How many victory chances did Hamilton have in his first winless F1 season?

2022 F1 season

Posted on

| Written by

Last weekend Lewis Hamilton ended a Formula 1 season without winning a race for the first time in his career.

However his Mercedes team did win during 2022, and his arch rival Max Verstappen believes Hamilton missed one opportunity to win this season.

At the opening race in Bahrain, Hamilton’s Mercedes lost over a second per lap to the race-leading Ferrari and Red Bull. It was clear the W13 wasn’t going to win races any time soon.

But by the mid-point of the season the team were starting to lead grands prix, and on a weekend where the track and conditions suited them, and the stars aligned in their favour, victories finally started to seem possible.

So how many chances to win a race did Hamilton have before the end of the season? And how many of those might he realistically have converted?

British Grand Prix

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Silverstone, 2022
A late Safety Car period put Hamilton in the hunt for victory at home

It took until the 10th race of the season for Hamilton to finally lead a lap in 2022. Fittingly, this came on home ground at Silverstone.

When Verstappen dropped out of contention for victory after striking debris, it seemed Charles Leclerc was on course to win. But a Safety Car period was his undoing: while the Ferrari stayed out on worn rubber, Hamilton and others seized the chance to fit fresh soft tyres.

It all kicked off at the restart, where Hamilton briefly passed Leclerc and Sergio Perez in a stunning move at Club. But Carlos Sainz Jnr was already on his way to victory by then and Hamilton, who bagged third, never really looked like beating him.

Hungarian Grand Prix

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Hungaroring, 2022
After a DRS fault in qualifying, Hamilton raced to second in Hungary

Mercedes eventually found they were able to make the W13 work well on high-downforce circuits. This boded well for the Hungaroring, always a strong venue for Hamilton.

The cards seemed to fall in their favour in qualifying when Verstappen fluffed his first run in Q3, then suffered a power unit problem. But Hamilton, who only had used tyres for his first run, suffered a DRS problem on the second, and gave up the lap when he might have bettered his eventual seventh on the grid by pressing on. Team mate George Russell, meanwhile, gave Mercedes their first pole position of the season.

In the race Hamilton was quick enough to catch and pass his team mate to finish second. But Verstappen, who started three places behind Hamilton, got ahead of both on his way to victory. Had Hamilton started closer to the front one way or another, he would have stood a better chance of out-running Verstappen, who lost time with a spin, though it was far from a certain win lost.

Advert | Become a RaceFans supporter and go ad-free

Belgian Grand Prix

Fernando Alonso, Alpine, and Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Spa-Francorchamps, 2022
Hamilton was poised to claim second on lap one at Spa when he tripped over Alonso

Verstappen’s enormous pace advantage was such that he was widely tipped to win despite lining up 14th on the grid. But Hamilton briefly put himself in a strong position before compromising his race and aiding the Red Bull driver’s as a result.

Hamilton took fourth on the grid and immediately passed a slow-starting Perez. He was poised to see off Fernando Alonso for second place at Les Combes when he left the Alpine driver too little room, triggering a collision which put the Mercedes out of the race.

It also triggered a Safety Car period which helped Verstappen close on the rest of the field. Had Hamilton avoided that clash with Alonso he’d have been second at the end of lap one with Verstappen further back. Would that have been enough to put Hamilton on course for that elusive win? Given how strong Red Bull were in Belgium, it’s unlikely.

Advert | Become a RaceFans supporter and go ad-free

Dutch Grand Prix

(L to R): Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Max Verstappen, Red Bull, Circuit Zandvoort, 2022
A familiar feeling for Hamilton at Zandvoort as Verstappen used fresh tyres to pass him at the restart

Back at another high-downforce track, Mercedes were in the hunt again. Hamilton, who started fourth after his final Q3 lap was compromised by Perez spinning, ran a single-stop strategy on harder rubber while leader Verstappen needed to make a second visit to the pits.

A series of problems for Yuki Tsunoda handed Verstappen the opportunity to make his stop during a Virtual Safety Car period. Without that, Mercedes reckoned Verstappen would have caught Hamilton for the lead with six laps to go, which would have made for a thrilling finish.

There was plenty of drama all the same, as a Safety Car period with 16 laps remaining prompted Verstappen to pit again. At first Mercedes kept both their cars out, Hamilton leading, but Russell then decided to pit for fresh rubber as well. Hamilton therefore led the restart on old rubber and was always going to be vulnerable to Verstappen, a situation which was not helped when the Mercedes driver left an engine mode change too late.

Had Mercedes left both cars ahead of the Red Bull on their older rubber, would Hamilton have been able to ‘switch on’ his medium tyres quickly enough to repel Verstappen once he passed Russell? It’s doubtful – the Tsunoda VSC earlier on was where Hamilton lost his best chance to win this one.

Advert | Become a RaceFans supporter and go ad-free

Singapore Grand Prix

Slippery Singapore caught Hamilton out

If the Singapore Grand Prix was winnable, Hamilton’s failure to do so was entirely on himself. Saturday went well: while Verstappen ran out of fuel in Q3 and missed pole position, Hamilton claimed third, a whisker behind Leclerc and Perez.

However on a wet Sunday night Hamilton lost a position to Sainz at the start, which cost him significant time to the leaders over the opening stint. As he pressured the Ferrari he skidded into a barrier at turn seven, ending any chance of victory.

Had he not done that, Hamilton would still have had to find a way past two Ferraris and a Red Bull to win. Arguably it was in qualifying where this one slipped away from him: He needed just six-hundredths of a second more for pole position. Perhaps more significantly, he was only 0.032s off second on the grid, from where Perez launched into the lead and claimed the win.

United States Grand Prix

A slow Red Bull pit stop wasn’t enough for Mercedes to win in the USA

Mercedes’ final upgrade of 2022 was only applied in part at the Circuit of the Americas due to legality concerns over a new front wing. But it proved just the ticket, and Hamilton took third on the grid.

He ran second after Russell took Sainz out at turn one. Keeping pressure on Verstappen, Hamilton was the first of the pair to pit both times, but unlike his rival there was no fresh set of medium tyres ready for him at his final stop.

Red Bull fumbled Verstappen’s stop badly, however, and Hamilton had a six-second lead over his rival with 28 laps to go. It wasn’t enough: Verstappen picked his way past Leclerc and Sebastian Vettel before cruising past the Mercedes in the DRS zone to win.

Would Hamilton have stood a better chance of winning on the medium rubber? Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto believed so – and he said much the same about their next defeat a week later.

Advert | Become a RaceFans supporter and go ad-free

Mexican Grand Prix

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez, 2022
Mercedes regretted starting Mexican Grand Prix on the medium tyre compound

By round 20 of the championship Mercedes had their final upgrade on the car in full, including a reshaped front wing which made the W13 a genuine contender on high downforce tracks like the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez.

Hamilton lost his first lap time in Q3 due to a track limits violation, so had to rein it in for his final run. Russell pipped him to second on the grid alongside pole-winner Verstappen by five-thousandths of a second.

But the real damage was done on race day. When the tyre blankets were removed on the grid, medium compound tyres were revealed on the Mercedes, while Red Bull and Ferrari had opted for softs, believing they were durable enough in conjunction with the medium tyre compound to complete the race with a single stop.

They were right. Once Verstappen made his sole pit stop for the medium tyre compound, and the Mercedes pair switched to hards, the Red Bull driver stretched his legs and scored a comfortable win. Afterwards Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff admitted that in hindsight, “if we were to restart the race, maybe we would choose a different tyre”.

Advert | Become a RaceFans supporter and go ad-free

Brazilian Grand Prix

(L to R): Max Verstappen, Red Bull; Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Interlagos, 2022
Verstappen said his collision with Hamilton cost the Mercedes driver a win

Mercedes finally scored their first – and only – win of 2022 at Interlagos. But the win went not to their seven-times champion but his team mate, Russell claiming his first ever grand prix victory.

On the sprint race weekend, a wet qualifying session on Friday set things in motion. Russell bagged third on the grid in Q3 as rain started to fall, then spun off, triggering a red flag which secured him a starting position five places ahead of Hamilton.

For once, Red Bull didn’t satisfactorily nail the set-up on their RB18, and Verstappen encountered tyre degradation despite starting Saturday’s sprint race on the medium tyre compound. Both Mercedes passed him, Russell winning and Hamilton completing a silver sweep of the front row.

Hamilton and Verstappen tangled early in the grand prix itself, earning the Red Bull driver a penalty and allowing Russell to build a useful lead. Although Hamilton appeared to have slightly better pace he was called in for an early second pit stop, which ensured he banked second place ahead of Perez, which wasted some of that advantage. A late Safety Car period left him chasing Russell to the flag on slightly older tyres.

Qualifying behind Russell didn’t help Hamilton’s cause, but did the collision with Verstappen prevent him from winning, and should he have avoided it? Predictably, Verstappen believed so.

“I went around the outside and I immediately felt he was not going to leave space,” he said afterwards. “So I just went for it, he didn’t leave me space, I knew we were going to get together. It cost him the race win.”

Whether that was true or not, it was Hamilton’s last best chance to win before 2023, by which time he will have gone more than a year without taking a victory.

Over to you

Could Hamilton have won a race in 2022? If so which? Have your say in the comments.

2022 F1 season

Browse all 2022 F1 season articles

Author information

Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

Got a potential story, tip or enquiry? Find out more about RaceFans and contact us here.

54 comments on “How many victory chances did Hamilton have in his first winless F1 season?”

  1. I actually thought during the British Grand Prix that he had an outside chance of the win without the safety car. He was on course to catch Sainz for second, although passing Sainz and then also catching and passing Leclerc might have been difficult.

    1. I have a same opinion. SC ruined Hamilton chances that day. He was on verge of catching Sainz and Leclers was just couple of seconds ahead with damaged front wing and likely to suffer more tyre degradation at the end of the race. The Mercedes advantage was on hards not on softs on that day.

      The same applies for VSC during Dutch GP.

      1. Yes, agree on both races, hamilton has been pretty unlucky with the SC this year, and they’re definitely 2 alternate scenarios I’d like to see unfold.

        1. I forgot to add that in Dutch GP part of this Mercedes advantage was that RB & Ferrari focused on fighting each other (as was the case in other races as well). They started on softs in order to not lose/gain places on the start and this handicap was carried by Verstappen throughout the race, in comparison to Mercedes strategy which seemed optimal (medium-hard).

  2. He only had one chance, Ham could have been luckier, sainz jnr got incredibly lucky, checo got lucky, it takes a few outcomes yo get lucky.

    1. He had more than one chance, but he didnt help himself by only once qualifying higher than 4th. If he had nailed his Q3 lap in Brazil on the first try like Russell did, the red flags wouldnt have hurt as much because he wouldve been higher up the grid, possibly even starting from pole. Strategy and luck definitely hurt him, but a bit like 2016, Hamilton left himself a lot to do on Sundays.

      1. Lets not forget that redflag was all Russell’s doing. He made sure to beach his car in the gravel with that unnecesary donnut, when he could simply have driven off the slip road at the back of the trap.

        In my opinion, Russell knew Hamilton would have made good on his final qualifying lap and decided to close that door.

        If Hamilton needed any warning, he now knows Russell is very ambitious and will do anything to further his own interests.

        1. As he absolutely should. He is the future of the Mercedes team, and he has a great teammate in the twilight of his career to learn from. If George didn’t have the ambition to be number 1 driver at Mercedes, then he shouldn’t be there. Its not that he’s out to get Hamilton…………. he’s out to BEAT Hamilton

  3. Good article. I think in the last few races the car had improved enough, and the team had learned enough, that LH had some winning chances, especially in Brazil. There’s nearly always some chance with a skilful driver in a good car, sometimes luck plays a part, and there is sometimes malice too, e.g. in Brazil, when a certain Max “Crash Musthappen” Verstappen – knowing he couldn’t win – either deliberately failed to avoid an incident, or took the chance to try ruin LH’s race, but he failed to destroy it completely. He might have cost LH the win, but not a finish.
    A big team positive is the 1+2 in Brazil. I’m sure LH will take that as at least a second best to a personal win.
    The team have stated that this car will be displayed in the factory as an example of what not to build…

    1. Hamilton did the same manouvre as he did in Monza 2021 and Spa 2022; leave the inside car with no room and crowd them on the kerbs. At Monza it backfired when Verstappen was thrown on his car via the kerb and in Spa his car bounced on Alonso and got too much damage to continue. In Brazil, it was Verstappen damaged.

      1. Hi Sjon: I know I’m wasting my time, but here goes. Quoting the golden boi himself:

        “I went around the outside and I immediately felt he was not going to leave space,” he said afterwards. “So I just went for it, he didn’t leave me space, I knew we were going to get together. It cost him the race win.”

        In this quote, he himself says that he knew there would be no space, so he ‘just went for it’ knowing ‘we were going to get together’. Please read this, or maybe look up the quote, the video is available on many sites. Note that I’ve seen a couple of interviews, on both of which he says the same thing.
        So, before the collision, he knew it would happen. Clear? Now, that gives him a clear option to a) back off and try again later – any sane driver might choose that, as you can’t win a race that early in a race, or b) collide with the other driver.
        So V chose b). He was gaining on (going faster than) the Merc at the apex, while the Merc was on the racing line at the apex. He could not make the corner at that speed and angle – which is why the stewards judged him to be a fault.
        He could have backed off, but as he thought his car wasn’t fast enough to win, maybe he would not have another chance to affect LH’s race.
        So it’s clear that golden boy deliberately crashed into LH. He got a penalty for doing that at the time. he admits afterwards that he deliberately crashed.
        I understand that all of the above means nothing compared to what Horner says. ‘What about…’

        1. Lewis could have given space (IMO he should have as Max had positioned his car enough to earn the right to some space). He chose not to, just as Max chose not to back off.
          They both could have avoided a collision but were both being too stubborn and it ended up costing them both. For Lewis, it was his best chance all season to win so you’d have to say he lost out more

          1. This reminds me of monza 2021, that also could’ve been avoided but none wanted to back off.

          2. @esploratore1

            Monza looked like a completely intentional crash by Max. There was no way he would overtake from that far back around the outside. His mentality was no to lose points to Hamilton.

            I thought the British GP 2021 was a better example.

        2. I’m not a fan of either both, but when Lewis slammed the door in Brasil, he knew they would collide. They came out of turn 1, side by side, and het knew there was a car next to him. So they both knew it, they both could have avoided it, but they both let it happen.

          Now the difference between Hamilton and Verstappen is, that Verstappen just says what’s on his mind. No political nonsense, not weighing words or whatsoever.

          Hamilton on the other hand always picks his words carefully, speaks in layers, and always keeps in mind what consequences his words have.

          Hamilton may be smarter in such occasions, others call it hypocrite.

          1. This is one of the main reasons I like verstappen, besides his speed and aggressiveness.

          2. Steve Mitchell
            24th November 2022, 9:55

            Hit the nail on the head, they both knew the other wasn’t going to back off, they both knew they would collide. The only difference is Max speaks the truth, Lewis speaks what his PR team tell him too.

          3. Hamilton did what he had to do for the team. Had Verstappen gotten by him, he would almost certainly have caught and overtaken Russell. Hamilton was very much the wingman for Mercedes, and showed how you do it. This was all about that Mercedes win.

        3. @Dave @esploratore1 @That guy – So reading the replies, “LH should have given space”, “LH slammed the door”, “LH could have avoided…”. It boils down to “get out of Max’s way, or he will crash into you.”
          And Max ‘speaking his mind’ in this case shows that if you don’t get out of his way, he will indeed crash into you. Glad we cleared that up.
          Now if you think that is acceptable behaviour, I strongly disagree. And if you think that everyone should just get out of Max’s way, I also strongly disagree.
          Just out of interest, what could LH have possibly said about the incident that would not have been objectionable? I don’t expect an answer.

          1. Steve Mitchell
            24th November 2022, 9:57

            The intent was there from both of them. Only difference is Max was honest enough to admit it

          2. The thing is Max didn’t have to make that move. He only had to bide his time to get a no risk DRS done.

          3. Say, you are an aspiring race winner and you have to overtake the multiple race winner. Are you going to let him shut the door all the time while two can easily make a corner (and become the mental underdog), or are you going to send a message that this will have consequences from now on and you will have to work just a bit harder and up the game?

        4. It is you that needs to read the quote again – “I Felt” – he had a feeling Lewis would leave no room. Certainly did not know for certain- I driver can’t not attempt a overtake because he feels the other my slam the door shut and leave no space. Exactly.the opposite- he needs to show such a driver he will not compromise. If Lewis was honest he would have said “I felt Max was going to try for the inside line” – does the make Hamilton wrong – NO.

          I have not yet seen one interview, opinion, analysis after the race that did ot support Max’s right to space on the inside

        5. Or the summary: you might not give space, but neither will I. So you know, for next time we meet.
          Imho almost all incidents between the two are because Lewis just doesn’t want to race Max. Max has had plenty of long and nice battles with more than one driver over the season. Lewis just doesn’t want to play ball for more than maximum 2 corners. It is a pity as we all lose out on what we are watching for in the first place, a continuous battle lap after lap.

      2. There is a clear trend of not leaving enough space for sure, but only on those he feels threatened by.

  4. He had 23 chances, same as every driver or every driver in the top 3 teams. Didn’t deliver, maybe next year though.

    1. Ssst, dont spoil the party. They’ve just deliberately launched this article to make their man look not so bad…

      1. Once again Mayrton, hitting the nail on the head so hard that we all don’t have to :D

        1. I mean seriously. There has never ever been written an article like this (to justify poor performance) on any other driver. Ricciardo for instance could use it, or Schumacher.

  5. The only realistic one was Brazil.
    People talk about Mexico and USA, but it’s not like Verstappen didn’t have pace to spare on these races.

    With the right calls it probably would be just slightly more difficult for him.

    This car had no business racing for wins, but Ferrari giving up on the season opened that space on the top for someone else to race Red Bull.

    1. IMO Singapore was a credible possibility too, although it would have required pole – Perez struggled home in first in that one despite lacking pace.

      Might’ve struck lucky with some of the others, but it didn’t play out.

      Brazil was perhaps a bit unlucky in some respects too, the safety car might have actually worked for him if Merc hadn’t pulled the plug on his overcut strategy.

      1. Yes, I guess he lost 3 reasonable win chances due to various SC.

  6. Seems to me that Brazil was the only genuine shot on pure pace. Anyone can win a complete mess of an event, but the chances of all five drivers ahead of Hamilton in the standings having trouble in the same race was always minuscule.

    Unfortunately, both for Hamilton and the viewer, he and Verstappen can’t race without getting obsessed with getting one over on the other. It’s all rather silly, but it cost him his chance to beat Russell in the race. It would have been nice to see these two race for position on similar strategies, too.

    1. Hamilton didn’t need 5 drivers to have issues to win races this year, there’s been plenty of times where if verstappen had retired or had a problem causing a high loss of time, such as brazil, replacing the front wing, he’d have won, simply beating all others in the top cars.

  7. The only chance Ham had to win this year was Brazil.

    The two reasons he did not win that race was

    1 . Russell was very fortunate to start P3 having crashed in Quali and brought out the red flag. Under normal circumstances Russell would have started P10 due to his crash. Merc also sent Ham out last so he got the worst of the conditions.

    2. VES crashed into Lewis knowing full well that would have ruined his race . A damaged car and losing 2 tenths per lap still managed to bring it home P2.

    Since the break and Merc upgrades. Ham has been the quicker of the two by miles. He beat Rus 13-8 in Quali this year,

    Rus has done well this year but on some occasions with SC and red flags he has got lucky,

    Ham will be back next year.

    Reply moderated
    1. Fortunate isn’t the word. I think you do Russell an injustice to say it was Fortunate.

      That ‘donnut’ after he had cleared the gravel trap was nothing less than calculated.

  8. The only chance Ham had to win this year was Brazil.

    The two reasons he did not win that race was

    1 . Russell was very fortunate to start P3 having crashed in Quali and brought out the red flag. Under normal circumstances Russell would have started P10 due to his crash. Merc also sent Ham out last so he got the worst of the conditions.

    2. VES crashed into Lewis knowing full well that would have ruined his race . A damaged car and losing 2 tenths per lap still managed to bring it home P2.

    Since the break and Merc upgrades. Ham has been the quicker of the two by miles. He beat Rus 13-8 in Quali this year,

    Rus has done well this year but on some occasions with SC and red flags he has got lucky,

    Ham will be back next year.

    1. A shame the Merc wasn’t competitive this year, but sterling work from the team to bring it back in Brazil. Let’s hope for a 2023 car on a par with the leaders, whomsoever that turns out to be. Hopefully we can see more level performance, and some competitive racing – as opposed to someone pulling away from the field, or cars always finishing two by two.
      Not that it’s super relevant, “past performance is not a guarantee of future performance,” but with the driver changes as they are, LH has more wins than the rest of the field combined, even with none in 2022.

    2. Also had the tables been reversed i doubt Russell would have put himself in the way of Verstappen to take one for the team.

      You have to wonder if Hamilton started on pole, would he have gotten the win with Verstappen closing, and Russell driving as his wingman. I doubt it.

      Mercedes only got that 1/2 because Verstappen coped that damage at the start.

  9. I think Hamilton got his car into second place more often than his car deserved, so I don’t think it was a bad season for him (Russel was also good but had more luck). However, Verstappen I think just had an edge on everyone this season plus the quickest car, so I think Hamilton needed luck to convert those second places into a win. From the top of my head, I cannot remember any occasions when Hamilton was gifted places due to luck.

    1. Austin could be such a case with verstappen’s pit stop problem, but insufficient, I was disappointed about the weak defense hamilton put up, but I think it’d have only been a more interesting battle for us if he had tried all he could, and that eventually he’d have been passed anyway.

  10. Brazil was arguably the only race this year he had the car that could have won without any luck or outside interference and that ship sailed when Verstappen hit him. He still had half a chance with the late safety car but I think with slight damage to the car and going up against your teammate in a undamaged car there was never any real possibility of a overtake being possible and certainly not when the 1-2 result mattered so much to the team for their effort through the year.

  11. I think a win at Zandvoort was possible under normal circumstances. The W13 was flying on those hard tires. Verstappen would have had to catch the Mercedes and then passe them. At that point, I think his medium tires would give up.

    1. Yes, one of the best chances is zandvoort without SC, because of how their different strategies were unfolding.

    2. The one caused by tsunoda ofc.

    3. I don’t think MB had really a winning strategy for Zandvoort. It would have been an interesting battle at the end but the F1 TV debrief analysed all senario’s and all were in favour of Verstappen.

  12. Mercedes car is till way off. The victory was largely a result of other teams not delivering and the most constant Merc driver benefitted from this situation as he did the entire season.
    Not sure of Merc will be able to solve the many shortcomings of this terribel design ( and by far the most ugly car on track)
    They will have a lot more development time in 2023 but will need every minute of it.

    1. wish for 2023.. edit option ;(

  13. I believe that the first glimpse of Hamilton’s decline appeared on 2019, when his consistency started to drop slightly. I think that this year just confirms that his best days have already passed. Not only because he was unable to win any GP during the hole season, but also because his was driving slower than his teammate due to the lack of adaptation to the Mercedes during the early season. It was only after the team was able to provide him a car more suitable to his driving style when he look more solid than Russel, albeit the latter still getting the stellar results this year. Hamilton was unable to make his own luck as well. Probably he will have some shinny moments in the future, but, for me, it is unclear if those will be frequently enough to surpass Schumacher’s championship record. He is on a race against age.

    Reply moderated
    1. I think that’s wishful thinking. 2020 was his best ever year in my opinion

  14. Any 2022 win needed good fortune, so is fairly irrelevant.

    Multiple win in 2023? Knowing where the car is weak is different from fixing them.

  15. He had over 20 chances or is it now suddenly that the car is also important in achieving world titles?

    1. It’s always the car. Verstappen just happened to have it this year.

      1. That is not a coincidence the fastest drivers end up in the fastest cars. That is part of F1

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

All comments are moderated. See the Comment Policy and FAQ for more.
If the person you're replying to is a registered user you can notify them of your reply using '@username'.