What we learned from F1 2022
What we learned from F1 2022
Max Verstappen followed up his maiden F1 title with an instant renewal as Red Bull cantered to a double championship.
There was much to be excited about at the start of the year as the sport ushered in a new regulatory era aimed at creating closer racing and increasing overtaking opportunities.
Whilst it is clear those objectives were met, there was no stopping the might of the Verstappen-Red Bull partnership, which sealed a dominant 15 races together, as well as two more for the team through Sergio Perez.
But what did we learn from each team across the season?
Verstappen is a generational talent
If there was any doubt as to the talent of the now two-time champion, Verstappen’s display of utter dominance underlined his superstardom this year.
The Dutchman, in a car that was not dominant until the second half of the season, was imperious at almost every event - barring only Brazil - winning from almost anywhere on the grid.
The Belgian Grand Prix was perhaps the most impressive, scything his way through from a grid penalty to secure one of the easiest victories anyone has achieved in modern F1.
Team-mate Perez had looked to be in the running for the championship yet in the same car, the Mexican ended up 149 points adrift.
Despite F1 entering a golden era of young talent, it is hard to see past Verstappen creating a monopoly through to the new engine regulations in 2026 at least.
Mercedes isn’t bulletproof
Much like we are forecasting a period of Verstappen and Red Bull invincibility, at one point across the previous eight years it had seemed as though Mercedes would never be beaten, such was its advantage.
But F1’s new regulations saw the Silver Arrows come back down to earth with a bang - and a few bumps!
Porpoising, mechanical bouncing and drag efficiency issues conspired to essentially nullify the season before the halfway point.
There is some optimism, though, with late-season developments bringing a maiden victory for George Russell. Both he and team-mate Lewis Hamilton are chomping at the bit to rejoin the championship battle next season.
Ferrari back with the big guns, but face restraint from same old failings
Without looking at the content of the season, you could be forgiven for suggesting Ferrari enjoyed a positive 22-race run.
But whilst an improvement to second in the standings and a return to the top step of the podium did provide encouragement, fundamental issues left the team in disarray rather than experiencing excitement.
Strategic failures and poor reliability were the lowlights of a season that really should have brought more after the electric start made by Charles Leclerc to race into a 46-point lead over eventual champion Verstappen after three races.
Ultimately, the operational flaws cost Mattia Binotto his place as team principal. The question now turns to how Fred Vasseur can impact the Scuderia at the helm.
Alpine build exciting future
Fernando Alonso and Esteban Ocon may not have been the best of friends, but the pace displayed by both across the year was sublime.
Alpine’s defeat of McLaren for fourth in the constructors’ standings underlined the steps taken by the Enstone and Viry-based outfit, with pure speed coming in abundance, underlined by Alonso’s qualifying performances in Australia and Canada.
Yes, reliability will need to be vastly improved to sustain the upward curve, but it looks as though Alpine should be able to compete for podiums sooner rather than later. Pierre Gasly’s acquisition is a strong move, given the kerfuffle around the second seat alongside Ocon that threatened to destabilise matters.
McLaren drop the ball across the board
The year that should have seen McLaren follow Ferrari from the space between top teams and midfield and join Red Bull and Mercedes instead saw the Woking-based team fall back and into issues.
Brake gremlins wrote off pre-season and the first race of the year in Bahrain, leaving the team playing catch-up throughout.
Lando Norris was in the best form of his F1 career so far yet only had one podium to show for his efforts. Daniel Ricciardo’s continued struggles cost him his place in the sport, with McLaren opting for Oscar Piastri for next year.
But whilst CEO Zak Brown insists good relationships allowed for Andreas Seidl to be picked up by Sauber ahead of 2023, the loss of such a well-respected operator as team principal could stunt progress. Hopefully, for McLaren fans, this will not be the case.