Formula 1’s summer break doesn’t quite come in the middle of the season, with 13 down and nine to go on the 2022 calendar. But as many of the teams and drivers enjoy some well-earned vacations during the mandatory two-week shutdown, it’s as good a time as any to take stock of where each team has done well in 2022, and where it need to improve.
The good: Its car development and Max Verstappen’s consistency. Red Bull delivered an extremely competitive car in 2022 and Verstappen – buoyed by last year’s title, no doubt – has made the most of it. He’s picked up wins that others have let go, or solid points when the pace hasn’t quite been there.
The bad: There’s not a lot on the negative side for Red Bull so far this year, but if it there’s been one weakness, it’s reliability. Four retirements due to technical issues in the first 13 races is not the return it will have been hoping for, but fortunately its main rival hasn’t fared much better on that front. Sergio Perez also claims the car has moved away from his driving style as the year has gone on, but if the team wins both titles that won’t be seen as a significant issue.
The good: Ferrari has made a massive step forward compared to 2021, it has to be remembered. Last year it wasn’t capable of fighting for wins, now it arguably has the best all-round car and power unit package on the grid. And there have been occasions where it has executed impressively well.
The bad: There have also been plenty of occasions when it hasn’t. Reliability has been a problem, as has strategy. Those two combined have resulted in Ferrari ending the first part of the season a long way from the lead of either championship, and a golden opportunity to fight for titles is slipping through its fingers. The second half just needs to bring more consistency to provide hope for the future.
The good: Reliability. Unlike Ferrari and Red Bull, there have been no major gremlins for Mercedes to deal with and it has been able to score points consistently. George Russell’s performances have been a massive plus, as has the way the team has maximized pretty much every opportunity that has come its way so far. You could make a case for the car improvements too, but…
The bad: The car. It’s not that Mercedes has a terrible car, as it’s still well clear of the rest of seven of the teams on the grid and nipping at the heels of the top two now, but this is a team that usually sets the standard and it hasn’t nailed the 2022 regulations. It has taken too long to get to grips with its issues, and has left itself far too much to do to get involved in either title fight.
The good: Alpine has had a sense of calm and pragmatism this year that has sometimes been lacking in the past. Car upgrades have worked, the concept has proven strong enough to move ahead of McLaren at this stage and the power unit is decent. But the big positive has to be the driver pairing, with both Esteban Ocon and Fernando Alonso performing well, even if the results haven’t always gone the Spaniard’s way.
The bad: Aside from the gap to the top three, it’s probably the potential for Alonso’s departure to disrupt the team’s momentum. It’s not exactly a show of faith to see the Spaniard sign a deal with Aston Martin from 2023 onwards (and nor was the highly-rated Oscar Piastri’s intention to leave), and whoever does drive for the team almost certainly represents a step down in terms of marketing appeal as it loses a double-world champion.
The good: The turnaround in form from the opening races to now has been remarkable. McLaren was really struggling in Bahrain with so many issues, but it solved them quickly enough to be right in the mix for fourth in the constructors’ championship. Lando Norris has continued his excellent form too, and updates seem to have brought the team a bit more consistency.
The bad: It hurts to say, but Daniel Ricciardo. 2022 should have been the opportunity to reset and get the best out of the Australian, but instead his struggles continue. He’s proven he can win for McLaren given a car that suits him, but something isn’t clicking and the pressure keeps building with talented young drivers getting to test the 2021 car, plus the Oscar Piastri links. If Ricciardo doesn’t improve after the break, it’ll be tough to beat Alpine and similarly difficult to keep the team behind him.
The good: So many things, but the raw pace of the car has to be up there. Valtteri Bottas has enjoyed a new lease of life, and when the car is in the sweet spot he seems to have the measure of the rest of the midfield. Zhou Guanyu has also impressed in his rookie year so far, exceeding expectations when it comes to both pace and racecraft, and showing good potential to cement his position.
The bad: The inconsistency of results. It’s not that the car is particularly up-and-down in terms of performance – although there are certain weekends when it is surprisingly uncompetitive – but Alfa Romeo has also struggled with reliability at times, and that has cost it the chance to be closer to Alpine and McLaren. The development rate doesn’t seem to have matched that of the teams ahead, either.
The good: Everything! Well, compared to 2021, anyway. Haas wrote last year off and it has paid dividends with a much more competitive car, while bringing Kevin Magnussen back was an excellent call after swiftly handling the Nikita Mazepin situation. Mick Schumacher has shown he has big results in him too, and the team is keeping up with the others around it.
The bad: OK there’s still plenty to improve on, not least from a consistency point of view. A few too many times the car’s potential hasn’t been reached during a weekend, with Australia the most obvious example. Schumacher needs to keep costly mistakes to a minimum, too, although he appears to be learning on that front as he gains experience.
The good: Yuki Tsunoda looks much more comfortable than a year ago and is giving Pierre Gasly a run for his money with far more regularity. The upgrade introduced in France also seemed to provide a decent step forward – although results have yet to show it – and Gasly being retained ensures a quality driver can help the team improve.
The bad: AlphaTauri hasn’t got the 2022 regulations right and has slipped back in the pecking order, but too often the drivers are left with a mountain to climb after early qualifying exits when there’s more on the table. Gasly in particular has been on the wrong end of some team errors this season that have limited his ability to show what both he and the car can be capable of.
The good: Honestly, there’s very little that can really fit into this category when you consider Aston’s lofty ambitions, but development (from a poor starting position) has been solid, and it has managed to salvage points from many races where it didn’t have the outright car pace to deserve them. Strategies have often been excellent to put the drivers in a position to sneak a point or two, and Lance Stroll has largely matched Sebastian Vettel on that front.
The bad: Pretty much everything else. Hopes were high but the car is nowhere near the level expected, and Aston has genuinely been he slowest team at some venues. For a team that used to be brilliant at getting value for money, the budget cap should have been a godsend. Instead, off-track changes appear to have impacted that trait. Finishing position isn’t important now, but the team should hope performance gains after the break will show it has the potential to move forward quickly.
The good: The 2022 Williams was already a more competitive car than many of its predecessors, but it had weaknesses that have been addressed effectively as the year has gone on. Upgrades have ensured the team races in the midfield regularly, and Alex Albon has done a very solid job of filling George Russell’s shoes, picking up points when there’s half a chance.
The bad: It’s still not a great car despite the stronger position Williams finds itself in, and while Albon has impressed, teammate Nicholas Latifi has rarely hit the same heights (with the exception of Silverstone). It’s tough to be overly critical given where the team is coming from prior to Dorilton’s takeover in 2020, but outright performance unsurprisingly needs to improve for the team currently occupying the bottom of the standings.