Twenty-two completely different drivers raced in System 1 through the 2022 season, with battles raging all through the sector regardless of the world championship title being wrapped up by Max Verstappen comparatively early.
The Race’s F1 group – Scott Mitchell-Malm, Mark Hughes, Ben Anderson and Edd Straw – intently adopted the progress of each driver this yr and have mixed to create our annual rating listing of the highest 10 drivers of the season.
That is generated via every individually creating their very own listing, then the 4 being mixed to provide you with the general order. This was set utilizing the F1 factors system, with 25 factors awarded for first place, 18 for second, 15 for third and many others. Drivers equal on factors had been separated by countback to finest particular person putting in our particular person lists.
This isn’t about rating the perfect 10 drivers in F1 based mostly on our analysis of their skill, however particularly on their efficiency stage (relative to the out there equipment) over the course of the season.
This takes into consideration myriad components – tempo in qualifying and the race, consistency, price of errors, their response to strain factors, how they progressed via the season and lots of extra.
10 ALEX ALBON
Away from the pressures of being Max Verstappen’s team-mate as a digital rookie, Albon resumed his former trajectory as a driver of nice potential, his very useful flip of pace and his willingness to make daring strikes now mixed with nice consistency and fewer errors.
He led Williams simply as convincingly as George Russell had and his margin over Nicholas Latifi was better (although Latifi did have explicit issues with the ill-balanced FW44). The issue he faces is now one among notion, in that he was changed at Pink Bull by Sergio Perez who has gone on to do the job Albon was unable to.
Whether or not that notion will be supplanted goes to be a query of time and the standard of the equipment Williams gives him with.
This was a make-or-break yr for Albon, one which he entered figuring out he would go away the Pink Bull secure if all the things went properly.
The possibility to safe his F1 future put a whole lot of strain on him to carry out after a season on the sidelines, figuring out his repute had been dented by a tough time as Max Verstappen’s team-mate.
However he proved as much as the duty, main Williams on-track and imposing the teachings he realized in his yr out off-track too.
To paraphrase the group, the affable Albon nonetheless must be extra of a bastard behind the scenes. On-track, although, he did a positive job main it via a tough yr.
Albon had the air of a extra assured, sure driver than he had been through the latter levels of his Pink Bull stint.
It wasn’t simply Albon’s occasional factors finishes in unbelievable circumstances that impressed, but additionally the variety of occasions he produced high-quality drives to, say, twelfth or thirteenth place that few observed.
Alongside the best way, he shifted the main target of the Williams set-up philosophy to focus extra on the entry-phase traits given his willingness to hold on to regardless of the automobile was doing mid-corner offered he acquired that preliminary rotation proper. In doing so, he made Williams his group.
This was a heartening instance of a driver taking a large profession setback of their stride, making good use of the enforced sabbatical, then translating the teachings into an outstanding comeback – so good that Albon earned a longer-term Williams contract.
He frequently hauled the slowest automobile on the grid into locations it didn’t actually belong, and his qualifying performances at Spa and Austin had been really excellent.
OK, he was up in opposition to a comparatively weak team-mate, however for these peaks – plus racing that automobile so constantly close to to the lower-points positions – Albon deserves his place on this listing.
9 SERGIO PEREZ
Perez had a greater yr for Pink Bull. He received twice and made a great contribution to its constructors’ championship success, for which he deserves his share of credit score.
Verstappen is an elite F1 driver, will go down as top-of-the-line in historical past, and that is his group. He units a really excessive bar and Perez did his finest to match it.
Within the course of, Perez proved precisely what Pink Bull wanted in 2022. That’s a great stage to hit. However he did have a barely disappointing season in that he failed to complete second within the championship in the perfect automobile, so underperformed barely versus what was doable.
Few roles are extra draining in F1 than being the help act to an all-time nice team-mate. However Perez battled on at the same time as he discovered it harder to extract the efficiency from the faster – however extra pointy – Pink Bull because the season progressed.
When the automobile was extra front-limited early on, he excelled with an outstanding pole place in Saudi Arabia and his Monaco Grand Prix win.
Perez is solid as quantity two not out of malice, however as a result of that’s his stage relative to Verstappen – and most can be in the identical place. However he did a tough job successfully.
Perez can be a lot larger up this listing if he may in some way have sustained the extent he produced throughout the primary seven-and-a-half races.
However because the Pink Bull grew to become lighter and livelier, Perez fell away from Verstappen’s tempo to an alarming extent.
Singapore (the place Perez was wonderful) offered one thing of arduous reset, and from then on he was again throughout the 0.2-0.4s vary to Max. Nothing particular, however respectable – and extra in step with the place Albon was (in a worse automobile).
It exhibits how powerful it’s to be #2 to a completely elite expertise, even in the perfect automobile.
Two wins is about proper as a help driver in the perfect automobile on the grid. It’s not a shame when the opposite man is Verstappen.
There have been days early-season, when the automobile had the understeer he prefers, the place he was a detailed match. However as quickly because the RB18 developed right into a extra responsive device mid-season, a chasm appeared and it took him time to re-adapt.
His pole lap at Jeddah was beautiful and he may have received had been it not for the unlucky timing of a security automobile. In Singapore he was there to select up the items of Verstappen’s compromised weekend with an ideal under-pressure victory. Monaco possibly was based mostly closely upon his Q3 crash, but when that had been to emerge as having been deliberate – one thing he denies – he was fast sufficient for the plan to work.
8 ESTEBAN OCON
Ocon was the second-best Alpine driver, regardless of what the factors desk suggests. However he was steadily near Alonso’s stage, racked up constant outcomes and at his finest, for instance when holding Hamilton off on his solution to fourth at Suzuka, was formidable.
A delicate driver, there have been occasional weekends when he didn’t really feel at one with the automobile. There have been additionally tracks, akin to Albert Park and Montreal, the place he couldn’t match his team-mate’s startling flip of tempo.
However by and enormous, he was extraordinarily reliable and error-free – albeit keen to sail near the wind in fight with Alonso.
Ocon is relentlessly dedicated to his trigger, to the purpose the place his bodily coaching regime is sort of scary in scope and depth! However he credit this for enhancing him psychologically, in addition to increasing his bandwidth to assist him obtain better consistency behind the wheel.
He was not fairly at Alonso’s stage by way of adaptability and peak efficiency with the automobile at hand – therefore the occasional giant delta (Melbourne, Montreal, Silverstone, Austin) between them – however Ocon gelled fairly properly with this new stiffly-sprung, floor impact iteration of F1, and is performing most likely in addition to we’ve ever seen.
It could have been very simple to have been overwhelmed by the power of nature that’s Fernando Alonso, however Ocon’s not the sort to shirk away from something. Behind the prepared smile and jokey method is a mercenary, with a fierce aggressive spirit very very similar to that of Alonso.
After two years it inevitably led to tears, with their double collision on the opening lap of the dash in Brazil.
He’s not as fast onto the tempo as Alonso at the start of a weekend, however he’s often someplace shut by the point of the essential qualifying lap. Prepared then to do battle, from which he by no means shirks.
This was one other quietly sturdy and sometimes underrated season from Ocon, who continues to chip away at any deficiencies and change into an more and more well-rounded driver.
That makes him a reliable point-scorer who was key to Alpine’s run to fourth within the championship.
Although Ocon typically lacks Alonso’s explosive tempo, significantly early within the weekend, he says his sluggish development to his peak is a acutely aware selection, a matter of weighing up threat versus reward in early classes.
Whether or not he has absolutely the, final skill to be a constant frontrunner is a key query. However his worth to Alpine is clearer than ever.
7 CARLOS SAINZ
Sainz will get marked down for a really iffy begin, when he was overdriving and frequently sticking his Ferrari within the gravel. He additionally missed two or three tenths of tempo then – discovering the driving model for hustling Ferrari’s new automobile as Leclerc may wasn’t coming naturally.
However Sainz overcame this with attribute willpower and intelligence. He was often the quicker Ferrari driver in qualifying post-Austria – and solely fractionally behind when not.
Sadly, he grew stronger as Ferrari tailed off, however anyway the problem now could be to provide the usual of his previous 11 races throughout the complete season.
Having acquired himself on phrases with Leclerc at Ferrari over the earlier season, Sainz was considerably shocked at his deficit to him within the F1-75. Persistently two tenths or extra off the tempo, it didn’t initially compute. He did what he at all times does in powerful conditions: bedded down, set about understanding and compelled himself into rivalry.
Sadly, by the point he’d labored out the notes, the instrument was just a little out of tune, the Ferrari a lesser power within the second half of the season than within the first.
However he was arguably Ferrari’s finest strategist: his calling of getting straight to slicks from wets at Monaco, the restart technique at Silverstone, the tyre technique for Q3 in Brazil. Every time he appropriately overruled the group.
Sainz felt there have been occasions within the second half of the yr that simply summed up the irritating nature of his complete season.
He wasn’t that fast when the automobile was its best. As soon as he’d acquired extra on high of the automobile and will problem Leclerc, Ferrari had fallen away from Pink Bull. Or he acquired punted right into a spin by George Russell.
It was a bizarre season for Sainz, who most likely wasn’t at his finest when he loved his first win at Silverstone, however he can’t be begrudged that as a reward for the way properly he tackled his preliminary deficiencies.
Simply ask Daniel Ricciardo how arduous it’s to truly do this…
This was a curate’s egg of a season and one which you could possibly take two very completely different views of.
The unfavorable view is he took far too lengthy to adapt to the particular calls for of the Ferrari in comparison with Leclerc and was left behind early on. The constructive is that he grafted lengthy and arduous to get on high of the automobile and acquired himself to a great stage in circumstances the place many drivers would have failed to take action.
This was not Sainz’s most spectacular season in F1, however one by which his diligence and intelligence allowed him to get well from the dangerous begin and make an honest contribution to Ferrari’s trigger.
6 FERNANDO ALONSO
At 42 he was again to one thing very near his peak years, staggeringly combative, improvisational and maybe the shrewdest positioner of his automobile in a cube that there’s. In actual fact he’s very very similar to an older model of Verstappen.
It sounds trite to say qualifying has by no means been his biggest energy as a result of he’s quicker than all however a really choose few, however it’s his savage and super-smart race performances which mark him out. He’s suffered fairly appalling luck and unreliability so his factors efficiency relative to his team-mate will be ignored.
In actuality he has outperformed a younger, quick and super-tough racer as a team-mate and his entrance row within the rain of Montreal was one of many nice feel-good moments of the season.
Some nonetheless doubt whether or not Alonso has actually carried out in his F1 comeback – however this yr ought to have eradicated any lingering considerations about how fast or dedicated he nonetheless is.
Solely an astonishingly poor reliability file stopped Alonso ending the lead Alpine driver within the factors. Whereas he says he doesn’t care about that, it was the least he deserved.
Although he departs on poorer phrases than he ought to have, as these DNFs began to erode Alonso’s endurance, Alpine would have been nowhere close to reaching its 2022 purpose with out him.
Frankly, his efficiency makes a mockery of Alpine questioning whether or not his age may lastly get the higher of him within the subsequent 12 months.
There’s no questioning that the hearth nonetheless burns and that the strengths which have made him so formidable all through his profession stay undiminished. Repeatedly he produced dogged, decided race drives even when the outcomes didn’t present it.
If anybody doubts he’s nonetheless able to profitable races in a frontrunning automobile, the frequency with which he excels in F1’s midfield ought to disabuse them of that notion.
The one draw back is that there have been occasions late within the season when he let his frustration with Alpine get the higher of him, as an illustration when he clipped the again of Ocon at Interlagos.
The person is an absolute phenomenon. When you think about how Michael Schumacher and Kimi Raikkonen each raced very capably into their forties in F1, however clearly in decline, Alonso’s gentle exhibits no apparent signal of dimming.
Alpine can’t fathom how a driver as previous Alonso can’t be something aside from regressing – however their loss will likely be Aston Martin’s achieve in 2023 (and past, little doubt). Ocon was wonderful this season, however Alonso’s peaks with the automobile – significantly Melbourne, Montreal, Singapore and Austin qualifying – had been on a unique stage.
Feels he’s good as he was in 2012 – and it’s tough to argue.
5 GEORGE RUSSELL
Russell’s consistency early on was wonderful and he coped properly with a W13 that was hardly well-balanced and wanted a whole lot of refinement. Russell’s peak was a fraction decrease within the second half of the yr, although, which led to some fairly sturdy self-criticism in public.
Rebounding from that with an more and more sturdy ultimate set of races, together with his first grand prix victory in Brazil, stated rather a lot about Russell’s psychological resolve and work ethic, in addition to his skill.
Even at his ‘worst’, he solely lacked a small quantity to his illustrious team-mate. And on steadiness he did greater than sufficient to justify his promotion to the highest desk.
Russell was the second-best of the 2 Mercedes drivers in 2022, however not by a lot. Specifically, he represented a big improve over his predecessor within the group, Valtteri Bottas, by way of race-day efficiency whereas additionally stacking up properly in qualifying.
The early a part of the yr maybe gave him a false sense of confidence within the battle with Hamilton as he had the benefit. As soon as Hamilton and the group acquired into their stride, it grew to become just a little more durable for him.
However that sturdy finish to the season and victory at Interlagos eradicated any suspicions that he may settle right into a quantity two position for good.
It’s extremely uncommon that any driver does this properly in opposition to Lewis Hamilton in the identical automobile. Alonso was a reigning double champion in 2007, Jenson Button already a champion by 2011, whereas Nico Rosberg took 4 seasons to do it (with the advantage of three years’ incumbency at Mercedes).
Russell loved none of those benefits, being the junior companion – and though the ultimate standings betray Hamilton to an extent this season, Russell was so near Hamilton’s stage anyway that Mercedes can now say for positive it has F1’s most potent driver pairing. Selling Russell from Williams was completely the appropriate name.
Tremendous-fast, super-confident, there’s no stopping George. Not even arriving in Lewis Hamilton’s group in a foul yr. His method to that state of affairs was to maintain issues easy and simply attempt to maximise each weekend.
Typically quicker than Hamilton, generally slower, he got here nearer than any team-mate to matching him since Alonso in 2007. Which is simply the pure order of issues.
He pounced on alternatives, took his first pole in Hungary and was flawless in taking his breakthrough victory in Brazil. There are a complete lot extra of these to come back within the years forward.
4 LEWIS HAMILTON
Didn’t produce his best work within the first a part of the season, typically taking place experimental pathways with set-up that didn’t repay. That contributed to some erratic performances within the first half of the yr, in addition to poor weekends akin to these in Saudi Arabia and at Imola.
However as soon as Mercedes acquired into what was described as “regular improvement” heading into the center levels of the season, Hamilton established a small however important efficiency benefit over Russell.
There was nonetheless the odd mistake, notably delivering on Fernando Alonso at Spa, however by and enormous he was the Hamilton of previous.
It says a lot for Hamilton’s enduring class that he’s so excessive up this rating regardless of failing to win a race for the primary time in 16 seasons – and being outscored by his team-mate to a level not seen since 2011.
Coping with the psychological fallout of Abu Dhabi 2021, plus Mercedes’ alarming regression, appeared to take a toll. However the factors deficit to Russell is misleading. Hamilton was under par at Jeddah, Imola, Spa and Singapore, true, however on steadiness he was the stronger Mercedes driver throughout the season – and maybe unfortunate to not win Zandvoort or Austin.
He’s nonetheless acquired the magic in him even when the tough Mercedes W13 didn’t at all times give him entry to it. A lot of the primary half of his season was spent making an attempt to decode the automobile, with all types of experiments.
As its restricted working window was discovered, so we then noticed the pummelling tempo unleashed – and there adopted a 10-race sequence within the season’s second half by which team-mate Russell had no reply.
The set-up window by which its aerodynamics labored may make it an unpredictable mule of a automobile into sluggish corners however Hamilton was sensible at improvising a tune from it. He’s greater than able to go wheel-to-wheel with Max as soon as extra.
Hamilton wasn’t at his finest early on even when that was no less than partially all the way down to the aforementioned experimenting at Mercedes because the extent of its W13’s deficiencies grew to become clear.
As soon as Mercedes ‘normalised’ its season although, Hamilton was way more formidable. He tended to set a benchmark on monitor and off it that performed a key position in Mercedes’ enchancment and making Russell up his recreation.
Whereas Hamilton’s efficiency stage had a decrease basement than Russell, it additionally had the next ceiling, even when Russell profitable and Hamilton not may counsel in any other case.
And, on common, Hamilton was very marginally higher total.
3 CHARLES LECLERC
Charles Leclerc is doubtless one of many very quickest drivers in F1. 9 poles in 2022 (essentially the most of anybody) attest to his unbelievable really feel for final grip, and his dexterity in controlling the automobile when it’s on the outer fringe of that adhesion.
However there are tough edges nonetheless, evidenced by pricey errors at Imola and Paul Ricard when Ferrari nonetheless had the legs on Pink Bull.
Poor reliability let Leclerc down, and Ferrari’s operational weaknesses are well-documented, however Leclerc additionally appears passive in comparison with Sainz in essential conditions. To make the ultimate step, Leclerc wants a ruthless edge added to his searing tempo.
He’s routinely strays into the pink zone, simply backs his personal expertise in pulling himself out of the emergencies his need takes him to throughout a qualifying lap. His extremely intricate use of throttle and brake to each manipulate the chassis and maximise the turbo is essentially the most bewitching dance and it left Sainz dazed at the start of the season.
His readiness to decide to a ballsy transfer (like across the exterior of Hamilton at Copse on previous tyres) is a part of his toolbox. But he races sensible too, as his dices with Verstappen at Bahrain and Jeddah showcased completely.
Leclerc’s pole-to-win ratio grew to become more and more absurd in 2022, a testomony to his unbelievable one-lap tempo and Ferrari’s sketchiness on Sundays.
He nonetheless wants to enhance as a group chief and both have a greater command of the race state of affairs or just be extra assertive when Ferrari’s technique begins to look questionable. And he nonetheless has a penchant for a few high-profile errors a season.
However usually Leclerc carried out to a really excessive stage and appeared like a title-calibre driver.
Whether or not he may have crushed Verstappen in a straight struggle over a season, we don’t know. However he’s not chargeable for us failing to seek out out this yr.
Leclerc might be the quickest driver in F1 over a single lap, however that doesn’t imply he’s not a formidable performer within the races. Sadly, he was driving a Ferrari that was much less sturdy over a race distance, run by a group that constantly dropped the ball.
It’s no exaggeration to say that Leclerc ought to have received double the races he did in 2022. He additionally produced some excellent race drives when the Ferrari was much less aggressive, ending the season strongly with good performances in Brazil and Abu Dhabi.
Solely the 2 main unforced errors price him second within the listing.
2 LANDO NORRIS
It was too simple for Norris’ fantastically excessive stage to go unnoticed this yr, in a McLaren which, not like final yr’s, wasn’t ok to ever combine it with the highest automobiles. So he was eternally on this no man’s land.
The McLaren’s imbalance meant it wasn’t even ok to be combating with Alpine as better of the remainder – but he may often conjure a manner of getting it to be there.
A few of his qualifying laps had been unbelievable and fairly often the one motive the orange automobile lined up forward of the blue-and-pink one. He’d then calmly ship a flawless race, even wheel-to-wheel with Alonso if want be.
It is rather arduous to fault Norris this season and figuring out races at which he underperformed is even trickier.
The low factors are all simply defined: Bahrain was an outlier with the automobile at its most compromised, he was an harmless sufferer of Pierre Gasly’s in Miami, an engine problem set him again in Canada, McLaren was badly uncompetitive in Belgium and he was on the fallacious technique in Mexico.
In 13 of the 22 races, Norris completed seventh or larger. Given he had the fifth-fastest automobile on common, that’s an ideal return.
The outcomes weren’t as beautiful as 2021 (how may they be with a clearly inferior automobile?) however the performances had been even higher.
Norris spent many of the season excelling in obscurity, however amongst his assortment of minor factors finishes had been a number of drives of unobtrusively prime quality. In midfield phrases, his was the equal of a driver profitable the title within the second-best automobile.
He stored the errors to a minimal, which was no imply feat in a McLaren that was difficult to drive and that he discovered inconsistent from lap to lap. In doing so, he confirmed the adaptability and the boldness that’s a vital a part of a real top-liner’s skillset.
With every passing season, Norris seems to be ever extra a world champion in ready.
Nobody crushed their team-mate extra convincingly in 2022 than Norris did. For a driver of Daniel Ricciardo’s pedigree to solely genuinely outqualify his team-mate as soon as (Spain) simply boggles the thoughts, actually. And the gaps had been constantly and really alarming.
Norris was so good that McLaren binned Ricciardo a yr early; so good he completed seventh within the factors regardless of driving the fifth-fastest automobile; so good he steadily beat one or each Mercedes in qualifying. If McLaren had any lingering doubts Norris is the true deal, this season ought to dispel them. McLaren’s battle now will likely be to hold on to him.
1 MAX VERSTAPPEN
Verstappen outraced a quicker bundle in a few of the early grands prix and blew everyone away with valuable few exceptions when Pink Bull’s automobile morphed into F1’s finest.
His tyre administration continues to be an integral but typically underrated a part of his make-up and his endurance improved, resulting in wonderful come-from-behind victories in Hungary and Belgium.
There have been occasions when Verstappen erred. Tempers flared primarily within the early a part of the season when Pink Bull was struggling reliability issues (massive and small), and there was the uncommon sight of an unprompted Verstappen mistake in Spain and Hungary. He additionally went down the escape street in battle with Lando Norris in Singapore and clashed with Lewis Hamilton in Brazil.
Maybe the scariest factor for Verstappen’s rivals is that, even after a record-breaking yr, there may be nonetheless room for enchancment.
Verstappen confirmed in 2022 that he may ruthlessly crush the opposition with relentless efficiency.
Whereas it was actually a neater season than 2021, few drivers have the capability to maintain such a excessive stage of efficiency, so his 15 victories are testomony to how intensely the need to win burns.
There have been three important in-race errors, plus the conflict with Hamilton at Interlagos, so there was the odd blemish – however that’s at all times going to be the case with 22 races.
Plus, as Perez struggled with a quicker however trickier automobile, Verstappen’s adaptability and capability to dwell with a extra on-edge rear finish shone via.
Verstappen’s utter domination of System 1 this yr was Schumacher-esque. Controversial first world championship, now outdated by a crushing show of superiority in what wasn’t (for some time no less than) absolutely the quickest automobile on the grid.
Even when the fatter and lazier model of RB18 was stifling Verstappen’s most popular model, he had the beating of Leclerc and Perez as a rule. As soon as driver, automobile and group discovered the proper rhythm Verstappen was unstoppable.
His peaks – suppose Montreal qualifying, charging via the sector in Budapest and Spa, plus that crushing moist victory at Suzuka – had been staggeringly good.
When you want a case research of the immense stage of Verstappen’s efficiency, look no additional than the Belgian Grand Prix. Sure, the automobile’s benefit round this explicit monitor was outrageous – for very particular technical causes we don’t want get into right here – however there was particular rarefied air territory out there to a driver with the genius to have a impartial steadiness via a few of the most demanding quick corners on the calendar. Simply the slightest additional enter after leaping straight onto the tightrope upon nook entry would have spat him off.
He did it prefer it was little one’s play. The harder the duty, the better Max’s benefit.