7) Sebastian Vettel, 90%
Many of Vettel’s headline this year have not come from the racing itself: Driving classic cars, wearing underpants over his clothes and describing himself as a “hypocrite” on BBC political show Question Time.
It was therefore not a total surprise for Vettel to announce his retirement. Vettel has been a fantastic ambassador for the sport, and F1 will miss him greatly. (Although he’s still more than young enough to come back to the sport in a similar vein to Alonso).
References to “Der Plan” dissipated quickly after the start of 2022, and you could be forgiven if Vettel were demotivated after receiving a poor car and missing races with COVID. Instead, he reached Q3 in his second race and followed it up on Sunday with an 8th place finish in the rain. That alone would put him ahead of his teammate in the standings even today, but he’s scored points in 4 other races too. Vettel hasn’t caused many waves this year, but has generally outqualified and outraced Stroll, perfectly demonstrating why Aston Martin wanted him in the first place.
6) Lewis Hamilton, 96%
The start of the year was quite the climb down from 2021, with Hamilton achieving just 1 podium in the first 8 races. Not only was the car less competitive, but Mercedes have struggled to properly understand it at times. Add in some set-up experimentation and a much tougher teammate, and Hamilton hasn’t always appeared as a true superstar in 2022.
Things are starting to swing his way though, with Hamilton achieving 5 podiums in a row (a feat he hadn’t managed at this point in 2021), outscoring his teammate each of those times and even recording a couple of fastest laps. Whether Hamilton will keep his record of winning a race in every season remains to be scene, but with this form you wouldn’t bet against it.
5) Carlos Sainz Jr., 100%
Sainz’s season has featured plenty of ups and downs, and you can see that the model has significantly changed its opinion on how impressive his results have been as the season has progressed. Uncharacteristic spins (in Australia and Spain) proved costly, and he hasn’t been immune to reliability issues either. However, the model doesn’t think many drivers would have achieved more.
Sainz has rarely been faster than Leclerc on pure pace, but has demonstrated on more than one occasion that outright speed isn’t everything. In Monaco he leapfrogged Leclerc by taking control of the strategy, and at Silverstone he delicately balanced playing the team game and pursuing his own desires, and was rewarded with a long awaited victory. At over 100 points behind Verstappen a title run is unlikely, but Sainz has rewarded Ferrari’s faith in him during a difficult first few races.
4) George Russell, 101%
A fantastic first half of the year for Russell, who has defied expectations and outscored his illustrious teammate. Those looking more closely at the context may conclude that Russell’s had the better rub of the green. However, even when Hamilton has had the upper hand, Russell has not been far behind, and finishing just behind Hamilton would have probably exceeded expectations at the beginning of the year.
His sensational pole at Hungary brought back references to “Mr. Saturday”, but he’s clearly shown he can consistently deliver on any day of a race weekend. In the 3rd best car, Russell has finished at least 5th in every race bar one- and even then he was unfortunately not to start the race after winning plaudits for how he conducted himself.
3) Charles Leclerc, 117%
Three races into the championship, Leclerc was 38 points clear of his teammate and 46 points clear of Verstappen. Whilst still clear of Sainz, Leclerc’s championship push has fallen apart dramatically.
Leclerc has spent the majority of the season so far as the model’s best driver (and by a significant margin in the early stages). Major errors in Italy and France have dampened his rating, but the bulk of the points loss has come from unreliability and strategic mistakes.
His qualifying skills have been as evident as ever, with 7 poles underlying the searing pace of both driver and car. He’s also shown fantastic racecraft at times, overtaking Verstappen 3 times on route to victory in Austria and letting Max by to gain DRS in Saudi Arabia. There’s no reason he can’t retake the number 1 spot by the end of the year, even if his championship chances now look slim.
2) Lando Norris, 120%
Whilst McLaren’s form may have dipped, Norris’ performances have continued to impress at McLaren. He’s the only driver not from a top team to stand on the podium or a get a fastest lap, and is single-handedly keeping McLaren in the fight for 4th place despite some intense competition from Alpine. At this point last year, he’d scored 2/3rds of McLaren’s points. This year, it’s 80%. Whilst it’s clear that teammate Ricciardo is struggling, Norris has also claimed he found the car “difficult to drive” too.
The newer generation of F1 drivers are incredibly strong, and the model thinks that Norris is probably not getting the recognition he deserves compared to Verstappen, Leclerc or even Russell.
1) Max Verstappen, 123%
After 2 DNFs in the first 3 races, Verstappen quickly hit his stride and took control of the championship. As stated earlier, Verstappen hasn’t had quite the advantage over his teammate that he had in 2021, but he’s still clearly ahead of an in form Pérez by all meaningful metrics.
This year has also seen Verstappen raced wheel-to-wheel with title rival Leclerc several times without incident, and has shown a patience and willingness to compromise that were not always apparent in 2021 (for better or worse). At times it might feel like Ferrari are handing Verstappen the title, but the evidence is that it would be fully deserved if he can stick the landing.
2022 Team Rankings
Here are the model’s ranking of the 10 teams, if they all had the same drivers:
- Red Bull
- Alfa Romeo
- Aston Martin
The astute among you will notice it’s exactly the same as the current constructors championship! Does this mean that the driver makes little difference? It’s long been established in F1 that the car is more important than the driver, after all.
This is part of the explanation, but another valid interpretation is that better teams also have better drivers. Five of the top six ranked drivers (see below) are in the top 3 teams, meaning that the gap between the haves and have nots in F1 would generally be smaller if all teams had the drivers of the same quality.
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Hey! I really like your content!
Just a heads up: you need to do something about the posts layout. The “pages” links at the bottom are barely visible and didn’t find out they exist until just now (I used to just click on the index links to see the rest of the content).
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Hi, Thanks for the feedback.
I’m looking at making improvements so the site, so this is very helpful to know.
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The model needs to consider mechanical issues and being crashed out. I know it will be much more work but ranking Latifi above Zhou let alone others is ridiculous. Points alone is not the end of story like I mentioned in Senna vs. Prost points comparison, Prost was not on Sennas level if thier MP45s are equally reliable.
I will be adding a comparison including this in the 2022 full year review. However, my initial analysis suggests that it will not have a particularly big impact on the rankings.
You mention Latifi and Zhou, which is mainly due a combination of Russell’s underwhelming results at Williams and Zhou’s lack of results this year (particularly when the car was more competitive). For now, Latifi’s score is continuing to inch down and Zhou’s is inching upwards, so we’ll have to see how things stand at the end of the year.