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The biggest stories from the 2022 F1 season

It was a thrilling season on track with some major talking points off it, so RacingNews365 has rounded up the major stories from the 2022 Formula 1 season.

From fantastic wheel-to-wheel racing on track to political controversy off it, the 2022 Formula 1 season had it all. It was a virtuoso performance from World Champion Max Verstappen to secure his second crown with 15 wins from 22 races as he rewrote the record books and cemented himself as the new 'Man to Beat' in Grand Prix racing as Red Bull prised the Constructors' Championship away from Mercedes after eight years. Meanwhile in the paddock, there was wrangling over Red Bull spending too much and breaking the cost cap, receiving a substantial penalty and a lot of furore over a driver, who at the time, had never driven in an official session. RacingNews365.com's Jake Nichol and Rory Mitchell have rounded up some of the biggest stories of the year - starting with the retirement of an all-time great which triggered a silly-season the likes of which was never seen.

Sebastian Vettel's retirement

Since he left Ferrari at the end of 2020, the biggest question mark about Sebastian Vettel has been: 'When will he retire?' With four titles, 53 wins and a whole host of records on his CV, Vettel could have walked away after leaving the Scuderia, but wanted to race on - doing so with Aston Martin. By his own admission, the two-year stay has not gone to plan competitively with only one podium to his name - in Azerbaijan 2021, although he was kicked out of second place in Hungary later in the year due to a lack of fuel post-race. But in not being involved in the white hot fight at the head of the field, Vettel found his voice off-track and became one of Grand Prix racing's true elder statesmen. How many other World Champions, in any sport, would appear on the BBC's political talk show Question Time and speak more sense than any of the so-called politicians on the panel? He pointed out his own hypocrisy about caring about the environment while being a Formula 1 driver. It was something he could reconcile and so at the Hungarian Grand Prix, he announced his retirement at the end of the season - kicking off the mother of all silly seasons (more about that below.) He came home 10th in Abu Dhabi, 12 years after becoming the youngest Weltmeister in F1 history - while also pleasingly leading the 3,500th lap of his career in the United States. Just when F1 needs voices like Vettel's shouting out of the tent, he has gone, but the legacy of one of F1's very best drivers will continue on - JN.


The 2022 season was set to be a new era for Formula 1 with a return to ground effect cars and a design that enables drivers to race more closely on track. Early on it was clear these were very different beasts to the ones driven in the previous homologation cycle. But another phenomenon was clocked during pre-season testing at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya. A video posted to F1’s social media channel (below) showed the aggressive bouncing caused by the ‘porpoising’, an effect that is generated when the car is sucked to the ground by the floor aero and then sprung back up by the stiff suspension. This prompted concerns over whether it was safe enough for drivers to race, eventually leading to the FIA to introduce new safety measures after consultation with the teams. What was most notable was how it affected each team individually. While Mercedes and Ferrari suffered from it the most on the straights, the Red Bull appeared to not be affected at all. This was down to intelligent car design and the genius and experience of Adrian Newey, which led to the RB18 being one of the most successful F1 cars of all time - RM.


Bumpy road to the top for Charles Leclerc! 🤕 #F1 pic.twitter.com/Z6a5e6d3bo — Formula 1 (@F1) February 24, 2022

Mercedes bounce back from chronic W13 issues

When the W13 was unveiled at the second pre-season test in Bahrain, it was credited for being one of the most radical takes of this new era of F1 cars. The flattened side pods coupled with the slim bodywork looked slick, had the team found a silver bullet over the opposition? It turned out to be one of the worst cars since the 2011 season for Mercedes, as the car suffered the most from the ‘porpoising’ phenomenon that prompted the FIA to issue a technical directive on safety grounds midway through the season. Toto Wolff is said to have had a shouting match with his fellow Team Principal’s over the safety matter, after Lewis Hamilton suffered badly from back pain following the Azerbaijan Grand Prix - all of which was captured by the Netflix camera crews and should make for some great watching in the next series of Drive to Survive . The W13 nearly culminated in a winless season for Mercedes before a change in car concept enabled them to have a resurgence in pace towards the end of the year. It was a test of resilience for both Mercedes and Hamilton who was so used to being one of the main protagonists, and desperately wanted to prove his point after the 2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. Wolff has joked that the W13 has a “special place” in the Mercedes collection of F1 cars, the 2023 season will hopefully be more successful for the once unstoppable team - RM.

Oscar Piastri, Alpine and the Contract Recognition Board

For Alpine, the plan was simple: do with Oscar Piastri what Mercedes had effectively done with George Russell. Send the young charger to Williams to learn his craft in F1 before coming back to the senior team in a few years once a space had opened up and reap the rewards. Or, to look at it another way: park him somewhere in F1 because a seat wasn't available at your team, and one wasn't coming up anytime soon as one driver had a long-term deal and the other was insulted by the suggestion of eventually being phased out for a young driver. Whereas Mercedes had been ruthless in letting Valtteri Bottas head off to Alfa Romeo, Alpine could not get Fernando Alonso out of the seat to crowbar Piastri in. It's also not exactly a ringing endorsement of your junior programme to not promote a driver you've spent years hyping up. Anyhow, Alpine's grand plan of sending Piastri to Williams hit a snag as their continued mis-management of it forced the Australian Formula 2 champion into the welcoming arms of Zak Brown and McLaren. As RacingNews365.com exclusively revealed in the Contract Recognition Board's ruling, Piastri's camp was not amused by the offer of going to Williams - and began looking for other options. With Daniel Ricciardo's struggles at McLaren, his compatriot was signed up the day after the British Grand Prix to a deal, with which a race drive would come if Ricciardo left. The CRB ruled that Alpine had no legal contract in place with Piastri for 2023, and he was free to join McLaren. The pressure is now on him to be much closer to Lando Norris than Ricciardo ever managed - JN .

Cost Cap saga

The talk of F1 introducing a cost cap has been on the cards for years. The most notable progress came in 2010 when three new teams joined the grid in Virgin, Hispania, and Lotus on the basis that a cost cap would be imposed during the next Concorde agreement. But the implementation of a cost cap was delayed, and of the three teams mentioned only two made it into the hybrid era, and even then their tenures were short-lived: Caterham one season and Marussia (Virgin) three seasons. Fast forward to 2018 and teams eventually agreed to keep the spending under control, avoid spiralling costs, and increase the competitiveness of the field with a budget cap that would take effect in 2021. Early on it was clear the regulations were in their infancy, after Williams was found to have committed a procedural breach and fined $25,000 relating to one of their auditors submitting paperwork late. It later emerged that Red Bull had committed a minor overspend of the $145 million cap, which kickstarted a shouting match between the top teams. McLaren CEO Zak Brown sent a letter to FIA President Mohammed ben Sulayem claiming Red Bull had ‘cheated’ while Mercedes Team Principal Toto Wolff said that a breach of the cost cap would be a 'heavyweight' offence. Ferrari Team Principal Mattia Binotto added that even a 'minor' breach should have major consequences. Details of the nature of Red Bull’s overspend emerged and Team Principal Christian Horner hosting an extraordinary press conference at the Mexican Grand Prix, in which he refuted all the claims levied at them. The team was issued a $7 million fine from the FIA along with restrictions on their aero development for next season - RM .

Nikita Mazepin

Even before the season had kicked off, one team was forced, by outside events, to replace one of their drivers. After what can be described as an underwhelming debut season, Nikita Mazepin was set to remain with Haas for 2022 - keen to kick on in his sophomore year. However, during the Barcelona shakedown in February, Russian President Vladimir Putin invaded Ukraine - believing he could conquer the country in a matter of days. Mazepin's father Dmitry was a close associate of Putin - and indeed was in the Kremlin for a business meeting the day the invasion was launched. Haas subsequently ripped Mazepin's contract up, terminating the Uralkali title sponsor deal while F1 cancelled the Russian Grand Prix at Sochi. In Mazepin's place, Kevin Magnussen was brought back as a last minute substitute. He was the ideal candidate owing to his previous experience with the Haas team, his strong pace, and an ability to not end up somewhere in the gravel trap. Mazepin-less Haas delivered exactly what boss Guenther Steiner said they would in 2022 by writing off '21 early on: recover to be midfield runners and score points. 37 of them came Haas's way, with eighth in the Constructors', plus a memorable Pole Position for Magnussen in Brazil. From the uncertainty of pre-season, Haas had a decent campaign - whether Mazepin would have done any of what Magnussen did remains doubtful - JN.

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