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Lewis Hamilton

The biggest winners and losers from the 2022 F1 season so far

It's been an action-packed first half of the Formula 1 season in 2022, so who are the winners and losers at the halfway mark?

Schumacher Hamilton Austria
Column
To news overview © XPB

The first half of the 2022 Formula 1 season firmly belonged to Max Verstappen and Red Bull, with eight wins in 13 Grands Prix.

Reigning World Champion Verstappen enjoys an 80-point advantage at the top of the standings – over three races' worth of an advantage – and currently looks like the favourite to claim a second world crown.

Ferrari's season has self-imploded as they inadvertently find new ways to destroy the races of Charles Leclerc or Carlos Sainz, allowing Verstappen to continue racking up the wins.

Elsewhere, the house Toto Wolff built is finally cracking as Mercedes dropped the ball with the W13 and the new technical regulations.

Fortunately for Lewis Hamilton and George Russell, they've found it again, and are hunting down Ferrari for second in the Constructors' Championship.

But who are the major winners and losers from so far in the 2022 Formula 1 season?

Let's take a look – starting with the losers.

The case of Mick Schumacher and the twos

Two is a number which has been closely associated with Mick Schumacher during his racing career. It's often been said that he requires a season in a series to get accustomed to it, before showing his skill and speed in the second.

In 2017, he finished 12th in Euro F3, before claiming the title a year later with an impressive run of five successive wins near season's-end.

It was the same in Formula 2, again climbing from 12th to the title across the 2019 and 2020 campaigns.

So, following his track record, 2022 was set to be a big season for Schumacher, especially as he now had a car with which to actually race, as well as having a useful yardstick in Kevin Magnussen as teammate – one who can drive an F1 car without hitting, spinning or being a nuisance, on and off track.

But rather than kick on, two is a number again hanging over Schumacher in 2022.

It is the number of Haas chassis he's destroyed, in Saudi Arabia and Monaco following a desperately poor start to the season.

Boss Guenther Steiner read the riot act in Baku, just within earshot of the German, who seems to have taken the threat onboard.

Two (that number again) points finishes in Britain and Austria showed flashes of promise, as did his very wise decision to back out of a last corner attempted overtake on Verstappen at Silverstone.

Much better to haul four points for eighth than risk everything just for another couple. After all, waiting that long for points, you'll take them wherever they come.

Contract talks with Haas are yet to begin for 2023, as Steiner revealed on the RacingNews365.com podcast.

A third season at Haas is likely to be Schumacher's only option to stay in F1, unless Alpine (more on that below) come calling, but he needs to keep his performance level where it's been since the Canadian Grand Prix.

If not, a fine young driver, if not a world-beater, will forever be known as "son of."

			© XPB
	© XPB

Ferrari and Alpine shockers

Someone once said: "Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.”

CC Ferrari; Mattia Binotto; Charles Leclerc; Carlos Sainz.

Ever since Michael Schumacher retired for the first time, the Scuderia have been a mess.

Granted the team won the 2007 titles and came close to doing so again in 2008, but the rot at Maranello set in after Schumacher left, and it has spread.

Ferrari seem incapable of being able to build a quick car and have a strong trackside operations – including strategy. They can do one, but not the other.

In 2012, the F-2012 was a tractor Fernando Alonso somehow managed to drag to three points off the Drivers' title with a strong operational side.

By 2017/2018, Ferrari were on par with Mercedes, but together with Sebastian Vettel, they conspired to throw both titles away through poor team management or shocking strategic calls – Italy qualifying being case in point in not getting Kimi Raikkonen to tow Vettel, the Finn getting pole, and then telling him he was sacked for 2019 on race day morning.

This year, the F1-75 is the quickest machine, evidenced by Leclerc (seven) and Sainz's (one) form in taking pole.

Abysmal race execution has Ferrari 93 points behind Red Bull in the Constructors'. Leclerc has one podium finish since Miami – the fifth race – and has retired from the lead in Spain, Azerbaijan and France.

The so-called greatest team in F1 history need to get serious. And quickly.

As for Alpine, their season can be summed up by a paraphrased quote from Oscar Wilde's The Importance of Being Earnest: 'To lose one driver Mr Szafnauer may be regarded as a misfortune; to lose both looks like carelessness.'

Trying to push Alonso out after 2023 to get Oscar Piastri in for '24 has backfired and, from holding all the cards, Alpine have been mugged by the canny Alonso and their own indecision.

Piastri looks set for McLaren, and Alpine the slim-pickings which remain on the table.

The A522 is a decent package, with the team finally delivering on the noise they've made over the years, but just as it was coming altogether, some pretty impressive negligence on the driver front has cost them.

Another Oscar Piastri will not be coming along anytime soon.

Ocon, Mercedes and Verstappen

On the positive side for Alpine, Esteban Ocon has been a strong performer, morphing into the team leader in waiting once Alonso's defection is complete.

The Frenchman has more than held his own against his teammate, and leads him 58-41 in the standings. Ocon's run to fifth in Austria was a standout result, with his strong attacking moves on Alonso in Saudi and defensive one at the start in Hungary showing he's not afraid to get those elbows out.

More of the same in the second half is required to rebuild some of that stock that he lost in 2020 and 2021 and get back in contention for a potential Mercedes seat if he can continue to put Alonso in his place.

Paradoxically, Mercedes' struggling in 2022 has actually made the team out to be winners.

If the W13 had been a race-winning dominant machine, Lewis Hamilton's retirement would be ever nearer as he would be in contention for that eighth title that was snatched away in Abu Dhabi 2021.

Hamilton is a winner. He will not retire finishing fourth in the championship and be happy. He will go out having regained his title and take the only major record from Schumacher which he hasn't already.

The fact that the Silver Arrows are struggling means he will be around for longer to fix it and get back to the top.

More Lewis Hamilton is better for Mercedes and F1. The full force of his retirement will not be felt until Mercedes find theirselves in another hole, unsure of how to dig out.

As for Verstappen – it's been a cruise.

He's barely had to break sweat as Ferrari implode and Mercedes bounce around. Sergio Perez is a good teammate, but is only ever going to be the number two.

Sure Perez might have the better weekend here and there – Monaco for example – but Verstappen has enough to see off his only real title challenger.

Eight wins compared to one says as much.

It will surely only be a matter of time before Max Verstappen is added to the names of Alberto Ascari, Graham Hill, Jim Clark, Emerson Fittipaldi, Mika Hakkinen and Fernando Alonso as a two-time Formula 1 World Champion.

Also interesting:

F1 Podcast: Steiner exclusive on 2022, Schumacher and officialdom

RacingNews365.com F1 journalists Dieter Rencken and Michael Butterworth are joined by Haas F1 Team Principal Guenther Steiner to discuss the inner workings of his team, regulation changes in the sport and driver switches.

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