2022 saw the advent of a new era in F1. COVID-19 delayed the introduction of new technical regulations by a year. The FIA, the sport's governing body, hoped to improve wheel-to-wheel racing and make it easier to follow cars with the planned changes. There were several challenges with the new designs, porpoising on the straight being the most prevalent amongst most teams, but everyone managed to find a solution in this new chapter of the Turbo Era.
The calendar, slated for 23 races, saw China back out due to logistical challenges and the presence of COVID-19 in the country. The sport reopened its doors to the fans, relaxing access restrictions in the new season.
As for personnel changes, there were quite a few. While Bottas said goodbye to Mercedes to move to Alfa Romeo, Russell graduated from Williams to take his place. Albon returned to full-time racing at Williams, while Zhou Guanyu entered the big league from F2. Russia's invasion of Ukraine forced Haas F1 to part ways with its title sponsor Uralkali, and Nikita Mazepin, as the team chose to stand in solidarity with the rest of the world. The fallout allowed Kevin Magnussen to make an unlikely return to the sport after a hiatus of only a year.
With Formula 1's growing popularity in the west, Miami got added to the F1 calendar.
Sprint Races returned for Imola, Austria and Brazil, with tweaking in the points system, which would see the top 8 finishers earn points rather than the top three.
How did the teams and drivers fare with the new regulations and less downforce in 2022? Was there a new contender for the crown?
Time for a quick recap!
Oracle Red Bull Racing F1 Team :
Red Bull Racing F1 had an unforgettable 2021. After a seven-year drought, the team finally won the Drivers' Championship with Max Verstappen ( albeit under questionable circumstances, according to many ), their first in the Turbo Era. After all the drama and controversy of Abu Dhabi ( in 2021 ) and the events that followed, Red Bull was keen on reaffirming their dominance in this new chapter of F1.
Sergio Perez continued to partner with Max Verstappen in 2022, but Red Bull's campaign began on a faltering note. Both drivers struggled with reliability failures early in the season, and Ferrari seemed to be the more reliable and quicker car. However, post-Imola, Verstappen upped his performances and went on a winning spree which saw him take the lead in the Championship in Spain. Silverstone was a rare blip after Verstappen's car suffered damage from going over some debris, which eventually saw him finish P7. The Dutchman bagged 15 wins in the season, the most ever in Formula 1, going two better than the legend Michael Schumacher. Verstappen won his second world championship in Japan, ending the season with a mammoth 454 points from 15 wins and two podium finishes.
His teammate, Sergio Perez, struggled to match Verstappen's performances but won at two of the most prestigious races, both street circuits - Monaco and Singapore. The Mexican was on the podium in nine other races and contending for P2 in the Championship. An amicable and healthy relationship seemed to turn sour after Verstappen refused to concede his position in Brazil, citing his reasons ( already known to Red Bull ). Perez didn't mince his words post-race, and the team worked hard to bring closure before the season finale in Abu Dhabi. Despite his best efforts, Perez failed to beat Leclerc, settling for P3, three points shy of the latter's tally.
Red Bull flattened the opposition in the Constructors' battle with a 205 points victory over Ferrari. It was a dominating performance by the Milton-Keynes-based outfit, ironing out the flaws and the reliability issues faced early in the season. Red Bull, however, couldn't escape scrutiny over breaching the cost cap in the previous season ( 2021 ). The FIA announced that Red Bull had breached the $145 million cost cap. Red Bull, which overspent by 1.6%, was fined $7 million and will have a 10% reduction in its aerodynamic testing allowance for 12 months. Will this affect the campaign in 2023, or does the team have enough to fend off another challenge by the suitors? The Pre-season Test will be a good indicator.
Scuderia Ferrari F1 Team :
Scuderia Ferrari had a mercurial time in the first chapter of the Turbo Era. With the new regulations in force, everyone hoped to see a better showing, probably even a championship-winning one. The tried and tested duo of Charles Leclerc & Carlos Sainz Jr continued their alliance with Ferrari into 2022. The season kickstarted on the right note with an unthinkable Ferrari 1-2 followed by another win for Charles Leclerc in Australia, his 2nd in the first three races. The Monegasque stretched his lead over Verstappen, who suffered from two retirements in the first three races. However, things started to go downhill from thereon. Imola saw Verstappen respond with a vengeance both in the Sprint and the race. Meanwhile, Leclerc's campaign began to falter with strategic mistakes, reliability failures and driver errors. As for Sainz Jr, the Spaniard had his fair share of reliability issues and looked second best at most of the races.
While Leclerc managed to win again in Austria, it was his only win after Bahrain and Australia. He bagged eight podium finishes. Sainz Jr, meanwhile, won for the first time in his F1 career at Silverstone, his only in 2022, besides eight podiums. As the season continued, the challenge for both titles petered out rapidly. Verstappen became World Champion again in Japan with four races remaining. The tactics employed by the team attracted the ire of the Tifosi, who believed that the F1-75 ( Ferrari's car in 2022 ) had the potential to win both titles. Despite several pole positions bagged on Saturday, both drivers failed to convert these into wins on Sunday. Leclerc ended the season in P2, 146 points adrift of Verstappen, narrowly beating Sergio Perez. Sainz had a more humbling season with 246 points and P5 in the Drivers' Championship. Ferrari managed to prevail over Mercedes, with 39 points separating the two teams at the end of the season.
2022 was "what could have been" for Ferrari. Mattia Binotto, the Team Principal, faced a lot of flak and parted ways with the team at the end of the year. Ferrari has appointed Alfa Romeo F1 Orlen Team Principal Fredric Vasseur to spearhead their charge in 2023. Will he be the answer to securing the title that has been eluding Ferrari for 14 years? Time will tell.
Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team :
Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 changed its driver lineup for 2022 by bringing in its protegee George Russell from Williams Racing to partner Lewis Hamilton. The 2021 Abu Dhabi GP fiasco made Hamilton and Mercedes return with renewed vigour to challenge for the title. The team returned to its original "Silver Arrows" livery for 2022.
Mercedes had been the undisputed king of the Turbo Era, winning eight consecutive Constructors' Championships. However, the latest technical regulations overhaul left Mercedes' W13 with severe balance and porpoising issues. The car was more than a handful to drive, and Russell seemed to adjust to it better than Hamilton. The new Power Unit was also short on performance, adding to Mercedes' woes. The customer teams also struggled with outright pace. The team made several changes to reduce drag on the car, and things seemed to improve in the latter half of the season. The only silver lining in 2022 was the robustness and reliability exhibited by the machinery. Barring Hamilton's retirement in the season finale, there had been no other mechanical failure on either car. Reliability would become a base to build from for 2023.
In the intra-team battle, new arrival Russell got the better of Hamilton. Russell also secured his first win in F1 at the Brazilian GP. The Briton scored seven podiums, besides twelve other finishes in the top 10. Russell, who earned the nickname of Mr Saturday in 2021, got rechristened as Mr Consistent for his performances on race days in 2022. Russell bagged P4 in the Drivers' Standings with 275 points, beating Carlos Sainz Jr, who was in a quicker but unreliable Ferrari.
As for Hamilton, 2022 was a season to forget. Despite his best efforts, the most successful driver in F1 history went winless in 2022, his first-ever season such as this. He did get close to winning the race in Brazil, but Russell held on to the lead despite unrelenting pressure. Hamilton had nine podiums and ten other finishes in the top 10 that placed him P6 in the standings, on 240 points, six short of Carlos Sainz Jr's tally.
Mercedes finished 2022 as the third-best team with 515 points after reducing the deficit to Ferrari in the 2nd half.
Alpine F1 Team :
Alpine F1 finished P4 in the Constructor Standings with 173 points, edging McLaren after a topsy-turvy battle. The Enstone-based team looked to Esteban Ocon and Fernando Alonso for success, and the duo helped the team do better than in 2021.
Ocon won the intra-team battle, but it wasn't as straightforward as it looked. Alonso suffered more retirements due to unreliable machinery, making his displeasure known quite often on and off the track. Only 11 points separated the two teammates in P8 and P9, with Ocon securing his best finish in P4 in Japan. The Frenchman finished in the top 10 in 15 other races. As for Alonso, P5 was his best finish at Silverstone, Belgium and Sao Paulo. Besides these, he had 12 more results in the top 10.
Both drivers had been consistent as long as the machinery under them was reliable. However, Alpine's plan of fighting at the sharp end of the grid hasn't reached fruition. With Gasly coming in to replace Alonso for 2023, the all-French team would hope to inch closer to the top. Alpine has the resources as a works team, and bringing success to the table is imperative for the future.
McLaren F1 Team :
McLaren, the 2nd oldest team on the grid, had a disappointing 2022. They got beaten by Alpine and had to settle for P5 in the Constructors Standings with 159 points. Lando Norris and Daniel Ricciardo had contrasting seasons, with the latter suffering from the handling of the car all season. The team scored an unlikely P3 with Norris at Imola, their only podium finish of 2022.
Norris scored most of the points, finishing P7 in the Drivers' Championship with a tally of 122. Besides the P3 at Imola, the Briton finished in the top 10 in every race bar five, which included two retirements. Meanwhile, Ricciardo managed a meagre 37, finishing P11 in the standings, tied with Vettel. The Australian's best result was P5 at Singapore, besides six other finishes in the top 10. The gulf of performance between the two drivers cost the team dearly, and Ricciardo eventually fell out of favour with the team.
There have been changes at the Woking-based outfit, with Ricciardo replaced by fellow Australian and the 2021 F2 Champion Oscar Piastri. Andreas Seidl bid farewell to the team, and Andrea Stella got promoted to Team Principal for 2023. Will the changes bode well for McLaren? Time will reveal all!
Alfa Romeo F1 Team Orlen :
Alfa Romeo sported an all-new Driver Lineup for 2022. While Kimi Raikkonen retired from the sport, the team parted ways with Antonio Giovinazzi, which paved the way for Zhou Guanyu, a Chinese F2 driver, to leap into the big league. As for the seat vacated by Raikkonen, the team secured the services of Valtteri Bottas, who left the Mercedes AMG F1 team after a five-year stint.
With the assistance of an upgraded Ferrari power unit, Alfa Romeo experienced a drastic change of fortunes in 2022. The team finished P6 in the Constructor Standings, level on points with Aston Martin, but placed higher due to a better finish at the races.
Bottas finished P10 in the Driver Standings with 49 points to his name. The Finn's best result was P5 in Imola, fending off a challenge by Leclerc in that race. He also had eight other finishes in the points.
On the other hand, Zhou scored only 6 points in his rookie year with two 10th-place finishes in Bahrain and Italy, along with a P8 in Canada. The Chinese driver needs to improve his performance in 2023 if he wishes to hold onto his seat.
With the arrival of Andreas Seidl as the CEO in 2023 and the announcement that Sauber will become an Audi Works team in 2026, the future looks promising!
Aston Martin Aramco Cognizant F1 Team :
Sebastian Vettel and Lance Stroll renewed their partnership at Aston Martin for 2023. The Silverstone-based outfit fared poorly in 2022, ending the season level on points with Alfa Romeo Racing F1 Orlen ( 55 points ) but got placed lower due to a better finish for Alfa Romeo. An underperforming Mercedes Power Unit didn't help either, as the AMR22 suffered from a lack of performance and balance issues throughout the season.
In the intra-team battle, Vettel outscored his younger teammate with ten top-ten finishes, P6 being his best result at Azerbaijan and Singapore. The four-time World Champion missed the first two races due to Covid-19 but still managed to bag P12 in the Drivers' Standings with 37 points, tied with Daniel Ricciardo. He got replaced by Reserve Driver Nico Hulkenberg, who finished P17 and P12 in the first two rounds.
As for Stroll, the Canadian had eight finishes in the points ( majorly P10 ), with P6 in Singapore being his best result.
It was a humbling 2022 for Aston Martin, having failed to compete regularly in the midfield. The saving grace, more often than not, was their pit-stop strategies. With Vettel hanging his boots, the team needed an equally talented driver to lead the charge in 2023. Fernando Alonso decided to switch over from Alpine, and it will be interesting to see how the Spaniard adjusts to his new life at Aston Martin.
Haas F1 Team :
2022 was an eventful season for Haas F1 Team. The team kickstarted its pre-season testing with Nikita Mazepin and Mick Schumacher. However, after Russia invaded Ukraine, the sporting world took drastic measures, isolating Russian athletes. Haas F1 team followed suit and parted ways with Mazepin and its title sponsor, Uralkali, a Russian Fertilizer company owned by Mazepin Senior.
There was uncertainty surrounding the team's future, but Haas F1 weathered the storm and re-hired an old accomplice in Kevin Magnussen! The Dane made an unlikely return to the sport, having plied his trade in North America in 2021. The decision paid dividends as Magnussen scored double the points Schumacher managed and was instrumental in securing P8 in the Constructors' Championship for Haas F1. It was a more fruitful first half of the season, with five finishes in the top 10 to one in the latter half. P5 at the season opener in Bahrain was Magnussen's best finish. The Dane finished the season on 22 points, P13 in the Drivers' Standings.
Schumacher, meanwhile, had only two finishes in the points, P8 in Silverstone and P6 in Austria. The German driver was level on points with Tsunoda but placed higher ( P16 ) due to a better finish in 2022.
Haas F1 managed to outscore Alpha Tauri to secure P8 in the Constructors' Championship, a stark improvement from a point-less 2021. The upgraded Ferrari engine played a pivotal role in improving their performances in 2022.
The top brass at Haas F1 saw it necessary to replace Schumacher after an under-whelming year, and Nico Hulkenberg got the callup for 2023.
Scuderia Alpha Tauri F1 Team :
Scuderia Alpha Tauri, Red Bull's B Team, retained the services of Pierre Gasly and Yuki Tsunoda for 2022. 2022 was a baptism by fire for the Italian-based outfit, the team finishing a lowly P9 with only 35 points, two shy of Haas F1 Team.
Gasly outshone Tsunoda again, finishing in the points in 6 races, with P5 being his best result in Azerbaijan. The Frenchman was P14 in the Drivers' Championship with 23 points. As for Tsunoda, P7 in Imola was his best result, besides point finishes in 3 other races. The Japanese driver scored 12 points, finishing P17 in the Standings, level on points with Mick Schumacher.
Scuderia Alpha Tauri needs to arrest its downward spiral, and the team should hope for a better outing in 2023. The arrival of Nyck De Vries, who replaces the outgoing Pierre Gasly, is a welcome change within the team's ranks.
Williams Racing F1 Team :
Williams Racing hired Alexander Albon to partner with Nicolas Latifi for the 2022 season after losing George Russell to the Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team. The team hoped to maintain its momentum after a strong showing in 2021. However, with the overhaul of technical regulations with a not-so-quick Mercedes engine, the team struggled to replicate its performances from the previous season.
The team scored a meagre 8 points in 2022, with Albon securing two 10th-place finishes in Australia & Belgium and P9 in Miami. As for Latifi, P9 in Japan fetched him 2 points. Albon got hit with Covid-19, which allowed Nyck De Vries to step in for him in Italy, securing P9 on his F1 debut!
Williams finished the season in P10 and last, 27 points adrift of Scuderia Alpha Tauri. With the appointment of James Vowles as its new Team Principal for 2023, along with their protegee Logan Sargeant, who replaces Latifi, the team hopes to give its fans and sponsors a stronger showing.
2022 was a great year for F1. The FIA achieved its goal of improving wheel-to-wheel racing with hard-fought battles at several races. Verstappen and Red Bull enjoyed a clean sweep, and deservedly so. Although Ferrari faltered in its challenge, it formed a base to build on for 2023. Mercedes could manage only one win in 2022, but reliability was its forte, and with performance gains over the winter, the kings of the Turbo Era might reclaim the crown in 2023.
It was sad to see Sebastian Vettel say goodbye to the sport. He was instrumental in bringing Red Bull to the top, not to forget his stellar drives at Ferrari and Aston Martin. Here is wishing him a happy & restful retired life! F1 lost two icons, Raikkonen, and Vettel, in 2021 and 2022, but as the old guard leaves, new legends will be born!
With the changes in personnel and a Team Principal merry-go-round that unfolded over the winter, 2023 promises to be an exciting prospect for everyone throughout the grid.
2022 saw the Dutch Lion reign supreme again with his beloved Red Bull. Will the "Prancing Horses" challenge him, or will the "Silver Arrows" hit the jackpot in 2023? Could a new contender be joining the fight?
Bring on 2023!