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Formula 1

Every F1 driver’s worst moment of 2022

by Edd Straw
7 min read

During a 22-race Formula 1 season, every driver will have their bad moments. Whether it’s a poor weekend or a terrible misjudgement on-track, even the best in the world will have their regrets.

As a companion to our earlier article selecting every driver’s high point, The Race has picked out the worst moment for each of the 20 F1 regulars this year.


Brazilian GP

Max Verstappen Lewis Hamilton Red Bull Mercedes F1 Brazilian GP

While he was perhaps unfortunate to get a penalty for the incident, Verstappen’s failed attempt to pass Lewis Hamilton in the esses during the Brazilian Grand Prix was a rare low in an outstanding season.

After one of the most dominant seasons in F1 history, it raised the spectre of a driver perhaps a little too over-eager in battle with old rival Hamilton – as well as costing him the chance of another victory.


Monaco Q3

Sergio Perez Monaco GP F1

Perez’s crash in Q3 at Monaco not only triggered a red flag that cost his team-mate the chance to improve his time, but also led to suggestions, which he strongly denied, that it might have been intentional.

Those suggestions returned with a vengeance late in the season.


French GP

Charles Leclerc Ferrari F1 French GP

While pushing on ageing rubber to mitigate the time loss to Verstappen, who had already pitted, as he led the French Grand Prix, Leclerc spun into the barrier at the Le Beausset right-hander.

Leclerc took full responsibility for the costly crash and was characteristically hard on himself after the race.


Australian GP

Carlos Sainz Ferrari Australian GP F1

By his own admission, Sainz lost his head during his brief Australian Grand Prix. It wasn’t his fault he started ninth thanks to bad luck in qualifying, or that a steering wheel change meant he didn’t have the right start settings and dropped to 13th. But the way he responded was.

He rashly attempted to pass Yuki Tsunoda and slipped back to 14th, then as he completed a pass on Mick Schumacher heading into Turn 9 on the second lap, he understeered onto the grass and spun into the gravel trap. Race over.


Belgian GP

Lewis Hamilton Mercedes Fernando Alonso Alpine Belgian GP F1

Turning in on Fernando Alonso at Les Combes on the opening lap of the Belgian Grand Prix not only put the Mercedes driver out of the race, but also resulted in power unit damage.

The stewards let it go on the grounds it was “a first-lap incident with a lot of movement relative to other cars in the first few corners”, but it was clearly Hamilton’s error.


Singapore Grand Prix

Valtteri Bottas Alfa Romeo George Russell Mercedes F1 Singapore GP

The whole Singapore GP was uncharacteristically messy for Russell. First he clipped Bottas’s Alfa Romeo while heading up an escape road early in the race. Later, he crowded Schumacher as the Haas driver attempted to turn in to the first corner, resulting in contact.

While he survived these incidents and finished, it was outside the points.


Brazilian GP sprint

Fernando Alonso Alpine Esteban Ocon F1 Brazilian GP

Alonso was quick to point the finger at his team-mate, but clipping the rear of Esteban Ocon’s car while trying to pass him was entirely on him.

The stewards agreed, hitting him with a penalty for the incident that cost him his front wing.


Monaco GP

Esteban Ocon Alpine Lewis Hamilton Mercedes F1 Monaco GP

Ocon’s best moment of the season was his brilliant defence against Hamilton at Suzuka, but his battle with the same driver at Monaco was a low point. He twice collided with Hamilton, once at Turn 1 (earning a five-second penalty) and also on the approach to the same corner while on the straight.

The penalty meant this was one of the few races Ocon didn’t score points in without bad luck intervening.


Brazilian GP

Lando Norris McLaren Brazilian GP F1

A rare error in a strong season, Norris’s attempt to hold off Charles Leclerc through the Laranjinha right-hander resulted in him clouting the kerb and being spat wide.

He hit the Ferrari, sending it into the barrier. And while he felt he’d been squeezed at the entry to the corner, the stewards hit him with a penalty.


Brazilian Grand Prix

Daniel Ricciardo McLaren F1 Brazilian GP

Ricciardo’s main problem in 2022 was a lack of pace, but he did get caught up in a few incidents. But his worst moment was at Interlagos, where an inexplicable misjudgement while chasing Magnussen led to him punting the Haas into a spin.

Worse still for Ricciardo, he then collected the rotating Magnussen while trying to dart past.


British GP

Zhou Guanyu Alfa Romeo F1 British GP

Zhou wasn’t to blame in any way for this one, but given he was launched into a spectacular crash that led to the rollhoop failing and ended with his car clearing the tyre barrier it’s impossible to overlook for worst moment.

On the plus side, he was only shaken in the accident that could potentially have had far worse consequences.


United States GP

Valtteri Bottas Alfa Romeo F1 United States GP

After a dismal run, Alfa Romeo’s form picked up thanks to upgrades introduced late in the season. Bottas ran comfortably in the top 10 in Austin and looked set to pick up valuable points.

But on lap 17, he spun into the gravel at the Esses. While there was at least a reason, given there was a gust of wind 25km/h quicker than what he’d previously encountered, it was a painful mistake.


Australian GP weekend

Sebastian Vettel Aston Martin F1 Australian GP

After sitting out the first two races with COVID-19, Vettel shouldn’t have bothered going all the way to Australia given how badly the weekend went.

A crash during FP3 meant he was sidelined for most of Q1, fitting in a single lap. In the race, he survived an early trip through the gravel at Turn 11, but later lost it after running wide out of Turn 4 and firing the car into the inside wall.


United States GP

Lance Stroll Aston Martin Fernando Alonso Alpine F1 United States GP

Stroll is well-known for his belligerent defending, which usually serves him well. But in the United States Grand Prix, he moved late when he saw Fernando Alonso launching an attack on the back straight, triggering a collision that ended the Aston Martin’s race and fired the Alpine into the wall.

Although Alonso’s car, miraculously, was able to recover and finish the race, Stroll was clearly at fault and hit with a grid penalty for the next race.


Spanish GP

Kevin Magnussen Haas F1 Spanish GP

Magnussen was well up the order on the first lap of the Spanish GP, but he made a bad misjudgement when he turned in on Hamilton at Turn 4 and made contact with the Mercedes. That resulted in a trip through the gravel.

Initially, Magnussen thought Hamilton had opened up his steering to trigger the crash, but revised his opinion on seeing the replay.


Japan FP1

Schumacher had high-profile accidents in Saudi Arabia and Monaco early in the season, but it was a crash many will have missed after the chequered flag at Suzuka in FP1 that really hurt.

In difficult conditions, he aquaplaned into the wall – in doing so, putting what was effectively the final nail in his chances of staying with Haas next year.


Japanese GP

Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri F1 Japanese GP

While Gasly was justifiably angry when he passed a tractor in low visibility after his lap-one pitstop, speeding under the red flag with a top speed of 250km/h reflected badly on him.

This didn’t make things any more dangerous when he passed the tractor given the red flag had been thrown about a second before he did so, but it wasn’t appropriate for the conditions once the race was stopped.


British GP

Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri Pierre Gasly F1 British GP

There’s a cardinal rule in Formula 1 about not taking out your team-mate, which Tsunoda broke with his rash attempt to overtake Gasly during the British Grand Prix.

To add insult to injury, Red Bull stablemate Verstappen picked up some debris from the collision while leading the race, leading to him dropping back to finish down in eighth place.


Spanish GP

Alex Albon F1 Williams Spanish GP

A small, unseen moment of imprecision ruined Albon’s race when he suffered floor damage after clipping the marker cone on the inside of the left-hand entry to the Turn 14/15 chicane.

He battled on, but picked up a penalty for repeat track limits violations in what proved to be an unusually difficult weekend – perhaps no surprise given the damage and the aero weaknesses of the Williams.


Monaco GP

Nicholas Latifi Williams F1 Monaco GP

Latifi managed to hit the wall even before the race really started at Monaco, understeering into the barrier at the hairpin while behind the safety car ahead of the restart.

After a difficult start to the season, that was the moment when it became clear that any realistic hope of staying with Williams in 2023 had vanished.

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