Welcome to our Fantastic Formula 1 Summer Special of 2022! Here at F1ntastic, we wanted to bring a special feature as we arrived at the summer break for the 2022 F1 Season. This year has been an incredibly memorable one for a plethora of reasons. And as we accelerate into the 2nd part of the season, it’s time to reflect on the enthralling first half of the season. Although technically, the halfway point was after Round 11 was completed, which was the 2022 Austrian Grand Prix.
I’m sure I’m not the only one who’s been hit with the realization that there are only 9 races left in 2022! It’s quite astonishing when I think about the anticipation that echoed around the F1 world at the dawn of this new era of Formula 1. It feels like yesterday I was watching that oddly named pre-season “track session” in Barcelona. I remember eagerly awaiting the season opener in Bahrain. Witnessing a new era of Formula 1 begin was simply fascinating. And now here we are, in the month of August, with 13 races down.
In the 2022 F1 Summer Special, we’re going to analyse key aspects of the 2022 F1 Season. For F1 to survive, they need to entertain the fans. Formula 1 as a sport cannot grow or sustain as a sport without entertaining fans and viewers. In 2022, F1 has clearly taken steps forward in terms of enriching the spectacle. I’m going to analyse and explain how the sensational spectacle lives on.
Next, we’re going to delve into the titanic battle of the Top 3. For the first time since 2019, we have 3 teams that are in it to win it. And in 2022, the 3-way battle is quite unique. After that, we’ll deconstruct that complex midfield, and compare performances over the course of the season. Unlike in previous years, there’s no set difference between the midfield and backmarkers, which has contributed to the excitement this year.
Last but certainly not least is probably the section I’m looking most forward to writing. The predictions for the 2nd part of the 2022 F1 Season. After watching F1 for over 5 years, if there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that anything can happen in Formula 1. This is, of course, heavily influenced by the events of the 2021 F1 season. But after 13 races, I’m ready to take the leap of faith and make some predictions of what we’re going to see in the 2nd part of the season.
The Sensational Spectacle Lives On
As I mentioned earlier, to survive as a sport, F1 needs to entertain fans. In 2022, Formula 1 has achieved more than that. F1 has expanded significantly, and that is evident in the quality and the quantity of the racing this year. First of all, a new era of F1 has began. An era where the cars have been designed for closer racing, and where the teams and drivers are encouraged to compete closely. And on top of that, fans are being treated to more racing with the Sprint weekends.
In all honesty, some of the races this year have reminded me why I started watching F1 in the first place. Those edge-of-your-seat moments. The adrenaline rush as the cars go toe-to-toe through corners. That’s what makes F1 special. I’m proud to say that in Formula 1 this year, that thrilling action was plentiful. But that’s not all. There are even more factors as to why this season so far has been sensational. Take a look at the infographic below. These are what have made this 2022 season special, and how it’s been a very healthy year for the sport.
The Blockbuster Battle Of The Titans
One of the most crucial features of the 2022 Formula 1 Season is that for the first time since 2019, we have 3 top teams! In the 2 years before 2022, F1 only had 2 top teams because of Ferrari’s fall. In 2020 it was even worse because Red Bull were nowhere near competing with Mercedes for the championship.
And in 2021, we were blessed with a title fight both in the constructors’ and the drivers’ championship. This year, it’s even better, because we have 3 top teams. They are, of course, Red Bull, Ferrari and Mercedes. And Red Bull and Ferrari have successfully overthrown Mercedes, which they weren’t able to do throughout the previous era of F1.
In the graph above, we can clearly see the progression of the top teams’ performances through the first 13 races of the season. Look at how after the first 3 rounds Ferrari had built a comfortable gap. Compare that to the standings now, where Ferrari stand nearly 100 points behind Red Bull. The way Red Bull just picked up the pace after a rough start and consistently scored big points every race. That upward trajectory is something that Ferrari have failed to achieve.
Observe how inconsistent Ferrari’s progression is, as compared to how both Mercedes and Red Bull consistently gained points at every race. Mercedes aren’t doing well as compared to previous seasons, but they’ve very much remained a top team thanks to frequent podiums. While winning the championship is a bit of a long shot given their car performance and the fact that they’re yet to secure a race win, I think that they’re definitely going to try and give Ferrari a run for their money. It’s not an easy task; Ferrari have a superior car and fantastic drivers.
However, Ferrari simply don’t have any consistency. And why is this the case? Well, the answer is pretty clear. Ferrari have brought this upon themselves. Let’s relive some of the key events this year. Azerbaijan. Spain. Austria. At these races, Ferrari faced engine failures. It’s disastrous that the engines that they are manufacturing failed to make the chequered flag multiple times. Compounded with the mechanical issues, there are major mistakes that Ferrari made that cost them crucial points.
Monaco. Britain. Hungary. 3 races that still haunt me as a Ferrari fan. Do you know what those 3 races have in common? It’s that in all of them Ferrari made blatantly incorrect strategy calls that cost Charles Leclerc a race win. I’m being very harsh on Ferrari, but unfortunately, this is the truth. If they are more consistent and stop making errors, then they can get a good grip on the constructors’ championship. We’re talking about the greatest team in Formula 1 history. It’s incredibly surprising that they’ve repeatedly made these mistakes. However, given how they’re such a great organization, I still have hope that they can pull out the stops and do what it takes to win the championship.
Along with 3 teams fighting for the constructors’ championship, we have 3 main drivers campaigning for the drivers’ championship. Verstappen, Leclerc and Perez. The dynamic between these 3 drivers is quite different to anything we’ve seen in recent years. First we have Max Verstappen, the reigning World Champion. He’s in a very comfortable position right now, with a daunting 80-point lead in the standings.
He’s coming into this season with a very different mentality. Last year, Verstappen was willing to push beyond boundaries. That intense hunger for the first drivers’ world championship was there. His relentless aggressiveness and drive to win the title was fueled by that hunger. And, of course, Max Verstappen did win that championship after the controversial season finale.
This year, it’s a very different situation. Verstappen’s now a World Champion. He’s calmer, more controlled. He knows what he needs to do to win the championship and is no longer the young challenger that’s taking the fight to the experienced 7-time champ. A driver takes a very different outlook when they’re defending a title as compared to when they’re chasing one.
Charles Leclerc is now the driver chasing the title. For the Monegasque driver, it’s a very different situation. He has the hunger to get that first title, but it’s quite different to Verstappen’s. Leclerc is very different as a driver and person. Leclerc is not as bluntly aggressive as Verstappen; he’s quite relaxed off the track, but once he’s in the cockpit, he’s going to do whatever he has to do to win. He’ll go out on to the track and drive the wheels off his car. He’s also fairly aggressive, but in a more measured and controlled way as compared to Verstappen. He doesn’t display the same reckless image that Verstappen has gained over the past few years.
Another noticeable difference with Leclerc is that compared to Verstappen, he’s had a lot more setbacks. Look at the graph above. This shows the title protagonists’ progression over the course of the season. Look at the difference between Leclerc and Verstappen. Leclerc is struggling with more retirements and an overall inconsistent season, whereas Verstappen just keeps on steaming ahead.
This is because of one main reason. And that is, Leclerc doesn’t have the proper backing from Ferrari. The Scuderia have ruined multiple races for Leclerc with either painfully poor strategy calls, or poor reliability. Of course, I can’t ignore that Leclerc himself has made mistakes, like in France and Imola. However, that doesn’t excuse Ferrari’s mistakes, and how those have hurt Leclerc’s title chances.
In fact, Leclerc’s had so many setbacks that he’s only 5 points ahead of Sergio Perez in the standings. It’s clear that Perez is having the best season that he’s ever had in Formula 1. He’s much more comfortable with the Red Bull car and is performing at a much higher level than last year. He’s less than 20 points away from his points total of 2021!
Perez is not sitting back as a 2nd driver anymore. He’s trying to go for the title, and he deserves the chance after how much of a team player he was last year. With 1 race win and 6 podiums already, he’s doing a fantastic job. He’s combining consistency with raw pace to score enough points to stay in the championship fight.
Although Verstappen is absolutely flying away with the championship, Perez and Leclerc still very much remain as championship protagonists. I think given his car, if Leclerc and Ferrari avoid mistakes, they can overcome Verstappen by the end of the year. For Perez, it’s a little more complicated, since he not only has to beat his incredibly quick teammate, but his team is unlikely to back him given how much they favor Verstappen.
The Complex Midfield Mix
The midfield is notoriously complex, but I believe that this year, it’s on another level. In the graph above, we can see the progression of 7 F1 Teams this year. These are the teams that are not considered top teams. Unlike last year, there’s no clear divide between the midfield and the bottom 3 teams. Instead, it’s a little more complicated. If you look at the standings from last year, there was a 50-point gap between Aston Martin in P7, and Williams in P8. However, this year, the points gaps are quite unique.
We can see that there is a major points gap between McLaren and Alfa Romeo. This makes a clear distinction and shows that McLaren and Alpine are currently in a different league compared to the rest of the midfield. Those are the teams that are consistently scoring points. Their drivers are finishing right behind the Top 6 each race. The Top 6, of course, are the 6 drivers from the 3 top teams. McLaren vs Alpine reminds me of how in 2018 teams like Haas and Renault were batting to finish right behind or sometimes even in the Top 6.
While that tight battle takes place, Alfa Romeo are sitting in no man’s land. They’re in P6 with a 44-point gap ahead and a 17-point gap behind. In the midfield, 17 points is a fairly considerable gap, since midfield teams don’t gain points as easily as top teams do. Since Alfa are in this position, it’s unlikely that their championship position will change. Besides, the team behind Alfa Romeo is Haas, and Haas will be preoccupied with a different championship battles. That’s because Haas is part of a 3-way battle with AlphaTauri and Aston Martin.
Those 3 teams stand within 14 points in the championship, meaning P7 is very much up for grabs. I’m intrigued to see how Haas try to maintain this position, because I believe they have the pace to finish in P7. But at the same time, Aston Martin are consistently scoring points, and AlphaTauri only need one or two exceptional performances to catch up or beat Haas. This battle is something I can’t wait to watch.
And lastly, we have on team that’s at the bottom of the table. It’s no longer a bottom 3, because Williams are 17 points behind Aston Martin. As you can see, points don’t come by very often at all for Williams. They’ve only scored 3 points so far this season, and those are all thanks to Alex Albon’s skillful driving. Their car is simply subpar and they are unable to compete with the rest of the teams.
The rest of the teams are competing with each other in this complex midfield battle, but Williams are just getting left behind. It’s fairly unsurprising that Albon has been struggling recently, because he’s forced into a position where he’s carrying the team and is having to pull off exceptional performances just to score some points. With Nicholas Latifi not doing any good for Williams, it’s a tough time for Albon.
Before concluding the midfield topic, I want to refer to a battle that I will never forget. At the 2022 Austrian GP, I witnessed a battle that perfectly displays how complicated and competitive the midfield is. 5-way battle for the last couple of points-paying positions. That means P8-P10 since the Top 10 are the points-paying positions. This battle was a work of art. It was hard evidence of how racing has improved in 2022. The battle started with Alonso and Zhou, but since these cars were close together on track, and since the performance difference wasn’t too large, more cars joined the fight.
These 5 cars were able to successfully battle, and provide entertainment to the fans. This battle also showed that in the midfield this year, performances can vary in certain races, which in turn affects the championship battles alongside the on-track battles themselves. In this situation, a Haas was able to battle an Alpine and a McLaren, but in races like Australia, Haas were in the bottom 5 race finishers. This shows the variability in the midfield this year, and it’s truly fascinating.
Predictions For What Awaits!
It’s finally time for the predictions. 9 races remain. Who will prevail, and who will fail? At this point, there’s no certain answer. If this season has proven anything, it’s that anything can change at any point during the season. Multiple teams’ performances over the course of the first 13 races have proven that. But I’m going to make certain predictions based on teams’ performances both in recent races and from races towards the beginning of the season. Please keep in mind that these predictions will be for entire constructors’ championship.
And on top of that, I’m going to look at the teams’ performances in the upcoming races from the past years. Those performances can be incredibly important. For example, the Spanish GP has been a Mercedes stronghold for the past few years. And although Max Verstappen won the race, George Russell was quite close to bringing home the win this year.
I will present the predictions in the form of 3 infographics. Instead of one infographic displaying my predictions for all 10 teams’ performances, I’ve split it into 3 so that it is easier to read. The first infographic has the predictions for the teams that I think will finish in 8th – 10th. The next one has the finishers from 4th – 7th. And the last one has my predictions for the Top 3 teams.
The Fantastic Formula 1 Summer Special of 2022 has now come to an end. For this summer special, I tried to incorporate more visual features such as infographics and charts, instead of making this a boring old post filled with endless text. It’s been a pleasure working on this project, and I hope everyone enjoyed reading this special post! I can’t wait for the summer break to end, and to see how the teams perform.