Tuesday, August 2, 2022, 7:00 a.m.
Ferrari’s Formula One strategy is a disaster. (Photo courtesy of Dan Mullan/Getty Images) )
The Formula 1 class of 2022 is on summer break, much like a group of schoolchildren. We’ve seen brilliant solo drives, atrocious strategy costing leaders, and superb overtaking, but here are our four takeaways as the series heads into a month-long break.
Classy to the extreme
Given the circumstances surrounding his victory, Max Verstappen’s first championship will always be remembered as contentious. However, the Dutchman is well on his way to a second title this year, and it is difficult to argue that it is not deserved.
Verstappen leads title rival Charles Leclerc by 80 points and, barring technical issues from Red Bull, does not appear to be catching up.
His win in Hungary on Sunday from 10th on the grid was arguably his best drive of the season. The only blemish on his record would be related to his fans, some of whom have received criticism for their behavior in Austria and elsewhere.
His racing with Leclerc in the early part of the season was brilliant, a far cry from his over-aggression against Lewis Hamilton last year.
Verstappen is flying this year, and with Red Bull likely to improve their car during the break, the title appears to be his to lose in the final few races.
Formula for Limping
In the individual standings, Ferrari should undoubtedly have Leclerc much closer to Verstappen.
The Monegasque driver has been let down by his team’s strategic and technical failures, as well as his own mistakes – he has lost more than 30 points this season due to individual errors alone.
Ferrari hasn’t been in a realistic position to win the drivers’ championship since 2017, and that could change this year.
A lack of experience at the business end of races, where every decision counts, has cost Leclerc, but he hasn’t helped himself either.
However, after a period away from the top battles, it will be a relief to see the Prancing Horse return to battling for constructors titles.
Riders and Runners
The summer break usually coincides with the sport’s unofficial transfer window, during which drivers announce their futures and teams announce their line-ups for the following season.
This year, Sebastian Vettel announced his retirement from racing last week, and Fernando Alonso will take his place at Aston Martin.
The four-time German champion will leave a lasting impression on the sport, both on and off the track. There is a strong possibility that Alonso’s move will be his final in Formula One.
The big three – Ferrari, Mercedes, and Red Bull – will remain the same in 2023, but there will be uncertainty elsewhere.
Valtteri Bottas, Pierre Gasly, and Esteban Ocon are all without a confirmed partner for next year at Alfa Romeo.
Williams has yet to announce a driver for the 2019 season.
McLaren’s enigmatic formula
They were extremely strong during the pre-season testing phase of the season, but McLaren has been unable to translate that form into race pace since then.
The Papaya team would have preferred to be in a battle with Alpine for fourth place in the constructors’ standings at this point in the season, and it’s difficult to see any level of summer development significantly changing their fortunes.
The team may therefore have already turned their attention towards next year’s car and, with a settled line-up, despite rumours, they’ll no doubt hope to hold onto fourth and bank a handsome payout. They, like Aston Martin, will be disappointed with the first half of the season given the amount of emphasis placed on this year’s car due to the volume of rule changes.
The summer break offers teams a chance to develop cars, drivers a chance to reset and reinvigorate, and a chance for fans to have a breather before a packed run in towards Abu Dhabi this winter.