GPR Awards – 2022 Formula 1 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

The final race of 2022’s Formula One season had us saying farewell to a great many drivers, some of whom we will miss and others of whom we have already forgotten. While the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix was its usual plodding self, it at least highlighted exactly who we might miss and who we might not. 

Mick Schumacher and Nicholas Latifi, possibly in their last F1 races, win Reject of the Race for a clumsy crash at the eleventh hour. 

All season finales have more goodbyes than simply to the F1 paddock. We say goodbye to many drivers or teams that we may never see again grace the tarmac of the circuit. Mick Schumacher and Nicholas Latifi may just be two of those drivers we say our final goodbyes to at Abu Dhabi – both are without a seat, although Mick seems to have bagged his way at least to a formal relationship with Mercedes-Benz after being fired from Haas. 

Our sad goodbye was at least made a little clearer when we perhaps saw why Mick and Nick have been shown the door. On lap 39, when fighting for a mighty 16th place, our two great heroes did a synchronised spin at the sweeping left-hander. While Latifi took a central line to effectively cut off both the in- and outside lines, Mick was having none of it and simply speeded into the Canadian’s rear tyre. The spin itself was beautiful, and a clear reminder about why we may have seen the last of both drivers. Mick absolutely should have been more careful in his driving, and shouldn’t really have been behind both Williams cars in the first place when considering what his teammate was able to achieve. 

A fitting image for Mick and Nicholas’ F1 swansong.

It ruined Latifi’s race of course, but he was at least partially to blame for the incident as well. Taking as central a line as he did, he was encouraging a move from Schumacher, and his own ignominious end to a Formula 1 career was perhaps befitting also. It was the second time that a Latifi-related crash was the most talked-about event in an Abu Dhabi season finale, but unfortunately this one was so rejectful that we didn’t even get a safety car from it. 

Otherwise the race provided little worthy of rejectful note. Being in itself a boring venue with dull races year in and year out, one could hardly have expected much else. Mercedes had a strange fall from grace after their victory in Brazil, as last weekend’s winner George Russell spent most of the race behind his teammate when he wasn’t dropping entirely off the cliff in terms of tyre life throughout Sunday. Unlike at Interlagos, there was no chance of the outgoing constructors champions making an impression on this race, in spite of rather bold overtaking moves by Lewis Hamilton, while the unsafe release for Russell made absolutely sure that Ferrari would keep that second place on the constructors’ table. 

A ill wind blew through Brackley at Abu Dhabi. Photo: Jiri Krenek

Aston Martin deserve a final word, with their hare-brained strategy on tyres which took their outgoing world champion out of what would have been a great result. They took themselves out of sixth in the constructors overall too!  

Sebastian Vettel wins Infinite Improbability Drive of the Race for a spirited final run. 

It is a shame that the four-time world champion did not finish higher than he did, as Aston Martin’s tyre gamble seemed to be clear as day to be the wrong way to go. In his final race, Sebastian Vettel seemed to be on the ball, albeit frustrated with traffic and the little things – so a normal day at the office. A Q3 appearance was a good way to start, while staying out had him as high as fourth by the time the pitstops all occurred. But from there he slipped down the order as the tyres fell away, and fell away, and fell away. By the time the German finally got around to pitting he would come out in second last ahead of only Latifi. While a 10th placed finish was not what the outgoing champion had probably wanted, it was what he got from a solid recovery drive up into the final points position. In his final race, Sebastian won our Infinite Improbability Drive of the Race award!

For further coverage of Sebastian Vettel’s retirement on Grand Prix Rejects, check out The Gravel Trap’s Open Letter to Sebastian Vettel.

We’re not crying, honest!

Again, a race with little of note provides many awards of little note. While it has become expected of him, we can only continue to compliment the race pace of Lando Norris, who took fastest lap and sixth place. It is not enough to get McLaren ahead of Alpine in the standings – Daniel Ricciardo has made absolutely sure of that – but it is at least enough to put him near enough the top of the driver rankings for the whole season. Best of the rest, sixth place in Abu Dhabi, and the winner of the Formula 1.5 championship. Not improbable, but at least remarkable. 

Someone give Lando a car capable of challenging for the championship.

And speaking of Daniel Ricciardo, he at least went out with a tiny semblance of dignity in his final race. Unlike Latifi and Schumacher, the Australian didn’t embarrass himself, didn’t crash, and while he is going to struggle to find a 2023 seat, he proved he can at least have an average race from time to time, if not a spectacular one. If that comment isn’t telling of the snorefest that Abu Dhabi was this and every year, then this author doesn’t know what is! Happy new year all, see you in 2023.

Full Results

Mick Schumacher and Nicholas Latifi 18 (82%) Sebastian Vettel 11 (61%)
Mercedes 3 (14%) Fernando Alonso 4 (22%)
Nicholas Latifi 1 (5%) Charles Leclerc 3 (17%)
Number of votes: 22 Number of votes: 18

Disclaimer: The ROTR and IIDOTR awards are purely for fun purposes.

The IIDOTR is a democratically-decided award, based on the assumption that, at any moment in time, there is a non-zero probability that even the slowest, most inexperienced and least reliable of underdogs might win the race. That under every rock, there might be a gold nugget. This is the award for that first podium that we all celebrate, for the overtake no-one was expecting, for the underdog’s first win. This is the award, in short, for the driver or team that makes you go “Woah! Where did THAT come from?!”.

The ROTR is a medal of dishonour that celebrates the most noteworthy failure of a Grand Prix weekend, based on expectations heading into the weekend and general performance. That one brainfade, the silliest mistake or the most patent nonsense going on, all that is what being the ROTR is all about.

2022 Grand Prix Rejects Awards
2022 Bahrain Grand Prix

2022 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix
2022 Australian Grand Prix
2022 Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix
2022 Miami Grand Prix
2022 Spanish Grand Prix
2022 Monaco Grand Prix
2022 Azerbaijan Grand Prix
2022 Canadian Grand Prix
2022 British Grand Prix  

2022 Austrian Grand Prix
2022 French Grand Prix
2022 Hungarian Grand Prix
2022 Belgian Grand Prix
2022 Dutch Grand Prix
2022 Italian Grand Prix
2022 Singapore Grand Prix
2022 Japanese Grand Prix
2022 United States Grand Prix
2022 Mexican Grand Prix
2022 São Paolo Grand Prix