It’s time for the Formula 1 drivers to turn off their engines because the 2022 season has just ended.
This year, the sport changed – a lot. New regulations were introduced, including a different car design and a budget cap.
The hope was that these changes would lead to closer wheel-to-wheel racing, and that the budget cap could help level the playing field.
Since the season has ended, we can now say that the regulations haven’t lived up to all their promises, but that doesn’t mean the fans didn’t get to see good action on track.
So let’s check this year’s season highlights!
Last year, the championship battle ended at the last race, at the very last corner, with Max Verstappen being crowned champion. Many discussed whether or not Verstappen deserved that title, and if Lewis Hamilton was robbed of his 8th World Title.
The fact is: Max won, and he did again. At the Japan Grand Prix, in Suzuka, after another controversial – and soaked – race, he popped the champagne bottle on the podium to celebrate his second championship.
Due to the weather, the race in Suzuka, the first one in the country since the pandemic started in 2020, had to be shortened, ending in 28 laps rather than 53. Verstappen finished 1st, his teammate Sergio Pérez 2nd, and the Ferrari of Charles Leclerc 3rd.
Although Max won the race, many thought he wouldn’t get the amount of points necessary to be champion. Even Max didn’t know he had won the title until a few minutes before they got to the podium.
Why is that, you ask? Last year, the Belgian GP was also a soaked and uncompleted race, the difference is that only 3 of 44 laps were done, and the points were cut in half. This year, they changed the regulations.
For races that complete 25% of their predicted distance, the winner receives 13 points; if they go over 50%, that’s 19 points; and more than 75% of their distance, it’s full points.
Since 28 laps of the Japanese Grand Prix were done, which means 52% of the original distance, everyone thought Verstappen would get 19 points, Pérez 14, and Leclerc 12 to complete the podium.
If that had been the case, Max would still miss the title by one point, because Pérez and Leclerc could still be champions.
But according to the FIA, that system of awarding points it’s only valid when a race has to be suspended.
In Suzuka, even though all 52 laps weren’t completed, the race wasn’t suspended, and the drivers saw the checkered flag at the end. That’s why Max Verstappen got full points, therefore winning the championship.
Bahrain Grand Prix
The first race of the season. The beginning of a new era. Different cars, different drivers, and the promise of wheel-to-wheel battles.
Turns out, Bahrain was a great way to start the season. On Sunday we got to see the reigning champion, Max Verstappen, racing against Ferrari’s golden boy, Charles Leclerc, which offered a glimpse of what was to come for the rest of the year.
Throughout many laps, the fans got to see both drivers overtaking each other again and again to take the lead, making for a great battle.
But that ended when mechanical problems caused both Red Bull cars to retire, giving Charles Leclerc his first win since 2019, and his teammate Carlos Sainz 2nd place, making a Ferrari one-two.
British Grand Prix
Silverstone is one of the fastest tracks on the calendar and is one race that never disappoints.
At the start, a scary incident happened after George Russell touched Guanyu Zhou, whose car flipped upside down and then slid into the barriers. That reminded us all of the importance of the halo in Formula 1.
The race was red-flagged so that the marshals could get Zhou out of the car. Once it was known that Zhou was okay, the damage was cleaned and the race restarted.
In the beginning, the battle at the front was between Verstappen, Leclerc, Hamilton, and Sainz. But Verstappen ran over debris which caused damage to his car and he couldn’t hold the lead anymore.
With 14 laps to go, Esteban Ocon stopped on the side of the track with an issue in his car, and the safety car had to come to the track.
While everyone was pitting for fresher tires, Ferrari decided not to pit Charles Leclerc, who was leading the race, which proved not to be a good decision when the race restarted.
Now, what made this race one of the highlights of the 2022 season is what happened after the restart.
Sainz took the lead, but Leclerc, Hamilton, and Pérez were the main characters throughout the last 10 laps. Pérez passed Hamilton, who was third, and then started to hunt for Leclerc.
Just a few laps later, Pérez reached Leclerc, and while both drivers were battling for second place, Hamilton overtook both of them in one move, making the home crowd go crazy.
In the same lap, Pérez and Leclerc passed Hamilton again, taking him out of the top 3. Pérez then distanced himself from them, and let the two drivers battle for third.
On lap 48 Hamilton and Leclerc changed positions in almost every corner, until Hamilton was able to use his DRS to get into third, staying in the position for the rest of the race.
Again, Silverstone didn’t disappoint its home crowd, nor the fans that were watching from home. This race definitely fulfilled all the promises of the new regulations.
Austrian Grand Prix
The Austrian Grand Prix is also a race to remember from the 2022 season.
Starting with the sprint race, when Lewis Hamilton and Mick Schumacher fought during the final laps for eighth position, and despite being a Mercedes against a Haas, Schumacher defended very well, but ended up being overtaken by the British driver.
On Sunday, while that battle continued, Leclerc and Verstappen fought up front, and the Ferrari driver overtook the pole sitter to win the race.
Once again, we got to see more wheel-to-wheel racing. Lando Norris, Fernando Alonso, Guanyu Zhou, Kevin Magnussen and Mick Schumacher gave us a few corners of entertainment while they fought for eight place. Somehow, they all avoided contact, which made the battle more exciting.
Charles Leclerc won the race, making it his third victory of the season, which ended up being his last for the rest of the year. Max Verstappen finished 2nd, and Lewis Hamilton completed the podium in 3rd.
Brazilian Grand Prix
Brazil is always a nice surprise at the end of the season. Starting on qualifying day, when Kevin Magnussen put his Haas on pole for the first time in his Formula 1 career, making every Brazilian in Interlagos scream: “Magnussen! Magnussen!”.
Saturday, the sprint race. Lewis Hamilton, who started from P8, finished the race in third place, and his teammate, fellow Briton George Russell, finished first. Carlos Sainz was second but received a five-place penalty due to an engine component change, so Mercedes closed the front row for Sunday’s grid.
Finally, race day. The start was clean, and Russell maintained the lead. On the first lap, however, we had the first appearance of the safety car. In an attempt to overtake, Daniel Ricciardo ended up touching Kevin Magnussen, who spun and touched the Australian back, causing both to retire from the race.
Right after resuming, Verstappen and Hamilton relieved moments from the battle for the 2021 world title. The two had an incident generating a broken wing for the Dutchman and a five-second penalty for touching Hamilton.
Then, another incident. As Charles Leclerc overtook Lando Norris, the McLaren driver touched Leclerc’s Ferrari, which ended up on the wall. Still, he managed to get back on track, and continue his race.
On lap 52, Norris abandoned the race, and the safety car appeared again, and the race was resumed only on lap 60, of 71 in total.
The checkered flag waved, and the first to see it was 24-year-old George Russell. It was his first victory in Formula 1, and this achievement was further marked by the presence of his teammate, the seven-time world champion, Lewis Hamilton.
The last race of the season, in Abu Dhabi, was also the last race of Sebastian Vettel, who announced at the Hungarian Grand Prix that he will not be on the Formula 1 grid next year.
But you never really believe until it happens. From the very beginning, the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix was emotional.
On Thursday night, all 20 F1 drivers had dinner together, putting the rivalries aside to celebrate Sebastian Vettel’s career.
Vettel is a big name in the history of the sport, he has won 53 races and four titles. Besides his achievements on track, Seb is a very dear member of the Formula 1 community and will be missed next season.
On Saturday after qualifying, Sebastian Vettel organized a track run and invited the F1 paddock to join him ahead of his final F1 race.
Special t-shirts were designed and distributed by Formula 1 with the message “Danke, Seb” (Thank you, Seb), while Vettel wore his own shirt saying “Danke F1”.
Over one hundred people attended the run, including drivers Charles Leclerc and Mick Schumacher, and even Stefano Domenicali, the CEO of Formula 1, was there for Vettel.
In the end, Sebastian did a short speech thanking everyone: “Thank you, Formula One, for all these years, and thank you to all of you for coming together. I thought it would be a nice idea to invite everyone along.”
On Sunday, after the race was finished, Max Verstappen, who won the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Charles Leclerc, who finished 2nd and Sergio Pérez, 3rd, got to do ‘donuts’ in the finish line.
After that, as a nice gesture of farewell to Vettel, he was also conceived with the permission to do ‘donuts’.
And that’s it. Another season of Formula 1 has come to an end.
Next year we won’t have the four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel driving a Formula 1 car, and it will be different not to see him after 15 years competing in this sport. But he will always be remembered by the marks he left on and off the track.
The article above was edited by Julia Queiroz.
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