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5 Reasons to Keep Watching the 2022 F1 Season With the Championship Already Decided – Autoweek

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Max Verstappen clinched the Formula 1 Drivers’ Championship with four races remaining. Here’s why we’ll still watch the rest of the season.
Formula 1’s Drivers’ title is decided and the Constructors’ crown is all but wrapped up too. But there’s still four rounds left to run in 2022. Autoweek looks at some of the main themes to watch.
For the first time in his career Max Verstappen enters Grands Prix already having clinched a championship. How he will respond over the final four races will be an intriguing watch.
Some champions, such as Michael Schumacher (pictured) and Lewis Hamilton, have tended to ease up after clinching titles early while others, notably Sebastian Vettel, continued to obliterate rivals.
Perhaps a motivating factor for Verstappen will be a record he’s chasing. He has won 12 races this year and has the opportunity to equal—and perhaps surpass—the record of 13 victories in a single F1 season held by Schumacher (2004) and Vettel (2013). And Red Bull, too, is pursuing its own ambitions, with the team on the brink of the Constructors’ crown.
The titles are out of reach for Ferrari and Mercedes for another year, but the teams have four more events to get a head start on their 2023 prospects.
For Ferrari, a first victory since July would be welcome, and execution of clean weekends would give it hope of mounting a stronger challenge next year.
For Mercedes, it is still chasing an increasingly improbable victory in a subdued season, but it has brought another upgrade package to Austin as it strives to learn as much as possible for 2023.
Anything gained now will be valuable for both teams across the winter break.
This is it for Sebastian Vettel—and could be it for Daniel Ricciardo.
Four-time champion Vettel will exit Formula 1 in just four events’ time, and while the days of crushing victories and total dominance are gone, he is having a fine streak with Aston Martin of late.
The ebullient Ricciardo has already said he won’t be on the 2023 grid and it is already difficult to see a competitive 2024 option given the lack of top-flight seats expected to be available, meaning this too could be the end of the road for the Australian. He’ll be determined not to say farewell for now—or even goodbye—with a whimper.
Sure, they aren’t high profile, but there’s several close fights between teams that result in not only prestige, but also prize money.
• Only 13 points separate Alpine and McLaren in the battle for fourth in the championship, with momentum having ebbed and flowed between the teams in recent events.
• Aston Martin’s haul in Asia has left it only seven behind Alfa Romeo in the battle for sixth, with Alfa Romeo having scored just a single point in the past nine rounds.
• Haas and AlphaTauri are meanwhile tied for points in the scrap for eighth and fine margins in the lower midfield are likely to determine the outcome of that battle.
Okay, the Yas Marina Circuit that hosts F1’s finale isn’t a thriller, but before then the championship will hurtle around three iconic venues in the Circuit of the Americas, Mexico City’s Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez (pictured), and Sao Paulo’s Interlagos.
Last year, all three delivered thrilling Grands Prix, in particular Interlagos, where dull races are mercifully few and far between.
There’s also the tantalizing prospect of Red Bull’s Sergio Perez having an extremely competitive car on home soil in Mexico City. If he can contend for pole position or victory then the noise out of that place will be cacophonous.

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