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GPFans F1 2022 Awards

GPFans F1 2022 Awards

GPFans F1 2022 Awards

GPFans F1 2022 Awards
Ewan Gale

The 2022 F1 season saw new regulations introduced in an attempt to create a more level playing field across the grid.

But the plaudits fell to one driver as Max Verstappen dominated, winning a record-breaking 15 out of 22 races, as well as claiming victory in two of the three sprints.

Red Bull added another two victories through Sergio Perez whilst Ferrari imploded and Mercedes struggled to keep pace.

Without further ado, here are the 2022 GPFans Awards, where we recognise some of the greatest, most surprising and also disappointing moments of the year.

Race of the season

Nominees

* Austrian Grand Prix – Charles Leclerc breaks Red Bull streak as overtaking festival sweeps the grid.

* São Paulo Grand Prix – George Russell clinches maiden victory as Hamilton and Verstappen collide and team order furore breaks out.

Winner - British Grand Prix

The race had everything, from a dramatic first-corner incident to scintillating five-car battles.

There was an immediate red-flag delay after Zhou Guanyu was flipped into a gap between the barriers at Abbey in a frightening incident, although thankfully - and remarkably - the Alfa Romeo driver emerged unscathed.

When the race resumed, pole-sitter Carlos Sainz conceded the lead to Verstappen following an error but the Red Bull had picked up floor damage and dropped to seventh.

In a frantic final 10 laps, Ferrari strategy left Leclerc a sitting duck as Sainz cantered to victory, whilst Perez and Lewis Hamilton fought tooth and nail for the podium.

Fighting throughout the field was highlighted by Verstappen’s thrilling battle with Mick Schumacher for seventh and eighth in the closing stages.

A classic that will live long in the memory and a deserving winner for race of the season.

Moment of the season

Nominees

* Sebastian Vettel and Fernando Alonso cross finish line side-by-side in Japan

* Alonso recovers from airborne crash to finish seventh in Austin

* George Russell rushes across gravel to help Zhou at Silverstone

* Vettel’s fitting send-off with the entire grid in Abu Dhabi

Winner - Hamilton, Perez and Leclerc serve up Silverstone thriller

Silverstone again, and particularly the late-race battle between Hamilton, Perez and Leclerc for the podium.

An ailing Leclerc was ahead of the Red Bull driver as Perez made a move around the outside of Vale. The Mexican ran wide and across the kerb at Club, forcing both himself and the Ferrari off-track at the right-hander.

Enter the Mercedes of Hamilton, who swept to the inside and through on both drivers in what was undoubtedly the most thrilling moment of the year.

Disappointment of the season

Nominees

* Mercedes

* AlphaTauri

* Daniel Ricciardo

Winner [if you can call it that!] - Ferrari

Yes, Ferrari did finish second in the standings so this may seem harsh on the face of it. But the fact of the matter is the F1-75 was the fastest car for at least the first half of the season.

But strategic failures and driver errors cost the Scuderia valuable points, as did an early end to development and the need to turn down engine power to assist reliability.

All of this meant that despite Leclerc picking up two wins in the opening three races, the Monégasque finished 146 points adrift of Verstappen in the drivers’ championship.

Ferrari, meanwhile, was forced to turn its focus to defending the runner-up spot from Mercedes, rather than fighting Red Bull.

The combination of failings also cost Mattia Binotto his place with the team. Will another opportunity arise in 2023 under new team principal Fred Vasseur?

Surprise of the season

Nominees

* Alonso’s move to Aston Martin

* Nyck de Vries debut points

Winner - Kevin Magnussen’s São Paulo Grand Prix pole

For a man who was not even hired as an F1 driver when pre-season testing began, securing a maiden F1 pole position isn’t bad going.

It is exactly what Kevin Magnussen did in Brazil, however, perfecting a crucial lap in tricky conditions at Interlagos to secure his and Haas’ first F1 pole.

It was a story that proved all underdogs can have their day, with the Dane finishing his lap quicker than eight other drivers who all had the same tyres and same track conditions.

This was no fluke. It was a stunning effort from the Dane who was at one with his machinery. It is a day that will be remembered as one of the great fairy tales in F1 history.

Most improved

Nominees

* Aston Martin

* Alpine

Winner - Haas

Always likely to be the case after the torrid season the team had when it decided not to develop its 2021 machinery, Haas was by far the most improved outfit of the year.

Points in the opening race courtesy of Magnussen as he fought with Mercedes in the opening exchanges proved early on that the progress was there.

When Schumacher joined the points in Britain and Austria, and further scores for Magnussen thereafter, Haas’ position as eighth-fastest was confirmed for the year.

Whilst two positions in the standings may not seem much, the ability to battle in the midfield and the exposure that brought, with MoneyGram joining as a crucial title sponsor for next year, Haas may well have set itself up for a fruitful period in the sport.

Unsung hero

Winner – Hannah Schmitz

Whilst Ferrari kept dropping the ball strategy-wise and Mercedes was forced into extreme tactical decision-making to try and collect a first win of the year, Red Bull was nigh-on perfect with each and every call it made.

The senior strategist at the heart of this operation is Hannah Schmitz, whose praise takes a backseat role amongst the plaudits levelled at Verstappen, Christian Horner and Adrian Newey.

Of course, the RB18 was in a class of its own for the second half of the season, but so many times in the opening stanza, Red Bull simply out-thought its rivals on the pit wall.

Schmitz, along with a strong team of fellow strategists alongside her, deserve their moment in the spotlight here.

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