No prizes for guessing the first name on this list. Eight wins in 13 starts and a commanding 80-point lead in the Drivers' Championship bears testimony to the stellar 2022 of Max Verstappen. While title rivals Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz have been guilty of unforced errors that have resulted in retirements and dropped points, no such problems have befallen Verstappen, who has been only too glad to take advantage of Ferrari's mistakes to claim maximum points of his own. The Dutchman only won the 2021 title on the final lap of the season's last Grand Prix, but on current form, he is set to wrap up the 2022 championship in a far quicker and more convincing manner. With the pressure of having won a championship now off, Verstappen is arguably driving even better than he did in 2021, and it must surely be a question of when, not if, he lifts the 2022 crown.
Finally moving over to Mercedes after a three-year stint cutting his teeth at Williams, many wondered how George Russell would stack up alongside seven-time World Champion Lewis Hamilton. If the first half of 2022 is anything to go by, Russell has firmly answered any critics who said he would fail to cut the mustard in a leading team. Although Mercedes' slump in competitiveness means Russell is still yet to win a Grand Prix, the Briton has extracted the maximum from his W13, and was comfortably the quicker of the two Silver Arrows drivers until the season's halfway point. Russell also took a surprise maiden pole position in Hungary and, although he was unable to convert that into a first win, Mercedes must be confident they have a ready-made replacement for when Hamilton eventually hangs up his helmet. Which brings us neatly on to...
After the disappointment of losing the 2021 title in contentious circumstances, Hamilton started 2022 in sluggish fashion, seemingly struggling to cope with the W13's tendency to porpoise. However, Mercedes have since got on top of their bouncing issues, and Hamilton has been much more his old self in recent weeks, scoring five podium finishes in a row before the summer break, and rolling back the years by leading several laps of the British Grand Prix. With Mercedes edging closer to the leading Red Bulls and Ferraris, Hamilton currently looks the more likely driver to provide the Silver Arrows with a victory in 2022.
Having seen teammate Daniel Ricciardo score McLaren's first win in eight years in Italy last year, Norris might have been hoping for his debut victory to come in 2022. However, with McLaren slipping back in competitiveness, it appears unlikely Norris will break his duck this year, but the Briton has nevertheless been impressive so far. Norris has comprehensively outshone and outscored Ricciardo, and is currently the only driver from outside Red Bull, Ferrari and Mercedes to score a podium finish during the campaign. McLaren are clearly convinced of Norris' potential, and have signed the Briton up on a multi-year deal. The only question is whether the Woking squad can give Norris the equipment his talent clearly deserves.
A surprising choice, perhaps, with Albon scoring only three points and ranking 19th in the Drivers’ standings. But the Anglo-Thai driver has shone despite the limitations of his FW44, and has firmly established himself as Williams' number one driver on his return to the sport after a year on the sidelines. Driving an inferior car to most of his rivals, Albon has had to rely on clever strategy calls and tyre management in order to pick up places, and both of these traits were very evident in Melbourne and Miami, as he scored his and Williams' only points finishes of 2022 so far. Albon and Williams seem to fit well together, and a new multi-year deal has been inked that will see him remain at Grove for the foreseeable future, as both driver and team seek to drag themselves further up the grid.