Five Talking Points That Will Dominate the Second Half of the F1 Season
Updated: Oct 1, 2022
Verstappen and Leclerc (formula1.com)
Only a few hours to go before the second half of the F1 season resumes at Spa-Francorchamps, but wow - how thrilling have the first 13 races been?! ABSOLUTELY intense with superb storylines emerging race after race, with Red Bull and Ferrari dominating headlines.
The biggest, and only behind-the-scenes moment of the summer break was Ricciardo being pulled into the drama that is Alpine, McLaren, and Oscar Piastri. Apart from that, it was a peaceful, well-deserved break for our F1 superstars.
Well then, what can we look forward to as F1 races towards the finish line in Abu Dhabi?
1. The MO is simple - APPLY PRESSURE
That's how Max will drive, that's what Red Bull will prepare for, and that's the ONE thing Christian Horner cares about - burying the competition. Red Bull will look to pick up where they left off in Hungary, and complete their rise back to the pinnacle of F1 racing by securing both the driver's and constructor's championships - for the first time since 2013.
Perez will be vital to this ambition, and knowing Checo, he has a point to prove. The remaining nine races will be about consistency and taking the fight not only to the rest of the grid but to Max as well.
2. Speed alone isn’t the way of the championship team
Ferrari makes me anxious; they have the most to prove - to restore some shine as F1's most prestigious brand and to also show that they are worthy title contenders. With the fastest car on the grid and two world-class drivers, Ferrari have all the talent they need but have been lacking in the strategy department through the first half of the 2022 season.
Since the Tifosi didn't clean house - this was the right decision because team stability will help manage the pressure of challenging Red Bull - Ferrari will be hoping to put themselves in more race winnings opportunities, to show their fans and F1 that they can rise above the pressure to execute brilliant strategy calls - contrary to the strategy fumbles seen at Barcelona, Azerbaijan, and Hungary.
Ferrari have to keep an eye on their reliability issues to ensure their car is always in peak performance if they are to overhaul an increasingly rampant Red Bull, who have a sizeable 97-point gap at the top.
3. They’re back in with a fighting chance
Oh how F1 domination seems like a distant memory for the Brackley outfit. The 2022 season has been a recovery job for Mercedes due to the struggles of the W13 - mostly porpoising and pace. One thing Mercedes have done right is be at the right place at the right time to capitalise on a Red Bull or Ferrari DNF. Their drivers are fourth and six in the driver's standings, a testament to their ability as a team to remain in touch with the leaders.
Mercedes have to go further if they want to avoid their first winless season in F1 since their early days of 2011. Beyond the W13 porpoising, their pace disadvantage is clear. Mercedes has to seriously develop their car to return to winning contention. Most of the street circuits have been completed, this will favour the Mercedes car as they look to catch Ferrari for P2 in the constructor's standings. A 30-point gap you say, LET'S GO!
4. Where are the middle runners?
The middle runners have been disappointing this season, with no team making a dent into the dominance of Red Bull, Ferrari, or Mercedes. The regulations change and budget cap was meant to compress the competitive ability of the top teams, but has rather strengthened their operational resources (IP, sponsorship, talent) compared to the middle and smaller teams.
McLaren show potential but nothing concrete week in, week out. Alpine try here and there - when they don't get into each other's way. Alpha Tauri, please don't get me started - Pierre and Yuki need a miracle to salvage their season. They’ve been well below par. And Aston Martin? Only worthy news is Seb Vettel's retirement, literally!!
The middle runners need to show more consistency if they want to challenge for podiums and points placements. The machinery is there, the talent is there - it all comes down to taking any opportunities without hesitation. Alpine look strongest to flex their muscle. I hope their silly season drama hasn't dented team cohesion and confidence.
5. You have to sacrifice the few to please the many
As unfortunate as this is, someone always has to go. Latifi and Ricciardo are firmly on the chopping block.
I do feel sympathy for backmarkers because I believe time in the game matters. But this is difficult to judge when Latifi hasn't contribute a great deal to Williams or F1. In Ricciardo's case, McLaren have decided to part ways with Danny Ric [Ricciardo] at the end of the 2022 season. Ricciardo now has to show grit and determination to save his F1 career. This will be difficult, but where there's a will, it's very much possible.
Both drivers have nine races to secure their 2023 drive; for Ricciardo this means a seat away from McLaren; Latifi doesn't have many options but to drive exceptionally well to outclass any potential driver replacements.
Schumacher and Zhou also need good drives as well to end the 2022 season on a high. Their F1 careers will most likely get an extension beyond 2022 - but hey, this is F1. Anything can HAPPEN.
Five red lights and off we go…
There's still a lot to play for across the last nine races of the 2022 season. The pressure will intensify race after race, with opportunities for glory waning as Abu Dhabi approaches.
All signs points to a Red Bull championship double. The mountain is very steep for Ferrari - Max and Red Bull can afford three DNFs and still lead the driver's championship. Effectively, Max can wrap up his title defense three races earlier, leaving only six competitive races for his rivals to ATTACK Max and Red Bull. All the pressure is on Ferrari to come out charging at Red Bull. Their title contention depends on it.
Whichever way the title lands, see you in the winner's circle at Abu Dhabi. Stay up to date with my F1 commentary on Instagram.
Here’s the rundown to Abu Dhabi. I’m looking forward to Spa, Zandvoort, and Marina Bay.
Spa circuit layout (formula1.com)
28 August - Spa-Francorchamps (Belgium)
04 September - Zandvoort (Netherlands)
11 September - Monza (Italy)
02 October - Marina Bay (Singapore)
09 October - Suzuka (Japan)
23 October - Circuit of America (USA)
30 October - Hermanos Rodríguez (México)
13 November - José Carlos Pace (Brazil)
20 November - Yas Marina (Abu Dhabi)