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View Poll Results: Which drivers impressed you most in 2022?
Max Verstappen 5 50.00%
Charles Leclerc 4 40.00%
Sergio Perez 1 10.00%
George Russell 5 50.00%
Carlos Sainz 0 0%
Lewis Hamilton 1 10.00%
Lando Norris 4 40.00%
Esteban Ocon 0 0%
Fernando Alonso 3 30.00%
Valtteri Bottas 0 0%
Daniel Ricciardo 0 0%
Sebastian Vettel 1 10.00%
Kevin Magnussen 1 10.00%
Pierre Gasly 0 0%
Lance Stroll 0 0%
Mick Schumacher 0 0%
Yuki Tsunoda 0 0%
Zhou Guanyu 1 10.00%
Alexander Albon 0 0%
Nicholas Latifi 0 0%
Nyck de Vries 1 10.00%
Nico Hulkenberg 0 0%
Multiple Choice Poll. Voters: 10. You may not vote on this poll

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Old 3 Dec 2022, 16:32 (Ref:4135999)   #1
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F1 2022 driver rankings and awards

Here are my rankings of how the 20 regular drivers performed in the 2022 Formula 1 season, with the brackets representing their positions relative to last year, as well as some awards.

Driver rankings:

1. Max Verstappen (no change). An exceptionally easy choice for number one on this list, Verstappen had an extraordinary season, dominating the championship with a record fifteen race wins, despite having a car that, while the best on the grid, and helped by many blunders for Ferrari, did not have a huge advantage. In my opinion, it was probably in the top ten greatest ever season performances in Formula 1. Verstappen’s best drive came in Spa-Francorchamps. Hit with a grid penalty that would force him to start from the back anyway, he set the fastest qualifying lap anyway by six tenths of a second, and then won by almost twenty seconds having made the final pass for the lead on Carlos Sainz on lap 17. Verstappen’s next best drive came in Suzuka, where he pulled away from Leclerc at an extraordinary rate to win by almost thirty seconds, and in a significantly shortened race. It was also the race in which he secured a thoroughly deserved second championship.

Verstappen’s performances in the wet were a particular strength of his this year, often going a second faster than anyone else in the wet qualifying sessions of Montreal, Silverstone and Singapore, although bad luck denied him pole on two of those occasions. His drives in Imola, Mexico and Abu Dhabi deserve credit for total dominance, while his wins in Hungary and Monza were other examples of making his way to the front from lowly grid slots, and he recovered superbly in COTA to pass both Leclerc and Hamilton and win yet another race. Verstappen also once again wiped the floor with teammate Sergio Perez, genuinely outqualified by him just three times, in Jeddah, Monaco and Baku (incidentally, all street tracks), while Monaco was the only weekend in which he was genuinely second-best to Perez, as he fought back to win the other two.

The only blemish on Verstappen’s remarkable season was that he still made a few mistakes. He spun in Spain and in Hungary, although neither ultimately cost him victory, but later in the year Verstappen locked up and went off while passing Norris in Singapore, and hit Hamilton in Brazil. Although both were responsible for the incident, it did show that Verstappen’s driving can still be a little too aggressive, particularly when he is battling Hamilton. But despite this few moments, it was an amazing season that, in my opinion, made Verstappen the 12th name on the list of absolute elite drivers in F1 history, and I think he could go on to dominate the next decade. However, I don’t think he should win in 2023, as I would hope that Red Bull’s penalty for the budget cap infringement is sufficient to stop that happening. Even though he was the best driver, Verstappen’s first world title will always be devalued by the final lap, and the budget cap infringement, but this year there can be no doubt that he was a class above the rest and a thoroughly deserving champion.

2. Charles Leclerc (up 2). After an amazing start to the season, Leclerc wasn’t able to put together a title challenge. But even if he hadn’t had a huge amount of bad luck this year with reliability and strategy, and even if he hadn’t made some key mistakes, Verstappen and Red Bull were still simply too strong. I am pleased that Leclerc was able to claim second in the championship, as he certainly deserved it, but he could have been a hundred points clear of Perez. Although Leclerc is not the complete driver yet; his tyre management skills are not on the level of Hamilton and Verstappen, and he is still error prone, on outright speed he is probably as fast as anyone out there, evidenced by his nine pole positions, and I also consider him to be the most exciting driver on the grid. If I were to make a list of the ten best overtakes of 2022, half of them would be Leclerc, none better than his move around the outside of Hamilton on old hard tyres at Copse. It was also great to watch him sliding around in Singapore while in pursuit of Perez, on slick tyres on a damp track.

Leclerc won just three races in 2022, all entirely on merit. He won from pole in Bahrain following a thrilling battle for the lead with Verstappen, involving his first excellent overtake as he chopped in front of the Red Bull as they passed and repassed, and then he was fairly dominant in Australia, again from pole, and at this time he was clearly leading the championship. Leclerc wouldn’t win again until Austria, hunting down Verstappen and passing him three times including an excellent lunge, and then holding him off despite throttle problems at the end. But Leclerc’s list of races he could have won is far longer. In Spain, he was dominating the race, after a brilliant qualifying lap, when the engine let go, and the same happened in Baku, although a win was still very much in doubt on that occasion. And in COTA he made an outstanding lunge to overtake Perez.

Strategy also let him down in Monaco and Silverstone, turning two deserved victories into fourth places, and his Silverstone drive was particularly impressive considering he had front win damage since lap one. Poor strategy also cost him in Hungary after a brilliant move for the lead on Russell, while the poor reliability caused him to have many engine penalties. As well as these incidences of terrible luck, Leclerc too made some errors which dropped him out of title contention, none worse than his crash while leading in France, which probably ended the championship battle, and Imola was an important mistake that cost him a lot of points. There was a nine-race run from Spain to Belgium in which he scored just one podium. His drive in Abu Dhabi to beat Perez in the championship was sublime, but it shouldn’t have been needed. I would love for Leclerc to win the title next year, but think that is unlikely.

3. Lando Norris (no change). The McLaren wasn’t as competitive as last year, and as a result, Norris was not able to put in a season performance as impressive as that of 2021. But despite the lack of standout moments, he was clearly punching above his weight in the McLaren, and it required an outstanding season to beat both faster Alpines in the championship. He effectively ended Daniel Ricciardo’s career in the manner that he beat him, even more convincingly than last year, and although Ricciardo was far, far below his usual standard, there can be no doubt that Norris is a top class driver. That first win may still elude him, but he is surely a future champion.

Norris took just one podium in 2022, with third place in Imola, but he also finished as the best midfield driver on seven other occasions. For me, his best drive was Monaco, very much a driver’s circuit, where he outqualified both Mercedes, lost out to Russell due to strategy but kept pace with the leaders and chased down Russell in the latter part of the race with a late stop to take sixth. Singapore was the other outstanding performance, where he took a very strong fourth, clearly top of the midfield, and briefly threatened Sainz for third. Hungary, COTA and Abu Dhabi was all occasions where he convincingly finished top of the midfield despite not having a clear car advantage.

There were some disappointing races for Norris, most notably in Montreal, where he was nowhere, and he also took out Leclerc in Brazil. But despite a few off-days, there weren’t really any occasions when he was genuinely outperformed by Ricciardo, outqualified just once, in Spain due to exceeding track limits, and beaten a few times usually due to an inferior strategy, which was an impressive feat despite Ricciardo’s awful season. Norris faces a new challenge in Oscar Piastri as his teammate next year, a very exciting lineup, but in his first season I would be surprised if Piastri was able to challenge Norris, who very much deserves a race win, and in the right car I think he could win a championship, although that won’t happen for a few years yet.

4. Lewis Hamilton (down 2). This is the lowest I have rated Hamilton since 2011, after a disappointing season in only the third-best car. Hamilton was outperformed by Russell at the start of the season but generally had the upper hand for most of it, and was unlucky to finish behind his teammate in the championship. But he only ranks marginally ahead of Russell this year due to still making a few too many mistakes. It was Hamilton’s first ever full season without a race victory, and while there were many chances that went begging, particularly towards the end of the season when the car was most competitive, on most occasions he was not to blame for this.

Hamilton’s season started very poorly, and although he had been experimenting with setups to help the team later in the season, Hamilton still had woeful weekends in both Jeddah and Imola, failing to even reach the points in the latter as Russell was fourth from a similar grid position, and was beaten by Russell on many other occasions at the start of the year. But after showing outstanding pace in Spain following a first lap incident which may have cost him a shot of victory, his season started to turn with a brilliant drive in Silverstone, where the Mercedes’ poor tyre warmup cost him after the safety car, before which he was hunting down Leclerc for the win. Hamilton then showed outstanding pace in Hungary to fight forward to second, and probably would have won had he started from pole. His best chance to win was in Zandvoort, with a comfortable advantage that disappeared with the Tsunoda VSC.

Then in COTA, Hamilton got closest to a win as he was beaten by Verstappen’s faster Red Bull in an exciting and fair fight. Mexico was also a lost chance, and on both occasions a better strategy might have won Hamilton the race. But in Brazil he was beaten to victory by Russell, which likely would not have happened had he not made contact with Verstappen on lap one. Both were to blame for the incident, but Hamilton perhaps felt he had to turn in on Verstappen to stop his rival walking all over him in the future. Hamilton also made key mistakes in Belgium, hitting Alonso, and Singapore, hitting the wall, which cost him considerable points. As a result, Hamilton finished an unrepresentative sixth in the championship, but with Mercedes having got more on top of the car, and Red Bull penalised, I think he will battle Verstappen for the title next year. Hopefully it will be less controversial than 2021.

5. Fernando Alonso (up 1). This may seem like a surprisingly high ranking, but I think Alonso has been extremely unlucky this season and was actually considerably better than his teammate, Esteban Ocon, who is himself a solid driver. Obviously he isn’t as good as he was before his comeback, but the overall quality of the top drivers was a little lower than usual in 2022. The most impressive moment of Alonso’s season was one that offered absolutely no reward, his qualifying lap in Albert Park. Having been right on it all session, it genuinely looked as though he could have been on pole when a hydraulics failure caused him to crash. Alonso did take a front row start in Canada, starting second in the wet, but faded in the race.

He was top of the midfield on five occasions this year, with fifth in Interlagos and Silverstone the highest results and two particularly strong performances. He also made a fine overtake on Russell and Norris at turn one that helped him claim sixth in Paul Ricard, and he lost a huge amount of points due to bad luck and poor reliability, with the Alpine breaking down in Saudi Arabia, Singapore and Mexico while Alonso was on for top of the midfield, and further bad luck in Austria and Monza that cost him points. But Alonso’s best drive of the season came in Austin. Despite dropping to the back mid-race after a huge shunt with Stroll, hitting the Aston Martin and then the wall at high speed having had his front wheels high off the ground (and there is no way he could not have sustained damage), he still comfortably beat Ocon and made it back into the points with seventh.

But there were still quite a few occasions when Alonso was outpaced by Ocon, Bahrain and Japan being examples of such. He had a scruffy race in Miami, involved in a few incidents including with Gasly, while he was also too aggressive with Ocon in Brazil, probably more to blame for both their races being ruined. In Monaco, Alonso’s dubious tactics of holding up Hamilton were okay, but deliberately going down the escape road to compromise others’ laps in Baku qualifying, as Schumacher did at Rascasse in 2006, was pathetic. Alonso leaves Alpine to race for Aston Martin in 2023, although that will most likely just continue to leave him mired in the midfield. But I am extremely glad he is still racing in Formula 1, and while he is no longer at his best, Alonso is still among the best drivers in the world and is still able to showcase his considerable talent on occasion. In the right circumstances, a race win is still a possibility.

6. George Russell (up 2). When Russell signed for Mercedes, he was generally expected to be closer to Hamilton’s pace than Valtteri Bottas had been. But few predicted that he would beat Lewis Hamilton in the championship in his first season with Mercedes. Indeed, in the first part of the season, he was consistently beating Hamilton in qualifying and the races. But it later transpired that Hamilton had been testing different setups, and once that experiment stopped he was generally faster than Russell. Fourth in the championship was a great achievement, but Russell did have a lot of good fortune and was second-best in the Mercedes team. His record of finishing in the top five in every race bar three is also impressive.

After the Bahrain GP, Russell actually finished ahead of Hamilton in each of the next seven races, albeit with a bit of luck in some of them. After his first podium in Australia, Imola was a strong drive as Russell fought through to fourth from a lowly grid slot, while Hamilton made no progress. Then in Spain he led the race with some fantastic defending against Verstappen, eventually slipping back to third, and Russell beat his teammate on merit in both Monaco and Baku, the latter rewarding another podium. Russell would take more podiums in France, after mugging Perez on the restart, and Hungary following his first pole position despite no fastest sector times. Another brilliant result was his second in Zandvoort, although he had shadowed Hamilton all race and only passed him with the tyre advantage at the end.

Russell’s excellent season was capped off with a thoroughly deserved maiden win in Brazil, as he forced his way past Verstappen with some great racecraft in the sprint, and controlled the race, even holding off Hamilton at the end. But Russell was involved in a few incidents this year, hitting Sainz in COTA, Schumacher in Singapore, Perez in Austria and Zhou in Silverstone. But while he wasn’t quite as good as Hamilton, to be that close to the most successful driver in history in his first season in a competitive car is a hugely impressive achievement, and I suspect Russell will challenge for a championship in the near future.

7. Carlos Sainz (no change). After beating Charles Leclerc in the championship in 2021, albeit with a bit of luck, great things were expected of Carlos Sainz in 2022, particularly when Ferrari became competitive once again. But as it transpired, he had something of a disappointing season, struggling initially to adapt to the car and being left behind by Leclerc. But Sainz improved significantly over the course of the season, taking three poles including a particularly impressive one in Austin, and was much closer to his teammate at the end of it. Sainz may not have the speed of Leclerc, but he appears to be a more assertive driver, overriding the team’s strategy in both Monaco and Silverstone and gaining points as a result. Carlos Sainz was another driver to take his first race victory in 2022, passing Leclerc on the restart in Silverstone with fresh tyres, but that was a slightly fortunate result as he had made a few errors and his teammate had his raced ruined by strategy.

Sainz’s best drive of the season came in Paul Ricard, where he started from the back due to an engine penalty but had been extremely quick all weekend and fought his way through to third, including a sublime overtake on Perez which lasted many corners, before pitting again and ending up third. His race in Canada was also strong, putting intense pressure on Verstappen in the closing stages of the race, and in Monza he made progress through the pack far more quickly than Perez or Hamilton to finish fourth. He also did an excellent job to finish second in Monaco, overriding the team’s decision to pit, and followed Leclerc home for a Ferrari 1-2 in Bahrain, which they would have repeated in Austria but for Sainz’s engine failure.

But his season was not without troubles, with numerous mistakes at the start of the season costing him points. Spinning off in Albert Park, Imola qualifying and Catalunya were all significant mistakes, while he wasn’t entirely blameless in the Russell incident in COTA. He later crashed in Suzuka, and had a few days where he was significantly off Leclerc’s pace, such as Singapore. But Sainz was also quite unlucky with reliability, which meant he only just scraped fifth in the championship at the final round. I suspect next season will be a similar story for Sainz, but with Ferrari perhaps slightly less competitive.

8. Sergio Perez (up 4). It was a better season for Perez than 2021, particularly at the start of the year when he was genuinely outpacing Verstappen on occasion, which he never did last year. But over the course of the season, his form dropped and he rarely challenged Verstappen after Baku, slipping to be the clear number two in the team, a role he played well. A few errors in the final round cost him second in the championship to Leclerc, which was a little disappointing for the team. Perez won twice in 2022, with his Singapore victory standing out as his best drive of the year, holding off Charles Leclerc in wet conditions as the two pulled away from the rest time and time again, and despite a safety car infringement Perez got the gap he needed to win. But had Verstappen not had an issue in qualifying, it would have been different.

Perez’s other victory was a little more fortunate in Monaco, but it was the only race that he was able to genuinely outperform Verstappen all weekend in, and Red Bull’s superior strategy got them ahead of Ferrari, and Perez then did a good defensive job. He also outqualified Verstappen in Jeddah, where he took pole but was demoted to fourth by a badly timed VSC, and in Baku, finishing second, and this perhaps showed Perez to be a very strong driver on street tracks. Second in Silverstone was another good result, while he pressured Leclerc into a mistake in Japan and arguably in Imola, finishing second in both, and showed himself to be a good second driver in Spain, letting Verstappen through twice.

The main downside of Perez’s season was a lack of pace, particularly in the middle part of the year as he was slow in Paul Ricard, Budapest, Spa, Zandvoort and Monza relative to his teammate, while losing second to Leclerc in Abu Dhabi was also disappointing. Perez didn’t really make any errors this season, apart from Monaco qualifying where he crashed, and I believe the rumours that claim this was deliberate and the cause of Verstappen refusing to let him through in Brazil. Perez has done a great job as the wingman to Verstappen these last two years, but one piece of poor judgement may have damaged his relationship with the team and put his drive at risk for 2024.

9. Sebastian Vettel (up 1). One of the greatest drivers of the last decade bids farewell to Formula 1, following his best season in a few years, building on his improvement last year from an awful 2020, but not on the level he was at in 2019. Vettel conclusively outperformed Lance Stroll in his final season in Formula 1, doing a good job both when the car was good at the end of the year, and when it was uncompetitive at the start. It would have been nice for him to have more success, but Vettel did get a proper send-off in Abu Dhabi, showing just how popular he has become in his latter years of Formula 1, and after one last outstanding qualifying lap that got him into Q3.

Despite being outqualified by Stroll, Vettel’s best drive of 2022 came in COTA, where he lost sixth place to a terrible pitstop, but fought back to eighth with two outstanding overtakes around the outside of Alex Albon and Kevin Magnussen, the latter on the final lap of the race. His drive in Suzuka was also good, making Q3, spinning at turn one, then pitting for inters to get back into sixth and holding the position. He also took sixth in Baku with another great drive, despite the car being uncompetitive at the time, and going up the escape road, and similarly strong was his eighth in Imola, and Vettel took a few more good points finishes, with Singapore, Monaco and an 11th in Brazil notably good drives.

There were a few races where Vettel was outperformed by his teammate, with Zandvoort particularly disappointing as the car was good but he made an error in Q1, and Vettel also had a shocker in Albert Park, his first race back after missing the first two with COVID. But, thankfully, Vettel rounded off his season with a good drive in Abu Dhabi to tenth, and can retire with his head held high. He may never have been the same since crashing out of the lead in Hockenheim 2018, but at Red Bull, Vettel had been outstanding, particularly with his dominant 2011 and 2013 seasons, while his win at Monza for Toro Rosso in 2008 remains one of the great drives in F1 history, something Vettel knows a lot about, having successfully named every champion last year. A fantastic driver who will be much missed.

10. Esteban Ocon (down 1). He may have become the first driver ever to outscore Fernando Alonso over their entire time as teammates, but Ocon was somewhat fortunate to do so after being second-best to his teammate this year. Better reliability and luck in general has to take a lot of credit for Ocon finishing eighth in the standings this year, but he still had to be close enough to capitalise and did just that. There were quite a few races where he was quicker than Alonso, but similarly a few where he went missing.

Ocon was the top midfield driver on four occasions this year, and his best drive came in Suzuka, holding off Hamilton for the entirety of the race in the wet to take fourth, having also outqualified his teammate and both Mercedes. Austria was also a notable drive as Ocon qualified and finished as comfortably the best in the midfield. Jeddah and Montreal were a little more fortunate, as Alonso had bad luck, and the Alpine teammates were involved in a particularly exciting scrap in the former. He also pulled off an outstanding double overtake on Vettel and Gasly to get seventh at Les Combes in Spa. Ocon conclusively outperformed Alonso in Bahrain and Abu Dhabi, came from the back to eighth in Miami, and brought home points on sixteen occasions, the very epitome of consistency which helped him beat his teammate.

There were a few races where Ocon simply had no pace, most notably in Singapore and COTA where he failed to get of Q1 and made little progress in the races, while Monza was also a little disappointing, and he hit Tsunoda in France. His defence against Hamilton in Monaco was spirited but a bit too aggressive. He was also unfairly vilified by Alonso on a few occasions, most notably in Brazil where he didn’t really do anything wrong. Ocon doesn’t seem like a future champion, but he is certainly a solid upper midfield runner and will likely remain that way for the rest of his career. Next season he will be teammate to Pierre Gasly, and while it will be very close, I would back Ocon to hold a narrow advantage.

11. Alexander Albon (up 7 from 2020). It was not surprising that Albon went well on his return to Formula 1. Gasly had struggled badly at Red Bull but starred at Alpha Tauri, and Albon did the same on his return with Williams, albeit not quite to the same extent. Nicholas Latifi may have been well-beaten by Russell, but Alex Albon was arguably even further ahead this year, although Latifi did have a much worse season, and Albon frequently put the worst car on the grid into the midfield. His season was not without errors, but he was a far better driver than he had been with Red Bull.

Alex Albon scored points on three occasions, with the best of them being his tenth in Australia, as Albon drove the entire race on one set of tyres, pitting from seventh on the final lap to take tenth. He then took eleventh in Imola, getting ahead of Hamilton despite starting behind him in another outstanding drive, and with a more fortunate ninth place in Miami, he was on top form. Albon was fairly error prone at Monaco but still showed some impressive pace, the fastest man on track for a time after the red flag, and he continued to punch above his weight in the upgraded Williams, almost scoring a point in Austria as he lost out to Alonso and Bottas at the end. Albon made Q3 for the first time in Belgium and, aided by the straightline speed of the Williams, finished tenth with a good defensive drive.

In Monza, Nyck de Vries finished ninth in his place as Albon was absent with appendicitis, and I suspect he could have challenged the top six if he had raced. Albon completed the season with a string of good results. But he also had some bad races, hitting Stroll in Jeddah and Vettel in the Austria sprint, while he crashed in Singapore, went up the escape road in Monaco, and finished a distant last in Catalunya. But Albon had driven well enough to push Latifi out of the sport, and Williams will surely improve in the coming years and allow Albon to score points more regularly. He will be expected to beat Logan Sargeant next year.

12. Valtteri Bottas (down 1). Early in the season, Bottas looked like a man reborn at Alfa Romeo, as he dominated Zhou Guanyu in the same car and was consistently finishing towards the top of the midfield. But then the Alfa Romeo lost its competitiveness and unexplainedly, Bottas’ form slumped and never recovered. The points table flatters him, as he was good when the car was, but was generally outdriven by Zhou when it wasn’t, and from Hungary onwards I would rate him slightly below Zhou. Bottas’ racecraft also continues to be a problem, and he frequently lost positions on the first lap of races.

Bottas’ move to Alfa Romeo looked like a great one after Bahrain, as he qualified sixth, very close to Hamilton and ahead of Russell, and then recovered from a terrible start to finish there. Bottas scored more points in Australia after a decent drive, then finished an excellent fifth in Imola as he chased down Russell and Norris in the closing laps. Bottas was particularly strong in Miami as he qualified fifth and ran solidly there for almost the entire race until an error at the end cost him places to the Mercedes. His best drive of the season came in Spain, finishing top of the midfield in sixth and threatening fourth despite a sub-optimal strategy. He was tipped for a front row start in Monaco but it didn’t happen, with ninth on the grid the best he could muster.

But that was sort of it for Bottas, as an awful race in Baku seemed to trigger a poor run of form which he never recovered from, bar a decent drive to seventh in Canada and a late amazing qualifying session in Mexico, culminating in sixth on the grid. Bottas was often knocked out in Q1, outpaced by Zhou, and Abu Dhabi was perhaps the worst of the lot, although Spa and Monza were poor and he spun in COTA. Brazil was a good drive at the end of the year but, as has been the case throughout his career, there seem to be two versions of Bottas and the one that turns up in 2023 will surely either rejuvenate, or end his career. The fact that he tended to turn up only when the car was good this year suggests that motivation may be a problem for someone who spent many years in the best car. But I think he will be better next year.

13. Pierre Gasly (down 8). This is a little harsh, he could have been two places higher, but following an outstanding season last year, Gasly had an awful year in 2022, his considerable advantage to Tsunoda wiped out to just a narrow one, and while there were some races where he was competitive, there were too many where he was outperformed by his teammate, suggesting perhaps the car was very much built around him last year. Gasly also picked up far too many penalty points, putting him near enough to a ban that it was suggested he might want to deliberately get banned for Abu Dhabi and start afresh next year with Alpine.

Gasly’s season started well, on course for a strong points finish in Bahrain before a fire, and scoring in Jeddah and Albert Park despite the car not being hugely competitive, as he outperformed Tsunoda. He was also going well in Imola before being hit by Alonso, and was a bit clumsy in the contact with Norris. His best drive of the season came when the car was good in Baku, and he delivered a fine fifth place, top of the midfield. He was thrice more in the points, with Spa, Monza and Singapore all strong drives, particularly the latter where he qualified seventh. Monaco was another strong, unrewarded drive where Gasly made some brilliant overtakes on intermediate tyres while the rest were on wets.

But there were also many races like Imola and Abu Dhabi where he was simply beaten by Tsunoda, and he also had a scruffy weekend in Austria, involved in a few incidents, in Spain where he hit Stroll, and struggled in France and Canada. Japan was the biggest low point of the season, driving too quickly past a tractor and marshals on track. Gasly’s form has fluctuated so much during his career that it is difficult to know how he will perform at Alpine next year, but right now I am thinking he will be narrowly outperformed by Ocon, which would have been a huge shock one year ago.
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Old 3 Dec 2022, 16:33 (Ref:4136000)   #2
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14. Kevin Magnussen (up 1 from 2020). Another ranking that appears a little harsh, but although Magnussen had a strong comeback and helped Haas to their best finish in four years, with some particularly standout moments, he too often showed little pace and finished behind Schumacher. He also was a bit too aggressive on the first lap of races, earning three black and orange flags. Perhaps the best moment of the entire season was his shock pole position in Brazil, and there can be no doubt that he was a huge improvement on Nikita Mazepin, who he replaced on the eve of the season.

Magnussen’s most impressive drive of the year was the first one, in Bahrain, where he stepped into the car for the first time in the last week of testing, then qualified seventh and finished fifth, a remarkable result. The Haas was a good car at the start of the year, and Magnussen scored further points in Jeddah and Imola. He overtook Hamilton in the former and qualified fourth in the wet in the latter. Following a poor run of form, Magnussen scored a good eighth, after seventh in the sprint (and actually scored in all three sprints), in Austria despite car problems, while he would score just once more, taking ninth in COTA after good tyre management. He was also very quick in qualifying in Montreal and Paul Ricard. But the highlight of the year came in Brazil, where the cars were able to set just one lap in Q3 before it rained heavily, and of those laps, Kevin Magnussen’s was the fastest, so while it was a little fortunate, it was still pole on merit, the first ever for both him and the team.

But from Canada onwards, Magnussen generally struggled to keep the upper hand over Schumacher, and the Haas drivers were very evenly matched. The three black and orange flags in Canada, Hungary and Singapore were unlucky, if not coincidental, but in Monza, Zandvoort, Mexico and Abu Dhabi he was simply slower than Schumacher, as well as in Silverstone where he did at least score a point. Magnussen has never quite lived up to the promise he showed in his first ever race, that brilliant podium in Australia 2014, and it will be interesting to see how he fares against Nico Hulkenberg this year, having raced against very few teammates.

15. Lance Stroll (down 2). Stroll is very heavily maligned in Formula 1 for the fact that his father owns the team, and although he is far from the worst driver on the grid, it is true that drivers of his level very rarely get seven seasons (at least) in the top level. Stroll did alright compared to a past-his-best Vettel this year, but was still generally underwhelming and doesn’t look to be showing signs of improvement. This year, he was also a little too aggressive in wheel-to-wheel combat.

But Stroll did have some very good races this year, with Zandvoort being one where he was very quick in all weekend and took a well-deserved point for tenth. Also notable was his charge to eighth in Abu Dhabi which almost earned Aston Martin sixth in the championship, and a slightly fortunate sixth in Singapore, which still required a good defence against Vettel at the end. He held off his teammate in Paul Ricard for a point, and deserved another in Hungary but lost time as he was hit by Ricciardo. Stroll drove well to tenth in Miami, where he had qualified, despite having to start from the pitlane.

COTA initially looked like Stroll’s best drive of all, as he qualified a brilliant seventh and was running there in the race when he made a late defensive move on Alonso that took him out of the race. Stroll also forced teammate Vettel onto the grass in the Brazil sprint, and turned in on Albon in Jeddah. He also had some disappointing races such as Monaco and Baku, and was usually a bit behind Vettel. Being outqualified by Hulkenberg in Bahrain was also a low point. Stroll is not a bad driver and looks to have the Aston Martin seat as long as he wants it, but I suspect he will have a more difficult time next year alongside Alonso, who will be keen to have the team built more around him.

16. Yuki Tsunoda (up 3). After a very poor debut season, Tsunoda showed significant improvement this year, often outpacing Gasly, and I think there is more to come from Tsunoda. He is still too error-prone, making some clumsy mistakes this year, and sometimes appears angry and unprofessional, but who also is quick and has significant potential in Formula 1. Pierre Gasly’s drop in form since last year, and Tsunoda’s improvement, suggests that last year’s car was perhaps designed far more around his teammate.

Tsunoda’s most impressive drive probably came in Imola, where he was quite a lot faster than his teammate and finished seventh after overtaking Vettel and Magnussen with strong pace later in the race. In Baku he was close behind Gasly and lost sixth to a rear wing failure, while he was taken out in Paul Ricard following a good qualifying. Spain and Zandvoort were other races where he was quicker than his teammate, as were Mexico and Abu Dhabi, but he often finished just outside the points or had bad luck when he was fast.

In general, Tsunoda wasn’t quite as quick as Gasly, but the main thing that hurts his ranking is far too many big errors. The worst of these came in Silverstone, where he committed the cardinal sin of taking out his teammate, spinning into Gasly, while he crashed clumsily in both Canada and Singapore, and had poor races in Austria and Hungary. But despite this mistakes, Tsunoda was much better than he had been in 2021, and I expect more significant improvement next year, so would be surprised if he is beaten by new teammate Nyck de Vries.

17. Zhou Guanyu (rookie). The only rookie on the grid had what looks on paper like a very poor season, heavily outscored by Bottas. But this disguises the fact that Zhou was particularly uncompetitive when the car was at its best, and improved significantly after the Alfa Romeo stopped being a regular contender for points, and over the second half of the season he was frequently quicker than Bottas. From Hungary onwards, I would rate Zhou marginally ahead of his teammate. He also has strong racecraft and is good in wet conditions. His season will be best remembered for a very scary accident in Silverstone in which his car was tipped upside down and then launched over a barrier.

Zhou scored points on his debut, finishing tenth in Bahrain after some good overtaking, but his best race of the year was Canada where he made Q3 in a wet qualifying, and then finished eighth, unlucky to be beaten by Bottas. Zhou also made the top ten in the wet Silverstone qualifying, and scored a point for tenth in Monza. But while the car wasn’t great over the second half of the year and Zhou scored few points, he usually finished ahead of Bottas, with Abu Dhabi being an example of such, where he also pulled off a fantastic last lap move on Albon.

But the main problem with Zhou’s season was that he failed to score good points when the car was good. Maybe he struggled with pressure, or maybe the car was always good and Bottas’ form just fluctuated significantly, while Zhou was just consistently average. I suspect it is a bit of a combination, and while Zhou had a few reliability issues, they didn’t really cost him points, with Silverstone the only retirement that is likely to have denied him points, a crash in which he was the innocent party. Zhou’s rookie season was decent, and he might become a solid midfielder in the future, but I suspect Bottas will turn up more next year and he will be left behind a bit.

18. Mick Schumacher (down 1). I have to question where Schumacher would place on this list if Mazepin was still his teammate. Bahrain is a perfect example, where he finished 11th, and would have looked outstanding if Mazepin had raced the second car and finished towards the back, but instead was compared with Magnussen in fifth, and suddenly he didn’t look much cop. He would almost certainly still have his Haas drive, but I think he has been harshly sacked anyway, having generally matched Magnussen over the second half of the season. But much of that was down to his poor first third of the year, with far too many heavy accidents costing the team a significant amount of money.

Schumacher scored just two points finishes this year, but both were big points as he finished an excellent eighth, from the back, in Silverstone after a late battle with Verstappen. He then defended well against Hamilton in Austria in the sprint, and made progress to take sixth in the race. Then he also drove well to make Q3 in Zandvoort, and in Monza he outperformed Magnussen and pulled off a super move on Latifi. Canada was another strong weekend, where Schumacher started sixth but retired. And while Brazil qualifying was perhaps the nail in the coffin, qualifying last with his teammate on pole, Schumacher recovered very well in the sprint to finish just four places behind Magnussen.

The reason Schumacher is out of Formula 1 is the large amount of crashes he had at the start of the year, with heavy crashes in Jeddah and Monaco, where the car split in two, particularly costly, but Schumacher also hit Vettel in Miami and lost his first points. But he was thereafter very clean, up until Abu Dhabi where he hit Latifi with a silly move, but had already lost his drive by that time. One of the most likeable drivers on the grid, I would like to see Schumacher given another chance in the future, with rumours of a move to Sauber, but would say that is unlikely.

19. Daniel Ricciardo (down 4). Maybe I am being too harsh on him due to the expectations, and it is true that Norris is a supremely talented driver. But the car was all new for this year, and Ricciardo had been at the team for a full season already, so the fact that he performed so poorly is concerning, and somewhat inexcusable. He was never close to Norris’ pace, and also made numerous errors. But Ricciardo is not a bad driver, we have seen at Red Bull and Renault just how talented he is, and he just wasn’t himself in 2022, or 2021 for that matter.

The one real glimpse of the Ricciardo of old in 2022 came in Mexico, where he was given the soft tyre for the final stint and charged through the pack to seventh, top of the midfield. Ricciardo also qualified and raced well in Australia, just behind Norris as he finished sixth, and beat his teammate in Baku. His best result was fifth in Singapore, but this was a more fortunate result. Ricciardo ended the season with a decent drive to ninth in Abu Dhabi, but these races were too few and far between to save his drive.

Ricciardo’s main problem this year was the complete lack of pace, outqualifying Norris just once, in Spain after his teammate exceeded track limits, and Monaco, Silverstone, Zandvoort and COTA would have to be the most disappointing examples of him having absolutely no pace. The frustration caused by this probably caused some of the errors, taking out Sainz in Imola, Magnussen in Brazil, Tsunoda in Mexico, and for many the feeling at the end of the year was that his exit from Formula 1 couldn’t come soon enough. Ricciardo rightly lost his drive to Oscar Piastri for next year, but hopefully he will squeeze his way back in somewhere in the future, because we saw as recently as 2020 that he is still a very good driver.

20. Nicholas Latifi (down 2). He may have been well-beaten by George Russell, but Latifi, while among the backmarkers, did okay in his first two seasons in Formula 1. For some reason, that changed in 2022 and he plummeted to the clear worst on the grid, unable to stay anywhere near the pace of Alex Albon, and while he made a few mistakes, Latifi’s main problem was that he was just so slow. Maybe the aftermath of Abu Dhabi 2021 has had an effect on his driving, but it was unsurprising when he was dropped by the team at the end of the season.

Amongst all the pain, Latifi did have two very good races. The first of these came in Silverstone, where he came through every qualifying session to make it into Q3 and start tenth, and then raced well to stick with the pace of the midfield and run in the top ten for a considerable amount of the race, eventually slipping to 12th. The next good race was Suzuka, where Latifi pitted for intermediates immediately when the race restarted and got into the points as a result, before driving well enough to finish ninth.

Latifi had a few races where he made errors, such as Saudi Arabia where he crashed twice and Singapore where he put Zhou in the wall, but his main problem was being cut adrift in last place time after time with no apparent explanation as to why. It wasn’t his worst race, but one that stands out particularly was Monza, where Nyck de Vries was drafted in from practice three to replace Latifi, outqualified him, and then scored points for ninth as Latifi was 15th. That was the final nail in the coffin, and despite his wealth, I don’t expect to see Latifi back in Formula 1 again. But he is not as bad a driver as this season would suggest.

Awards:

Driver of the season – Max Verstappen. Broke records with 15 wins in a season, and utterly dominated. Added his name to the list of the great drivers of history. Honourable mentions to Leclerc and Norris.

Team of the season – Red Bull. Built the best car, outfoxed their rivals strategically, continued to do the fastest pitstops, very little reliability trouble, had the best driver and dominated the championship. No honourable mentions, it cannot be anyone else.

Most improved driver – Alexander Albon. It was expected, but he was so much better than he had been at Red Bull, and repaired his reputation. Honourable mentions to Russell and Tsunoda.

Biggest disappointment (driver) – Daniel Ricciardo. I thought he would get back on form this year in the new cars but he was worse, and there were no complaints when he was dropped. Honourable mentions to Gasly and Bottas.

Biggest disappointment (team) – Mercedes. Their drop in form gave Red Bull a rather simple run to the championship, but their radical design may pay off in the long term. Honourable mention to Alpine and McLaren, still not frontrunners.

Best designers – Red Bull. Simply, they built the best car. Honourable mention to Mercedes because I think their design will pay off eventually.

Best strategists – Red Bull. On so many occasions they beat Mercedes or Ferrari strategically, in Monaco, Hungary, USA and Mexico. Honourable mention to Aston Martin.

Best mechanics – Red Bull. Again. Their pitstops are still consistently the best. Honourable mention to McLaren, who did actually have the fastest stop of the year. I can’t really think of any particularly impressive quick repair jobs this year from anyone.

Best race drive – Max Verstappen, Belgium. All weekend, he was a class above anyone else, and went from the back to the front in less than half the race. Honourable mentions to Verstappen, Japan and Leclerc, Austria, and De Vries, Monza.

Best qualifying lap – Kevin Magnussen, Brazil. It had to be, he took pole position in a Haas. Honourable mention to Leclerc, Spain.

Best race lap – Sebastian Vettel, final lap in Austin. Overtaking Kevin Magnussen to gain eighth place on the penultimate corner was outstanding. Honourable mention to the battle between Leclerc and Verstappen in Bahrain, and the laps on slick tyres on a damp track in Singapore.

Best overtake – Charles Leclerc on Hamilton, Silverstone. Around the outside, on worn hard tyres, at Copse. It was beautiful. Honourable mentions to Leclerc on Perez, Austin and Vettel on Albon, Austin.

Biggest blunder (driver) – Charles Leclerc, France. This crash from the lead of the race effectively ended the championship. Honourable mentions to Schumacher, Miami and Tsunoda, Britain.

Biggest blunder (team) – Ferrari, Silverstone. Why did they leave Leclerc on those old tyres after the safety car? Honourable mentions to Ferrari, Monaco and Ferrari, Hungary.

Best race – The United States GP. A great battle between Hamilton and Verstappen at the front, entirely fair, Leclerc’s amazing pass on Perez, Vettel’s charge to points and Alonso seventh despite the crash. Honourable mentions to the British GP and the Hungarian GP.

Worst race – The Azerbaijan GP. After Leclerc retired, there was no battle at the front and it was very dull. Honourable mention to Mexico.

Best moment – Discovering that the new cars could follow closely. They’re not perfect, but we are going in the right direction. Next step is getting rid of DRS. Honourable mention to Magnussen’s pole and Ferrari’s resurgence.

Worst moment – Finding out Red Bull had exceeded the budget cap in 2021. It’s cheating, and massively devalued their title win last year. Honourable mention to the missile strike debacle in Saudi Arabia, the wait to find out Zhou’s condition in Silverstone (both were worse, but I wanted to give it to an actual F1 moment), and also the appalling behaviour of much of the F1 fanbase, both online and at the tracks.

The 2022 season was very average, particularly considering it came after one of F1’s greatest ever seasons in 2021, but I think the title battle could be a lot more exciting in 2023, and another edition of Hamilton vs Verstappen, with Leclerc and Russell hopefully not far behind either.




I would be interested to know how other people would rank the drivers, and then I will do an overall ranking adding up the scores of any top tens using the real scoring system.
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Old 4 Dec 2022, 09:32 (Ref:4136073)   #3
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Good list, although I would swap Zhou and Tsunoda around. Zhou looked more impressive more times than Tsunoda. And Ricciardo down in 19th does maybe seem a bit harsh despite his disappointing season
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Old 4 Dec 2022, 11:51 (Ref:4136079)   #4
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I have a hard time ranking some of the drivers lower down on the grid, even though Latifi and Ricciardo come out as worst, as so many of them where quite anonymous.



Ranking the drivers against the car, and their team mates I have some ideas of who I put in the top ten, though. But, should I name the team driver of the year, those might be not the obvious ones from my list.


1. I would say the best driver of the year, maximizing what he had at hand and beating his team mate is Max Verstappen. That being said, he is a flawed genius. He reminds me of Michael Schumacher. A brilliant driver, but with such moral flaws in his character that I accept his achievement, but I can not admire him.


2. Second best I can not manage to separate two drivers. One of them managed to come out like a man invigorated, and drove really well and used a not very good car to its potential and showed why he is admired for both being smart, kind and an excellent racer. Sebastian Vettel was a standout this year. Gone where the deer in the headlights, and back was the real racer.

The second driver was kind of the other end of the spectrum. A young man asserting himself and not only crushing his team mate, but raced well and took a not very good car beyond what is should be doing. Lando Norris is in my book as good as a four time world champion. They will share my second spot.


3. Fernando Alonso is in my mind (and probably his own) the greatest driver on the grid. Let me clarify. He has driven Indycar, and veterans of the sport was impressed by how he adapted and learned. He has driven rallying, and done decently well there as well. He has driven sportscars, and was there the driver they put in the car to make up time or to dig in and take it that extra bit. He showed he could work well in a team and share the glory, and won Le Mans. Until Lewis or Max does something similar, I will hold up Fernando as the greater driver. Maybe not the better F1 driver, but one up there with the legends that used to do multidisciplinary driving. The best all rounder of this generation. Looking at a car that was decently good but brittle and how he wrestled it up the grid I think he was the driver for my third step. He stepped up this year and showed his skill in many races, until stupidity or reliability killed it.


4. Lewis Hamilton had checked out, that was clear. Then he got a car that was a total dog. But, when the fire was lit, he got points and finishes that a car like that did not deserve. The Lewis at the end of the year rose four steps at least on this list. The way he managed to pull the team together and congratulate them for every small gain was the signs of the world champion. He who used to hate testing worked like a development driver the whole year, and got results. Seriously impressive.



5. Once again I can not separate two drivers. One is a hard worker that worked the media, worked with the team, taught himself how to improve and was not bad at all compared to his team mate who some claim is the golden boy. I think McLaren losing Carlos Sainz was a blow, and at Ferrari he has show how good he is.

Leclerc in comparison started the year like a rocket. When he was good he was sublime. He could clearly take the car and just drive. He is a natural. But, he is insecure and mentally I wonder is he is the match for Carlos. He made stupid mistakes, didn't handle the team in failures like Carlos or Lewis. He is too uneven, and I fear he will suffer in the chaos that will result of Binotto leaving. But, when he shines he is fantastic. I still think this is the best driver pairing on the grid, if the team can pull together.


6. Russel finally got his win. I don't buy into the hype about how he beat Lewis. He is a very, very good driver. He drives with his brain, he handle media well and he obviously is good if he can keep up with Lewis. But, I put him below the Ferrari pairing until we see him in the car next to Lewis when Lewis is not doing development and testing on race day. His win was well deserved though.


Alex Albon and Valtteri Bottas come next for me, and I place Albon slightly higher because I felt he had a more commanding presence in his team, and punched a bit more above his weight. He is the real deal, and while is took a pounding next to Max, I think he has benefited from being out of the limelight a bit. His results this year has shown a man that wrestles a car by the neck and make it do more than it should. Valtteri has taken the same kind of pounding mentally in the car next to Lewis, and I has been impressed by his tenure at Mercedes, not only for when he won, but for when he lost and still got on with the show. I think he is the strongest number two driver of all time. But, he is not good enough with the racecraft. He did well at Alfa, but I rate Albon a better racer.



Then there were the rest...



Summary:

Best of the best: Adrian Newey
Driver of the year: Sebastian Vettel
Team of the Year: Mercedes
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Old 5 Dec 2022, 10:35 (Ref:4136144)   #5
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My view:

1. Verstappen. Some great early season wheel to wheel battles with LeClerc. Then after a those close races the RBR / Verstappen combo was undoubtedly the class of the field. He is a special talent.

2. Russell. Just constantly fast. Even when the car was porpoising and looked absolutely horrible to drive he matched and often beat Hamilton, and constantly put the car in the upper reaches of the points. Deserved his race win.

3. LeClerc. Going into this season, in my own mind I was not totally sure which of the Ferrari drivers was their #1. After a few rounds that was no longer a question. Very quick in qualifying. Team mistakes and miscommunication cost lots of points. Occasional mistakes and he needs to play his part in helping solve those communication problems.

4. Hamilton. When they started to sort the horrible car out, it was clear that Hamilton is still a class driver. Well matched by his teammate this year, but if Mercedes 2023 car is good, then Hamilton could be WDC again.

5. Alonso. There is life in the old dog yet. Outscored by his teammate, but was often the victim of mechanical problems. When there was an opportunity to be had, Alonso was there.

6. Norris. Had a good season. Destroyed his teammate. Its hard to see how much more he could have done in the car he was given. I would like to see him in a more competitive car.

7. Sainz. Ferraris #2. After early season disappointment, drove plenty of good races from mid-season onwards. Deserved his race win.

8. Perez. Had days when he shone. I don't know the numbers, but seemed to have closed the gap to Max compared with last year. Helpful number 2, who deserves a little more respect from his teammate.

9. Ocon. He has days when he seems to underperform or go missing, but overall had a solid season and often beat his teammate.

10. Bottas. It's a game of 2 halves. Drove beautifully in the first half of the season, scoring loads of points. I think perhaps the team were out-developed by others, because the second part of the season was poor for Bottas and the whole team.

11. Vettel. The car was sometimes nowhere and other times allowed the drivers to compete for solid points. Vettel had some decent races and will be missed.

12. Magnussen. A surprise return to the grid, and got into the points often enough. That pole position showed that he maximised the opportunity given to him, which was nice to see. Still over-aggressive when wheel-to-wheel.

13. Albon. Like Russell before him, he dragged the Williams car to the latter parts of qualy at times. Scored a few points and put in some decent performances. Hard to stand out too much in the Williams.

14. Stroll. Yes, he is a pay driver. But he did well enough when paired with a former WDC to show that he is pretty decent.

15. Gasly. Disappointing. I have been saying for a while that he needs to leave the RBR family. Early season promise gave way to lacklustre disappointment. Must do better next season in a new start at a new team.

16. Tsunoda. Upped his game and significantly closed the gap to his teammate. I don't think that he will ever drive for the main RBR team though.

17. Zhou. I thought he was OK. Didn't score many points, but was quick at times and not outclassed by his teammate. It will be interesting to see how he does in his second year.

18. Schumacher. His teammate turned up after a year out and beat him convincingly. There is talent there of course, but too many accidents and not enough high points to keep his seat. Maybe will be back at some point.

19. Ricciardo. On the whole, very disappointing. At least he got a few solid points finished towards the end of the season to sign off with.

20. Latifi. Seems like a nice guy, but will not be missed. 2 points in Japan, so that was good.
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Old 5 Dec 2022, 12:15 (Ref:4136158)   #6
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Originally Posted by steve_r View Post
My view:

...

12. Magnussen. A surprise return to the grid, and got into the points often enough. That pole position showed that he maximised the opportunity given to him, which was nice to see. Still over-aggressive when wheel-to-wheel.


...



This hits on something which I think is a common theme of the drivers that ended up outside my top 10. A few of them never seems to drive with their head. Stroll is good at weaving dangerously, Gasly drove full throttle under red flag and Occon at times seems more interested in putting his team mate into the wall than scoring points.


This is probably where I think Max Verstappen has grown most lately. He still has his moments.



Actually thinking while driving is something Mercedes drivers have been excelling at. Multiple constructor's championships are a good witness to that. This is one reason I hold Sainz so highly as well.
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Old 11 Dec 2022, 11:49 (Ref:4136775)   #7
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wolfhound should be qualifying in the top 3 on the gridwolfhound should be qualifying in the top 3 on the gridwolfhound should be qualifying in the top 3 on the gridwolfhound should be qualifying in the top 3 on the grid
I think there should be an award for those at Liberty and the FIA for coming up with a set of rules that actually encourage overtaking. I wonder are there any stats on the number of non DRS overtakes for the season and how that compares to previous seasons.

The next part of the rule changes is the cost cap and it will be interesting to see if the field closes up over the next few seasons.
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