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Formula 1

The F1 teams and drivers under pressure for the rest of 2022

by Jack Cozens
10 min read

While there’s not much of a championship fight left as the 2022 Formula 1 season resumes at the Belgian Grand Prix this weekend, there are a lot of people in the field that really need a big second half of the season.

From drivers fighting for their futures or just to restore some self-respect, to teams that really, really need the rest of 2022 to go better than their year has so far, here’s our list of those under most pressure in the remaining nine races.


Motor Racing Formula One World Championship Azerbaijan Grand Prix Race Day Baku, Azerbaijan

Even if Ferrari had carried its commanding early championship lead into August, it would still go into the rest of the year under extra pressure to complete the job just because it’s been so long since it won an F1 title of any sort.

If it was still in an ultra-close title fight with Red Bull, that pressure would be even greater – for the same basic reason, but with the addition of the prospect of failure being higher than if it had a massive championship points cushion.

As it is, the pressure Ferrari faces from Spa onwards is to prove it’s capable of winning grands prix when clearly fast enough to. To prove it can function as a top-level F1 team in the 2020s.

For the car that’s so often been the fastest in the field to have only won four of the first 13 grands prix is a terrible statistic. It’s perhaps made even worse by the number of different reasons for the defeats – strategic errors, poor reliability, driver mistakes. It’s not like there’s been just one problem to solve.

You could argue that with its championship hopes now so remote, Ferrari is under less pressure because it has little to lose so can just go out and race hard without worrying about points consequences if things go wrong. But the weight of the first half of the year’s missed opportunities is such that this just isn’t the case.

Ferrari owes it to itself to end the year with the winning spree its car is capable of. – Matt Beer

Sergio Perez

Motor Racing Formula One World Championship Hungarian Grand Prix Qualifying Day Budapest, Hungary

Monaco seems like a long time ago now. Two-year contract extension secured and then that career-defining victory around the streets of the principality.

It just shows how quickly Formula 1 moves – and how rapidly it can get away from you. At that stage, Perez sat just 15 points off Max Verstappen’s championship lead, but in the six races since that gap has ballooned to 85 as Verstappen has kicked on and Perez has struggled.

Red Bull’s development of RB18 has exposed what often happens when a car’s performance ceiling is raised. The laptime doesn’t come for free, you have to find it – and the very best drivers are able to do that in step with the car, while the merely very good ones tend to plateau.

Since Baku (the last time Perez outqualified Verstappen), Perez’s average pace deficit to his team-mate has grown from 0.271s to 0.733s. No wonder Helmut Marko has started asking questions.

Perez still harbours personal title ambitions, but honestly they are of the Eddie Irvine or Rubens Barrichello type – a pipe dream. Perez’s job is to stick close to Verstappen and back him up. He’s played the team game very well so far, but his pace has dropped off badly as the car has gotten quicker – so he has some important stuff to figure out.

There’s unlikely to be too much buyer’s remorse from Red Bull while Ferrari is shambling and Mercedes remains in recovery, but expect the pressure on Perez to grow once these two teams get their acts together. – Ben Anderson


Motor Racing Formula One World Championship Hungarian Grand Prix Qualifying Day Budapest, Hungary

Perhaps the only thing more shambolic than Ferrari’s Hungarian Grand Prix strategy was the way Alpine went from having three drivers for two seats before the weekend started to having only one guaranteed driver for 2023 by the time the summer break began.

Alpine’s inability to properly handle its negotiations with Fernando Alonso and Oscar Piastri, trying to keep both sweet by offering deals that neither were happy with, looks likely to cost Alpine the services of both – which has to go down as a serious failing even if the circumstances of Sebastian Vettel’s looming retirement couldn’t be entirely foreseen.

Alpine has made a decent fist of F1’s new regulations so far, but now heads into the final third of the season with the distraction of Piastri’s apparent McLaren defection to sort out, plus a scrabble to sign his replacement – from a worryingly short list of credible candidates. Oh! And there’s the small matter of a very tight battle with McLaren for fourth in the constructors’ championship, which ordinarily should be drawing most of the team’s focus.

Hungary was a pretty poorly executed race from Alpine’s perspective, so an on-track reset is needed too amid all this off-track distraction. – BA

Daniel Ricciardo

Daniel Ricciardo, Mclaren Mcl36

Though Ricciardo’s McLaren fate is now sealed, that doesn’t mean there’s less pressure on the eight-time grand prix winner who, despite his and the team’s best efforts, remains categorically adrift of the standard he is capable of performing at.

It’s at those lowest ebbs, when the outside assumption might be that the pressure is off because expectations are so low, that the opposite is true for anyone of such a competitive disposition as a Formula 1 driver.

That will be no different for Ricciardo, who will be desperate to prove he’s still got what it takes – whether that’s for the suitors still in the market for a driver for 2023 (even if one team in particular is surely tapping him up for a return) or simply for his own peace of mind given the tumultuous summer ‘break’ he’s had.

Ricciardo’s honesty about his struggles and insistence he’s still up for the fight, before and after his McLaren exit was announced, has been admirable. But that also means it needs to be backed up with an improvement on track over his remaining nine races in the MCL36, if only to limit further damage to his reputation. – Jack Cozens


Motor Racing Formula One World Championship Austrian Grand Prix Sprint Day Spielberg, Austria

Having made steady progress in F1’s midfield in recent years, AlphaTauri has endured a tough start to the new era of regulations. With just six points finishes in the first 13 races, it has slumped to eighth in the constructors’ championship.

Last year, AlphaTauri was, judged by average pace, right there with McLaren and Ferrari. While it was always going to be tough to maintain that kind of form, to slide so far down the order is disappointing.

The car has a good mechanical platform, hence its strong performances on circuits with slower corners such as Miami, Monaco and Baku. But despite introducing an upgrade package for the penultimate event before the summer break at Paul Ricard, it’s still lacking in aerodynamic load.

Add to that the fact the team hasn’t been as effective as it should have been in terms of executing weekends and therefore has missed out on getting the results it should have done, and you have a team that will be determined to sharpen up in the second half of the year.

If it does so and can find some more performance, then the target should be of getting back into contention for sixth in the constructors’ championship ahead of Haas and Alfa Romeo. – Edd Straw

Aston Martin

Motor Racing Formula One World Championship Hungarian Grand Prix Qualifying Day Budapest, Hungary

Any in the Aston Martin camp who thought the 2021 F1 season would be its nadir were in for a rude awakening when the 2022 campaign kicked off.

OK, it’s since got 20 points on the board and a best finish of sixth through Vettel in Baku, but the season is so far gone now that the Alpines and one of the McLarens are well enough sorted and established at the head of the midfield that even when Aston has one of its good days – such as Vettel’s and Lance Stroll’s climb through the pack in Hungary – it’s often limited to scrapping for one or two points only.

Even if that remains the case for the rest of the season, given there’s only a small group still working on the 2022 car, a team of its relative clout has to at least target overhauling an AlphaTauri team that has looked lost for months and trying to catch Haas. That would mark a decent save from what was a disappointing start to the campaign.

It would also surely mean Vettel ends his distinguished career on a relative high rather than with a whimper, and somewhat vindicate incoming two-time world champion Fernando Alonso’s decision to jump ship from Alpine. – JC

Yuki Tsuonda

F1 Grand Prix Of Hungary Practice

Pierre Gasly is AlphaTauri’s only confirmed driver for 2023, meaning Tsunoda still has to ensure he retains his place in the second Red Bull team.

Speaking in July, team principal Franz Tost said of Tsunoda: “He has a good chance to stay with us, it depends on him. If he doesn’t show a good performance, he is out.” That was during a difficult run of weekends for Tsunoda, elevated only by an excellent qualifying performance at Paul Ricard that was ruined by Esteban Ocon’s reckless attempt to pass on the first lap.

Tsunoda has produced some good work this season, reducing the errors that blighted his rookie campaign and, at times, outpacing Gasly. A solid start to the second half of the season should ensure he stays on.

If not, his place could be in jeopardy despite having the support of Honda and the fact he’s performed at a good level when things have come together in 2022. – ES

Mick Schumacher

Motor Racing Formula One World Championship Belgian Grand Prix Preparation Day Spa Francorchamps, Belgium

Schumacher might have ended his torrid run of form with back-to-back points-bearing weekends at Silverstone and the Red Bull Ring but he’s still under pressure to prove that he can be a consistent force in F1’s midfield.

His Austrian GP weekend was particularly exceptional and if he was able to reach that kind of level on a more regular basis in the second half of 2022, his future with Haas for 2023 should be secure.

But that will be no easy task and he can’t afford a repeat of the mistakes that blighted the early part of his season and made what once appeared to be a perfectly stable F1 future look precarious.

And ex-Alfa Romeo F1 driver Antonio Giovinazzi partaking in FP1s at the Italian and US Grands Prix is only going to increase the pressure on Schumacher to perform regardless of how realistic the chances of Giovinazzi returning to a race seat are. – Josh Suttill


Motor Racing Formula One World Championship Hungarian Grand Prix Qualifying Day Budapest, Hungary

F1’s new era provided a chance for every team to redefine where it landed in the pecking order. Some teams such as Ferrari and Alfa Romeo were able to lift themselves up while other teams like Mercedes and Williams got things wrong and slipped down the order.

For Williams, that slide has left it firmly last since the beginning of the season and, with a 17-point gap to ninth-place Aston Martin, the chances of the team avoiding the wooden spoon this year appear slim.

Albon’s spirited drives to points in Melbourne and Miami remain the team’s only scores of the season, one year after it accumulated its biggest points haul since 2017.

But what’s perhaps more important than the end championship result is what Williams can deliver in the remaining nine races now that it has had a couple of weekends of both its cars running the major upgrade package.

The team took its time with its sole major 2022 update and it’s one that will form the basis of its 2023 car design, so extracting the maximum from the upgrades is going to be crucial for next year as well as this campaign.

While there’s been encouraging signs Williams can be a regular top-10 threat again, the new upgrades are still yet to yield a point four races in and it remains in the same position it started the year in – as F1’s least competitive team right now. – JS

Nicholas Latifi

Motor Racing Formula One World Championship Hungarian Grand Prix Qualifying Day Budapest, Hungary

Although Williams had as good as given up on Latifi earlier this season, missing out on a loan deal to run Piastri means there is still a possibility the Canadian could stay on at Williams. But he’s got a lot of work to do to have a shot at making that happen.

He endured a difficult first half of the year, but a change of monocoque at Silverstone coincidence with an upturn in form. While the team hasn’t been able to isolate any problem with either the old chassis or some of the other parts that have been changed, as Williams head of vehicle performance Dave Robson put it, “it’s difficult to argue with the fact that he has had a noticeable step up in performance the last couple of races”.

But it’s not enough. Latifi needs not only to maintain that level but improve on it – and quickly – to have a chance of staying on in 2023 alongside Alex Albon.

Yes, he can bring significant backing, but what matters most to Williams is performance as taking an underperforming driver for financial reasons would reflect badly on the team’s ambition. So Latifi needs to show he can perform – and consistently – and capitalise on the relative dearth of experienced alternatives if he’s to build a case for a fourth year with the team. – ES

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