‘It has been a great season, mainly because of the great races. It’s not been a great championship so much, as Max Verstappen won that very early on. The last weekends were also exciting, despite the fact that the title had already been decided. Normally when that happens, the championship sputters out like a dying candle, but I had a good time. While Brazil might have been the right finale in terms of entertainment, the setting in Abu Dhabi is more suitable for the closing parties after a long season.
The race itself was even pretty good. The layout of this track is not the most exciting, but due to high tyre wear, things turned out differently. Ferrari made the right choice, Pérez was firmly in second place. The decision for a one-stop worked out well for Leclerc. On paper this was not the right fight – Leclerc clearly should have been fighting for the title with Verstappen. He has lost too many points through his own mistakes and those of the team. A lot has been written about Mattia Binotto’s position at Ferrari. This used to happen after just three races, now it’s taken a whole season. It’s hard to judge from the outside, I have no idea if dismissal is the solution. It also depends on what you get in return.
Pérez was strong early in the season, after that I thought he was invisible. In the final races, he rebounded and was competitive. But over the year as a whole, he could have done better. 2023 will be important for him. Red Bull will soon have Daniel Ricciardo in reserve, although he will also be used a lot for marketing and media activities. He is good at that. They are also talking to Lando Norris, although you shouldn’t place too much significance in that.
Teams always have to plan ahead. You don’t want to be surprised the way Alpine was. I do think Pérez’s father should stay out of it. In this era of social media, parents have a big voice that is heard everywhere. But that should not happen, they should not get involved. That is also why you see Jos Verstappen being less and less visible, he is being kept out more and more and that is good.
Next year I expect a lot from Lewis Hamilton, we are going to see the best Lewis yet. He ended the season without a pole position or a victory. That will have done something to him, I think. And then things will start to get interesting – Mercedes has been able to improve. We saw that in Brazil. In the opening phase of the race, Lewis rightly had to give back that spot, and he struggled a bit on the mediums. Once he’d changed to the hard tyre, he really flew down the track. It’s a shame for him that his race ended the way it did, with the first mechanical breakdown this season.
Finally, Sebastian Vettel. I wonder if we will see him again. It was a tough year for him, he kept himself busy a lot with things outside racing. He came back well in the last races. He is really going to miss Formula 1, I would not be surprised if he returns in some role or other. When you have been around for so long, you get to a point when you get fed up with it. Then you want to be home with your family. But after a few months that might change, and maybe he’ll start getting restless again…
See you in 2023!’