The recent British Grand Prix at Silverstone marked the 10th race of the season and a decent milestone to take stock of what has happened so far in 2022. Of course, a lot has happened, and much of it has been widely unpredictable.
For a start, nobody thought that we would get to this point in the season without Lewis Hamilton winning a race. Indeed, the Brit has only finished on the podium just three times in 10 races. Few thought that Ferrari would have gotten its act together so quickly, even if the Prancing Horse has gone slightly off the burn after an incredible start to the season. Other mercurial events have happened, too, including Mick Schumacher getting his first-ever F1 points and Carlos Sainz Jnr getting his maiden Grand Prix win.
Of course, Mercedes’ travails have probably been the biggest shock of the season so far. Both the team and principal driver, Lewis Hamilton, were hot favourites in the F1 odds at the start of the season. Everyone was convinced that they would continue to dominate, but things simply did not look right from Day 1.
Mercedes’ rivals raise their game
While Lewis Hamilton was not the defending Drivers’ Champion – you’ll remember the heart-in-your-mouth moment in Abu Dhabi last December when Max Verstappen pipped the Brit to the title – he and Mercedes nevertheless dominated the narrative of F1 for the best part of the last decade. Hamilton had won six out of the last eight championships; Mercedes had won eight Constructors’ Championships in a row.
What’s good for the sport, however, is the fact that it feels like Mercedes have not declined as such, but rather that the other teams have raised their game at the opportune moment. Mercedes has problems, yes, but it remains competitive, and the second half of the season could see a turnaround. It’s a long shot for Hamilton and Mercedes to get back into the title race, but one should never rule it out.
Many possibilities to conclude the season
As for where we stand right now, there is a compelling battle between Max Verstappen (Red Bull), Sergio Perez (Red Bull) and Charles Leclerc (Ferrari) at the top of the Drivers’ standings. As mentioned, Leclerc and Ferrari surprised everyone with a red-hot start to the season. But the reliability of Ferrari has caused problems of late. Leclerc has started six of the 10 races so far in pole position, but he has only won two of them, and finished on the podium in three.
But within Ferrari’s struggles, there should be some hope. The fact that Ferrari has taken seven of the 10 pole positions (Carlos Sainz Jnr started in pole at Silverstone) means there is something to build on over the last dozen races of the season. A little more consistency and Ferrari will be challenging Red Bull right to the wire this season.
For the neutral fan, we have the possibility of a fascinating climax to the season. If Mercedes and Ferrari can iron out a few bugs, we have the prospect of a three-way battle in both the Drivers and Constructors’ Championships. For now, it seems that Red Bull has the upper hand, but things have changed so quickly in a matter of months that nothing should be ruled out. The unpredictability has revived F1 as a sport, and it might lead to a classic conclusion to the season.