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

Getty Images

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.