There won't be as much drama as there was in the 2021 edition of the Formula 1 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, what with the drivers' championship and Constructor's Cup having already been decided. But that doesn't mean there is no drama whatsoever.
For Sebastian Vettel, it will be the end of a career in the series, as the four-time World Champion will step away from Formula 1 once the checkered flag drops on Sunday. For Mick Schumacher, it may also signify a period in which he will need to decide which path to take, as one of the worst-kept secrets in the garage was finally announced when Haas said it was parting ways with the son of seven-time World Champion Michael Schumacher, and that Nico Hulkenberg will be filling the seat in 2023. And for Red Bull Racing, it will be an opportunity for current World Champion Max Verstappen to prove that he has no hard feelings with teammate Sergio Perez, and he can do that by helping the Mexican finish second in the points standings over Ferrari's Charles Leclerc.
So, still a lot to unpack, so let's start with Red Bull Racing, where the team released a statement that they made a mistake at Interlagos regarding team orders. Verstappen and Perez have apparently come to terms as well, as Verstappen said he would gladly help the Mexican finish better than Leclerc should that opportunity present itself.
There's also second place in the Constructor's Cup chase to be decided, as Ferrari's once sizable lead over Mercedes is now just 19 points thanks to the return to form the Silver Stars have shown at Mexico City and Interlagos. Yas Marina Circuit has always been a track that Lewis Hamilton and the team, in general, have performed well at, and certainly Toto Wolff and company will be looking to snatch second in the Constructor's Cup from Ferrari as a means of carrying momentum into the offseason.
As for Haas, the move to an old hand such as Hulkenberg is likely in response to the massive car bill Schumacher ran up this season. Also looking at the exit and wondering where it leads will be Daniel Ricciardo, who has yet to announce what his future plans are after 2022, and Nicholas Latifi, who is out at Williams. Schumacher's name has been brought up in a possible reserve role at Mercedes next season, while Ricciardo's name has been mentioned in a similar role with Red Bull Racing.
How to watch the Formula 1 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix
- Date: Sunday, Nov. 20
- Location: 3.45-mile (5.28-kilometer), 16-turn Yas Marina Circuit, Yas Island, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
- Time: 8 a.m. ET
- TV: ESPN2
- Stream: fuboTV (try for free)
What to expect
This will be the second year on the reconfigured track, as changes made in the summer of 2021 made for a more flowing circuit, particularly at the Turn 5 keyhole, which used to have an additional left-right kink to it before drivers negotiated the hairpin to the back straight, longest and fastest stretch of the track. Other changes last year included removing additional knicky-knacky kinks between Turns 10-14 to make that section more or less one curve with a little short chute connecting the turns.
Those small changes made for an interesting 2021 race with drivers finding a few more spots to attempt passes, and with the cars now able to draw closer up on each other due to the different aero package introduced in 2022, Yas Marina Circuit should make for a pretty good event.
Tire wise, expect Pirelli to bring a similar compound from what was used at the previous races at Interlagos and Mexico City, although there were enough differences in between those tires that it was obvious that the medium-compound tire brought to Mexico City was not as stout as the mediums used at Interlagos. As Yas does not have a particularly abrasive surface and the circuit is a low-drag one, the decision to bring the three softest compounds of the Pirelli range should be straightforward for the teams as far as familiarity with tire degradation is concerned.
This race can be won using a two-stop strategy, but last year Verstappen made a third stop work during a safety car period to slip on the soft-compound tires on his way to the win.