After the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix brought the 2022 Formula 1 season to a close, fans of the sport have to wait patiently for its restart at Bahrain in 2023. But that won’t stop us from reminiscing on last season. Here are our picks for the top five best races of the 2022 F1 season.
With a raft of rule changes, the F1 hierarchy wanted to see more exciting racing in 2022. And that is what they got; last season saw the most recorded overtakes ever, and a whole host of gripping races.
Unfortunately, though, this could not translate into championship competition. Max Verstappen ran away with the drivers’ championship, while his Red Bull team also dominated the constructors’.
Despite this, their pace and quality did not stop us from witnessing some cracking Grand Prix.
#5: Austrian Grand Prix
At number five on our list of the best F1 races in 2022 comes the Austrian GP. Following a tremendous run of reliability and strategy issues, Ferrari had a point to prove at the home race of title rivals, Red Bull. And the Scuderia certainly showed out.
When Verstappen took victory in Saturday’s sprint race, many expected the reigning champ to extend his championship lead with a win in the GP. However, for once, Ferrari seemed to better manage their tyres around the Red Bull Ring.
An aggressive three-stop strategy allowed Charles Leclerc to overtake Verstappen three times as the lead changed hands repeatedly. Carlos Sainz almost had the chance to make it a Ferrari one-two as well. But sadly, he retired when his car went up in flames as he closed in on the Red Bull driver.
As a result, Lewis Hamilton was able to claim third place behind race winner Leclerc and Verstappen.
Do not think that the Monegasque had it easy, though. In the closing laps of a pulsating race, Leclerc suffered a throttle issue that allowed Verstappen to apply some late pressure – although it was not enough to stop the Ferrari man from winning.
Elsewhere, a thrilling midfield battle saw overtakes galore between the likes of Lando Norris and Fernando Alonso. Furthermore, fan-favourite Mick Schumacher took a career-best sixth-place finish.
#4: Brazilian Grand Prix
Next on our list was a Grand Prix weekend littered with drama and surprises.
Firstly, a qualifying in changing conditions on Friday saw Haas and Kevin Magnussen take their first-ever pole position. Unfortunately, in the following sprint race, Magnussen could only convert his pole into an eighth-place finish.
George Russell, meanwhile, took full advantage, winning the sprint ahead of Carlos Sainz – who had a grid penalty. This ultimately meant that Mercedes had a front-row lock-out, with Lewis Hamilton then up to P2.
The Grand Prix itself was not plain sailing for Russell, though. After a solid start, Daniel Ricciardo and Magnussen eliminated any advantage that the Brit had built by forcing a safety car.
Even then, the restart brought more drama as 2021 championship rivals Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen collided. The latter received a five-second penalty for his lunge on Hamilton at turn 2.
Mere corners later, Lando Norris and Charles Leclerc made contact, sending the Ferrari star into the barrier. However, Leclerc was able to carry on, while Norris received a penalty. These incidents saw a number of fast cars having to fight their way back through the field as a result.
Hamilton proved most effective at this, battling his way back up to P2 to apply pressure to his teammate. But Russell held firm – even with another safety car to negotiate – to take his maiden F1 victory.
A few places back, team order requests concerning P2 in the championship caused controversy. At Red Bull, already-champion Max Verstappen refused to give up sixth to allow teammate Sergio Perez to claim more points. This confusing decision definitely caused some tension in the team.
It also added to one of last year’s most exciting races, which makes our list of the best in the 2022 F1 season.
#3: Hungarian Grand Prix
A dazzling comeback drive from Max Verstappen made the headlines from a brilliant Hungarian Grand Prix.
Red Bull did not set themselves up for a good race after experiencing a dismal qualifying. Sergio Perez started from eleventh due to a traffic-affected run in Q2. Verstappen ended up just ahead in P10; a power issue plagued his Q3 running, so he never set a truly competitive time.
In contrast, George Russell claimed a shock pole position. The Mercedes driver then held his nerve at the start of the GP, defending from both Ferraris and holding the lead until the first round of pit stops.
Verstappen, meanwhile, was on a charge. He gained two places at the start before passing the Alpines, Lando Norris, and Lewis Hamilton. The Dutchman moved up to fourth as he executed the undercut on a number of rivals, too.
At the front of the race, Ferrari took the lead when Charles Leclerc dived around the outside of Russell. The Monegasque was flying on the medium compound; but unfortunately, the Scuderia messed up their strategy.
In response to Verstappen’s stop on lap 39, Ferrari brought in Leclerc for hards. This tyre did not respond well to the car, and Verstappen passed Leclerc one lap later.
On lap 42, though, the Red Bull driver decided to make his race more difficult. Verstappen spun at the penultimate corner, gifting Leclerc the virtual race lead back. But this only lasted a matter of moments.
The Dutchman quickly caught then passed his championship rival before going on to win comfortably – an improbable thought given his P10 start.
Behind him, Leclerc slumped down the order as Mercedes capitalised on Ferrari’s strategic gaffe. A marauding Lewis Hamilton also overtook teammate Russell to claim P2, with Russell left in P3.
#2: United States Grand Prix
Although Max Verstappen had already wrapped up the drivers’ championship, the US Grand Prix produced one of the best races of the 2022 F1 season.
From qualifying, it appeared that Ferrari had the upper hand on raw pace once again. Carlos Sainz sat on pole, with Verstappen following behind. Neither could eliminate Mercedes from contention, either, as they could look after tyres brilliantly.
The race began in dramatic circumstances when George Russell and Sainz collided at turn one. Unfortunately, the Spaniard had to retire due to damage. Russell, on the other hand, continued on with just a penalty for punishment. This incident also gifted Verstappen an early lead and moved Hamilton up to P2.
Further back, Sergio Perez and Leclerc – who both had grid penalties – made a handful of overtakes past the Aston Martins to move up the order.
Drama arrived following a safety car, as Lance Stroll and Fernando Alonso – teammates at Aston for 2023 – made contact. Their collision sent Alonso flying through the air along the back straight. But, miraculously, the Spaniard managed to keep his car going, whereas Stroll was out.
After another disruption, Leclerc got himself into the podium spots via a brilliant lunge on Sergio Perez. This move also proved pivotal as the pair battled for P2 in the drivers’ standings. More excitement occurred at the front of the race, though.
A slow stop for Verstappen gifted Hamilton the lead, whilst pitting Leclerc and the Dutchman against each other once more. They all had to negotiate Sebastian Vettel, too, whose alternate strategy saw him lead briefly.
With six laps remaining, a fiery Verstappen managed to catch the leading Hamilton on fresher rubber. Although the Brit kept the pressure on his bitter rival, Max Verstappen held on to deny Hamilton from taking the win.
#1: British Grand Prix
From lights out all the way through to the chequered flag, the British Grand Prix was absolutely unmissable. It fully deserves our top spot in the best F1 races in 2022 as arguably the most entertaining GP in years.
A massive turn one accident provided an immediate, heart-stopping moment. Contact between Russell and Pierre Gasly sent Zhou Guanyu sliding off the track upside-down. His Alfa Romeo then flipped into the barriers, prompting a red flag. Thankfully, Zhou was okay, but he was also out of the race.
The restart went better, but still saw someone pick up damage. Charles Leclerc’s over-zealous move down the inside at the loop saw him lose his front-wing endplate. Despite this, he and pole-sitter Carlos Sainz looked quick for Ferrari.
Sergio Perez also damaged his Red Bull, forcing him into an early stop.
His teammate, Max Verstappen, claimed the lead from Carlos Sainz on lap 10. But even this did not last long. Verstappen ran over debris just laps later, bringing an end to his chances of a win.
Contrastingly, a long first stint from Lewis Hamilton had managed to leave him at the head of the race.
Esteban Ocon’s retirement on lap 39, negated his advantage and caused a gaggle of pit-stops for fresh rubber. However, Ferrari left Charles Leclerc out – and stranded – on old rubber. Teammate Sainz quickly regained the lead following the safety car, then Leclerc was at the mercy of Hamilton and Perez.
This brought about an absolutely breathless battle for second from Stowe all the way through to Brooklands. Sergio Perez ultimately came out on top, whilst Hamilton passed Leclerc a few laps later.
Carlos Sainz eventually came through to take the win after all this excitement – his first F1 victory.
Featured image credit: Getty