Can any of Formula 1’s departing four score in the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix?
Four drivers will bid farewell to Formula 1 in Abu Dhabi on Sunday with at least three of them, Sebastian Vettel, Mick Schumacher and Daniel Ricciardo, hoping to fight for a final top-ten showing.
For Nicholas Latifi, it’s likely to be yet another “difficult” Sunday.
None of Vettel, Schumacher, Ricciardo or Latifi will feature on next year’s Formula 1 grid – some by choice, others not so.
For Vettel he’s decided to retire while Ricciardo wants a year on the sidelines, the McLaren driver even going as far as to turn down talks with Haas over their available seat.
As for Schumacher and Latifi, both have been dropped by their respective teams Haas and Williams. Schumacher, though, is hoping like Ricciardo to be back on the grid come 2024 while Latifi concedes this is it for him.
Vettel will line up on the Yas Marina grid the best placed of the four, the German having qualified P9 for Sunday’s finale.
He was left annoyed by his former team Red Bull during Saturday’s qualifying, declaring they were constantly hampering him.
So much so, team boss Christian Horner apologised, telling Sky Deutschland: “I have to apologise, every time you were on a good lap, one of our cars was in front of you.”
Nonetheless Vettel was happy with overall performance, saying he felt as if he was “coming alive”.
He was not to finish slowest in Q3, saying: “We were able to beat a car after ninth place. I know that doesn’t sound like a lot, but it’s a lot for us because we’re in a good position to fight for points.
“We still have one goal in mind, try to beat the Alfa Romeos and score as many points as possible so that we might still finish sixth in the Constructors’ standings.”
His compatriot Schumacher is 12th on the grid, the German making it through to Q2 in one of his better qualifying showings in his two seasons in Formula 1.
He’s wary of having the likes of Ricciardo starting behind him, the Aussie having qualified P10 before taking a grid drop for causing a collision with Kevin Magnussen at the previous race in Brazil.
“We will have a few cars behind us that are quite fast,” said Schumacher. “But it’s good that we’re in front of one AlphaTauri and the other one is right in front of us. That means we have to have a good start and plan our race in such a way that we just finish ahead of them.”
But his main goal for Sunday, in what could be his last grand prix ever: “Just have fun”.
As for Ricciardo, he’s happy to say goodbye to 2022 and hopes to end his McLaren career in the points.
“I won’t miss my lack of competitiveness this year,” he told Viaplay.
“Qualifying certainly hasn’t been my strong suit obviously with this car, but to stay out there [for] the whole hour, to be in Q3, I think that was just a bit of a relief.
“Obviously I still lacked about three tenths [of a second] or something to Lando, so there’s still a little bit [of a gap].”
“But, with the year it’s been, it’s no surprise. I’m happy to put up a bit of a fight till the end.”
Latifi will take his usual spot of P20 on the grid, the Williams driver slowest of all in qualifying.
He reckons it will be a “difficult” grand prix but that “it’s my last race and I’ll be trying to enjoy it as much as possible.”
He added to Motorsportweek: “There’s obviously a range of different emotions. I mean, for sure, when I found out the news I wasn’t going to be continuing with the team, there were six races to go.
“So I went in with the approach to enjoy each opportunity, try to make the most of it, and try to enjoy as much as I can and not sweat or stress about the little stuff.
“Or what seems like the little stuff in hindsight, that’s been difficult to deal with throughout the season.
“And obviously now, we’ve arrived at the last race which, on the one hand felt like it was very slowly approaching but on the other hand, quite quickly, so a bit of a weird position.”
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