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The top five highest-ranked F1 drivers of 2022

With the 2022 season coming to a close, the RacingNews365.com writers give their verdicts on this season's top drivers.

It's been a year of domination for one particular driver on the grid, but there has still been standout performances. Which drivers produced the best races throughout the year and went to the top of the class? The RacingNews365.com writers assessed each driver and came up with their final 2022 driver rankings, with the results of the top five as follows:

Max Verstappen - Rating 9.5

Can anyone stop Max Verstappen? That will be the main question heading into the 2023 season. The early teething problems from the RB18 masked what eventually turned out to be record-breaking year for Verstappen, achieving 15 wins in a season on his way to defend his world title. The Spanish Grand Prix was the first test of his resilience, having to bide his time behind a surprisingly fast George Russell. He eventually took three more victories, two of which were gifted following mistakes and poor reliability for main title rival Charles Leclerc. That brought his tally up to seven victories before taking an eighth from 10th on the grid at the Hungarian Grand Prix. If that wasn't a bad omen for his rivals heading into the summer break, the comeback performance at the entirely different circuit of Spa-Francorchamps made it become a question of 'when' not 'if' Verstappen would take the title. This eventually came in Japan, and even if there was slight confusion over the rules when he crossed the line, there was no doubt that this was always going to be Verstappen's year.

Lando Norris - Rating 9.0

In his fourth full-time season in Formula 1, Lando Norris has shown once again why he's one of the most consistent drivers on the grid. This season isn't as successful as 2021 for Norris, having only achieved one podium this year versus four and a Pole Position last season. But in a car that eight-time Grand Prix winner Daniel Ricciardo found difficult to drive, Norris was always making sure he was in the hunt for the points-paying positions. This consistency was rewarded at Imola when Leclerc crashed out of third place chasing the leading Red Bull duo in the closing stages, Norris was promoted to a much-needed podium for McLaren after both drivers finished outside the points at the season opener in Bahrain. Singapore was another standout performance of the year, making his team's strategy work to take fourth in what Norris described as the "toughest race of his career." This claim would be tested later in the season at the Brazilian Grand Prix, when he finished fourth in the Brazilian GP Sprint Race while suffering from food poisoning. It would've likely ended in another points finish if he didn't retire in the race on Sunday with reliability issues. A solid year for the Brit as he works with McLaren to regularly challenge for podiums and wins for the future.

George Russell - Rating 8.0

Not many drivers can claim they beat Lewis Hamilton when they was his teammate. In fact, prior to 2022 only Jenson Button and Nico Rosberg could make such a claim. Add to that list George Russell, who in his debut season with Mercedes has shown just how ready he has been to drive for a race-winning team. Given the problems with the Mercedes W13 this year, which have affected Hamilton more than Russell, thats a remarkable record that could have been kept up all season had it not been for a rule discrepancy the forced him to retire at Silverstone. Russell challenged for race wins early on his full-time Mercedes career, first at Spain in a stunning defensive display, then latterly taking a surprise pole at Hungary. He was also in the mix at Zandvoort, and had it not been for poor tyre choices at the US and Mexico probably would have taken his first win before Brazil. He's had some questionable moments this year, notably at Singapore and Austin, but largely put in exemplary performances. It's those performances that led team boss Toto Wolff to question whether he spent a year too long at Williams, perhaps 2022 confirms Russell could have made the step up after his stint replacing Hamilton in Bahrain.

Lewis Hamilton - Rating 8.0

The 2022 season has been Lewis Hamilton's worst in his Formula 1 career, with zero poles and zero wins. But if you looked beyond the stats, it has been a season of two halves for the seven-time world champion. In the first 10 races he was finishing just outside the top five as he struggled to get up to speed with the tricky W13, notably the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix when he questioned "Do they even do points for that position?" after finishing 10th. A scruffy qualifying in Austria probably threw away the potential for a race win/podium, likewise a solid result at Spa Francorchamps after clashing with Fernando Alonso. But through it all there has been signs of Hamilton's sheer determination, notably his comeback to fourth at Barcelona, and his mighty drive at Austin which confirmed once and for all that Hamilton isn't looking to move away from F1 any time soon. At 37 years-old Hamilton is entering the same era as Valentino Rossi did at the tail end of his MotoGP career. But unlike Rossi, it seems Hamilton is still in a position to fight for championships in what years remain of his career.

Fernando Alonso - Rating 8.0

It's been a season of 'What could've been?' for Fernando Alonso, after the Spaniard seemingly ended his two-year stint at Alpine complaining about the reliability of the A522. The team admitted that it sacrificed reliability over performance , but could not point towards anything particular that Alonso was doing in the car that caused more retirements compared to Esteban Ocon. The Spaniard believes he lost around 60 to 70 points due to his poor reliability, which having looked at the final standings is probably not too far wide of the mark. A ninth place finish in the Drivers' Championship and a joint-best finish of fifth at Silverstone, Belgium and Brazil perhaps do not tell the true story of Alonso's contribution. It probably didn't help that he announced his departure from the team midway through the season, which ultimately led to the Oscar Piastri saga during the summer break. But if there was any doubts as to whether he would still perform for the team, Alonso showed his dedication to the cause by enabling Alpine to finish P4 in the Constructors' Championship ahead of McLaren.

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