2022 mid-season F1 driver ranking part 3: 10-6 · RaceFans – RaceFans

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20th August 2022, 7:0020th August 2022, 10:02 | Written by
The penultimate segment in RaceFans’ countdown of the best performing drivers of the 2022 Formula 1 season so far sees the first lot of drivers in the top half of the field.
When Carlos Sainz Jnr joined Ferrari in 2021 alongside the naturally talented Charles Leclerc, many expected that Sainz would have a major challenge to keep up with his new team mate over the course of the season. That did not prove the case, however, and Sainz even ended up ahead of Leclerc in the final standings.
But with the new cars introduced for the 2022 season, Sainz has been very much the second best driver at Ferrari over the course of the year so far.
Right from the first race of the season in Bahrain, it was clear that Leclerc was more comfortable with the new ground effect F1-75 than his team mate. While he took second after Max Verstappen’s retirement to complete the one-two for Ferrari. He took third place in Jeddah, again behind his team mate, before the troubles truly began.

Carlos Sainz Jr, Ferrari, Silverstone, 2022
Sainz’s season has had great highs and some great lows

In Melbourne, back luck struck him when he lost his first Q3 lap with a red flag, then a delay meant he left the garage later than planned. On his eventual flying lap, a big mistake at the high speed chicane left him ninth on the grid, then he spun out on the second lap after having fallen to 14th at the start.
At Imola, he crashed in Q2 in the wet but managed to recover places thanks to the sprint race. However, his grand prix lasted only one corner thanks to Daniel Ricciardo. A third big error in a third consecutive weekend in Miami when he crashed in practice left cynics pondering if Ferrari had made a mistake in committing to him long term, before yet another mistake in Barcelona meant he was lucky not to retire when skidding into the gravel early in the race.
Fortunately, he picked up his form from Monaco. A smart call to switch from wet tyres to slicks moved him ahead of Leclerc and he almost could have won, had he not caught Latifi out of the pits. He also came agonisingly close to a first win in Montreal, but could not hunt down Verstappen in the end.
Eventually his big breakthrough came in Silverstone where he took pole position in the wet and overtook his team mate to win after Ferrari left Leclerc on an island on strategy following a late Safety Car. Car failures in Baku and Austria cost him yet more points through no fault of his own, but he was the consummate professional for Leclerc in Paul Ricard, deliberately towing him to pole and recovering from 19th to fifth in spite of Ferrari’s strategy.
Ferrari’s hopes of a world championship title bid may be almost faded, but that does take the pressure off Sainz for the rest of the season. He would do well to use these races to build himself up ready for 2023.
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Thrust back into the Formula 1 spotlight in the most unusual of circumstances, Kevin Magnussen suddenly found himself with a second chance at the highest level of motorsport.
He showed just how keen he was to make the most of this opportunity by sticking his VF-22 seventh on the grid in Bahrain before finishing in fifth place and immediately exercising the ghosts of Haas’ excruciating 2021 season. Made all the more impressive by his year out of the sport and his relative inexperience with with the new ground effect cars. He scored two more points in Jeddah, then added a couple more in Imola to emphasise his decent start to the season.

Magnussen drove like he’d never been away in Bahrain

Then came his two weakest performances of the season. In Miami, Magnussen clashed twice with Lance Stroll, earning a five second time penalty, before his strong qualifying position in Spain was thrown away through unnecessary contact with Lewis Hamilton on the opening lap, ruining his race. Back-to-back mechanical retirements in Monaco and Baku frustrated both him and his team, then his Montreal race was ruined when he was handed a mechanical damage flag by race control and forced to pit out of seventh place.
Haas enjoyed their best weekends since the start of the season at Silverstone and the Red Bull Ring, finishing tenth in Silverstone after being beaten by team mate Mick Schumacher, then managing a misfire at the Red Bull Ring to finish in eighth. That would be his last points finish before the summer break as he clashed with Nicholas Latifi in Paul Ricard before another early black-and-orange flag in Hungary effectively ended his race.
With the benefit of the newly upgraded Haas, Magnussen will be looking for more points and less misfortune over the second half of the season.
All throughout 2021 as his team mate Max Verstappen battled for a world championship, Sergio Perez was adamant that he would be far closer to Verstappen in year two, when they both had a fresh start in all new cars.
For the first few races of the 2022 season, that definitely looked like being the case. He ran fourth and was challenging Carlos Sainz Jnr in the opening race in Bahrain after Verstappen retired, before his own car failed at the start of the final lap. Then he stormed to a first career pole position in Jeddah and led the race on merit, before a poorly timed Safety Car dropped his down to fourth.

Victory in Monaco was Perez’s highlight so far

Perez was able to do a much better job of staying in touch with Verstappen over the first part of the year than he had in 2021, but a familiar pattern emerged where he just wasn’t quite as quick as the world champion on Saturdays and Sundays. In Miami, he finished behind the two Ferraris and his team mate and while many were unhappy to hear Red Bull hand team orders to Perez to let Verstappen by Barcelona, Verstappen showed it was the right call to make by driving away to victory.
In Monaco, Perez was simply quicker than Verstappen across the weekend, out qualifying him with help from a spin at Portier before undercutting Leclerc in the race to take second and then jumping ahead of Sainz when the front runners switched to slicks to take the lead that he would never lose and claim his first Monaco victory. For a brief moment, Perez was discussed as a potential championship contender and added 18 more points to his tally with second in Baku.
He had some misfortune – breaking down early in Montreal and contact with George Russell in Austria effectively ended his race – but crashing in wet qualifying in Montreal having his Q2 times deleted for track limits at the Red Bull Ring did not help his cause either.
Verstappen continued to wrack up the points ahead of him and he fell back behind Leclerc in the standings by the summer break. Given all the problems that have left Leclerc in such a hole in his pursuit of Verstappen, it feels like there’s less of an excuse for Perez not to be in second at this stage of the season.
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After five seasons winning constructors’ championships with Mercedes, Valtteri Bottas was supposed to be brought back down to earth by moving to Alfa Romeo – a team that had scored only nine points through the entirety 2021 season. By the end of the third race in Bahrain, Bottas had already helped his new team to match that tally.
Bottas’s form in the early phase of the season was perhaps as strong as anyone’s aside from Leclerc and Verstappen. Over seven rounds, he scooped up 40 points to sit eighth in the drivers’ championship, behind only Lando Norris as ‘best of the rest’. That was despite suffering constantly mechanical setbacks on Fridays and Saturdays which leaves him as having had the least track time of all 19 drivers to have competed in every race weekend this season.

Valtteri Bottas, Alfa Romeo, Paul Ricard, 2022
Bottas slotted in comfortably to his new team

It was not always perfect. Crashing in practice in Miami was not helpful at a new track, while he struggled in Baku and Silverstone and was even beaten for pace by his rookie team mate on both occasions. As Alfa Romeo began to lose ground in the development battle, the opportunities for points became harder to find. However, he climb from the back of the grid in Austria to just miss out of the points in 11th after being passed on the final lap and reached Q3 in Budapest for the first time since Spain but missed out on points when his one stop strategy did not pay off and he eventually stopped with a fuel system failure.
Bottas has given Alfa Romeo everything they were hoping for when they signed him from Mercedes. The aim for the second leg of the season is to start scoring points once again to keep onto the team’s sixth position in the constructors’ championship.
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One of the most intriguing storylines heading into the 2022 season involved the Mercedes pair of Lewis Hamilton and George Russell and how the promising young Mercedes junior would fare against a seven time world champion fired up after being denied an eighth title in the most crushing circumstances imaginable.
Quickly it became clear that, for only the second time since Hamilton joined Mercedes way back in 2013, he would not be in contention for the world championship in 2022. The W13 was simply not as fast as the Red Bull or the Ferrari and suffered from severe aerodynamic porpoising and bouncing along the ground due to its intensely stiff suspension.
But despite the relative lack of performance from Mercedes compared to their rivals ahead, Russell began the season with a streak of nine consecutive top five finishes. Hamilton, the most successful driver ever to step into a Formula 1 car, appeared to be unable to match his much younger team mate in that same span.

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Paul Ricard, 2022
Hamilton’s form picked up majorly as the season progressed

Despite take a podium in Bahrain after both Red Bulls retired late, Hamilton endured one of the worst weekends of his illustrious career based on performance in Jeddah the next weekend, being far off the pace of Russell. A decent race in Melbourne followed before Hamilton looked lost again in Imola, floundering behind Pierre Gasly to finish far out of the points while Russell was only one place off the podium.
Some respite came in the form of a major upgrades package in Barcelona that addressed a lot of the concerns with the car, but contact with Magnussen dropped him well off the rest of the pack on the opening lap. For the first time in 2022, we saw the kind of drive we’ve come to expect from Hamilton in Spain as he rose through the field without any Safety Car assistance to finish in a strong fifth at the finish.
Hamilton continued to be out scored by Russell before it emerged that he had been spending the bulk of the season running various experimental parts and settings on his Mercedes in a bid to try and help the team solve their underlying pace issues. He got back onto the podium in Montreal and sat on 77 points after nine rounds. Four races later, he’d almost doubled that total.
Hamilton’s form over the final four rounds was more of what many would have expected to see from him. He thrilled the Silverstone crowd with a battling drive to third and finished on the podium again in Austria despite crashing out in Q3. Paul Ricard and the Hungaroring were probably his best performances of the season, taking second behind Verstappen in France before overcoming a DRS failure in qualifying to move from seventh on the grid to second again in Hungary.
Hamilton is now beating Russell regularly on Sundays as many would have predicted, but even if his early season slump was due to running Frankenstein setups to help Mercedes learn the car, he must rank lower than his team mate due to two outstanding bad weekends. If he keeps up his current form, it may be a different story come the end of the season.
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Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
20th August 2022, 8:17
I have mostly been agreeing with the order so far, but russell has not been better than hamilton.
Russell has had good fortune on numerous occasions with hardly any bad luck at all, while Hamilton has had plenty of bad luck without benefitting from the opposite like russell often has. Plus, although I initially didn’t think this was the case, hamilton chose to run the experimental setups earlier on in the season to help the team figure out what their main difficulties were. It was the right thing to do giving the new driver to the team the same car each time, but it will be related to the team and hamilton doing these trials that they are where they are now. Hamilton is just 12 points behind, which is not much at all given russell has been much more lucky than him. And while russell was involved in a retirement, he was the main cause of it.
Most of the order is correct so far, including Sainz in 10th (many in the previous ranking page seem more influenced by his recent performance) Overall, he’s just been average really. I think magnussen has had a great season based on where we expected him to be. I think I would possibly swap perez and bottas though. Although it has to be said, Perez most of the time has the best car, and for the ability of the car, I’m unsure he’s done much better than bottas, especially in qualifying. In the sprint races he’s often been able to recover from his poor qualifying results. I have to say one negative thing about Perez though- he certainly should never be out of Q3, and he didn’t make it through 3 times.
20th August 2022, 12:08
That whole ‘Hamilton sacrificed himself with experimental setups for the team’ is such a hogwash argument. You experiment because you think it might benefit you, it’s a risk-reward decision. When your experiments don’t pay off, you lost the die-roll. You took a risk, hoped to get out on top, it didn’t work, end of story.
But for some reason, Mercedes seem to feel the need to try and salve his ego by coming up with a narrative where he is portrayed as some kind of martyr who sacrificed himself for the team knowing he would lose points.
I actually agree that 6th is too low for Hamilton. I would place him several positions higher too, but not for that nonsensical ‘experimental setups’ reason.
20th August 2022, 13:01
It is not non sensical only the wording is confusing for you. Maybe ‘different setups for testing purposes during race weekends’ wouldn’t offend you’. Those different setups can actually be ‘experimental’, as often they are tried for the first time and involve parts oy used for a few laps and never used again if the experiment didn’t work. It is true Hamilton has been the one offering to do the experimental setups as he isn’t interested in finishing 6th or 10th. While for Russell it is best to gain more confidence at his age and not waste time with setup changes.
Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
20th August 2022, 14:42
That was only part of my reasoning. Bad luck for him and the opposite for russell was the main reason.
Cobray (@cobray)
20th August 2022, 12:59
I think it depends on whether you trust Mercedes or not in order to judge Hamilton.
If you believe them you place him in the top 3, if not like Will I assume (I’m ready to stand corrected.) you place him 6th.
I don’t think it’s a complete hogwash argument myself since for instance in Australia he was carrying extra sensors making his car overweight (you could even see a little flickering light at the bottom side of the car in frontal view.) to solve the porpoising.
The Dolphins
20th August 2022, 17:48
@thegianthogweed I agree with your evaluation and ranking of the drivers. I look forward to the second half of the season to see how/if the standings change.
bosyber (@bosyber)
20th August 2022, 8:19
Hm, reading the text (and not taking into account that MAG had to step in from the cold, as previously this sites rating didn’t take such external factors as that, or being a rookie into account) I’d have thought Magnussen behind Sainz, while Sainz and Perez might well be either switched around or on equal footing.
Hamilton continued to be out scored by Russell before it emerged that he had been spending the bulk of the season running various experimental parts and settings on his Mercedes in a bid to try and help the team solve their underlying pace issues
but then having him clearly behind Russell here makes it seem like this rating also hasn’t quite adjusted to consider that either (but I expect it might well come back in the 2nd half of the year where on current performance HAM might quite well overtake Russell).
Likewise, having Bottas ahead of HAM based on the text doesn’t seem automatic, though it is hard to judge the 2nd lackluster quarter of the season for Bottas as while HAM’s car improved, the Alfa floundered so it’s probably a matter of preference.
But yeah, seems to make sense enough on the whole.
SjaakFoo (@sjaakfoo)
20th August 2022, 8:24
Thinking about it I have to agree that there is an argument to be made for cutting Hamilton more slack and placing him above Russell, who I expect to take 5th. However, I cannot deny that Russell has done a great job in his first season and with a difficult car.
Now, yes, apparently Lewis was busy “testing” the car as per Mercedes. But we are not told what he tested and to what degree that might affect him is nothing more than a gamble. So how could you even begin to determine the factor of that in the performance. At the end of the day you can only go by the actual performances on track as they happen, and in that sense Russell can be argued to have had the ever-so-slight better first half of the season. And, to be fair, to match Hamilton you need to put in some good performances.
20th August 2022, 16:04
HAM and RUS are very close after 13 races, and HAM being behind can be linked to his performance in either one of the races in Jeddah, Imola, or Monaco (thus had Jeddah be in the 2nd part of the season like last year, then HAM would probably be ahead). The current trajectory is certainly very strong.
It’s very tough to factor in the impact of the testing done by him for various reasons:
1) all teams and drivers are testing set-ups and new parts. It will be impossible to adjust each driver’s performance (not just HAM’s) for those impacts.
2) teams test new parts and set-ups which they believe will make them faster. And with all the pre-work done it should be expected that they are more often right than wrong (drivers normally want to be the first to have the new parts).
3) reading the rating reports by Will, he seems to be quite consistent in focussing on driver performance (impressive actions and errors) rather than what happened during FP, how difficult a car is to drive, or how much time they had to set up the car (a driver doesn’t get an automatic higher score when handing the car over to another driver in FP1).
20th August 2022, 8:26
2019: Vettel 7, Raikkonen (Alfa Romeo) 6
2022: Bottas (Alfa Romeo) 7, Hamilton 6
20th August 2022, 9:05
You lost me.
20th August 2022, 9:18
“Only 1% of people can solve this puzzle!”
20th August 2022, 13:03
Yes, it is interesting that drivers drive different cars each F1 season isn’t it
Esploratore (@esploratore1)
20th August 2022, 23:06
The only sense I can make out of this is a finnish driver on alfa first beat a multiple champion by 1 in the rankings, then another finnish driver on alfa lost by 1 to a multiple champion!
Esploratore (@esploratore1)
20th August 2022, 23:08
Ah, well, obviously as it’s the case those same drivers were also number 2 at ferrari and mercedes compared to those multi champions, that makes more sense.
20th August 2022, 8:50
Hamilton is very hard to judge. The article briefly mentions that “it emerged that he had been spending the bulk of the season running various experimental parts and settings on his Mercedes” but doesn’t seem to give it much weight. Whether one beliefs that explains all the deficit to Russell in the earlier races or not, the fact is that once this supposedly stopped Hamilton has been clearly and consistently faster than Russell.
Hamilton will probably easily make it into the top 5 (if not higher) if he keeps it going as he has recently (or: since the experimenting largely stopped). If one is to give Mercedes’ explanation the benefit of the doubt, Hamilton has been pretty much on point all season with the Qualifying off in Austria being the one major mistake.
Esploratore (@esploratore1)
20th August 2022, 23:09
A mistake which russell made too.
20th August 2022, 9:09
I feel the overall field is very poor. Apart from Max, Charles, Lando, Lewis, George and Alonso everyone is dismissed for the remainder of the season. I wish F1 would toughen up vs its drivers. I am convinced with the right regulatory setting we can increase the overall level significantly
20th August 2022, 9:35
Part of the reason is probably that it’s very hard in F1 to do anything special.
Everything is so optimized, simulated a thousand times, and set-ups are prepared way ahead of the cars ever showing up on track. Then the teams spend three long practise sessions dialing everything in to perfection. At that point, all a driver can do is either perform as he is ‘supposed to’ do based on the preparation or ‘fail’ – and even being two tenths of a second off their teammate is considered a bad performance.
The sprint weekends have shown how even a slight decrease in that (over)preparation can lead to more interesting races. Ferrari vs. Red Bull in Austria for example; Ferrari had the much better tyre performance but Red Bull had the initial speed.
F1 in Figures (@f1infigures)
20th August 2022, 11:43
I think it’s actually the opposite. Since the 1980s every new generation has been better than the previous one. What’s now considered an average driver was a top driver 20 years ago. The margins are fine nowadays as the field is close, while at the same these tires are extremely challenging.
Ambrogio Isgro
20th August 2022, 21:49
On the other side cars nowadays are “forgiving” drivers mistakes, tracks are easier, the level of aids for strategies, set-up is incredibile. The drivers can simulate almost everything and they have access to tons of data.
They are closer than ever in terms of lap times, but is this happening because of better drivers or easier cars?
How many of them would have finished in Monaco ’84 or Estoril ’85 under that level of rain?
20th August 2022, 9:56
The ranking is getting a little wayward imo. 20-11 weren’t too bad other than underrating Vettel and overrating Gasly, but having Alonso in the top 5 is laughable. He has not been showing enough in his incident-free weekends to warrant that much praise, and his misfortune (which he isn’t entirely faultless for) has left him with an many underwhelming results (vs where the car should be finishing) which are impossible to overlook.
Magnussen also way too high, and a strong argument could be made for Hamilton to be above Russell.
spoutnik (@spoutnik)
20th August 2022, 11:07
While Alonso’s 5th place in the ranking is debatable, saying misfortune being mostly Alonso’s fault is quite a nonsense.
20th August 2022, 16:06
While Alonso’s 5th place in the ranking is debatable
Especially since he’s likely to end up in 4th place 😉
20th August 2022, 13:06
Alonso is a beast. Anyone can see he is doing a great job, and still one of the best and fastest drivers in the world. I would put him 5th behind Verstappen, Leclerc, Norris and Russell so far this year.
20th August 2022, 12:11
The author clearly doesn’t like some drivers like Vettel and Sainz.
Let me guess, George and Norris #1 and #2?
Some clear bias here.
20th August 2022, 13:10
Vettel and Sainz haven’t been top 5 drivers this year so far compared to previous seasons. No bias there. This author of this website is possibly the least biased at these things of any motorsport website. I’ve been reading this site since I can’t remember, at least 14 years or more since f1fanatic.co.uk days.
20th August 2022, 12:18
I kind of agree with this 10-6 order , but Alonso should be somewhere in here. Having Alonso in the top 5 is not justifiable with any performance metrics except the usual narrative that “at 41 he is still at his best” plus some fascination that people have with him for some reason
Facetious (@peartree)
20th August 2022, 13:14
gasly where is gasly? He has been missing he should be at the bottom. Mag does not deserve to be as high but he is in good company, 2 drivers that are doing a ricciardo but for some reason are not 19th like ricciardo.
These lists cannot stop amazing me, completely random lists.
Facetious (@peartree)
20th August 2022, 13:18
Guess gasly is 11th should be lower anyway, like Bottas and magnussen, they have stood out but it is not just strategy and reliability that have compromised them, they have made costly mistakes or made bad decisions. Bottas is too conservative, cannot overtake, gasly is just bad all round, a menace around other drivers, magnussen is overly aggressive and gets overtaken easily when he starts trying to hard to be clever.
20th August 2022, 13:37
Gasly is in the article where you commented:
Gasly 11th? What? What are you watching, where is Magnussen? The mistakes both these do when on good points makes up for Mag being aggressive and faster than Mick and on Gasly’s case, he was faster than Tsunoda in most races but he isn’t just down because of his team, he just slow and on a pack he gets himself into trouble.
jenc (@jens)
20th August 2022, 15:02
I would put Magnussen higher than Perez.
To bad Magnussen never have had a go in a top tier team – McLaren weren’t top in 2014 – and for this to be after his first season to have been around all the tracks.
Esploratore (@esploratore1)
20th August 2022, 23:21
True that, he never really got a top team chance, maybe could’ve done well, I’m glad perez got one in the end at least, he also risked to never be at a top team.
Michael (@freelittlebirds)
20th August 2022, 15:34
Hey, at least this is the closest that Bottas has gotten to Hamilton 🙂
Same for Perez, all he’s gotta do now is climb 2 more spots and he’ll be within reach of the WDC.
Esploratore (@esploratore1)
20th August 2022, 23:24
Ahah, that’s actually true, within 1 place in the rankings sounds closer than the seasons they’ve been team mates.
20th August 2022, 16:03
What?? How many drivers on this list are 9*-time WDC??? That’s right. There’s is only ONE greatest GOAT of all time and this list is fixed!!! The results of the VOTE must jave been altered by Masi and Ferreri Internal Assistants! This is a discrase!!!??
*Nico and Max are not truly winners!!! (and Cheating Mika!!!!)
H.A.M. is true Number One!!!? All time!!?
You must fix this tradgedy!!!
20th August 2022, 16:17
How does one become the ‘greatest GOAT’ if not comparing between the medium-sized hoofed horned herbivores?
20th August 2022, 17:32
People have to understand that Russell was driving a Williams last year. Now he’s in a top team but not a top car and already looks like a veteran. He’s been very, very impressive. Much more than journeymans like Perez and Sainz.
Being rated lower than that is no big deal for a Hamilton 15 years and 300 GPs into his career.
Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
20th August 2022, 20:52
These rankings are usually rated on the performance of the drivers this season, and not taking into account their age, experience or anything from other seasons.
20th August 2022, 23:22
I read my comment again 3 times to understand what you wrote have to do with anything and i still don’t understand.
I’m not the one whom you should reply to.
Esploratore (@esploratore1)
20th August 2022, 23:29
I understood what you mean, I agree that if you compare for example to the 2014 demolition ricciardo did to vettel in similar circumstances (vettel demotivated by the bad car, ricciardo motivated by the good car) hamilton still came out well so far this season and has good chances to come on top by the end.
slowmo (@slowmo)
20th August 2022, 23:41
For me I don’t see how Alonso being above Hamilton is warranted, or Norris for that matter but it’s just someone’s opinion. I’d probably have the same top 6 though. Verstappen, Leclerc, Russell, Hamilton, Norris, Alonso in that order would have been my pick. I can see the order changing a lot in the second half of the year.
21st August 2022, 1:51
And Alonso is rated too high. The rest of the top 5 is fine, but Alonso is not only trailing Ocon, he’s not even being that more impressive than him either.
i would rank Hamilton and Bottas higher
21st August 2022, 7:02
I don’t care much about Bottas. But Alonso and Vettel should be rated close to each other. Don’t see any any justification for ranking Alonso in the top 5 and Vettel 14th.
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