The season intended as that of the revolution finally became that of domination, of Max Verstappen and his RedBull team. The 2022 Formula 1 exercise ends this weekend at the Yas Marina circuit in Abu Dhabi, and unlike last season’s incredible finale, we already know the champions. A little remains at stake for the second places in the classification of the pilots or that of the constructors, but little more. However, with the departures of four drivers, among others, Sebastian Vettel, Daniel Ricciardo, Nicholas Latifi and Mick Schumacher, which will cause a call for air with the arrival of Oscar Piastri, Niko Hulkenberg, Nick de Vryes and probably by Logan Sargeant, the 2023 season is already looking very promising. Especially since the teams will have one year of experience with the new aerodynamic regulations. What to make you want 20 minutes to imagine some scenarios for 2023.
The return to the outposts of Mercedes
That this 2022 season has been long and trying for Lewis Hamilton and his new teammate George Russell. Accustomed to winning everything, except in 2021, Mercedes had the greatest difficulty getting used to the new aerodynamic regulations, as evidenced by the disappointing results of the W13 and its zero pontoon concept. But the Silver Arrows regained performance at the end of the season, to the point of achieving an unexpected double at the Brazilian GP last week.
With the first career victory of George Russell, dubbed by his teammate Lewis Hamilton, almost as delighted as the winner, to see Mercedes return to their best level. A good complicity between the two pilots which could allow Mercedes to find the top of the classification, that it is that of the pilots like that of the constructors. The willingness to extend Lewis Hamilton, whose contract is supposed to expire at the end of next year, is one more indication of the probable return to great shape of the Silver Arrows, essential for the suspense at the top of the championship.
A duel with Ferrari
A “sadly funny season” for Ferrari, as one fan described it in one of our previous articles. A 2022 season marked by the return of competitiveness among the reds, a first for three seasons, but which paradoxically brought to light terrible strategic errors. To the point of causing a certain fed up with Charles Leclerc, who did not appear before the media before the Brazilian Grand Prix, tired of the mistakes of his team. John Elkann, the president of Ferrari would even consider replacing Mattia Binotto, at the head of the Scuderia for four seasons. According to the latest rumours, he could be replaced by current Alfa Romeo boss Frederic Vasseur. And as much to tell you that with the Frenchman at the head of Ferrari, it would go straight. What allow Charles Leclerc to spend less time breathing, and more to earn?
A magnificent 2022 season, punctuated by a second drivers’ world championship title for Max Verstappen, and that of constructors’ world champion for RedBull. It could even become historic in the event of second place for Sergio Perez. Except that Verstappen refused to let his teammate pass on the final lap of the Brazilian GP, as planned. “He showed who he really was”, did not hesitate to let go of Checo after the finish. Since almost everyone where trying to find out where this falling out came from, but one thing is for sure, it could do a lot of damage in the stable.
RedBull’s false justification, “Max was only informed at the last corner of the request to return position”, in a press release published on Thursday, when he was informed at turn 6, does not inspire serenity on the side of the winged bull. Daniel Ricciardo, not kept by McLaren, is even expected to return to his first team as a reserve driver. Nothing good, then, for Perez. With such an atmosphere, it’s hard to be as dominating as this season, as RedBull’s last races show.
Still the roller coaster for Alpine
Alpine’s 2022 season looks like a hell of a rollercoaster, with first reliability concerns at the start of the season, before probably reaching 4th place in the constructors’ rankings since the team is 19 points ahead of McLaren before this weekend, which was the goal of the season. But it is rather outside the track that Alpine has made its headlines. First with the unexpected departure of Fernando Alonso announced by surprise on the first day of the summer break. Then with the imbroglio Oscar Piastri, their reserve driver who did not hesitate to disavow his team publicly. The French team made up for it well by stealing another French driver, Pierre Gasly, from the RedBull fold.
Enough to create an enticing duo of drivers, and a 100% French entity, even if the chassis of the single-seaters is manufactured in Enstone. Laurent Rossi, the director of Alpine, warned: “There will be no hierarchy”. Their early years in karting soon turned from friendship to rivalry, and everyone prays for chemistry between the two drivers. At the risk of even more talk outside the track in 2023.
Piastri’s debut at McLaren
We have just mentioned it with Alpine, Oscar Piastri’s false good for his lifelong stable was one of the soap operas of this season. His debut with the McLaren team will therefore be closely scrutinized by Formula 1 observers, both for his choice and for his performance in the lower categories. He was crowned F3 and then F2 champion in each of his first seasons in these categories. But this time, with a completely different pressure on the shoulders.