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Mercedes and Hamilton have only two slim chances left for a win in 2022

Mercedes and Hamilton have only two slim chances left for a win in 2022

26 September - 10:02 Last update: 11:40
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GPblog.com

With six races to go, time is running out for Mercedes to record another win. The German team was dominant for eight years, but look set to finish without a win in 2022. GPblog analyses the last six races, looks at where Mercedes still has a chance and also how Ferrari and Red Bull Racing stand for that weekend.

Singapore Grand Prix

From many people, you now hear that Mercedes has a great chance of competing for victory in Singapore. It is based on the fact that the 2022 W13 runs well on circuits with slow corners and a track where there is more focus on cornering. For instance, Mercedes performed particularly well at Zandvoort and Hungary.

The link with Singapore is easy to make in that respect. Singapore is a circuit with many corners, it is very tight and the straights are not frequent. However, this is a street circuit, and that is where Mercedes has historically been weaker. This year's performances in Monaco and Baku were also underwhelming.

Looking at the history of the Singapore Grand Prix, Mercedes fans get even more disheartened. Indeed, the perception that an outsider can win here with a car specially made for this kind of track is not reflected in the list of honours. Indeed, since the debut of this GP in 2008, the car that also became world champion almost always won. In 2008 (Alonso/Crashgate), 2009 (Hamilton), 2010 (Fernando Alonso, second in that year's world championship), 2015 (Vettel) and 2019 (Vettel), 'outsiders' did win, but it was often due to a safety car situation that turned in favour of the eventual winner. That Vettel won with Ferrari's mega (illegal) engine in 2019 also says enough about what is needed at this circuit.

In that respect, Ferrari seems rather the favourite for this Grand Prix. The Italian team has often had the fastest car over one lap this year and was already strong on street circuits. The difference is also less on twistier circuits with Red Bull in the race. It is also harder to overtake in the race. So overtaking has to go with strategy and let that not be Ferrari's strong point this year.

Japan Grand Prix

The Japanese Grand Prix looks set to be the event where Max Verstappen can crown himself world champion and at Suzuka, he can crown it with a victory. In Japan, basically the team with the best car that year always wins and power plays a particularly important role. A chance of victory here is very slim for Mercedes and Ferrari will also need a miracle to trounce Verstappen here.

United States Grand Prix

In Austin, Texas, Mercedes have another chance. However, Red Bull Racing is the favourite at the Circuit of the Americas with the RB18. The circuit appeals to cars that are good on the straights and in fast corners, so the best car of the season here will also quickly come out on top, but crazy things can happen in Austin.

For example, Verstappen won completely against the odds at the 2021 edition, due to a strong strategy and extremely strong defensive work. Kimi Raikkonen also won in surprising fashion in 2018 and Lewis Hamilton did the same in 2012, where he certainly did not have the best car.

Red Bull Racing is the clear favourite on this type of circuit. Ferrari might grab pole on Saturday, but the RB18's race pace is unlikely to hold Ferrari back on Sunday. The question is how close Mercedes can be in this fight. Indeed, that will determine whether a lucky safety car or a strong strategy can increase their chances of victory.

Mexico Grand Prix

The Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez is Verstappen's big go-kart track. The Dutchman enjoys racing at this circuit and has already won three times on behalf of Red Bull Racing, even in years when Red Bull were not favourites. However, mechanical grip is extremely important on this slippery track and altitude also plays a crucial role, especially for the engine.

For years, Red Bull was the favourite here and still Adrian Newey's car has plenty of mechanical grip. Ferrari, however, has a car that is just a bit better on twisty tracks and especially in the slow corners, the F1-75 and also Mercedes' W13 come more to life. The question, however, is how the engines hold up.

Indeed, Red Bull's great strength here for years has been that Honda's engine, and also Renault's, were better in altitude conditions. Mercedes always visibly lost a lot of power here and Ferrari too has struggled at this circuit over the years. 

Brazilian Grand Prix

In 2021, Lewis Hamilton proved yet again how essential power is at Interlagos. On paper, the circuit looks twisty and sector two in particular consists of many slow corners, but proportionally, a lot goes full throttle on this short lap. Because you also need that power to go uphill, it is even more important to have a high top speed.

In that respect, there is no doubt that Red Bull Racing is by far the favourite here, just like at Suzuka. 

Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

Abu Dhabi was always labelled a Mercedes circuit and that was because power plays an important role here too. That has only become more important since the modifications to the circuit. This is because the long stretches are at even higher speeds and some slow sections have disappeared.

So this will not be a Mercedes circuit in 2022, as straight-line speed is what George Russell and Lewis Hamilton lack compared to the men from Ferrari and Red Bull. Strategically, you can do a few things in Abu Dhabi, but you have to be ahead. Indeed, overtaking with an extra pit stop is almost impossible. Sergio Perez proved this once again in 2021 by holding off Hamilton two laps behind on old tyres.

Conclusion

Mercedes' chances are scarce in 2022. Victory chances were missed in the Netherlands and Hungary and there are not many chances left. For Mercedes to win again and for Hamilton to maintain his record by scoring a victory every year he has raced in F1, it will probably have to happen in America or Singapore.

The Marina Bay Street Circuit ticks a lot of boxes which Mercedes is good at this year, but the fact that it is on the street and that this is where the world champion usually wins does not speak in the German racing stable's favour. The chances of a chaotic race here are high, though, and if a safety car or red flag works in your favour, you could very well defend your position here.

In America, there is a second chance for Mercedes. There, history shows that even outsiders can win with a strong strategy or a race marred by a safety car. However, the fact that the circuit does not match the qualities of the W13 at all makes it very difficult to beat the men from Ferrari as well as Red Bull Racing.

On the four circuits, Red Bull and thus Verstappen seem to be the big favourites beforehand. The competition has to hope that Verstappen slackens off after winning his world title, otherwise the reigning world champion could single-handedly gobble up all the remaining races.

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