The summer break of Formula 1 2022 is here. After a breathless, relentless, and dramatic 13 races, Formula 1 pauses until the Belgian Grand Prix on August 28. Therefore, it is the perfect time to assess the drivers and hand out summer break grades. It’s time to see which drivers have shone and those that need to improve.
Charles Leclerc – Scuderia Ferrari
Charles Leclerc started his season with a loud bang. Victories in Bahrain and Australia seemed to signal a championship challenge from Ferrari’s number one. Sadly, the only things to have gone bang since then are Ferrari’s hopes. Pit strategy errors in Monaco, Silverstone, and Hungary, allied with engine failures in Spain and Azerbaijan, have combined to derail Leclerc’s championship hopes.
The Monegasque has displayed his ferocious speed with seven pole positions, as well as some ruthless overtaking that underlined a win in Austria. Leclerc’s raw speed is hard to match; he leads teammate Carlos Sainz 10-3 in the qualifying head-to-head. However, uncharacteristic mistakes often plague Leclerc, as evidenced by the crash at the French Grand Prix.
Nonetheless, the former Formula 2 champion has performed well in 2022. The composure in Austria, while he dealt with a throttle problem was a remarkable performance. Leclerc will need more of that if he wishes to overturn an 80-plus point deficit in the championship.
Race Wins- Three/ Pole Positions- Seven/ Top 10 Finishes- 10/ Championship ranking- Second
Summer Break Grade- A-
Carlos Sainz – Scuderia Ferrari
For the Ferrari team as a whole, it has been quite the roller coaster of a season. With all that being said though, Carlos Sainz has put together a good season so far. To start the year he ended up finishing second in the Bahrain Grand Prix, followed up by another podium finish the next week for the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix. The highlight of the season so far for Sainz would come during the British Grand Prix where he achieved his first ever Formula 1 victory.
As mentioned before, it has been a roller coaster season so with the great moments also come some down moments. Due to reliability issues, Sainz has suffered four DNFs. While in every race he has completed he hasn’t finished outside the top five this season, some of his results could’ve been better, including more wins, had Ferrari gotten their strategy correct.
Last season Sainz finished with 164.5 points, already at the break he has 156 points. The season has shown that Sainz has what it takes to be a top driver as he is performing at his best. If Ferrari can figure out their strategy issues, another win could be on the horizon for Sainz this season.
Race Wins- One/ Pole Positions- One/ Top 10 Finishes- 9/ Championship Ranking- Fifth
Summer Break Grade- A
Lando Norris – McLaren
In a McLaren car that is behind Red Bull, Ferrari, and Mercedes Lando Norris has been able to consistently get the most out of the car. When looking at how his teammate Daniel Ricciardo has performed in the car, Norris having 10 finishes within the points and a podium finish is remarkable. Currently, McLaren is fifth in the Constructors’ Championship with 95 points, of those 95 points Norris accounts for 76 of them.
Between brake issues and power unit issues, Norris’ driving style has continued to put him in a place where he can succeed and overcome these issues. When looking at how Norris performed in 2021 with three podiums before the Hungarian Grand Prix it may seem as if it’s a step back for him. But, Ferrari was McLaren’s biggest rival last season, so with the advancements Ferrari made it would be expected that position wise Norris would take a few steps “back”. All in all though, what Norris has been able to do in a below-par McLaren car this season so far has been great.
Race Wins- Zero/ Pole Positions- Zero/ Top 10 Finishes- 10/ Championship Ranking- Seventh
Summer Break Grade- B+
Daniel Ricciardo – McLaren
Daniel Ricciardo endured a difficult first part of 2022. The smiling Australian has finished in the points just four times. Ricciardo’s best result was a sixth-place finish at his home race. An eighth and two ninth-place finishes are the other highlights in this challenging season.
Teammate Lando Norris has 10 finishes in the top 10, and Ricciardo trails his young teammate 11-2 in the qualifying head-to-head. Ricciardo shows glimpses of the old “Danny Ric”, but those are fleeting moments in a tunnel of gloom.
The popular veteran is comfortably slower than Norris, and there are no signs to suggest that will change. With the sharks circling for the second McLaren seat, Ricciardo requires a spectacular turnaround after the summer break.
Race Wins- Zero/ Pole Positions- Zero/ Top 10 Finishes- Four/ Championship Ranking- 12th
Summer Break Grade- D-
Zhou Guanyu – Alfa Romeo
As with most first-year drivers, there is going to be a learning curve, and that is how Zhou Guanyu’s year has gone so far. At the Bahrain Grand Prix, he put on a good first race finishing 10th. In the next two races in Saudi Arabia and Australia, he would finish 11th in both, just missing out on points. From there though is when the rookie experience set it.
Over the next six races, he would suffer four DNFs and two finishes outside the points. The Canadian Grand Prix is when he looked to get back to form, and he ended up with his best finish of the season in eighth. Unfortunately, in the British Grand Prix, he had an early DNF due to a horrific crash that sent him upside down and into the catch fence. Luckily he walked away from the incident ok.
Whether it’s been because of Alfa Romeo’s mechanical issues, or his own errors he is still learning how to race at a consistent level. He has shown flashes and could continue to improve as the season progresses.
Race Wins- Zero/ Pole Positions- Zero/ Top 10 Finishes- Two/ Championship Ranking- 17th
Summer Break Grade- C+
Valtteri Bottas – Alfa Romeo
Valtteri Bottas started his season at Alfa Romeo on fire. The ice-cool Finnish driver shocked established midfield runners in the early part of the season, especially in qualifying. In the first 10 races, Bottas finished in the points seven times. His consistency, speed, and leadership skills have endeared him to his new team, and Bottas looks like a new man in a new environment.
In a crowded midfield battle, the 10-time race winner has the consistency and calm head to pick up more points in the second half of the season.
Race Wins- Zero/ Pole Positions- Zero/ Top 10 Finishes- Seven/ Championship ranking- Ninth
Summer Break Grade- B+
Kevin Magnussen – Haas F1
From not expecting to drive a Formula 1 car this season to being brought on by Haas just a day before the test runs began for Bahrain. This unexpected return came after Haas terminated Nikita Mazepin’s contract. Bringing back Kevin Magnussen was the right call for the team as he not only has helped the team in terms of developing and understanding the car but also mentoring Mick Schumacher.
His experience showed right away as in the Bahrain Grand Prix he finished fifth and brought points to the Haas team that didn’t secure any in 2021. While he has had four DNFs this season he has still been able to have five finishes within the points. Two of these finishes came in back-to-back weeks with the British and Austrian Grand Prix where both Haas drivers scored points all while driving a car that had not seen significant upgrades yet. Magnussen would finally get an upgrade package for his car during the Hungarian Grand Prix but unfortunately with the nature of the track it did not exactly suit the car and he finished 16th.
Still, it has been a promising season for Haas compared to 2021 and Magnussen can be accounted for a huge reason as to why.
Race Wins- Zero/ Pole Positions- Zero/ Top 10 Finishes- Five/ Championship Ranking- 11th
Summer Break Grade- B-
Mick Schumacher – Haas F1
Mick Schumacher’s sophomore season featured one seismic moment; the young German registered his first points finish. Schumacher enjoyed a superb weekend at Silverstone as he came home in eighth place. It was just the confidence boost the youngster needed after a series of accidents marred the early part of the season.
Haas team principal Gunther Steiner publicly scolded his driver, but Schumacher used it as fuel. Two weeks after the British Grand Prix, Schumacher demonstrated guts and determination as he valiantly wrestled his car to a sixth-place finish.
His battles with Lewis Hamilton and teammate Kevin Magnussen showcased Schumacher’s innate tenacity. But despite the positives, there are still too many mistakes in Schumacher’s driving. The former Formula 2 champion threw points away in Miami and Monaco with careless crashes. While he trails Magnussen 11-2 in qualifying head to head. There are elements that Schumacher must improve after the summer break.
Race Wins- Zero/ Pole Positions- Zero/ Top 10 Finishes-Two/ Championship Ranking- 15th
Summer Break Grade- C+
Sebastian Vettel – Aston Martin
The 2022 Aston Martin Formula 1 car is not one of the Silverstone-based team’s best efforts. Lawrence Stroll’s car has languished near the back of the midfield, and Sebastian Vettel has not managed to achieve significant success in his second season with the team. Nonetheless, Vettel has occasionally shown glimpses of the old Vettel. A calm drive to sixth in the Azerbaijan Grand Prix was the standout result in the German’s first half.
Points at Imola, Silverstone, and Budapest are the other highlights of Vettel’s season. Vettel leads his teammate 8-3 in qualifying, but Vettel’s average qualifying position over the season is 14.64.
That underlines Aston Martin’s trouble setting up their car for one-lap speed. Vettel has driven solidly, scooping up points where possible. He’ll hope to keep that up after the summer break before retiring.
Race Wins- Zero/ Pole Positions- Zero/ Top 10 Finishes- Four/ Championship ranking- 14th
Summer Break Grade- B-
Lance Stroll – Aston Martin
In an Aston Martin car that has consistently lacked pace in qualifying, Stroll has been able to make up for it a bit on race day. Most of Stroll’s starts have come from 15th or lower and he has been able to work his way up through the pack to only finish around that range three times this season. Most of his worse finishes came at the start of the season with his worst being 16th in the Azerbaijan Grand Prix. Since the Canadian Grand Prix though he has finished either as high as 10th or as low as 13th.
Even with questionable driving at points, Stroll has been able to complete every race this season and has four points. Early on in the season, the AMR22 was very unpredictable which led to Stroll not exactly being confident in the car as he was in 2021. After the changes to the car throughout the season, Stroll looks a bit more comfortable in the car, and if he can improve in qualifying there could be more point finishes after the break.
Race Wins- Zero/ Pole Positions- Zero/ Top 10 Finishes- Four/ Championship Ranking- 18th
Summer Break Grade- C