VERSTAPPEN VS LECLERC: THE SEASON SO FAR
The 2022 F1 season has given us a title fight which has quickly become a one way fight with multiple strategy blunders from Ferrari - the race for the title seems to be heading the way of Red Bull and Max Verstappen once again - this time a little less stressful than last year.
At the beginning of the season it was looking good for Ferrari with a 1-2 finish at the first race in Bahrain with Leclerc taking victory with Sainz in second and Hamilton in third after both Red Bulls failed to finish.
The next race was Saudi Arabia where it was Max Verstappen who would take his first victory of the year but he was closely followed by Leclerc in second and Sainz in third. With the Red Bulls looking strong it was clear from very early on in this season that the fight would be between Max and Charles, with Mercedes too far back at this point, with some serious porpoising issues which plagued the Silver Arrows race performance.
Next up was Australia, Round Three, and this time it was Leclerc who took the chequered flag with Sergio Perez on the podium for the first time this year along with George Russell who finished third for his first podium with Mercedes. Verstappen failed to finish in Melbourne. Then came the Italian Grand Prix in Imola - a race which Red Bull dominated and a race which Ferrari failed to reach the podium with either car - Red Bull had smashed the Prancing Horse in their own backyard. Lando Norris would finish third for his and McLaren's first podium behind Perez in second and Verstappen in first. This was the race which began the Red Bull dominance of 2022. A streak which would see a Red Bull driver win the next five races.
At the start of May F1 travelled state side to the American Grand Prix and for the first time to Miami. Where Ferrari bounced back with a double podium but behind Verstappen who took victory around the fake marina with Leclerc keeping himself in the title hunt in second and Sainz in third.
Then it was back to Europe with the Spanish Grand Prix - where Red Bull showed just how strong they are with a dominant 1-2 finish with Verstappen taking yet another victory at the circuit where he won on his Red Bull debut in 2016 with Perez taking second and Russell returned to the podium in P3.
Round 7 now and it was a short trip to the Principality of Monaco the race everyone wants to win and this time it was Sergio Perez' time to shine as he showed why he was given a second chance at a top team, winning round the streets of Monaco for the first time with Sainz not far behind in second and Verstappen in third. Then to Baku, Azerbaijan - a weekend to forget for Ferrari with the third Red Bull 1-2 as Verstappen continues to extend his lead out at the front if this title race with Perez in second and Russell for his third podium of the year.
F1 returned to Canada in 2022 and it continued to show why its a fan and driver favourite as fans and viewers were gifted with a brilliant race between eventual winner Verstappen and Sainz who came agonisingly close to his first race win. Hamilton finished third at a track which he has dominated since joining F1. Then it was the turn of the British Grand Prix where after 70 odd laps of wheel to wheel racing it was Carlos Sainz who won at Silverstone for his first win in F1 and to become the 112th different winner in Formula One he was joined on the podium by Perez and Hamilton.
Austria next the home of Red Bull racing and after dominating the Italian Grand Prix earlier on in the year many thought this would be a procession with Red Bull out in front but it was the Ferrari's who were clearly quicker on this weekend and despite some problems, with his throttle pedal bounce back Leclerc managed to win his first race in eight attempts - with the Monegasque driver not winning a race since early April and having to wait exactly two months before his next win. However his points gained on Verstappen in the hunt for the title were minimal as Verstappen took home second place with Hamilton in third.
France and Hungary were next with the same podium as Verstappen takes 50 points and Leclerc takes home just 8 points its beginning to look comfortable for Verstappen and Red Bull at this stage of the championship. These last two races also show how far Mercedes have come with both drivers on the podium in both races with Hamilton second and Russell third.
At this stage of the championship - it is looking very likely that Max Verstappen will be a double World Champion come the end of the 2022 season. But if Ferrari and Leclerc can come back fighting after the summer break then we could have a proper title fight on our hands come November and the final race in Abu Dhabi.
There are just nine races left.
The next race is the Belgian Grand Prix.
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