With everyone taking notes and reviewing the first section of the Formula 1 schedule, it’s time to rank Formula 1’s teams on their seasons so far, comparing them to my preseason expectations. These expectations were built on preseason testing sessions and with the context of the 2021 Formula 1 season firmly in mind.
As an academically-trained historian, I believe we can learn valuable lessons from the past. We can review at the season so far and see how each team compares to their preseason expectations, to help inform our Formula 1 betting picks going forward.
I guarantee you will be surprised by some of these rankings. Let’s start ranking the Formula 1 team’s seasons so far, starting at the back of our grid.
#10: Alfa Romero – Constructor’s Championship Position: 6th (20 points)
Alfa Romero might have the points advantage and finish further up the grid more often than other backmarkers, but Alfa Romero hasn’t improved their performance relative to expectations. The C42 hasn’t produced the results that I expected when Alfa Romero revealed the C42 and with Valtteri Bottas in the cockpit. The C42 has the shortest wheelbase on the grid but has not produced the expected advantages as expected on circuits like Monaco.
The C42 has scored good points and has looked competitive at times, while at other times the Alfa Romero duo gets lost in the Grand Prix shuffle. Alfa Romero has struggled with reliability all season, much of which can be attributed to the fragile Ferrari power unit in the back of the C42. They might not be last in the constructor’s standings, however, Alfa Romero’s disappointing season thus far has them at the bottom of our rankings, despite positive points results.
#9: Aston Martin – Constructor’s Championship Position: 9th (20 points)
Aston Martin was the first team to reveal their 2022 car and provided us with the first footage of an actual 2022-era Formula 1 car on track. I remember thinking “that doesn’t look like a fast race car.” Turns out that the media agreed. So too did the AMR22’s on-track performance.
Aston Martin abandoned the original AMR22 design, introducing a second design concept that looked similar to the Red Bull RB-18 design. Considering Aston Martin/Racing Point’s history of “borrowing” the design of the 2019 Mercedes W-10 for the 2020 season – dubbed the “Pink Mercedes” – people were right to question the legality of the “Green Red Bull” upgrade package.
The AMR22 is entirely legal and should continue to get quicker as Aston Martin has more time to test and develop an aerodynamic concept that is a part of Red Bull’s success. The Big Question: Will Aston Martin’s current development plan come good and be truly competitive in time for the arrival of a Wiley Ol’ Campaigner?
#8: Alpha Tauri – Constructor’s Championship Position: 8th (27 points)
I’ve been very keen on all things Alpha Tauri since the rebranding and livery change from Toro Rosso and the re-arrival of Pierre Gasly. When the Alpha Tauri launched I liked the look of the car and thought it looked quick. I thought Alpha Tauri would be very, very competitive with Alpine and McLaren. At times, the AT-03 has been quick but the results are disappointing.
There is not much else to say about Alpha Tauri’s disappointing results and reliability issues. On a positive note, Yuki Tsunoda has been more consistent in his second year in Formula 1.
# 7: Williams – – Constructor’s Championship Position: 10th (3 points)
You thought Williams was going to be in the bottom two on this ranking, didn’t you? After preseason testing, so did I. Williams seemed to get on top of some of their early issues but a brake fire-fuelled tire explosion was my lasting memory of Williams preseason. And despite being a fellow countryman, Nicholas Latifi has never inspired any confidence in me.
In the hands of Alex Albon, the FW44 has looked ok and improving. Williams’ upgrades seem to have worked great and they are more competitive than I imagined for 2022. Even Latifi is exceeding expectations, setting the fastest time in Free Practice 3 at the Hungarian Grand Prix.
That has to count for something, right?
#6: McLaren – Constructor’s Championship Position: 5th (95 points)
Daniel Ricciardo has never looked at home in a McLaren. His 2022 didn’t start well, missing all of Bahrain winter testing with COVID-19. This left all the running to Lando Norris. The MCL36 was suffering from brake issues throughout the test. It seemed like McLaren had taken a step backward after two-consecutive years of improving performance. I was once positive that McLaren would likely cruise to a fourth-place finish in the Constructors’ championship, potentially stealing a win and scoring podiums.
The MCL36 has clear limitations leaving McLaren in a fight for fourth with Alpine – a fight McLaren is losing.
#5: Haas – Constructor’s Championship Position: 7th (34 points)
If your Formula 1 fandom begins with Netflix’s Drive to Survive, then you likely have a soft spot for Gunther Steiner and his (now) loveable crew of underdogs. Things weren’t as positive for Haas as they have been at times this year. Let’s start with the whole Ural Kali/Nikita Mazepin situation and the decision of punting on the entire 2021 Formula 1 season and focusing on the new 2022 technical regulations.
After the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Ural Kali was no longer Haas’ title sponsor and Mazepin was out of a seat. This was entirely for the best for Haas. Kevin Magnussen rejoined the fold and showed the potential and capabilities of the VF-22, while Mick Schumacher learned the new car, but struggled early.
Punting on the 2021 season gave Haas the most wind tunnel and CFD testing time, which they clearly used to good use. Pairing the development time advantage with a close relationship with Ferrari has led to a significant leap forward in performance and results, and Haas’s best run of performance in years. Haas introduced their first upgrade at the Hungarian Grand Prix, following Ferrari’s development path.
If it wasn’t for the fragility of the Ferrari power units, Haas should have more points this season. I think they’ll continue their forward progression and score points more often than not for the rest of the 2022 season.
#4: Alpine – Constructor’s Championship Position: 4th (99 points)
Before you start accusing me of giving Alpine preferential treatment because of my constant admiration and coverage of the Wiley Ol’ Campaigner, Fernando Alonso, hear me out: Alpine has established themselves as the best of the rest in 2022. And, if it weren’t for reliability, Alpine should have more points and a larger gap in the Constructor’s championship, courtesy of Alonso. Alonso has some fall for the points losses this year, but reliability was an issue.
Recently, Alpine has quietly found a run of consistent qualifying performances and Grand Prix results. Alonso used racing experience, an improved A522, and the growing support from an adoring North American audience to put the A522 on the front row of the Canadian Grand Prix. Every upgrade Alpine has put on the car has worked. The A522 doesn’t have any particular weakness. Simply, it’s a little off the pace of the top three and clearly the best of the rest.
There’s no Alonso bias in this ranking, Alpine has earned this ranking from their on-track performance. If this were a ranking of the team’s season including “Silly Season,” Alpine would be significantly further down the rankings. Again, with no Alonso bias to be found.
#3: Ferrari – Constructor’s Championship Position: 2nd (334 points)
Mattia Binotto and the Scuderia Ferrari have lost the World Championship. And they’re in denial that they are responsible for their demise. We’ve seen the F1-75 compete and defeat the RB-18 on track. We’ve also seen Ferrari make mistakes in communications, pit strategy, and their season-long reliability struggle. After preseason testing and the start of the 2022 season, we all thought “alright, Ferrari is in this. Vamos!’
Ferrari has been very successful scoring 8 out of 13 pole positions. Exploding engines, driver errors, and baffling strategy calls have only scored the Scuderia 4 Grand Prix victories. Red Bull is driving off into the distance to a comfortable double World Championship and it’s Ferrari’s fault.
You know, maybe I should have ranked Ferrari lower for the season-long power unit reliability issues the Scuderia and their client teams have struggled with. Ferrari, fix your mess, and learn from your mistakes.
Ferrari can learn these lessons from the two giants at the top of my rankings.
#2: Mercedes – Constructor’s Championship Position: 3rd (304 points)
Mercedes will always have my respect and admiration for their work ethic and for being forthright to a fault in their addressing and analysis of their cars issues. And that’s when Mercedes’ was winning eight-straight Constructors championships. Mercedes identify and admit there is an issue (hey, Ferrari, this is lesson #1 – admit fallibility) and set forth to address the issue.
Mercedes has had more issues to deal with than anyone could have expected at the car’s launch.
When the W-13 took to the track for the first winter testing session, Mercedes brought a W-13 that was an uninspired interpretation of the 2022 technical regulations. Whispers turned into rumors of a new concept Mercedes and proved to be true when the W-13 left the garage for the second winter testing session. This was the debut of the “zero pods.”
Only Williams was remotely flirting with a similar interpretation of the technical regulations. Everyone watching winter testing came to the same conclusion: seems like Mercedes has some work to do.
And they’ve done the work. The Mercedes has continued to get better in Formula 1 week after week. George Russell and Lewis Hamilton are consistently getting the most out of the reliable W-13 package and consistently making minimal mistakes. When Ferrari has faltered, Mercedes are always there to capitalize.
Mercedes is slowly getting closer to the pace and making the fight at the front a true three-team battle. It’s not if Mercedes will win a race this year, I think it is a matter of when.
#1: Red Bull – Constructor’s Championship Position: 1st (431 points)
As if there was any other choice for the number one ranking. Let’s get the stats out of the way: 9 of 13) Grand Prix victories, 4 Pole Positions, 16 podiums, 10 front row starts, and only 5 DNFs. Red Bull rarely makes a mistake in strategy and during pitstops. But when Max Verstappen spins or Sergio Perez struggles in qualifying, Red Bull still ends up at the front of the grid.
In the 2022 season, Red Bull has been an efficiently operating machine, that knows how to win, and executes its intentions to near perfection.
The Adrian Newey-designed RB-18 has been the best race car all season. Ferrari might have lost the Formula 1 2022 World Championships, but Red Bull has undoubtedly designed the cars that are likely to win Red Bull their first Double World Championships since 2012.