The controversial ending to the 2021 season added an extra spice to what would happen in 2022.
The battle between Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton whetted the appetite and the possibility of another season-long titanic battle between the two main protagonists in Formula 1.
2022 certainly didn’t disappoint. The main highlights from the 2022 can be summed up as follows:
- Verstappen and Red Bull dominate
- 2022 – new year, new cars
- Russell shines at Mercedes
- Ferrari – emerging from the wilderness?
- Goodbye to Sebastian Vettel
Verstappen and Red Bull dominate
As seasons go 2022 could not have been much more dominant for Max Verstappen on track.
He set a new record in Formula 1 for most races won in a season – fifteen. Red Bull had the Constructor’s Championship sewn up with four races to spare and Sergio Perez came through to clinch second in the driver’s standings.
Red Bull did court controversy again this season as it was found they were in breach of the spending budget cap in 2021. They were punished but it will remain to be seen if this does have any impact on their 2023 challenge.
2022 – new year, new cars
One thing that was certain for 2022 was that the cars were going to look vastly different from their 2021 contemporaries.
In a move to increase the spectacle of the sport and promote closer, wheel-to-wheel action new aerodynamic features were introduced for 2022.
Russell shines at Mercedes
2022 was a big year for George Russell.
Moving from Williams to Mercedes meant moving from near the back of the grid to the front. Would he be able to handle the pressure of being in a team fighting for both driver’s and constructor’s championships? Could he come anywhere close to the pace of Lewis Hamilton? The answer in both instances is an emphatic yes.
By end of the season, Russell finished two places higher than Hamilton in the driver’s standings – fourth versus sixth and secured his first victory in Brazil which turned out to be Mercedes’ only victory of the season.
Ferrari – emerging from the wilderness?
Ferrari had shown positive signs in pre-season testing but the big question was could this transfer into actual competitiveness when the season started?
The initial signs were encouraging. There were victories for Charles Leclerc and the Ferraris seemed to be able to live with the obvious pace of the Red Bulls. With Mercedes nowhere to be seen in the early stages of the season Ferrari was the only team cable of throwing the gauntlet down to Red Bull.
As the season progressed Ferrari fell foul to problems in their strategy and decision making handing the initiative to Red Bull and a resurgent Mercedes saw an opportunity to push Ferrari really hard towards the end of the season.
Goodbye to Sebastian Vettel
Sebastian Vettel’s place as one of the greats of the sport has been assured for a number of years. His final two seasons with Aston Martin demonstrated what he could do with a car that was inconsistent at best but the four championships he won at Red Bull indicated a dominance of the sport which hadn’t been seen since the days of his hero and compatriot – Michael Schumacher.
2023 will see Red Bull as the team to beat but if Ferrari and Mercedes can bring consistently competitive cars to the grid it could be one of the closest-fought championships in years