It may not have come down to the final lap of the final race like 2021, but 2022’s Formula One season still threw up plenty of drama.
There were plenty of standout performers and a handful of disappointments from the 20 drivers who make up the grid.
Here’s our full driver rankings, listing the best and worst from the season.
1. Max Verstappen
Team: Red Bull
Championship position: 1st
Qualifying record v teammate: 18-4
He may have had the fastest car this year, but Verstappen made incredible use of it. With 15 victories to his name from 22 grands prix, he set a new record for wins in a season while utterly demolishing Red Bull teammate Sergio Perez in both qualifying and the races. At the start of the year he had to deal with two car failures in the opening three races, but when the RB18 held together he racked up the points despite the Ferrari looking like the quicker package at the first four rounds.
His weakest results had good reasons behind them — in Silverstone his car was damaged by debris and in Singapore he started from tenth after his team midjudged his fuel load in qualifying — although there were unforced errors in Spain, Hungary and while trying to come back through the pack in Singapore (yet in two of those three he still won the race). If the occasional low showed some room for improvement, the highs were incredibly high, with memorable and dominant victories from low grid positions in Hungary and Spa. No one else got close in 2022.
2. Lando Norris
Championship position: 7th
Qualifying record v teammate: 20-2
It’s easy to take Norris’ performances for granted after four years of consistently strong showings in a midfield car, but he was hugely impressive once again in 2022. The 23-year-old was the only driver outside the top three teams to score a podium (at Imola) and destroyed his more experienced teammate, Daniel Ricciardo, over the course of 22 races.
Despite an incredibly tight midfield battle and McLaren taking a step backwards relative to the front runners, he only finished outside the top ten on four occasions and finished in the top seven in over half of the 22 races despite having the fifth fastest car on the grid. It would be fascinating to see what he could do with a more competitive package and after four years of consistently outperforming his car, there’s no doubting he is among F1’s very best.
3. George Russell
Championship position: 4th
Qualifying record v teammate: 9-13
It seemed unfair that Mercedes’ first bad car in nine years coincided with Russell’s promotion to the team, but that didn’t stop the 24-year-old from shining this year. He was on average just 0.082s off seven-time champion teammate Lewis Hamilton in qualifying and finished 35 points ahead of him in the standings, mainly thanks to some remarkably consistent results early in the year when the car was still at its worst.
Russell took his first pole position and first victory in 2022, both of which will be the first of many, and cemented his place at F1’s top table. By the end of the year there was very little to choose between Russell and Hamilton, but Russell just gets the nod based on the speed and ease with which he settled into a new team.
4. Lewis Hamilton
Championship position: 6th
Qualifying record v teammate: 13-9
Statistically, the 2022 season was the worst of Hamilton’s career with a sixth-place finish in the standings and no wins to his name. But a bad season for the seven-time world champion is still relatively good compared to the rest of the grid and his relatively small points tally and lack of a race win don’t tell the entire story. Mercedes’ porpoising and ride issues early in the year forced him to try a variety of experimental setups at the opening nine or ten races, which cost him points but helped unlock key areas of development for the team. In qualifying he beat Russell 13-9 and held a slender 0.082s average advantage over his younger teammate, which suggests he had the edge in terms of pure pace. Seeing who comes out on top in their second season with a more consistent car will be fascinating.
5. Charles Leclerc
Championship position: 2nd
Qualifying record v teammate: 15-7
After the first three races in 2022, Leclerc was dominating the drivers’ championship and held a 46-point lead over eventual champion Verstappen. By the end of the season he’d slipped to a 146-point deficit to the Red Bull driver. To be fair to Leclerc, the vast majority of the points swing was not his fault. When the car was at its best, especially over one lap, he looked unbeatable, taking nine pole positions to Verstappen’s seven. The problems usually occurred on race day and the majority of the blame can be laid with Ferrari, both from a reliability and strategy point of view.
Nevertheless, Leclerc’s mistake at the French Grand Prix, when he crashed out of the lead midway through the race, crushed any hope of a Ferrari resurgence and was a turning point in Verstappen running away with the title. Combined with a crash at Imola while attempting to chase the Red Bulls for victory and a lack of assertiveness over team radio when he clearly knew his strategy was falling apart, Leclerc has room for improvement next year. The good news is he remains one of F1’s fastest and most exciting drivers.
6. Fernando Alonso
Championship position: 9th
Qualifying record v teammate: 12-10
The two-time world champion was close to his best in 2022. He claims he could have scored an extra 60 points had it not been for reliability issues and bad luck, and going through his season it’s easy to pick out multiple missed opportunities due to events outside of his control. What’s more, even with those issues, a run of 10 consecutive points finishes — from Spain to the Netherlands — was made up the backbone of his final points tally and proved he still has consistency as well as outright performance.
After leaving Alpine high and dry by signing for Aston Martin for 2023 at the Hungarian Grand Prix, he seemed only to be racing for himself in the second half of the year and clashed with teammate Esteban Ocon in Brazil. The reliability issues left him 11 points shy of Ocon in the final count, but perhaps a better comparison between the two was in qualifying, where Alonso beat Ocon 12-10 and held a 0.228s average advantage.
7. Sebastian Vettel
Team: Aston Martin
Championship position: 12th
Qualifying record v teammate: 13-7
Despite missing the opening two races of the season, Vettel still scored more than double the points of his teammate Lance Stroll by the end of the year. After announcing his retirement from F1 ahead of the summer break, it would have been understandable if the four-time world champion lost interest but instead he pulled out some of his best performances for years in the second half of the season, with a memorable performance at Suzuka on the way to scoring 17 points in the final six races.
Over the course of the 20 races he took part in, he scored points in half, which is an impressive feat in a car that could never really be considered among the top five on the grid. He also held a 0.236s average qualifying advantage over his younger teammate and appeared to have the edge over Stroll in every respect over the course of the year. It’s fair to say that after 16 seasons in F1, Vettel went out on a high.
8. Esteban Ocon
Championship position: 8th
Qualifying record v teammate: 10-12
It’s easy to overlook Ocon’s season, but the 26-year-old managed to outscore his more experienced teammate Fernando Alonso over 22 races. He may have had better reliability than Alonso but it’s not as if his car ran perfectly throughout, with car issues bringing an end to his races in Imola, Silverstone and Singapore. The only other two races at which he failed to score points were in Monaco, when he finished ninth but received a questionable penalty for a clash with Hamilton, and Austin, where he finished 11th after starting from the pit lane due to an engine penalty and component changes. Counting against him was Alonso’s 0.228s average advantage, but a two-time champion is a high bar by which to measure performance.
9. Valtteri Bottas
Team: Alfa Romeo
Championship position: 10th
Qualifying record v teammate: 14-8
Bottas scored 49 of Alfa Romeo’s 55 points this year, helping the team secure its best championship position in a decade. Despite shaky reliability, Bottas made the most of Alfa Romeo’s early season advantage as the team was one of the few that started the year with a chassis close to the minimum weight. He scored 46 points in the opening nine races but then struggled to maintain momentum as the rest of the midfield caught up.
A resurgence came at the final few rounds with points in Mexico and Brazil, which proved crucial in Alfa Romeo holding off Aston Martin for sixth place, although he also threw away a shot at more points in Austin by spinning out early in the race. His starts, which were often a weakness during his time at Mercedes, remain an area for improvement to allow him to capitalise on his impressive qualifying pace.
10. Alex Albon
Championship position: 19th
Qualifying record v teammate: 18-2
There’s a case for putting Albon further up this list, but it’s hard to find reliable references for his performances due to the quality of his car and his teammate this year. The Williams was unquestionably the worst car on the grid, yet Albon still scored points on three occasions and featured in Q2 on eight occasions as well as a Q3 appearance in Belgium. He dominated teammate Nicholas Latifi, especially in qualifying where he beat him 18 times to two and had a 0.615s average advantage — the biggest on the grid of one teammate over another by some margin.
11. Carlos Sainz
Championship position: 5th
Qualifying record v teammate: 7-15
Although Sainz took the first win and first pole position of his career in 2022, he ultimately fell short of expectations following his strong performance in his first year at Ferrari in 2021. Mistakes in Australia and Imola early in the year were costly not just for his results but also for his position within the team as Ferrari quickly mobilised around Leclerc. Sainz had to adapt his driving style to F1’s new breed of car, but the dropped points early on meant it was always going to be difficult to turn the tide against his teammate from the point onwards.
Sainz lacked an average of 0.189s to Leclerc in qualifying, which might not have been an issue in other years, but was more pronounced in 2022 as qualifying was Ferrari’s strongest suit and crucial to stand any chance of holding off Red Bull off in the race. There were strong race performances along the way — notably in Monaco, Canada, Silverstone and Brazil — but ultimately his position in the standings, 62 points off teammate Leclerc and 29 points shy of Russell in the Mercedes, indicates why there is plenty of room for improvement.
12. Kevin Magnussen
Championship position: 13th
Qualifying record v teammate: 16-6
After a year out of F1, the Dane returned to Haas as Nikita Mazepin’s replacement in 2022. At the opening rounds he seemed intensely motivated, which helpfully coincided with Haas’ return to form and presence in the upper part of the midfield. Fifth place at the first race in Bahrain and additional points in Saudi Arabia and Imola meant he was 10th in the standings on 15 points after four rounds, but it proved to be a high water mark for his season.
Magnussen’s motivation seemed to wane along with the performance of the car thereafter and Schumacher scored more points than the rest of the year. He almost always had the upper hand in qualifying, with a 0.364s average advantage over his younger teammate over the course of the year. One last bit of magic came at the Brazilian Grand Prix when he qualified on pole in wet conditions, underlining that he is still capable of remarkable performances when the stars align.
13. Sergio Perez
Team: Red Bull
Championship position: 3rd
Qualifying record v teammate: 4-18
It may seem harsh to put a driver who scored 11 podiums, two of which were race wins, so far down this list, but in the context of his car and teammate, 2022 was not a good year for Perez. Being Verstappen’s teammate is arguably the hardest job in F1, but Perez was so far off in key areas by the end of the year that’s it’s hard to justify a top ten ranking. In qualifying, the average deficit was 0.471s, while the gap in points was 149 by the end of the year (or seen another way, just 67 percent of teammate’s total tally). What’s frustrating is that Perez was so much closer than those stats suggest in the early part of season and could have finished the first three rounds with a commanding lead over Verstappen had it not been for a poorly timed safety car in Saudi Arabia.
But as the year progressed, the Red Bull developed more towards Verstappen’s driving style and Perez ultimately dropped away. After the Belgian Grand Prix he didn’t have the same floor design as Verstappen due to a lack of spares, and although the team said it only accounted for a tenth of a second at the very most, it was a tenth Perez could not afford to lose. On the plus side, his victories in Monaco and Singapore were well earned and he was awarded with a two-year contract to remain at Red Bull shortly after the race in Monte Carlo.
14. Pierre Gasly
Championship position: 14th
Qualifying record v teammate: 13-8
Gasly’s frustration at his results was increasingly audible over team radio as the season progressed, and his move to Alpine for next year is definitely coming at the right time. He managed to grind out six points finishes over the course of the season for a total of 23 points and 14th in the driver standings, but his advantage over teammate Yuki Tsunoda in qualifying was slightly smaller than you might expect at just 0.183s on average. A new environment will hopefully be what he needs to return to his best in 2023.
15. Lance Stroll
Team: Aston Martin
Championship position: 15th
Qualifying record v teammate: 7-13
Stroll’s season wasn’t terrible but it lacked the standout moments he’s become known for during his six years in F1. Qualifying was a weakness, with an average grid position of 15.77 over the year (the second lowest after Nicholas Latifi) and an average gap to teammate Vettel of 0.236s. He often made up for the lack of pace on Saturday with strong starts and bold opening lap overtaking moves on Sunday, but it’s a risky trait to rely on week after week. He could end up being even more exposed as Alonso’s teammate next year if he fails to address his weaknesses.
16. Yuki Tsunoda
Championship position: 17th
Qualifying record v teammate: 8-13
There were improvements in Tsunoda’s second year in F1, but he was still error prone and went 12 races in the mid part of the season without scoring a point. The gap to Gasly in terms of pure pace dropped to just 0.183s on average and he outqualified his more experienced teammate on eight occasions. But his best days seem to come at specific tracks – Bahrain and Imola being particularly strong examples – and are still not consistent enough.
17. Zhou Guanyu
Team: Alfa Romeo
Championship position: 18th
Qualifying record v teammate: 8-14
It wasn’t a bad rookie year, but by the time Zhou was up to speed the Alfa Romeo had dropped off the pace relative to the team’s competition. Reliability was also a major factor for Zhou, which not only cost him results but also slightly flattened his learning curve. He outqualified teammate Bottas on eight occasions, but the average gap between the two was in Bottas’ favour by a significant 0.351s on average. His lack of reliability and performance early in the year meant he had the lowest percentage of points relative to his teammate with his six points representing just 12 percent of Bottas’ 49. A better second year is still required to secure his place in F1 long term.
18. Mick Schumacher
Championship position: 16th
Qualifying record v teammate: 6-16
Over the course of the season, Schumacher didn’t do enough to convince Haas to keep him in 2023. Expensive accidents in Saudi Arabia and Monaco stand out as obvious low points, but his consecutive points finishes in Great Britain and Austria (he finished sixth at the latter) were glimpses of how good he could be on his day. He was also unfortunate to miss out on points at the opening round in Bahrain (when Magnussen scored 10 of his 24 for the season) after being pitched into a spin by Ocon while running in the top ten. Ultimately, however, Schumacher wasn’t fast enough consistently enough to retain his place in F1.
19. Daniel Ricciardo
Championship position: 11th
Qualifying record v teammate: 2-20
By Ricciardo’s own admission, his second season at McLaren was well below expectations. As early as the Monaco Grand Prix there were rumours that his seat was under threat for the following year, which appeared to do nothing to help his confidence at a time when he desperately needed to up his game. But the real reasons for his lack of performance have never been fully explained, with both the team and driver at a loss to explain why he was so often so far off the pace of teammate Norris (their qualifying record was 20-2 in Norris’ favour).
McLaren offered to make changes among his engineers, but both driver and team did not feel that was at the core of the issue. A strong drive in Mexico to score one of his best results of the year only added to the frustration of what should and could have been.
20. Nicholas Latifi
Championship position: 20th
Qualifying record v teammate: 2-18
After two years struggling as Russell’s teammate, Latifi had fresh opposition at Williams in 2022 but the results were much the same. The Canadian was comprehensively outperformed by Albon over the course of the year — with the largest qualifying margin between any two teammates at an average of 0.615s — and beaten comfortably by Nyck de Vries when the Dutchman stood in for Albon at the Italian Grand Prix. Two points in Japan were the high point — along with topping a practice session in Hungary — but it’s hard to argue against Williams’ decision to replace Latifi for 2023.