The 2022 Formula 1 season is over. Time to look at the performance of the drivers and teams in three parts, ranked by their position in the Constructors’ Championship. In part 2, NU.nl takes a closer look at the midfield: Alpine, McLaren and Alfa Romeo.
4. Alpine – Renault
- Gemiddelde startpositie: 10,5
- Gemiddelde finishpositie: 8,4
- Punten: 173
- Kwalificatieduel: Alonso 12 – Ocon 10
Renault took a gamble by giving the Alpine’s new engine in the rear as much horsepower as possible, then fixing reliability later. That choice (also made by Ferrari) is the result of the engine freeze, which entered this season. Engine manufacturers may still work on reliability, but no longer on performance. The gamble eventually paid off, but McLaren was close to going over it.
Fernando Alonso calculated more and better throughout the season how many points he had missed due to failures. The Spaniard broke down at least five times. Esteban Ocon twice; the Frenchman was less affected by the ghost of bad luck than his experienced teammate. That is the main explanation for his points lead, which is also only nine points.
As long as the A522 kept working, it was a great car that was easy best of the rest was behind the top three teams. Alpine also managed to develop nicely throughout the season, staying ahead of McLaren. As usual for midfield teams, it didn’t always work out, but Alpine often raced better than it qualified.
Alonso entered 2022 with ‘El Plan’, to return to the top with the new rules. The question is how realistic the two-time champion himself thought that was, but it didn’t work out. As usual, Alonso therefore leaves Alpine with some grumbling, which did not want to offer him a multi-year contract. His performances were good, that is never the fault of the Spaniard. Ocon increasingly clashed with the veteran later in the season, although the Norman himself does not have the best reputation towards his teammates. Ocon had a steady season, with a best result of fourth place in Japan. Unlike 2021, he did not have any real outliers.
5. McLaren – Mercedes
- Gemiddelde startpositie: 9,6
- Gemiddelde finishpositie: 9,7
- Punten: 159
- Kwalificatieduel: Norris 19 – Ricciardo 3
If McLaren had had two drivers of the Lando Norris level, the team would probably have finished fourth in the final standings. Daniel Ricciardo was a noose for the team from Woking with his mediocre performances, although the blame should not be entirely shifted to the Australian.
In Bahrain, McLaren started with the necessary braking problems on a car that was ultimately inferior to the Alpine in terms of speed. Under the leadership of James Key, McLaren wanted to take a step forward. It became a step backwards. Substantial investments are being made in the McLaren factory, but 2022 came too early to reap the benefits there.
The McLaren MCL36 stood out positively in the preparation due to the lack of porpoising, the bump phenomenon that plagued other teams. But in the end, the car simply turned out to have less downforce than the competition.
Norris nevertheless achieved his normal high level and showed again in 2022 that he deserves a top car. Ricciardo only scored 30 percent of his young teammate’s points and was also beaten in qualifying. If replacement Oscar Piastri comes closer to Norris and the car is a bit better next year, McLaren can think about podiums again. Now Norris only succeeded thanks to a mistake by Charles Leclerc on Imola.
6. Alfa Romeo – Ferrari
- Gemiddelde startpositie: 12,8
- Gemiddelde finishpositie: 10,2
- Punten: 55
- Kwalificatieduel: Bottas 14 – Zhou 8
The fact that Alfa Romeo finished sixth is certainly not representative of the entire season, but it is representative of the first half of the year. The Swiss raked in the points despite reliability problems with the Ferrari engine. This was mainly thanks to a car that was at the target weight of 798 kilos from the first race.
The team from Hinwill deserves praise for this: no competitor managed to do the same. Alfa Romeo particularly benefited with Valtteri Bottas, who scored seven points in the first nine races, the last of which was in Canada. After that it didn’t work out for a long time. Until the moment the Finn scored in Mexico, he was even the driver who was dry the longest. This was preceded by a painful mistake in Austin, just as Alfa Romeo had speed again thanks to an update.
Bottas scored two more points at Interlagos, with which his team just stayed ahead of Aston Martin thanks to better results. That team scored 32 points in the second half of the season, Alfa Romeo four. Bottas carried the team, as debutant Zhou Guanyu only collected six points. In percentage terms, he scores the worst of all drivers compared to their teammate. The Chinese debutant sometimes did well and even deserved a contract extension, but his first season will not be talked about for years to come. Zhou really needs to get closer to Bottas if he wants to stay with the Swiss with Audi in prospect.
With the future status of Audi factory team, better performance is also required from Sauber itself. Yes, a good car was initially built, but there are many doubts about the team’s pace of development. There is still much to gain.