George Russell, Mercedes, Hungaroring, 2022

The drivers who surprised RaceFans readers by beating their team mates in 2022

2022 F1 season

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At the beginning of the 2022 season we invited RaceFans readers to give their verdicts on which drivers would come out on top in each of the 10 Formula 1 teams.

With the season behind us, a glance at the final scores reveals our readers correctly predicted how seven of those battles would turn out. But the score-lines proved a surprise at three teams – all of which featured in the front half of the field.

Here’s who came out on top at each team – and which drivers surprised our readers by out-scoring their team mates.

Red Bull

(L to R): Sergio Perez, Max Verstappen, Red Bull, Baku Street Circuit, 2022
Perez made way for Verstappen more than once when the team decreed

Prediction: 96% of readers expected Verstappen would finish ahead
Result: Verstappen 454 – 305 Perez

Unusually for Max Verstappen, he did not always find it straightforward to get the best out of Red Bull’s new car at the beginning of the season. Sergio Perez was the first of the pair to put it on pole position – a feat he never previously achieved in his career.

Normal service was fairly rapidly resumed, however. In the estimation of team principal Christian Horner both drivers enjoyed their best ever seasons. Verstappen’s was quite a bit better, however, including a record-breaking 15 grand prix wins to his team mate’s two.


Prediction: 54% of readers expected Sainz would finish ahead
Result: Leclerc 308 – 246 Sainz

Second place in the final race of 2021 ensured Carlos Sainz Jnr out-scored Charles Leclerc in their first season together as team mates. That surprised many of our readers, who overwhelmingly picked Leclerc to come out on top.

It seems many of you reappraised your view of the pair during the off-season, and Sainz was narrowly preferred as the top scorer before the 2022 campaign began. However he didn’t gel with Ferrari’s new car at first, and as both drivers suffered a combination of Ferrari technical trouble and strategy errors, Leclerc maintained the upper hand this time.

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George Russell, Mercedes, Interlagos, 2022
Only one Mercedes driver took pole and won – and it wasn’t Hamilton

Prediction: 69% of readers expected Hamilton would finish ahead
Result: Russell – 275 – 240 Hamilton

If there was any greater surprise in 2022 than Mercedes’ sudden fall from grace, it was surely George Russell out-scoring his new, seven-times world champion team mate. However a solid minority of our readers clearly suspected the newcomer would give Lewis Hamilton a run for his money.

Russell consistently out-scored Hamilton over a six-race stretch early in the year. Hamilton was never able to overturn that deficit, despite taking one more podium than his team mate. Russell may have been pipped on that metric, but he took both of Mercedes’ pole positions this year and, most importantly, their only victory.


Prediction: 80% of readers expected Alonso would finish ahead
Result: Ocon 92 – 81 Alonso

Like Hamilton, Fernando Alonso seldom gets out-scored by a team mate (fittingly, they ended their only year alongside each other tied on points). So it does Esteban Ocon’s credentials no harm at all to have put one over the twice-champion this year.

But how far was that on merit, and how far was it a consequence of Alpine’s unreliability? While Alonso was quick to point out the many failures his car suffered, often at the least opportune moments, Ocon noted he was also let down by his A522 at times. Though not, it has to be said, quite as often as Alonso was.

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Another tough year with Norris let Ricciardo heading for the exit

Prediction: 84% of readers expected Norris would finish ahead
Result: Norris 122 – 37 Ricciardo

Ahead of the 2021 season, new McLaren driver Daniel Ricciardo was the overwhelming favourite among our readers to come out ahead of his junior team mate. But Lando Norris emphatically held sway, Ricciardo’s Monza win notwithstanding.

Going into this season the RaceFans readership had taken note: 84% of you tipped Norris to prevail, and he duly did to such an extent that McLaren showed Ricciardo the door with a year left to run on his contract. Did anyone see that coming nine months ago?

Alfa Romeo

Prediction: 93% of readers expected Bottas would finish ahead
Result: Bottas 49 – 6 Zhou

An all-new driver line-up at Alfa Romeo paired a highly experienced, multiple race winner with a complete newcomer. Obviously Valtteri Bottas was widely favoured to beat Zhou Guanyu, and that’s exactly how it turned out. Nonetheless, Zhou turned in some creditable performances and raised his game as the season went on. This could be much closer next year.

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Aston Martin

Stroll will have another world champion alongside him next year

Prediction: 89% of readers expected Vettel would finish ahead
Result: Vettel 37 – 18 Stroll

Despite missing the first two races of the season, Sebastian Vettel best his team mate again at Aston Martin. That was no less than our readers expected, and Lance Stroll has no reason to expect an easier time next year when Alonso takes over the other Aston Martin.


Prediction: 67% of readers expected Magnussen would finish ahead
Result: Magnussen 25 – 12 Schumacher

Unlike last year, the Haas drivers had a car that was quick enough to score points. Once Kevin Magnussen was installed in place of the ousted Nikita Mazepin, it didn’t look good for Mick Schumacher’s chances of coming out on top here, as our readers correctly judged.

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(L to R): Yuki Tsunoda, Pierre Gasly, Silverstone, 2022
It was a tough enough year for AlphaTauri without their drivers running into each other

Prediction: 95% of readers expected Gasly would finish ahead
Result: Gasly 23 – 12 Tsunoda

Yuki Tsunoda’s second season in F1 was a clear improvement over his first, and he kept Pierre Gasly honest. But our readers’ pre-season prediction that Gasly would score the most points never looked in serious jeopardy.


Prediction: 89% of readers expected Albon would finish ahead
Result: Albon 4 – 2 Latifi

Nicholas Latifi was spared the ignominy of ending his final season as the only full-time driver who failed to score a point when a bold early tyre change netted him ninth in Japan. This was a considerable relief, as not only had Alexander Albon already scored points for Williams, but so had his stand-in Nyck de Vries.

By this time Williams had already confirmed Latifi was not part of their plans for 2023.

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Over to you

Which intra-team battles produced the most unexpected results this year? And which were influenced by unreliability, strategy errors and other misfortunes?

Have your say in the comments.

2022 F1 season

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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...

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44 comments on “The drivers who surprised RaceFans readers by beating their team mates in 2022”

  1. I only got two wrong. Alpine and Haas. Not bad.

    1. @philippe

      I got two wrong as well – Mercedes and Alpine. Russell was the only surprise for me, as I thought Hamilton would easily have the measure of them in their first season together, but Russell definitely held his own, and was far more consistent in the first half of the season.

      I can’t count Ocon as a surprise, as he got thrashed by Alonso, and it just took a lot of unexpected bad luck for Fernando to finish behind Ocon.

    2. Just got Alonso wrong but I feel it is to an extent influenced by bad luck. Surprised to see the Ferrari prediction by the voters. Furthermore the voters got Hamilton Russell wrong which is somewhat more understandable. So overall pretty predictable stuff which might become more interesting in 2023.

      1. Yes, I wouldn’t count alonso as wrong considering it’s very clearly affected by the unbalanced reliability they had, a bit like predicting hamilton to win 2016, when if you take away mechanical problems hamilton would win, in any case I also expected alonso to come on top.

        And then I was unsure about schumacher vs magnussen, can’t remember which I voted, rest I think were right.

        I’m a bit surprised by people voting sainz more than leclerc, when he always showed he was faster during his career, and I was one of those who expected russell to outscore hamilton, if anything hamilton surprised me by being faster more often, even though he ended up with less points.

  2. Well there has already been plenty written about Hamilton vs. Russell. Only in F1 can you get a pole, a win and more points, yet still have the press and the fans say that you did a worse job than your teammate.

    Realistically it was the only unexpected result. Alonso would have beaten Ocon with better reliability.

    1. …because some people don’t care about context.

      Some people couldn’t care less that Hamilton spent half the year trying experimental parts, running heavy test equipment, trying experimental setups, while Russell’s side of the garage remained ‘the control’.

      Some people couldn’t care less that Russel often benefitted from perfectly timed Safety Cars while running behind Hamilton in the race.

      These same people didn’t care that Hamilton DNF’d from races while running in 1st place, while Button DNF’d running in 10th, only caring that the statistic showed they had the same amount of DNF’s

      I don’t care about who beat who, but about how people beat people

      1. Your statement about trying “experimental parts” means nothing – or works against your aguments – unless you prove that they made Hamilton slower and not faster.
        In today’s age of computer simulation engineers I can’t imagine those parts didn’t make him faster most of the times, and to be given to Russell no sooner than for the next race.
        And as for trying “experimental new-setups” – well, since Hamilton was consistently slower than his team-mate at the beginning of the season, then no wonder they had to try “experimental” set-ups with him. I would be more accurate to call them “desperate” set-ups.

        1. make up your mind
          the experimental setups are hand waved when you need to point out why Lewis didn’t outscore George but suddenly matter when you need reinforce your bias, or discount their effects.

        2. Wolff and Shovlin seemed to think that Hamilton’s performance suffered as a result– but I suppose you know more than they do.

      2. Some people couldn’t care less that Russel often benefitted from perfectly timed Safety Cars while running behind Hamilton in the race.

        A lot of those early season calls by Russell were the direct result of a strategy made to benefit from a late safety car. That’s a perfectly valid approach to take when you’re in a car that has nothing to fear from 7 teams behind, but can’t keep up with the 2 teams in front. It’s only lucky in the sense that those neutralization weren’t a given.

        1. It’s only lucky in the sense that those neutralization weren’t a given.

          …that’s how luck works

      3. He beat a 7-time world champion in his first season with Mercedes. This should be celebrated, the boy done good.

        It’s quite laughable that Lewis’s cult struggle to accept that George beat him fairly in the same machinery and in his first season with Mercedes. “Experimental setups” etc are just a weird smokescreen of self-protection.

        1. Lewis’ radio calls didn’t sounds like a guy who was experimenting on purpose…i call shenanigans on that. That’s was a toto lie to make it seem like Hamilton was still a hero as they desperately try to avenge Abu Dhabi 2021.
          I have no proof. You have no proof. Lets move on.

          1. We have proof, because Toto has stated it.

            It’s fine if you think he’s lying, but you can’t say there’s no proof – as others in Mercedes have back up that narrative, with some saying Hamilton as a team player had been at his most impressive.

            Incidentally, I have no issue with George winning. I think Lewis had an understandable wrong mindset for the first few races. He often starts a season slowly and obviously with the 2021 title controversy plus how terrible the car was, resulted in him not been as switched on.

            I’d bet my house, he beats George next season, if the car is competitive.

          2. Look at it this way; would you have the driver whose just joined your race team do the testing of parts to resolve highly complicated issues or would you have the driver whose been with your race team since 2013 with insight that has helped develop cars that have won multiple championships do it?
            Hamilton was on average a bit faster then Russell all year, won the qualifying battle and was in contention to win more often, but the luck didn’t go his way which happens in motorsport.
            No one’s knocking Russell, apart from those using his performance to attack Hamilton.

          3. What a nonsense this testing excuse. Russell simply outscored Hamilton. As expected by the way. You are not going to tell me people really started to believe Hamilton is that good? He drove against Bottas for years in the most dominant car F1 has ever seen. If you can’t even factor that in when assessing his skills level, I am not sure whether F1 is the right sport to watch. It’s perfectly predictable he will again be beaten by a much younger athlete.

      4. That’s just finding excuses

      5. It’s rather naive to believe Mercedes would instruct their expierenced driver, who’s been tied to Mercedes for a decade, to do ‘expiremental set-ups’ and put Russell on a proven better set-up. Eeven if they did, Lewis did a rather poor job testing if it ment that was the reason behind his P10 and P13 finishes.

        What caught my attention was Russell not being ‘lucky’, but far better prepared to make alternative strategies work with sudden changes on track such as safety cars…Miami and especially Zandvoort are examples.

        Hamilton and Mercedes did a ‘Abu Dhabi’ at Zandvoort…trying to beat a driver on new tyres by track position….no Masi to cover it up this time. It’s just one example of Russell handling race situations far better than Hamilton.

        1. “It’s rather naive to believe Mercedes would instruct their expierenced driver, who’s been tied to Mercedes for a decade, to do ‘expiremental set-ups’ and put Russell on a proven better set-up.”

          Wrong. Your logic is backwards.

          Firstly Russell’s setups weren’t inherently ‘better’, i said they were ‘control’, they are ‘safe’ setups they know they could rely on because they were consistent. Hamilton is the experienced driver in the team, who has driven many iterations of their car, if you’re ever going to use someone to try something different, who will know how it compares, you use them, not some relatively inexperienced new guy in the team.

          Secondly – “What caught my attention was Russell not being ‘lucky’, but far better prepared to make alternative strategies work with sudden changes on track such as safety cars…”

          People often use this fallacy when someone got lucky against Hamilton. It’s easy to try a contra strategy when you’ve been out qualified or are behind on track because you have nothing to lose – if you do the same as the other guy, you finish behind.

  3. I didn’t vote, but I struggle to believe the amount of people here that expected Sainz to beat Leclerc. Though it would be possible with luck involved.

    1. Yes @thegianthogweed. I did not vote in the poll either but seeing people voted for Sainz over Leclerc is a real surprise. I would have been very surprised if he had finished ahead of Charles.

      That is the only poll result I find unexpected.

    2. Most people only look at the driver standings and they have recency bias. Last year Sainz edged out Leclerc by a couple of points so a narrative quickly started to spread that Leclerc is only fast in qualifying and he is mistake prone/not consistent. After this year you will see that 80-90% of the fans will vote Leclerc to be ahead and they will slam Sainz that he is mediocre and should be number 2 etc. And the cycle will repeat itself as long as they are team mates.

      1. I didn’t vote but I would have got Alpine, Mercedes and Ferrari wrong. The reason I would have voted for Sainz was nothing to do with recency bias, his Mclaren stint showed he’d made huge steps forward in improving his race pace and consistency so that the result last year (2021) wasn’t entirely unexpected. This year though he was comprehensively worse than Leclerc in nearly every metric so it will be hard for many to vote for him over Leclerc but I wouldn’t consider that recency bias as there seems ample evidence to support that viewpoint and not some rapid change of heart based on recent news or events.

        1. But Leclerc was doing a good job in 2021, he just got unlucky in almost every possible situation where Ferrari was able to score big. In Monaco he could have won, but the team failed to fix a component after qualifying which could have been replaced without any penalties. Meanwhile Sainz had more crashes in qualifying and he never had to face a DNS on Sunday after those. Then the next one in Silverstone, Leclerc should have won that race after Carmilton sent GOATstappen into the hospital, but the stewards refused to give him a proper penalty for his war crimes. On top of that Leclerc had engine issues in his midfield car which probably cost him quite a few seconds which could have been crucial considering he only lost the lead with 2 laps to go. Then in Hungary Leclerc once again had a good shot at a podium possibly even better but $troll had the audacity to cut through the grass and completely destroy his car at turn 1. And then in Sochi he got unlucky with the rain the same as Norris, however in Norris’s case it was him who completely dismissed the idea of coming in for inters, while Leclerc stayed out because Sainz was pitting and he didn’t want to queue behind him and obviously once the rain got heavier this completely messed up an otherwise strong drive from the back of the grid. So it was recency bias and short sightedness that people didn’t take all this into consideration and instead just went with the idea that Sainz is more consistent than Leclerc.

          1. Agree with this, people don’t seem to remember where points were lost in 2021, I was absolutely sure he would outscore sainz with even luck and even more so with a stronger car, since he’s faster, so there’s more difference between 1st and 2nd than 3rd and 4th.

          2. +1.

            But it’s more than that: LEC actually showed champ potential in 2019 and 2020 too, not to mention that in 2020 he beat VET soundly, a la NOR vs RIC. That’s why I don’t get it why SAI got more votes at the beginning of 2021.

          3. I was just saying why I would have voted that way and it had nothing to do with recency bias. Also Leclerc is prone to errors and that myth has not been dispelled this year. I still don’t think it’s a sure thing Leclerc will beat Sainz over the year next season either tbh. I think most people accept Leclerc is a faster driver but he does seem to have more poor races, whatever the reason…

    3. I’ll put my hand up to being one of those who voted for Sainz. I have no doubt Leclerc is the faster of the 2 (in fact I think he’s the fastest on the grid especially on Saturdays) but gave the edge to Sainz for 2 reasons:
      First Leclerc still needs some polishing and makes mistakes from pushing too hard (France\Imola)
      Secondly Sainz has shown he’s willing and quite skilled at making his own strategy calls and overruling the pit wall. This is invaluable at Ferrari.

      What I didn’t account for was just how bad a season Sainz had pace wise. I actually believe, outside of Riccardo, Sainz was the biggest underperformer of the year. If he can find his Mclaren form next year, I would still not be surprised for him to beat Leclerc.

      1. Sainz is good with strategy calls and going against stupid ones by ferrari, but he is pretty slow on race day a lot of the time. And I think he is more error prone than Leclerc. He only had one truely solid season at Mclaren and that was 2019 with no real mistakes. Pretty much every other season, he’s madea few or a lot of big, stupid mistakes and this year was one of them. I also think that in 2019, while he looked perfect, he was against a rookie and I also believe the Mclaren was the top of the midfield by some margin and some way off the top 3 teams which often resulted in the races being pretty lonely and not much of a challenge. When he’s involved in more close racing, he’s never really looked very good to me. At least not consistently. I think he’s at about the same level as bottas, but a weaker qualifier.

      2. This is also a false assumption. While Sainz had a dissapointing first half of the season with a lot of mediocre performances he was still nowhere near one of the biggest underperformers. The gap between him and Leclerc was around 3-4 tenths on average at the beginning and it started decreasing as Ferrari stabilized the rear end of the car to make Sainz more comfortable. Portierez was easily a bigger underperformer in the top teams, finishing 149 points behind GOATstappen and constantly being around half a second slower in the same machinery. And in the midfield I would say everyone was worse than Sainz apart from Alonso and Norris. Maybe a honorable mention to Ocon but he mostly just benefited from his team mates engine failures.

    4. At a team other than Ferrari, I think it’s possible.

  4. Sainz? Fools!

    1. 11% for Latifi? Odd.

      1. There must be more Canadians voting than Chinese, but hard to imagine either driver being picked on merit.

  5. F1TV also has some nice statistics on the qualy and race pace of the drivers in the F1TV 2022 season review. Points don’t always tell the complete story. Not surprising Alonso was way ahead of Occon both qualy and race pace. Almost no difference between Ham and Rus. Most suprising the race pace of Mick was slightly better than Kevin but he way off in qualifying pace. Also suprising the car performance of Ferrari was better all year except for the last two races according to the data of F1TV.

    1. The ferrari stat is very strange, I don’t see how it’s possible considering how much slower they were after spa.

      1. I dont know how they calculated the stats on car performance but they have a lot more data. Maybe the race pace of Max made it look more dominant than the RB really was. Another explanation is that the Ferrari had to turn down the engine due to reliability later in the season but it could still perform in qualifications. Also tire managment is a big part of the race pace but maybe not included in car performance

  6. Not sure why it’s not in the article, but if you forgot your predictions or want to check them back, here it is

    It’s part of the fun to see how we fared. I went for Hamilton and, surprisingly, Schumacher probably as I was expecting Magnussen to be past his prime and Mick to pick up speed but it was quickly over. As for Hamilton/Russel I think the early season started with different motivation when Hamilton realized they had a dog of a car and Russell was happy to have few cars behind him other than his team mate.

    1. Thanks @jeanrien, just checked, 90% right. For some crazy reason I went for Zhou Guanyu v. Bottas.

  7. The McLaren observation doesn’t make sense to me

    Prediction: 84% of readers expected Norris would finish ahead
    Result: Norris 122 – 37 Ricciardo

    Ahead of the 2021 season, new McLaren driver Daniel Ricciardo was the overwhelming favourite among our readers to come out ahead of his junior team mate. But Lando Norris emphatically held sway, Ricciardo’s Monza win notwithstanding.

    Have you got the names the wrong way around in the prediction, or did you misread the prediction in your analysis?

    1. It’s talking about 2021, not this years predictions, that’s in the next paragraph.

      1. Ahh, I see, yes I’m getting my years mixed up. Thank you.

  8. Failed Fernando Alonso only but it got really toxic at Alpine. In 2007 ALO paid dearly for being in a British team with a British, ugh, “teammate”. In 2022 French team & French executioner

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