Whereas Max Verstappen and Pink Bull have wrapped up the world titles, there are nonetheless loads of fascinating fights to be determined throughout the remaining three races of F1 2022.
The battle for outright supremacy of the 2022 System 1 season has ended, with Max Verstappen clinching his second Drivers’ World Championship after a dominant season, whereas Pink Bull’s imperious type allowed them to wrap up the Constructors’ Championship with three races remaining.
Which means, on the very entrance a minimum of, the fights in Mexico, Brazil, and Abu Dhabi are merely for honour, however that doesn’t imply there aren’t loads of fascinating sub-plots but to be determined over the remaining races.
Let’s look via the principle storylines to control over the three remaining Grand Prix weekends.
Can Max Verstappen set a brand new document?
The newly topped double World Champion needed to battle very exhausting for victory in the US Grand Prix, provided that Pink Bull foisted a voluntary 10-second time penalty upon him throughout his second pit-stop.
However battle he did, and win he did, because the Dutch driver got here again magnificently to overhaul 2022 title rival Charles Leclerc and 2021 title rival Lewis Hamilton to take his thirteenth victory of the 12 months.
This thirteenth win matched the all-time data set by Michael Schumacher and Sebastian Vettel – each of whom scored 13 wins throughout title-winning seasons in 2004 and 2013, respectively.
Schumacher received his 13 from 18 races in complete, with Vettel successful 13 from 19 – that means Verstappen’s present 13 wins from 19 doesn’t fairly match the dominance proven by Schumacher in his season.
However, with three races left, Verstappen has the chance to take the document for total wins in a season – who could be courageous sufficient to wager on the Pink Bull driver going with out a win for the remainder of the 12 months?
Nonetheless, when it comes to percentages and with the intention to beat Schumacher’s dominance, Verstappen should win all three races to take his win share to 72.7% – this is able to be 0.5% greater than what Schumacher managed throughout his season.
Alpine vs. McLaren (or Lando Norris) in The Battle for Fourth Place
With the hole between Ferrari and Mercedes some 53 factors separating their second and third locations, a swap doesn’t look doubtless provided that Ferrari nonetheless appear to have an total tempo benefit on the Mercedes W13.
Which means the highest-placed battle within the Constructors’ Championship is between Alpine and McLaren – two groups which have met in battle off-track simply as ferociously as on it, as a consequence of their squabbling over the place Oscar Piastri would drive in 2023 (McLaren received that one).
When it comes to outright tempo, the Alpine would seem to have an edge over McLaren, however have been let down by incidents and unreliability which have price them dearly.
For example, McLaren capitalised strongly on a double retirement for Alpine on the Singapore Grand Prix – just for the blue automobiles to dominate this battle by putting fourth and seventh in Japan. Within the US, Alpine had the legs as soon as once more however, as a consequence of Fernando Alonso being given a (harsh) time penalty, McLaren are simply six factors behind their rivals.
It’s additionally price noting that McLaren are combating this battle with one hand tied behind their again, as a consequence of Daniel Ricciardo’s struggles this season. Lando Norris has scored 109 of McLaren’s 138 factors – that means it’s extra like Alpine vs. Norris than it’s a true two-car effort.
Whereas Alonso and Esteban Ocon’s factors totals are fairly comparable – simply 14 factors aside – McLaren could be completely nailed on for fourth place if that they had two Norris-level drivers.
Aston Martin vs. Alfa Romeo
It’s been a season of two halves for the 2 midfield groups, as Alfa Romeo received off to a powerful begin with Valtteri Bottas constantly scoring sturdy factors finishes whereas Aston Martin foundered as one of many slowest groups on the grid.
However Aston Martin have slowly however certainly received on prime of their woes and, had it not been for a sluggish cease for Sebastian Vettel at the US GP, would have wrestled sixth place away from Alfa Romeo final weekend.
Between the season opener and the Canadian Grand Prix in June, Alfa Romeo solely had two points-free races. Since then, Bottas hasn’t scored in any respect, whereas Zhou Guanyu has picked up a solitary level on the Italian Grand Prix.
In distinction, Aston Martin have solely failed to attain on six events – three of these being the primary three races of the 12 months. Whereas Lance Stroll blotted his copybook with a foolish defensive transfer on Alonso in the US, he got here residence in sixth in Singapore – a place that Vettel replicated in Japan and seemed sure to do once more within the US.
Given the 2 crew’s respective type proper now, it seems to be as if Aston Martin are set to win this specific battle however, as a result of small factors finishes that they’re combating for if the likes of Alpine and McLaren carry out at their potential, it could be nip and tuck throughout the road to determine who finishes on the prime of the second half of the sphere.
George Russell vs. Lewis Hamilton
It is a notably enjoyable squabble, because the crew beginner has been hunted down mercilessly by his illustrious teammate within the second half of the season.
Whereas Russell received off to an excellent begin to the 12 months, seemingly buoyed by his promotion to way more aggressive equipment whereas Hamilton had a low-key starting as he allegedly carried out experimental setup adjustments and might need nonetheless been reeling from the occasions of late 2021, Hamilton’s uptick in efficiency coincided with the W13 changing into a stronger weapon.
In consequence, simply 20 factors separate the pair with three races to go, and Russell’s current type suggests he’s trying again over his shoulder and questioning simply what he must do to remain forward of the seven-time World Champion.
Having been the epitome of consistency within the first half of the season as Mercedes occupied a ‘no-man’s-land’ in third spot, Russell hasn’t seemed to have the ability to fairly get within the battle with the Pink Bulls and the Ferraris to fairly the identical degree as Hamilton has.
Can Russell regular the ship and get throughout the end line forward of Hamilton, or will Lewis be capable to sustain his present strain and assert himself as prime canine of this specific pairing on the first time of asking?
Williams and Haas – will Mick Schumacher get one other probability?
Whereas American racer Logan Sargeant has provisionally landed the vacant Williams seat for 2023, he’s in an identical place to Colton Herta – the IndyCar racer who was nailed on for a seat with AlphaTauri, solely to not be granted dispensation for an FIA Tremendous Licence.
Sargeant is in a a lot stronger place, provided that he occupies third place within the System 2 Driver’s Championship – he wants to complete within the prime six to succeed in the required 40 factors of weighting. He’s simply 9 factors forward of the trio behind him, with seventh place an additional three factors again. Whereas all seems to be good for him, the playing cards falling within the fallacious manner throughout the Dash and Function races on the F2 season finale in Abu Dhabi might lead to him falling all the way down to seventh – even when it seems to be fairly unlikely, stranger issues have occurred.
Ought to Sargeant fall quick, then certainly this is able to hand a large lifeline to Mick Schumacher because the German driver fights to maintain his F1 profession alive whereas Haas stay reluctant to decide to him.
If Sargeant fails, Schumacher is definitely the lead contender to take that seat, with crew boss Jost Capito having beforehand proven curiosity in him. Nonetheless, if Sargeant does nail down a prime six championship end, that door shuts for Schumacher – and he’s left within the arms of Guenther Steiner. A Steiner who has been as non-committal about Schumacher because it’s doable for a crew boss to be, as he has brazenly stated there are many choices open to them.
It’s a merciless Sword of Damocles that at the moment dangles over the pinnacle of the 2020 F2 Champion, notably given his evident large bounce ahead within the second half of 2022. It’s simply unlucky that that enchancment got here as the remainder of the seats have been crammed, leaving him within the arms of his present employers.
Daniel Ricciardo and Sebastian Vettel’s remaining races
Two of F1’s hottest and likeable personalities will go away the game in a number of weeks’ time, though are leaving in very completely different circumstances.
Whereas Ricciardo is being pressured out, with the one expressions of curiosity seemingly coming from groups he views as beneath him, the eight-time Grand Prix winner has slipped ever additional away from competitiveness because the demise knell of his present profession hoves into view.
It’s been a tragic fall from grace, with little signal of the fired-up Ricciardo in F1 2022 – a stark distinction to the driving force who received the hearts of F1 followers in all places throughout his stint with Pink Bull Racing.
A part of that interval noticed him beat Sebastian Vettel, with the German driver coming off the again of his dominant four-year title streak, however Vettel himself is leaving beneath very completely different circumstances.
Having had ample alternative to proceed with Aston Martin, solely to determine to stroll away simply because the crew began their ascent from the again of the grid, Vettel has seemingly centered on having fun with his racing and going out on a excessive. His current races have been a pleasure to observe and, whereas his qualifying prowess will not be what it as soon as was, his racing abilities and fearlessness have been evident – notably so throughout his remaining lap squabble with the notoriously exhausting racer Kevin Magnussen via the ultimate corners of the race at COTA.
Having made a direct impression 15 years in the past upon his entry to the game, Vettel is leaving with obvious regrets over his determination and type that will see most groups welcome him if there have been seats accessible. In contrast to Ricciardo, it’s not not possible to think about Seb being again on the grid in 2024.
Learn Extra: Will Pink Bull prioritise Sergio Perez over Max Verstappen in Mexico?