After the drama in Abu Dhabi, Lewis Hamilton discusses the advantages and problems of 2022 and how fan support “got me through” the year. Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff defends Hamilton’s season and the “irrelevant” loss to his new teammate. John Russell
Lewis Hamilton considers the 2022 Formula One season to be one of the worst of his career, but he has thanked the public for their “more affection than ever before” support following his heartbreak in Abu Dhabi, which he claims helped him get “through the year.”
While his sixth-place finish in the championship was his lowest ever, Hamilton endured the first season of his record-breaking F1 career in 2022 without a win or pole position while driving a surprisingly underperforming Mercedes.
Hamilton said he was happy to see the back of his W13 car at the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, where a lack of speed and a race DNF summed up the seven-time world champion’s campaign.
He continued, “This year wasn’t the best. “It ranks among the top three worst seasons, probably. However, there have been many positives in terms of the team’s ability to remain cohesive.
“Winning would have been nice, but one victory isn’t really enough, is it?
“When we obtained our first fifth this year, it seemed to me like a victory. Our first fourth seemed like a victory when we achieved it. I’ll just hold onto those second places because when we finished on the podium for the first time, it felt like a victory.”
After the post-season test in Abu Dhabi, Hamilton wrote on Instagram: “I am confident that we will return improved. We’ll return. I’ll return”
Amazing support helped me get through the year, Hamilton
In a pre-race interview, Hamilton acknowledged that one of the most challenging aspects of 2022 was his desire to recover from the title agony of the previous year but being unable to do so due to Mercedes’ struggles.
Hamilton acknowledged that “it was definitely not easy” and that he “would have loved to have been up there fighting” as Max Verstappen and Red Bull dominated F1 2022 with drivers’ and teams’ titles.
Verstappen controversially defeated Hamilton on the last lap of the final race in 2021, but Hamilton claimed he had gotten support unlike anything he had ever experienced to get him through the difficult season.
I obviously did not anticipate the incredible fan response that would follow, he continued. “I believe that what helped me get through the year was the overall love I had encountered.
We have felt more love and affection than ever before because of the challenge of returning, wanting to fight back, and not being able to fight back.
Wolff defends Russell’s “irrelevant” loss against Hamilton.
Toto Wolff, the head of Mercedes, praised Hamilton’s season and called the fact that he lost to new teammate and rookie George Russell “irrelevant.”
Russell, who is 13 years Hamilton’s junior and is driving for Mercedes for the first time, ended 35 points in front of Hamilton in the season-ending standings and won the team’s lone race of the year in Brazil.
Regarding Russell’s advantage, Wolff remarked, “That is irrelevant. “They weren’t competing for a world title.
“With the exception of Brazil, they haven’t competed for wins. No member of the squad should be concerned if they place second, third, fourth, or fifth, in my opinion.
Since losing the championship to Nico Rosberg in 2016, Hamilton hadn’t finished last to a teammate until 2022.
Wolff said, adding this about Hamilton’s 2022: “The previous year was significantly worse. It was taken away from us last year. We were defeated on merit this year. We simply weren’t up to par.
“Lewis has been exceptional because one would anticipate a former world champion who has had his championship stripped to simply walk in and destroy everyone. We didn’t, however, offer him a car to accomplish that.
Mick Schumacher receives a new F1 opportunity, his uncle Ralf calls the Mercedes move “win-win.”
After parting ways with Ferrari and losing his place with Haas, Mick Schumacher will fill in for Lewis Hamilton and George Russell the following season. In Germany, expert and Mick Schumacher’s uncle Ralf Schumacher, who competed in 180 races, has some thoughts on the decision.
According to Ralf Schumacher, Mick Schumacher’s move to Mercedes is a “win-win for all sides,” as he feels his nephew can improve his Formula One image while serving as a backup to Lewis Hamilton and George Russell in 2023.
Schumacher, who had lost his Haas seat as well as his links with Ferrari after two years on the grid, was hired as a reserve driver by Mercedes this week, reuniting two of motorsport’s biggest names.
Mick’s father, seven-time world champion Michael, retired from racing for Mercedes (2010-12).
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The 24-year-uncle old’s Ralf, a famous and successful F1 Schumacher himself, has complimented the arrangement, which sees Mick replace Nyck de Vries.
“I think it’s a win-win situation for all sides,” Ralf Schumacher, who drove in 180 F1 races, said on Sky Sports in Germany.
“One, for the team they have a fantastic driver, if they need a replace short term, if one of the drivers for some reason can not drive.
“And, of course, he is now in a team where he can learn a lot, first and mainly through a new framework, a large structure.”
Ralf had previously been scathing of how Haas handled his nephew’s exit, claiming their conduct was “not normal” and that team chief Guenther Steiner was a “self-promoting person” who didn’t “get along with the fact someone else is the spotlight”.
“I think it’s a great chance for me,” he said of Mick joining Mercedes. “Because he now has an experienced team, with two seasoned team members, and most importantly, for a change, a team that is delighted that he is there.”
What will Schumacher’s role be in 2023 and what next?
Mick Schumacher will be involved in Mercedes’ pre- and in-season development of the W14 car next year, and he may get an opportunity to test and drive it if he is available at race weekends.
Ralf believes he may be useful not only for Mercedes, but also for the Mercedes-powered Aston Martin and Williams.
“I believe Mick has the strength to come in there and step on the gas.
“However, please don’t just think of Mercedes; there’s nothing wrong with that, but there might be a problem for Mercedes-operated teams at some point, and then they could turn to someone who is fresh from the season and understands all the tracks and all the handling with the cars.”
In terms of Schumacher’s future, Ralf suggested Audi, which will compete in Formula One as a works team beginning in 2025.
“He has the potential to grow even more,” he remarked. “He deserves and is entitled to a chance, if not to drive a car, then to serve as a replacement for test drivers and as a third driver.
“I think that’s fantastic, but I can see Audi being interested because there aren’t many German drivers on the market.
“But, from that perspective, it’s still a long way off. I believe it is now in good hands, and the rest will tell. The good news is that I believe he will have a fantastic opportunity again once he reaches the age of 24.”
Wolff: Mick a victim of ‘brutal’ F1
Before the transaction was announced, Mercedes manager Toto Wolff praised Mick’s character and said he had been a victim of a “brutal” sport.
“I genuinely like Mick and I admire the family – how they’ve nurtured their kids with this tremendously famous name – and I think he deserves a shot,” Wolff remarked on F1’s Beyond the Grid podcast. “He won the junior series, which is not easy.
“Things might go against you in your first years in Formula 1. He was under pressure to deliver, which didn’t help, and Formula One is ruthless.
Mercedes and Aston Martin tech innovation banned in 2023
F1’s technical restrictions made the Mercedes front wing endplate and Aston Martin rear wing unlawful.
Both concepts raised eyebrows when they were introduced because, while complying with the rules and deemed legal by the FIA, they appeared to go against a broad concept that car designs to increase performance did not make it harder for cars to follow each other.
In its debut at the Miami Grand Prix, Mercedes debuted a ground-breaking design for the endplate of its front wing, where the wing’s flapped section met the endplate.
This action was taken in an effort to reclaim some of the outwash that had been lost as a result of the new regulations.
In the outer section, the flaps had been swept forward very aggressively, and as a result, the rear lower edge of the endplate had become totally disconnected from the flaps.
While this was going on, Aston Martin made headlines at the Hungarian Grand Prix by introducing a rear-wing design that appeared to go against one of the primary goals that the 2022 rules were trying to accomplish.
At the same time, Aston Martin made headlines when it debuted a rear-wing design at the Hungarian Grand Prix that appeared to go against one of the primary goals that the 2022 regulations were trying to accomplish.
With a curving transition between the components, the new laws had the ambition of putting an end to the conventional interaction between the endplate and the wing that had been used in the past.
This was intended to lessen the force exerted by the tip vortex, with the end purpose of minimizing the disruption caused to the airflow and contributing to the overarching objective of making it simpler for vehicles to stay in close proximity to one another.
The Fédération International Automobile (FIA) was satisfied enough with both ideas to allow them to be utilized in this year’s competition; nevertheless, formal adjustments have been made to the technical regulations for 2023 to ensure that the ambiguities that allowed them have been clarified.
According to Nikolas Tombazis, who is the single-seater technical director for the FIA: “Evidently, they were both in compliance with the law this year. In order to prevent those solutions, the restrictions on both the front and the back have been modified in a variety of various ways.”
This has been accomplished by the modification of the rules, which are now more stringent regarding the sweeping back of front wing flaps and are also more explicit about the definitions of the tips of the rear wings.
Despite the Aston Martin idea now being banned, its performance director Tom McCullough said he was still proud of the fact that his team had created something so bold amid the restrictive 2022 rules.
“I think what was nice this year is the fact that we came up with something novel and new,” he said when asked by Autosport for his thoughts on it getting outlawed.
“It was a very difficult interpretation of the rules that added performance to our car. It was a part that people couldn’t just copy quickly because of how complicated it was to get around several different regulations.
“So in a way, we’ve sort of had that advantage this year because, by the time we brought it to Budapest, it’s quite late for people to react to understand it and, from the cost cap [perspective], they had already made their high downforce wings. So for me, I was really happy.
“A lot of people were involved in that project for a long time, many months in the toing and froing between the FIA. But I understand: our job is always to make the most of the regulations and, if they change, we have to adapt to that really.”
Tombazis has stated unequivocally that, while the rules prohibit teams from introducing designs that are detrimental to racing, the FIA will always go through the proper regulatory processes to eliminate such possibilities.
This includes discussions with teams as well as working through the F1 Commission and the FIA’s World Motorsport Council to make adjustments for future seasons.
Article 3.2.1 of F1’s Technical Regulations states: “An important objective of the Regulations in Article 3 is to enable cars to race closely, by ensuring that the aerodynamic performance loss of a car following another car is kept to a minimum. In order to verify whether this objective has been achieved, Competitors may be required on request to supply the FIA with any relevant information.”
When asked if the revisions for 2023 were motivated by concerns about the designs negatively impacting racing, Tombazis responded, “Some of these items where we amended the rules are in that category.”
“But that article [3.2] wasn’t intended that: ‘Okay, if you’re smart and you have a solution, we’re going to take it off the car immediately.’ It just gave an explanation about sometimes why we have to intervene with the regulations. “But we’ve still done it via governance. We don’t have the right to just say: ‘we don’t like this, let’s ban it.'”
How Max Verstappen won his second F1 title – without realising it
Shortly after doing his first post-race interview and exiting his car, he was informed that he had won this year’s championship, but he didn’t quite believe it. Then his own Red Bull engineers, who are among the best in the business, told him he was still short by one point, which meant he had to place 10th or higher in the upcoming round in Austin in order to win it there.
The precise wording of Article 6.5 of the FIA Sporting Regulations, however, was not taken into account in Red Bull’s initial calculations (nor in those of the vast majority of the paddock). Verstappen thought that since just 28 of the scheduled 53 laps had been completed, he would only receive a reduced points score of 19 for the victory in Suzuka. That would only give him a seven point lead over nearest opponent Charles Leclerc, who had dropped to third due to a penalty after the race, and he needed eight to mathematically guarantee his second championship.
The granting of scaled-down points, however, only applies if a reduced race “cannot be restarted” after it has halted, according to the wording of the sporting laws, it became obvious after deeper examination of the regulations’ language. Heavy rain forced the red flag to be raised for two hours, although the Japanese Grand Prix had since resumed when it came to the three-hour maximum time restriction for a race. Technically, it had restarted, thus full points should have been given.
It immediately hit Formula One that it had just crowned a new champion as the sun at Suzuka was already fading. Even engineers at competing teams were looking through copies of the rules of competition to confirm the information that was now being broadcast by Formula One around the globe, but there was no longer any doubt when Verstappen arrived at the podium to accept his trophy and be interviewed by 2009 world champion Jenson Button.
I honestly think that’s fairly humorous, so I don’t mind if it was a little bit confusing. Verstappen commented on the peculiar sequence of events. “Since the outcome won’t alter in the end, it’s for that reason.
Even if full points had been awarded when I crossed the finish line [and Leclerc was still in second], it would not have made a difference in that situation.
Despite the absurdity of it all, it was also sort of academic considering the inescapable triumph of Verstappen’s title this year. Additionally, it was insignificant in compared to the controversy that erupted in Abu Dhabi the previous year when race director Michael Masi chose to violate some regulations rather than strictly obey them in order to give Verstappen the opportunity to win the title on the very last lap.
The misunderstanding regarding the number of points that would be given out on Sunday was caused by the negative feedback following the Belgian Grand Prix at Spa Francorchamps in 2017. Due to the severe weather that day, only two complete circuits were completed behind the safety car, but the top ten finishers were still awarded half points.
After the ridiculous “race,” the FIA changed the rules to make sure at least two laps of racing (without a safety car) had to be completed before any points could be awarded. Then, according to how much of the race was completed, the points attribution would be scaled up, with full points only being awarded if 75 percent of the course had been covered. According to that scaled methodology, the top 10 drivers would receive points for finishing in the top five positions, with 19 points awarded for first place, 14 for second, and 12 for third. This is the range in which Sunday’s race appeared to fall.
However, the “cannot be resumed” phrase was still present in those regulations, which the FIA decided to keep despite the fact that races are much more frequently abandoned due to bad weather than stopped and restarted. It created a gap in the rules that wasn’t meant to exist and ultimately contributed to the uncertainty on Sunday.
When you read the rules, what was needed to be fixed after Spa is not defined, so surprisingly we won, I believe. Christian Horner, the Red Bull team manager, remarked. “It was the most incredible finish, nearly against all odds.
“Even on the pit wall, there was an anticipation that we would need one point in Austin, but it turned out that we already had more than enough.
When asked if the law would change in the future, Horner responded: “It will, I’m positive.
We had the firm belief that points would be awarded only after 75% of the race, therefore I believe the regulations following Spa last year haven’t been cleaned up.
Verstappen hits new heights
Verstappen’s success is unaffected by the commotion that followed the race, though. Despite the shorter distance, his performance on Sunday was completely unchallenged and included one of the boldest position defences this season as he ran the outside line around a drenching wet first curve to hold off Leclerc on the opening lap of the race.
Then, Horner recalled, “he went for the old karting line around the outside and he was fully committed. He got off to a terrible start.” “He simply stated, “Look, I was going for it,” and Charles left him enough room for him to make the move, when I spoke to him in the break [before the race restarted]. Racing was fantastic.”
It’s simple to conclude that the championship was never in doubt based on Verstappen’s recent dominance, including his performance in Japan and the run of five victories from the French Grand Prix in July to the Italian Grand Prix in September. But after three rounds this year, he trailed Leclerc by 46 points and had seen two retirements. At this point in his career, Verstappen’s incredible capacity to grind out results is almost taken for granted, but what stood out at the start of the season was how composed he stayed as his primary title opponent accumulated a sizable lead.
“There may be one or two days when you feel a little upset, but soon after that, you’re making calls and asking others what they can do. What can we change, and how can we proceed? said Verstappen. “And when the next race comes along, everyone is once more grinning and we all have the same objectives.
“So that’s it, the good thing about the team. You constantly maintain a neutral attitude toward both successes and failures. Because you have to simply keep being focused, I believe that is what ultimately works best. Of course, winning all these races and the championship is incredible by this point.
But the following morning, you realise that “we still need to win a couple more.” Simply said, that’s how the team thinks.
Verstappen’s attitude about setbacks this year, according to Horner, is related to the pressure that was released when he defeated Lewis Hamilton to win his maiden championship last year.
“I believe having won the championship last year, it releases a lot,” he added. “I think last year was such a heavyweight match between two champions.” It simply relieves him of the burden of expectation, and this year, he has hit the ball out of the park.
Verstappen’s neutrality during the ups and downs of this season, though, shouldn’t be mistaken for a lack of enthusiasm or dedication. He was incensed when his team sent him out for qualifying at the Singapore Grand Prix last week without enough fuel to finish his final pole position effort. Verstappen had the speed to comfortably win pole in the drying circumstances, but he was told to withdraw from his first serious try and was then told to enter the pits on his second. The same night, he decided not to attend his engineering briefing because he was so furious, claiming that “talking wouldn’t have been any use.”
Even in Singapore, Verstappen’s title victory was a foregone conclusion, so he could have easily ignored his team’s error. But that goes against who he is. He was even more determined to return to the track in Japan and restore his supremacy at that point because he realised that a missed opportunity for win still stings almost as much as it did at the beginning of the season. The same is likely to be true for the final four races, where Verstappen, who has now amassed 12 victories this season, has a chance to surpass the 13-win season record.
He said on Sunday night, “There is no real pressure now, but of course I still want to try and win more races. “Since we currently have an automobile, you need to try to capitalise on that.
“You never know if you’ll have that again, next year or in years to come. We will therefore attempt to win a couple more.