The 2022 season in which a new regulation came into force ended with the same winner as in 2021, but in a much more overwhelming way
Whoever sees the final classification of the 2022 Formula 1 season will be able to clearly detect a reality: Max Verstappen has swept. In a campaign of 22 races (they were going to be 23, but the Russian GP fell due to the war), in which a new regulation came into force that was intended to make the races more exciting and in which the cars were going to be able to be shuffled Regarding his conditions for the title, the Dutchman was once again the winner. Anyone who did not watch each and every race might mistakenly believe that it has been a boring season.
And it is that the year that closed in Abu Dhabi began with Ferrari in front. Charles Leclerc and the Scuderia seemed unstoppable, the management work was perfect and even Carlos Sainz himself seemed surprised. It seemed like a repetition of what had been yearning for so many years since Maranello: the empire of Michael Schumacher. However, to paraphrase a certain soccer columnist during the World Cup in Qatar, Ferrari is Ferrari and it showed it during the almost nine months that the championship lasted.
The chaotic decisions he made, both strategic and the evolution of an undeniable winning car, weighed down Leclerc’s options, who very soon found himself plunged into the desperate reality of the Italian team. Ferrari’s cyclothymic performances also weighed down Carlos Sainz, who even having achieved his first pole positions and his first victory, had to pull the car more times than he would have liked. That ‘Stop inventing’ that he dedicated to his team at Silverstone, a circuit for which he already has a place forever in his heart, earned him the respect and admiration of those who feared a certain ‘Barrichellization’ of the man from Madrid.
Although by far, Ferrari was the only squad that could put Red Bull in check. Especially on Saturdays, when Leclerc was left with nine pole positions. of which he only achieved three victories. And that thanks to the fact that Mercedes made a serious stumble from which she did not get up until the end.
As in all births, especially first-time ones, the birth of what would later be an unbeatable car like the Red Bull RB18 came with problems. Verstappen became the driver with the most victories in a season, 15, to which must be added the two for Sergio Pérez, with whom the sparks would fly in Brazil. The relationship between the two runners forced, somewhat unexpectedly, the bosses to publicly and privately scold the two-time world champion for his lack of camaraderie with the Mexican, devastated pound for pound by the Dutchman, but who fought – and lost- for runner-up until the last race.
But if there is a losing team in the noble zone of the grid, it is Mercedes. The former dictator opted for a very risky interpretation of the new regulations to create a W13 without sidepods. His car was literally the only one that didn’t have those fancy air intakes that other teams kept, albeit modified, to carve out a new development path that might pay off later on.
The hand of the FIA
The big loser for making that decision was Lewis Hamilton. For the first time in his sports career, he has closed a year in Formula 1 without a victory, something that his teammate George Russell, dubbed ‘Mr. Consistency’ for his great regularity, did achieve. He did it in Brazil, already at the end of the campaign, but it helped him to finish the season ahead of the seven-time world champion himself. For the first time, and against a newcomer to the team, Hamilton has not drunk from the top of the podium.
To a large extent, these performance problems were a consequence of the new regulations, which brought back an old enemy: ‘porpoising’. The pitching of the cars as a symptom of ground effect in the single-seaters was a nightmare for the engineers and even a risk to the health of the drivers, which made the FIA allow the nose to be raised slightly by regulation. Since then, the Mercedes (among other teams) have gone up.
The midfield got a little more mixed up, with Alpine one of the teams that generated the most action. The internal fights on the wall of the French team, the chaotic management of Otmar Szafnauer and the weariness of Fernando Alonso, who found himself expelled from the team due to a clear lack of affection and respect from those responsible for him, ended up weighing down the options. Neither better nor worse. Just the same as in 2021 but a little further from the podium and much more from the victories. The project was unsuccessful and the feeling that it could soon implode completely is increasingly hot in everyone’s minds.
2022 was also the season in which a sports career like Sebastian Vettel’s ended. The German has let go of his claiming hair and will no longer have to control (what little he did) his words. His retirement opened the door for Alonso to Aston Martin in 2023, what may be a memorable campaign.
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