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Four compelling storylines for the second half of the 2022 F1 season

Four compelling storylines for the second half of the 2022 F1 season

19 August - 08:00 Last update: 11:31
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GPblog.com

There is still over a week of summer break left before the drivers can return to action at the Belgian Grand Prix. GPblog looks ahead to the most interesting storylines for the second half of the season.

Fight for the F1 world title

A Formula One season can be made more exciting by an exciting battle at the top. That was demonstrated again in 2021 when Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton fought for the world title right up to the last lap of the final race. However, it remains to be seen whether it will be as exciting again this year.

With an 80-point lead, Verstappen has a wide margin on Charles Leclerc in the championship. The Ferrari guys are making mistakes and the Dutchman has been able to take advantage of that. With only nine races left in the season, one wonders if there is still a real title fight.

With the return of Mercedes to the forefront, it will be exciting with every race. Red Bull Racing and Ferrari have won all races this year, but Mercedes are closing in. If the Germans can make a move during the summer break, we could be in for some very exciting racing after the summer.

The Piastri saga

Most of the controversy this summer break has revolved around Oscar Piastri and that soap opera is far from over. It all started with Fernando Alonso, who kept Alpine in the dark about his future. Alpine thought that the Spaniard would sign a new contract and was therefore surprised when Alonso suddenly announced a partnership with Aston Martin.

This will cause some internal turmoil in the second half of the season, especially with such a strong personality as Fernando Alonso. Yet that is not Alpine's biggest problem, because with Piastri they had the luxury replacement ready. The French racing team had hoped to place the home-grown junior with a smaller team to gain experience (there would have been a contract already with Williams), but was now even able to offer the reigning F2 champion a place in their own team. Piastri, however, appeared to have other plans.

Alpine hastily announced that Piastri would be the new driver for 2023. Remarkably, there was no quote from Piastri in the press release and at the time of the announcement, it was midnight in Australia. Alpine were probably feeling the pinch. Piastri had a deal with another team. On Twitter, he denied that he would drive for Alpine in 2023.

The surprise became bigger and bigger. Piastri would have signed a contract with McLaren, where he would replace compatriot Daniel Ricciardo. The latter, however, has an option to drive for McLaren in 2023, so how the team from Woking will solve this is not yet known. A possible switch to McLaren's IndyCar team seems to be a possibility for Ricciardo.

With all this in mind, it is even nicer that Alpine and McLaren are four points apart in the Constructors' Championship and are fighting together for P4 and the accompanying prize money. This will only heighten tensions between the rival teams, which Netflix will only relish.

F1 Silly Season

So it remains to be seen who Alpine and McLaren will officially field in 2023, but there are other teams where seats are up for grabs. Guanyu Zhou (Alfa Romeo), Mick Schumacher (Haas), Yuki Tsunoda (AlphaTauri) and Nicholas Latifi (Williams) all have expiring contracts. All three have big question marks and so we are looking for possible successors.

It is not excluded that these drivers take the place of the other. Schumacher, for example, is linked to Alfa Romeo, but it is possible that the German will make a switch to Alpine. To do so, however, he would have to sever his ties with the Ferrari school. Tsunoda is not yet convinced by Red Bull's sister team, but Red Bull does not yet have a real replacement either. Jehan Daruvala and Liams Lawson have disappointed in F2 so far, so a good performance from the Japanese could potentially secure his place in F1.

At Williams, Latifi's position has been under discussion for some time now and it seems almost certain that the Canadian will lose his place. He will have to perform miracles on the track if that is not to be the case. His successor could be an American, with Williams junior Logan Sargeant making a good impression  in the F2 championship. The name of Nyck de Vries was mentioned earlier with this team.

Daniel Ricciardo is another name that might have to look for a new team and might be interested in one of these teams. A move to the American Haas might be of interest to both parties. Felipe Drugovich is also still on the market. However, the Formula 2 championship leader does not seem to be getting his foot in the door anywhere.

Farewell to Vettel

Then there is the farewell of Sebastian Vettel. With his announced retirement, Vettel set the Silly Season in motion, but the second half of the season will also be about looking back on a wonderful career. Although Vettel failed to win a world title after his time at Red Bull Racing, he has won many hearts over the years.

It is nine more race weekends to enjoy Vettel in F1. The smiling German will be in action for the last time on behalf of Aston Martin this year. Another role in the sport is not out of the question, but the family man will probably disappear into the background to enjoy his wife and children. So enjoy the four-time world champion for now.

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