POWER RANKINGS: Which drivers impressed in the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix?

POWER RANKINGS: Which drivers impressed in the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix?

Max Verstappen rounded off a historic championship-winning season with yet another victory at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. He makes it into the final top-10 of the year, but who else do the judges believe deserved to join him? Find out below…

How it works

• Our five-judge panel assess each driver after every Grand Prix and score them out of 10 according to their performance across the weekend – taking machinery out of the equation

• Our experts’ scores are then averaged out to produce a race score – with those scores then tallied up across the season on our overall Power Rankings Leaderboard (at the bottom of the page)

What a way to cap a truly outstanding season as Verstappen did what he has done so many times this year, which was to set the standard on the grid as his rivals look to play catch-up.

The results will say it was easy but, once again, the Dutchman was pushed all the way in qualifying. A stunning lap earned him pole position and, once he held off Charles Leclerc at the start of the race, there was simply no stopping Verstappen.

There is a case that nobody drove as well as Leclerc in the last few weeks of the season, as he started on the front row in each of the last five races – with three of those being on pole in Austin, Mexico, and Las Vegas

What was impressive in Abu Dhabi is that Ferrari were struggling throughout qualifying but, as is typical, he produced an outstanding lap when he needed to. His race was even better as he did everything he could to get the Scuderia second in the championship, but it was just not enough.

Tsunoda has been outstanding this year for AlphaTauri, taking a real step forward throughout the season. With the Italian team trailing Williams by seven points for P7 in the championship, the Japanese racer did all he could to help them achieve their goal.

He was brilliant in qualifying, mixing it at the sharp end of the field when he started sixth. They opted for the one-stop strategy but it just didn’t work out as he wound up eighth. Short of his target but from a personal perspective it was a terrific way for him to end the season.

THE STRATEGIST: Did the wrong strategy cost AlphaTauri P7 in their constructors’ battle with Williams?

It had not been the year that Russell would have wanted but, if there was a way to go off into the winter, this was the way to do it. With Mercedes in a dog fight with Ferrari for P2 in the championship, the Briton showed his metal to secure second for his team.

He qualified fourth and eventually forced his way into the podium positions. There would have been a slight scare at the end with Leclerc’s tactics to hinder him, but he did what he had to do to hold on for his second trophy of the year.

READ MORE: Russell delighted to seal P2 in constructors’ for Mercedes as Abu Dhabi podium concludes ‘challenging season’

Alonso mentioned post-race that this had been his best year in Formula 1 along with his 2012 campaign having scored eight podiums this season. It’s hard to disagree with the two-time world champion who was absolutely brilliant in Abu Dhabi.

He qualified seventh and, while he did not have the pace to make much of an impression on the podium, he was still at his cunning best. He did incredibly well to keep Lewis Hamilton behind and pulled off a late overtake on Tsunoda to take P7. An impressive way to end an impressive year.

READ MORE: ‘My best season since 2012’ – Alonso full of praise for Aston Martin after bagging fourth in the drivers’ championship

Norris’ final lap in Q3 shows just how tiny the margins are in F1 as, had he nailed those two corners in the final sector, pole position could have been the result. Who knows what would have happened on Sunday evening had that been the case.

He showed great pace at the start to elevate himself up into third, pushing Leclerc for second. But a slow pitstop saw him lose out to Russell and with Perez later coming past – after the two collided – Norris was forced to settle for a well-earned fifth place.

READ MORE: Norris hails ‘exciting times ahead’ for McLaren after team clinch P4 in constructors’ in Abu Dhabi

It was a weekend of what ifs for Perez who had his time deleted in Q3 and was forced to start the race from ninth. He did a great job to make his way through the field but was left frustrated by that five-second penalty for colliding with Norris.

What caught the eye was his great ability to extend his first stint on the hard tyre before using the pace on his fresher rubber to vault himself into podium contention late in the race. He ended up second – after Leclerc tactically let him through – and if not for the penalty he would have collected his 10th trophy of the year.

It has been a great rookie year for Piastri who once again shone for McLaren when they needed him to. He was brilliant on Saturday as he steadily built up his pace through the weekend before producing his best lap when he needed it to qualify third.

Unfortunately, he just didn’t have the pace to contend in the race and lost out to his team mate Norris, Russell, and Perez. Sixth place is still a great way to end a fantastic campaign, leaving plenty excited as to what is to come in the future from the Australian.

Albon has had a terrific year for Williams and on paper it is just 14th place for the Thai driver, but watching him perform in Abu Dhabi you saw just how well he performed, extracting everything that he could out of the FW45.

He lost out at the start of the race – dropping from P14 to P18 – but made a brilliant comeback by extending his first stint on the hard tyres. That gave him the ability to come back towards the end of the race, but he just did not have enough time.

One of the best things in the race was watching Gasly go side by side with Hamilton and Perez on the opening lap as he pulled off a double overtake into Turn 6. Unfortunately, both Perez and Hamilton hit the rear of his car during the race which put him on the backfoot.

He was also frustrated with losing places to Hamilton and Esteban Ocon in the pits but, even so, with the damage he was carrying there was not much he could do. With the pace he showed in the early stages it would have been interesting to see how his day could have played out had the damage been avoided
Missing out

Narrowly missing out on a place in the top-10 is Lance Stroll who drove a competitive race to finish 10th. It was another good performance from the Canadian to end the year as he held off Daniel Ricciardo’s late attack to score the final point.


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