While everyone sits back and enjoys the summer break, I couldn't help but look back at what the 2022 Formula One season has brought us so far.
12 out of 22 races have been completed, and already, there are some key points that have set this season – and this new generation of cars – apart.
1. Closer racing
The field is much closer together this season, and statistically, there are fewer lapping moments than in previous years, with more overtaking opportunities and, sometimes, the chance of a real counterattack. The qualifying sessions are also more exciting this year, with the results often very difficult to predict.
2. Intriguing Championship battles
Ferrari and Red Bull have managed to build up an advantage in the Constructors' Championship quickly – even now, no other team has been able to win a race this year. I am sure that some people in F1 and the FIA had expected more of a balance.
Yet behind the top two teams, the racing has been very close and the battles for podiums and points have been the most exciting in years.
3. Intense track action
The racing and the battles on track have become much more gripping than in previous seasons. While there is less tow effect with these new cars, following the driver in front is much easier and makes for great racing.
The recent five-way battle in Austria between the Red Bull, Ferrari and Mercedes drivers, or the sensational final laps for the podium at Silverstone, give an idea of what is now possible on the track between these brilliant teams.
In my opinion, F1 is working hard and successfully to set up a race series for the future.
4. A tighter field
I am sure that the field will be even closer for the rest of the season. Mercedes is working hard – and successfully – to reduce the lead of Ferrari and Red Bull.
At Silverstone, the team was close to its first victory, and in France, Mercedes scored its first double podium this year. In the second half of the season, we can expect some exciting three-way battles between those top teams.
McLaren and Alpine are behind them on a very similar level, fighting for fourth place in the Constructors' Championship. The other teams, including AMF1, will also bring updates over the rest of the year that promise exciting battles for the remaining points.
5. Passion of the fans
Interest in Formula One is at an all-time high. Not so long ago, the races were considered boring and repetitive, it was talked down in the media, and the set-up was looked at as outdated. Nonsense!
In my opinion, F1 is working hard and successfully to set up a race series for the future. Sustainability issues are being addressed, prestigious car brands including Audi and Porsche are pushing to get in, and race weekends have festival character in many places like never before.
6. Drivers make the difference
Finally, I should say that the driver's skill is ultimately the biggest influence on the results. Due to the many battles on track this season, the drivers are under constant pressure and are required to drive the car at the absolute limit more often.
The consequence of this is more accidents, which mean extra costs and, thanks to the new budget gap, that can be a problem for teams to finance those repairs and additional technical developments.
It will be interesting to see how the changes for 2022 have played out as we head towards the end of the season. There are certainly more learnings, discussions and opportunities waiting for us at the finish line.
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