Formula 1 returns: Six things to watch out for

F1 is back and it's still all to play for, so what should we expect in the coming nine races of the season?


After four long weeks, the Formula 1 2022 season is set to resume at Spa-Francorchamps. Amazingly, it could be the last time the sport visits this iconic layout for the foreseeable future, with speculation mounting that the Belgian Grand Prix is set to lose its place on the calendar. 

But back to the matter at hand. After an enthralling first half, nine races remain to determine winners, losers, also-rans, and the rest. 

Here are six key things to look out for…

Can anything stop Verstappen? 

It’s surely a case of when, not if Max Verstappen becomes the third-youngest double world champion behind Sebastian Vettel and Fernando Alonso

The Dutchman has driven with brilliant consistency and that has been enough to open up a commanding 80-point lead over Charles Leclerc in, what could be argued, has been the second-best car of 2022.

Race winner Max Verstappen of Red Bull Racing celebrates with Team Principal Christian Horner and Team Consultant Dr Helmut Marko at the 2022 Hungarian Grand Prix. Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool

Reliability issues in Bahrain and Australia, as well as a slice of bad fortune in Great Britain, have been the only blotches on an otherwise impeccable run.

That is surely now the only thing that can halt his march to glory. 

Will altered regulations help Mercedes? 

F1’s restart brings with it a change to the regs that it is hoped will put an end to the porpoising that has affected many teams. But none more so than Mercedes.

In the aftermath of the Hungarian GP, George Russell accused Red Bull and Ferrari of “pushing the rules”, so will the FIA’s amendment help the reigning champions close the gap? 

Specifically, the minimum ride height requirement has been raised by 15mm which, in theory, should eradicate the ghastly bouncing that has been an unfortunate byproduct of an otherwise positive rule change.

Russell admitted it won’t make the temperamental W13 any quicker, but that it could slow down their rivals. Whether it will or not remains to be seen, but it could yet prove to be a fascinating and decisive aspect of the season resumption with plenty of points still to play for. 

Ferrari must learn from mistakes

Having built a car worthy of challenging for both titles, numerous strategy errors have all but put paid to Ferrari’s hopes of lifting silverware for the first time since 2008.

If they are to return to the winner’s circle, they must begin to address this ineptitude. 

Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz after 2022 Hungarian GP credit: @Scuderia Ferrari Press Office

With that in mind, these upcoming eight races present a perfect opportunity to hone better habits. 

The Scuderia are guilty of being too reactive compared to their rivals, and it has cost them a plethora of points in Monaco, France, Great Britain and Hungary, in particular. 

Team principal Maria Binotto has backed his senior staff in public, but there must be serious concerns behind the scenes.

As the saying goes, there can be no sentiment in business, so if the strategists – headed up by Inaki Rueda – continue to underperform, changes will surely have to be made. 

Team bragging rights on the line

The biggest battle each driver faces is with their teammate. In equal machinery, the importance of winning the season-long duel can’t be understated. 

Many still hang in the balance ahead of the Belgian GP. Among them, few are as intriguing as the one between Lewis Hamilton and Russell

The seven-time champ trails the young prodigy but is on a scintillating run of five consecutive podiums. Russell, dubbed Mr Saturday, started like a train at Mercedes, but has seen his commanding lead trimmed to just 12 points.

While second in the Constructors’ Championship is still possible, neither are in contention for the drivers’ title, so expect fireworks should it come down to the wire.  

Elsewhere, Esteban Ocon is 17 points clear of Alonso at Alpine. With the Spaniard set to join rivals Aston Martin for 2023, it’ll be interesting to see how the team copes with the potential tension.

Ricciardo in last-chance saloon 

Daniel Ricciardo’s torrid two-year spell at McLaren is almost at an end. His stock was high when he arrived at the Woking-based team, but now, it could hardly be lower.

These last eight races, therefore, represent something extremely significant for the likeable Aussie, especially if, as he says, his passion still burns brightly for the sport.

In his favour is the timing of his announcement. It’s early in silly season, meaning he has opportunities to convince potential suitors he still has plenty to offer. 

A return to Alpine has been touted and there have been rumours of a meeting with Haas team principal Gunther Steiner.

Whether those options are appealing or even exist is a big unknown, but he can do himself a big favour by shining alongside Lando Norris in the upcoming triple-header. 

Vettel’s swansong

It’s hard to envisage a scenario where Vettel goes out in a blaze of glory. But who ever does? Even by the time the greats have hung up their helmets, they’re usually several years removed from their peak.

Had Ferrari not retired his services at the end of 2020, you never know, I suppose, but two underwhelming seasons at Aston Martin won’t have been what the four-time champion hoped for when he signed.

Still, there have been some highlights, and it would be fitting should he add a few more before the chequered flag waves in Abu Dhabi. 

Andrew Wright
Andrew Wright
Sports Journalist for
- Advertisment -


Liam Lawson prepares for free practice at the 2022 Mexican Grand Prix | Peter Fox/Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool

Red Bull bosses agree on Liam Lawson F1 prospects in 2025

Christian Horner and RB CEO Peter Bayer refused to back Liam Lawson's prospects for a full-time Formula 1 drive...
Carlos Sainz looks on at the 2024 Monaco GP | Ferrari

After Carlos Sainz’s Mercedes denial, why does his future remain an enigma?

Ferrari swinging the axe on Carlos Sainz's career in scarlet must have stung, but the Spaniard at least had...
Charles Leclerc dives into the Monaco harbour | Scuderia Ferrari Press Office

Where does Charles Leclerc rank 2024 Monaco Grand Prix win?

Charles Leclerc is a race winner for the first time in almost two years as the Ferrari ace crushed...
Charles Leclerc celebrates winning the 2024 Monaco GP | Scuderia Ferrari Press Office

What we learned from the 2024 Monaco Grand Prix

The 2024 Monaco Grand Prix may not have served up a classic, but it wasn’t short on storylines as...
Sergio Perez talks to his engineer Hugh Bird and team principal Christian Horner in the garage | Mark Thompson / Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool

Look away Checo – Horner praises Perez’s F1 rival as star fights for Red...

Christian Horner insists Red Bull will make a decision about Sergio Perez's Red Bull future "in the fullness of...
Max Verstappen during 2024 Monaco Grand Prix | Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool

F1 Winners and Losers of 2024 Monaco GP

Charles Leclerc vanquished his Monte Carlo demons to finally take victory at his home race, while Red Bull continued...
Daniel Ricciardo of Visa Cash App RB during the 2024 Monaco Grand Prix | Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool

F1 Driver Ratings – Monaco GP 2024

Charles Leclerc was in dreamland as the Ferrari driver finally celebrated an elusive victory at home race at the...
Josef Newgarden drinks his milk after winning the 2024 Indy 500 | Penske Entertainment: James Black

2024 Indy 500 Race Results

Josef Newgarden joined an elite group of drivers by winning the Indy 500 for the second consecutive year in...
Josef Newgarden celebrates winning the 2024 Indy 500 | Penske Entertainment: Amber Pietz

Newgarden takes sensational Indy 500 win after epic battle for glory

The Indianapolis 500 never fails to excite and even a four-hour rain delay couldn't dampen the drama for IndyCar's...
Tom Blomqvist crashes in Lap 1 at the 2024 Indy 500 | Penske Entertainment: Aaron Skillman

2024 Indy 500: Results and Highlights as Newgarden wins

Welcome to this Total Motorsport live blog for the 2024 Indy 500, is among the most prestigious motorsport events...
- Advertisment -