The 2022 Formula One season has seen one of the most dominant performances by a driver in the modern era. Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes have ruled the roost for almost a decade and during that time the British driver has received plaudits from all quarters of the F1 world for his driving supremacy However, much of Hamilton’s success has been due to the fact his team mate was predominantly his main rival.
Verstappen on the other hand started the season on the back foot almost conceding he was out of the drivers’ championship after race 3. The Dutch driver’s Red Bull car had failed on him twice during the first three rounds and Max was some 44 points behind the season’s early leader Charles LeClerc.
Yet due to Red Bull’s known ability to out develop the other teams with car upgrades together with Verstappen’s flawless driving Max won the F1 drivers’ championship with four races to go – a feat last achieved by Sebastian Vettel in 2013.
Verstappen most dominant season ever?
When asked whether Verstappen’s season was the most dominant campaign from a single driver ever, Christian Horner replied:
“There’s been years of domination with Mercedes, but I think as an individual driver, probably yes. He’s won the most grands prix in a year now, within 22 races.”
Verstappen can claim the all time best win % in a season from Michael Schumacher if he’s victorious at both the remaining F1 events on the 2022 calendar.
However the past 12 months where Verstappen has clinched two world titles has not been all sweetness and light. Controversy over the F1 race directors’ decision to ensure there was a racing finish in Abu Dhabi last year has led to criticism from certain quarters that his 2021 title was tainted.
Red Bull F1 titles tarnished
Then there has been the recent row over Red Bull’s breach of the 2021 FIA financial regulations. This led to wild speculation that the overspend could’ve delivered the winning margin Verstappnen required from car development for both his world titles and even that he will gain a performance advantage for 2023.
When the news broke in Singapore from an FIA leak that Red Bull had overspent, the paddock hysteria went into overdrive.
Toto Wolff claimed the advantage Red Bull had gained was “massive” and even Lewis Hamilton waded into the debate.
Hamilton: If Mercedes overspent “I’d have won 2021 title”
“I remember last year in Silverstone we had our last upgrade and fortunately it was great and we could fight with it,” Hamilton told Sky in Suzuka this year.
“But then we would see Red Bull every weekend or every other weekend bring in upgrades. They had, I think, at least four more upgrades from that point.
“If we had spent 300,000 on a new floor or an adapted wing it would have changed the outcome of the championship, naturally, because we would have been in better competition in the next race you had it on.”
Haas F1 boss Gunther Steiner last week called on the FIA to increase Red Bull’s punishment. He argued the overspend could fund a whole new B-Spec car for the Haas team.
Red Bull claim regulations badly written
Speaking to Germany’s AMuS Helmut Marko explained why his team had failed to stay within the F1 spending limit.
“It was the first year of the budget cap, the rules were vague. It was late to react with clarifications. We had everything checked by Ernst & Young. You have to rely on something.”
Of course other teams did a cost cap ‘dry run’ during the 2020 season before the regulations came into force. Red Bull did not participate in this and fell foul to what amounted to categorisation errors which would have been cleared up in the ‘dry run’.
Last time out in Mexico Alpine boss Otmar Szafneur suggested Red Bull should have left a greater margin between their anticipated spend and the actual limit.
“The more refined your processes are, your accounting processes, the closer you can get to the cap and feel comfortable you haven’t missed anything that will put you over.
However, if your processes aren’t very refined, if you don’t have that fidelity, then what you have to do is give yourself a big enough margin that if you did make a mistake, you don’t go over that.
That’s exactly what we do”
Red Bull boss hits back at Hamilton
Marko responds to this criticism stating, “We believed we had a safety net of three million. In the end only $400,000 remained.“
The Austrian Red Bull consultant concludes by taking a swipe at Hamilton and Steiner joking, “With that money, Hamilton is building a front wing [and] Haas are making a whole new car.”
Of course the reduction in wind tunnel time will hurt Red Bull who now have around 12% less than Ferrari and 17% less than Mercedes.
Though this week Toto Wolff shocked the paddock by stating exactly how far behind Red Bull Racing his team really is. Which is probably the reason Hamilton is looking to continue in the sport beyond the end of 2023.
— Formula 1 (@F1) November 8, 2022