Perez, Leclerc battle for 2nd in F1, Vettel in last race

Nov 17, 2022, 10:07 AM | Updated: Nov 18, 2022, 12:10 am

Red Bull driver Max Verstappen, center, sits between McLaren driver Daniel Ricciardo, of Australia,...

Red Bull driver Max Verstappen, center, sits between McLaren driver Daniel Ricciardo, of Australia, left, and Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc, of Monaco, right, as he speaks during a press conference ahead of the Formula One Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates Thursday, Nov. 17, 2022. (AP Photo/Hussein Malla)

(AP Photo/Hussein Malla)

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Two drivers are level on points ahead of the Formula One season finale in Abu Dhabi. This time it’s only for second place.

Charles Leclerc and Sergio Perez are both on 290 points going into the final race Sunday at the Yas Marina circuit. It’s a subdued echo of last year’s title-deciding spectacular between Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton, who also arrived in Abu Dhabi on level terms before Verstappen took the title following a heavily disputed restart procedure.

Just like last year, there’s also an element of controversy. Verstappen refused to give up sixth place to his teammate Perez at the last race in Brazil despite a team order, a decision that could cost Perez in a close fight with Leclerc on Sunday.

Verstappen, who secured the title more than a month ago, has refused to say why he wouldn’t help Perez, only that it was “about something that happened earlier in the season.” He said Thursday the issue was resolved and he would offer support if the Red Bull team asks him to.

Verstappen, who is also able to take a 15th win of 2022 to extend his single-season record, condemned “unacceptable” social media abuse aimed at him and his family after the incident with Perez in Brazil.

Hamilton said Thursday he rarely thinks any more about last year’s controversial race in Abu Dhabi. This week, the British driver could lose one record from his illustrious career. Hamilton has won at least one race each year since his 2007 debut, but is without a victory in 2022 after Mercedes spent much of the season struggling with the car’s tendency to bounce at high speed. His best chance seems to have gone after finishing behind teammate George Russell in Brazil last week.

“We don’t believe that this track will necessarily be our strongest. We think it may suit the others a little bit better, but I won’t know till I get out there, to be honest. I hope that it’s like last race,” he said Thursday.

Red Bull is the runaway constructors’ champion but Mercedes could in theory overtake Ferrari for second. For many other teams and drivers, it’s a low-stakes race. No one is driving to save their seat for 2023 because all of next season’s team pairings are confirmed with the exception of one Williams seat. That will go to U.S. driver Logan Sargeant if he meets a minimum championship finish in Formula Two.


Four-time champion Sebastian Vettel is looking to the future ahead of his last race in F1 before retiring at the end of the season.

“There’s lots of other things in my head as well, other interests and ideas outside racing,” Vettel said Thursday. “Obviously I’ve done this for so long and it’s central to my life. So it would be difficult to to say that I’m not going to to miss it.”

Vettel leaves after 16 seasons in which he was the youngest-ever race winner in 2008 — a record now held by Max Verstappen — then enjoyed overwhelming dominance with Red Bull, failed title challenges with Ferrari, and two often-anonymous midfield seasons with Aston Martin. Those quieter recent seasons “have been very important for me, one, for the driving, but maybe to have the room and possibility to grow even more off track,” he said.

One of F1’s most vocal campaigners for human rights, Vettel has also focused attention on the sport´s environmental record. When he announced in July that he would leave, Vettel said that, as much as he enjoyed racing, he felt increasingly uncomfortable with “burning resources.”

As Vettel leaves, F1 faces an uncertain future in Germany. The country is a big TV market for F1 and used to be a strong source of talent, with Michael Schumacher, Vettel and Nico Rosberg combining for 12 championships in 22 years from 1994 to 2016. At least one of those three has raced each season since 1991.

With Vettel gone, Nico Hülkenberg will be the only German on the grid for next year after Haas confirmed Thursday it would replace Mick Schumacher for 2023. McLaren’s Daniel Ricciardo and Williams’ Nicholas Latifi are also without an F1 seat for next year.


More AP auto racing: https://apnews.com/hub/auto-racing and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Associated Press

Ex-Packer Guion gets 1 year for domestic violence assault

GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — Former Green Bay Packers defensive tackle Letroy Guion was sentenced to one year in jail after pleading no contest in a domestic violence assault at his home last fall. Brown County Circuit Court Judge Thomas Walsh also ordered Guion on Tuesday to serve three years’ probation and complete a domestic […]

1 year ago

Joe Jarzynka...

Associated Press

Durant eager for Suns debut vs. Hornets after knee injury

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Kevin Durant has been through quite a bit during his 15-year NBA career — but joining a new team midway through the season is a new one for the 13-time All-Star. The 34-year-old Durant doesn’t seem all that worried. Durant makes his highly anticipated Phoenix Suns debut on Wednesday night against […]

1 year ago

FILE - Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores stands on the sideline during the second half of an N...

Associated Press

Judge: NFL coach can press discrimination claims in court

NEW YORK (AP) — NFL Coach Brian Flores can pursue some of his discrimination claims against the league and its teams in court rather than through arbitration, a judge ruled Wednesday. The written decision by Judge Valerie Caproni in Manhattan was issued months after lawyers for the league tried to get the lawsuit moved to […]

1 year ago

Chicago Blackhawks goaltender Alex Stalock cools off in the first period during an NHL hockey game ...

Associated Press

Kane trade reinforces hard reality of Blackhawks rebuild

CHICAGO (AP) — After days of speculation, the harsh reality of the Chicago Blackhawks’ situation was reinforced by one move in a flurry of transactions ahead of the NHL trade deadline. Showtime is over, at least in Chicago, and a seemingly bright future is, well, way off in the distance. The reverberations of Chicago’s decision […]

1 year ago

FILE -  Yves Jean-Bart, president of the Haitian Football Federation, wearing a protective face mas...

Associated Press

Disgraced ex-Haitian soccer president announces he’s back

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) — Haiti’s former soccer federation president whose lifetime ban from sport over sexual abuse allegations was overturned last month announced Wednesday that he is reclaiming his position. Yves Jean-Bart’s defiant announcement could lead to a standoff with FIFA, which already has appointed an emergency management committee to lead the Haitian Football Association […]

1 year ago

FILE - Green Bay Packers' Aaron Rodgers walks off the field after an NFL football game against the ...

Associated Press

Rodgers says decision on future will come ‘soon enough’

GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — Aaron Rodgers says he will make a decision on his future “soon enough” as the four-time MVP quarterback ponders whether to play next season and if his future remains with the Green Bay Packers. Rodgers, 39, discussed his future while speaking on an episode of the “Aubrey Marcus Podcast” that […]

1 year ago

Perez, Leclerc battle for 2nd in F1, Vettel in last race