It was a brilliant season for the Austrian outfit, as they claimed their first constructors’ title since 2013. It was the perfect start to the new era, and echoed the dominance of the 2011 and 2013 seasons. Their main man Verstappen stormed to the drivers’ title, with a record-breaking 15 wins. Sergio Perez will be disappointed to miss out on 2nd place in the championship, but nevertheless had a decent season with 2 wins, including the all-important Monaco GP.
All in all this meant Red Bull took 17 out of the 22 races this season, including five 1-2s. Will anyone be able to catch them in 2023 or is this the start of a longer period of utter dominance?
The Prancing Horse gallops back to the front
Ferrari had a great start to the season, but quickly fell back and all in all likely were expecting to challenge Verstappen a lot more than they did. Their season was highlighted by continued questionable decision making from the pit wall; many strategy blunders that ultimately cost the team a lot of points. Nevertheless, there were a lot of positive takeaways from 2022, the team bounced back from the previous two midfield years, took a few wins (including Sainz’s first one) and had very good one lap pace, taking pole position at over half of the races! If their race pace improves next year and the strategy team gets its act together, they will be very optimistic about a title challenge in 2023 – like Leclerc hopes.
Struggles for the Silver Arrows
The kings of the turbo-hybrid era found themselves in an unfamiliar position as they lacked the pace behind the top two teams for the majority of the year. While they knew a serious challenge was coming as the new regulations kicked in, Hamilton himself admitted that their initial deficit to RB and Ferrari was much bigger than they expected. While fears set in that throughout the year even the best of the midfield runners might catch up to Mercedes, in the end it was Toto’s boys who quickly climbed back towards the top spots and were once again challenging for the win – their efforts finally paid off with a tidy 1-2 in Brazil. Hamilton will feel disappointed to have failed to win a race in a season for the first time in his career, but numerous valiant podium efforts must be commanded and the car’s late season pace will give the Brit hope that next year he can try and achieve that magical 8th drivers’ title. Then again, teammate and now fresh race-winner George Russel did beat him this year and will be looking towards a title challenge as well.
The divorce at Enstone
Despite finishing a strong fourth in the championship, most of the talk about the Alpine this year had been about the drama. Fernando Alonso was often frustrated with his unreliable machinery and rotten luck, but perhaps even more frustrated about what he perceived as a lack of team discipline. Him and Ocon repeatedly found one another on track and their battles, while entertaining for the crowd, caused a lot of headaches for Otmar Szafnauer. The biggest clown show came in the summer break though, as the Spaniard, unhappy with being offered only a single year of contract extension, announced a move to Aston Martin at the end of the season. He did however leave with a final dig, having waited just long enough so that Alpine’s choice of replacement, Oscar Piastri, was no longer contractually obliged to join, eventually choosing McLaren instead for 2023. The ensuing twitter battles and legal case (!) was incredible comedy-entertainment for all except the thoroughly embarrassed team, who licked their wounds by acquiring Gasly to create an all-French lineup for next season. It shouldn’t be forgotten that despite all the craziness overshadowing it, Alpine did have flashes of strength in 2022. The gap to the top 3 teams is still clearly there, but they have emerged to be the best of the rest and that could be a solid foundation to build on for the future, now with two drivers who are here to stay for the long-term project.
Goodbye to the shoey
With a strong 2021 behind them, including their first win in 9 years, McLaren were expecting to make good use of the new regulations to climb firmly towards the top of the pack. This season has instead been a major let-down; not only has the Woking outfit not made a step forward, they have been caught by Alpine and were often struggling against the rest of the midfield too…
The only flash of light has been Lando Norris, who drove brilliantly in 2022, finishing best of the rest in the championship and being the only non-top team podium finisher.
He was extracting everything and more from a car that was barely above much of the lower midfield. Teammate Ricciardo had an absolute shocker and it is no wonder he has lost his seat. The move to McLaren that promised so much for the Aussie ended up being a nightmare and it is possible we may not see him in F1 again… a real shame if this has been the last season of the funniest driver in the paddock.
A porridge-powered step forward
Alfa Romeo had a very strong start to the season, especially Bottas, who appeared rejuvenated having to no longer be the #2 driver. The second half went less well (only scoring points 3 times in 11 races) and thus they had to settle for sixth in the championship. Nevertheless, it was a clear step forward from last year, Frédéric Vasseur has found himself a solid leading driver, and new man Zhou had a reasonable, if unremarkable, season. All in all, not much to complain about at Alfa.
Legend out, other legend in… will the code to success finally be Kracked?
For Aston Martin, the major stories came from off the track, like the appointment of former Sauber chief engineer (and man with a funny name) Mike Krack as the new team principal, and of course, Sebastian Vettel’s retirement. The 4-time world champion German didn’t find major potential at AM and so he hung up his helmet, leaving us to say goodbye to an all-time legend; the most likeable man in recent F1. In terms of season performance, owner Lawrence Stroll does not yet seem to be receiving great return on his investments, it was yet another dull midfield affair, both Lance Stroll and Vettel had decent performances but there was only so far this car could take them. It’s one multi-world champion out, another one in for 2023; the arrival of Alonso has immense potential for major inter-team drama if a step forward cannot be taken, but if the massive money put into the team finally brings a breakthrough Fernando could be an inspired signing to lead the team closer to the top of the field.
The return of the Viking
Putin’s war in Ukraine gave Gunther Steiner a unique opportunity to get rid of Nikita Mazepin during pre-season, and what a blessing it was. The hastily arranged return of Kevin Magnussen proved triumphant, the Dane taking an incredible 5th place at the season opener, and later an unlikely pole position in Brazil. While Haas did fail to consistently score in 2022, the year was still a marked improvement from the horrors of 2021 and proved that maybe it was the right decision to let last season go – Haas are now once again solid midfield contenders, and the potential is there. Mick Schumacher finally earned his first F1 points, but only scoring at 2 races cost him his seat for 2023.
Instead, we will be getting the spicy Hulkenberg – Magnussen pairing, and hopefully some brilliant scenes for Drive to Survive.
Season to forget for the fashion brand
It has been a very forgettable season for the Red Bull sister team. Pierre Gasly deserves better and will have been delighted to get the call from Alpine. Considering the stellar season Red Bull had, it seems strange for AlphaTauri to have struggled so much, but they got completely stuck in the lower midfield and had no memorable performances or moments at any point. They have secured Nyck de Vries for next season though, it remains to be seen whether a return to consistent point-scoring can be found for 2023,
Backmarkers – the Latifi special
With Haas improving, Williams returned to their familiar backmarker position in 2022, and there is not much that gives their fans hope for the future. Albon did well on his F1 return but in this aerodynamically challenged car, anything more would’ve been a miracle. Nicholas Latifi was hilariously bad, often finishing half a lap behind even second-last, and his overdue exit from the sport has finally arrived, to the chagrin of only the ‘Goatifi’ meme enthusiasts. Super sub Nyck de Vries had a great race at Monza, but was snapped up by AlphaTauri, so the new man will be American Logan Sargeant, but with this current Williams team, Lewis Hamilton himself would struggle to get results…
Image description: model of the new era of F1 cars introduced in the 2022 season