Max Verstappen was the big winner at Sunday night’s Autosport Awards, the 2022 World Champion voted the ‘International Racing Driver of the Year’ by motorsport fans.
Verstappen made history this past season, the Red Bull driver setting a new record for the most grand prix wins in a single season, 15, as he romped to a second World title ahead of Charles Leclerc.
Although on paper it looked a dominant season, the Dutchman was made to work for it as he had to overturn a 46-point deficit with two retirements in the first three races.
He had successfully managed that three races later such was the performance of the RB18, Verstappen leading after the Spanish Grand Prix and holding P1 all the way through to the final chequered flag in Abu Dhabi.
He won the title by 146 points ahead of Leclerc, Autosport acknowledging his brilliance on Sunday night as he was voted the ‘International Racing Driver of the Year’ ahead of Leclerc, IndyCar champion Will Power and Formula E title winner Stoffel Vandoorne.
“Thank you to all the fans who voted for me for the second time in a row, coming alongside my second world title in a row,” Verstappen said in a video message.
“After a tricky start to the year it was a real team effort to turn it around. All the hard work of the team, including some people sitting with you at the awards tonight, all deserve a big thank you. Have a good night and see you on the track in 2023.”
His RB18 won the ‘International Racing Car of the Year’ award for a sixth time.
Sebastian Vettel signs off with the Gregor Grant Award
The recently retired Sebastian Vettel was also acknowledged at the Grosvenor House on Sunday, named the winner of the ‘Gregor Grant’ award.
The award recognises lifetime achievement in motorsport, the four-time Drivers’ Champion known not only for his on-track achievements but his off-track activism.
Vettel called time on his Formula 1 career at the end of the 2022 season, signing off with four World titles, 53 grand prix wins, 122 podiums and 3501 laps led.
“What I love so much – initially I didn’t get it because you’re young, but I think the opportunity to work with so many people that are very passionate about what they do,” he said.
“I thought 10 years ago, ‘That’s normal, it’s how everybody lives their lives’. But then I found out it’s not normal and a lot of people don’t have that privilege.
Mercedes duo add to their awards tally
Although 2022 was not the season Mercedes had wished for, the W13 bouncing from one track to another and hindering the team’s development, both George Russell and Lewis Hamilton received awards from Autosport.
Russell won the ‘Moment of the Year’ award which is awarded to a standout moment from motorsport. His was his Sao Paulo Grand Prix win, his breakthrough F1 victory.
“It was an incredible moment for me personally, the journey that the team had been on in that  season,” said the Briton.
“We had the golden opportunity in the Brazilian Grand Prix. The race was pretty under control and the safety car came out, I saw Lewis behind me and I thought this is not going to be straightforward!”
Russell came out on top against Verstappen’s record-breaking campaign, Ross Chastain’s wall-riding moment in NASCAR’s Martinsville race and Nyck de Vries’ F1 points on debut.
Hamilton, meanwhile, won the ‘British Competition Driver of the Year’ award.
Zhou Guanyu was named the ‘Rookie of the Year’, taking that ahead of head of Toyota’s World Endurance champion Ryo Hirakawa, IndyCar podium finisher Christian Lundgaard and F2 race winner Logan Sargeant.
“Hi guys, as you can see I just won Rookie of the Year,” he said in a video message, “thanks to everyone who supported me and voted for me.
“I’ve been battling through the year, it has been a tricky year, but I’ve had great support from the track and from fans at home so thank you all very much.”