian Championship," Powell said after the event.

    The 16-year-old Jamaican sensation will next compete in the F4 Italian Championship, beginning in May.

  • Red Bull’s Christian Horner to attend Bahrain testing amid ongoing investigation Red Bull’s Christian Horner to attend Bahrain testing amid ongoing investigation

    Red Bull team principal Christian Horner will be in Bahrain for Formula One’s first day of testing on Wednesday.

    The 50-year-old is fighting to save his career in the sport following an allegation of “inappropriate behaviour” by a female colleague. Horner categorically denies the claims.

    The PA news agency understands Horner, who remains under investigation by the racing team’s parent company Red Bull GmbH, is due to arrive in the Gulf kingdom on Tuesday evening.

    Max Verstappen will take to the wheel of the Red Bull he hopes will carry him to a fourth straight world championship on Wednesday – the first of three days of testing – and Horner is set to be in the paddock to oversee his superstar driver in action.

    Horner is also due to speak at an F1 press conference alongside four other team principals a day later.

    The opening round of this season’s championship takes place in Bahrain on March 2.

    Speaking at Red Bull Racing’s car launch in Milton Keynes last week, Horner insisted he would be in his position for the first race.

    Horner said he was unable to provide a timeline as to when the investigation will be completed.

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    F1 bosses have called for the controversy to be “clarified at the earliest opportunity”.

    Last season Red Bull won all but one of the 22 races, with Verstappen taking his third world championship in as many years.

    Speaking last week, a defiant Horner said: “The process has been going on in the background.

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    “I am confident in the process, which I have fully complied with and will continue to do so, and absolutely deny any of the allegations that have been made against me.

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  • FIA will allow Christian Horner investigation to conclude before commenting FIA will allow Christian Horner investigation to conclude before commenting

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    Horner’s role as Red Bull team principal remains in the balance following a claim of “inappropriate behaviour” by a female colleague. Horner emphatically denies the allegations.

    On Sunday, F1 bosses called for the controversy to be “clarified at the earliest opportunity”. The new season gets under way on March 2.

    A statement from the FIA on Monday read: “In relation to the independent investigation currently being undertaken by Red Bull GMbH, the FIA reiterates that until such time as the investigation has concluded and the outcome is known, we will not be commenting further.

    “The FIA remains committed to upholding the highest standards of integrity, fairness and inclusivity within the sport.”

    Speaking at Red Bull Racing’s car launch in Milton Keynes last Thursday, Horner, 50, insisted he would be in Bahrain for the opening race.

    Horner said he was unable to provide a timeline as to when the investigation by the racing team’s parent company, Red Bull GmBH, will be completed.

    It is understood both Red Bull and Horner are keen for a swift resolution and sources have indicated to the PA news agency that there could yet be a conclusion by the end of the week.

    However, it is thought unlikely that a verdict will be found before this week’s three-day test in Bahrain which starts on Wednesday.

    An F1 spokesperson said: “We have noted that Red Bull has instigated an independent investigation into internal allegations at Red Bull Racing.

    “We hope that the matter will be clarified at the earliest opportunity, after a fair and thorough process, and we will not comment further at this time.”

    Last season Red Bull won all but one of the 22 races, with Max Verstappen taking his third world championship in as many years.

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