2022 F1 driver rankings #6: Lewis Hamilton

2022 F1 driver rankings

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No matter how many world championship titles Lewis Hamilton has achieved over the years, nothing could have softened the brutal blow of losing the 2021 world championship in the manner in which he did.

Having avoided the public gaze while coming to terms with his season ending in such stunning fashion, Hamilton eventually reappeared at Mercedes’ February launch. They began 2022 with a fierce determination to reassert their dominance over Red Bull and the rest of the grid once more but instead endured their worst season of their decade-long partnership.

The W13 had fundamental problems, which was clear from its first run, and did not improve through testing. The eight-times constructors’ championship showed up to the Bahrain test with eye-catching sidepods, slim to the point of non-existent, and were alarmed when they did not yield the anticipated gains.

The car was far from the pace of the Ferrari and the Red Bull – a point proved beyond doubt when Hamilton qualified fifth on the grid to start the season in Bahrain, behind all four of them. Indeed, keeping the rest of the midfield behind proved a challenge for the first half of the season.

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Jeddah Corniche Circuit, 2022
Hamilton was nowhere in Jeddah
Despite the relative lack of performance from the W13, Hamilton achieved the best result he could have by taking an unexpected spot on the podium behind the Ferraris, courtesy of Red Bull’s double failure late in the race. But Mercedes knew they had a mountain to climb to address the core problems with their new ground effect car and had to find some kind of a solution to their aerodynamic porpoising and lack of downforce if they could even begin to hope to challenge for the titles this year.

The early rounds of 2022 effectively became test sessions for Mercedes as both drivers – but predominately the more experienced Hamilton – ploughed through a huge checklist of experimental parts and settings to help the team at Brackley work out how to solve their problems. But Hamilton was still competing over these early weekends and in Jeddah, he had possibly his worst performance of the season. Having failed to make it out of the first stage of qualifying, he gradually rose up the order in the race, but missed an opportunity to pit under Virtual Safety Car and came home with the final point in tenth, five places behind Russell.

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Mercedes were again well off the front-runners in Melbourne, but Hamilton was much better when it mattered, only losing a podium place to his team mate after a Safety Car was deployed at the best possible time for Russell. But Imola was just plain poor. Hamilton never threatened the points once across the three days, spending almost 40 laps stuck behind Pierre Gasly and, unable to find a way past, eventually finished down in 13th place as Russell took fourth.

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Paul Ricard, 2022
Hamilton picked up momentum over the summer
Being beaten by former team mate Valtteri Bottas in an Alfa Romeo in Miami was not Mercedes’ finest moment, but in the race Hamilton was again unlucky to finish behind his current team mate after another convenient Safety Car worked in Russell’s favour. At this stage in the season Hamilton was the lowest ranked driver of the top three teams, 23 points behind his new team mate and just a single point ahead of Lando Norris in sixth.

Then, with the team’s first major batch of upgrades in Spain, Hamilton displayed the kind of performance that many would expect from the sport’s most successful ever driver. After a clash with Kevin Magnussen left him crawling back to the pits with a puncture, Hamilton rejoined the circuit almost a minute behind the rest of the field. Over the remaining 65 laps, he stormed through the field with terrific pace, climbing as high as fourth. While a late water leak forced Mercedes to slow him down and cost him that fourth position at the finish, Hamilton had looked like his usual elite self for the first time all season.

But as Mercedes continued to throw everything they could to improve their car, it seemed the W13 only got more uncomfortable to drive. Back-to-back street circuits in Monaco and Azerbaijan caused the car to bottom out so brutally that Hamilton described his drive to fourth in Baku as his most painful race. Another round of experimental set-ups in Montreal practice were described as “a disaster” by Hamilton, but he led Russell home in the race, taking third to secure his second podium finish of the season.

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As Mercedes made gradual gains with its W13, Hamilton led a race for the first time this year on home ground (Russell already had in Spain). For the first time, he looked in with a genuine, but slim, chance of fighting for the win, inheriting the lead in the pit stop cycle before the late Safety Car. After a thrilling three-way scrap with Sergio Perez and Charles Leclerc, Hamilton passed the Ferrari to take a second consecutive podium in third.

A clash with Alonso at Spa was avoidable
Hamilton had put a shaky start to the season behind him and was now in the midst of a streak of podiums. He bounced back from crashing in qualifying at the Red Bull Ring to climb up to third, then followed Max Verstappen home to take second at Paul Ricard – his best finish of the year to date. He repeated that feat in Hungary to head into the summer break still down in sixth position but well in touch of Russell and Carlos Sainz Jnr ahead.

But arriving back in Spa, Mercedes were not in the same league as Ferrari and Red Bull. A misjudgement at the start saw Hamilton drive into Fernando Alonso, bouncing his car into the air and causing his first retirement of the season. In Zandvoort, Mercedes’ pace was so much more competitive that Hamilton found himself back in the lead of a race for only the fourth time all season. But after Verstappen, Russell and Charles Leclerc pitted under a late Safety Car, all three passed him after the restart.

While his form had improved with his car, Hamilton was not infallible over the final part of the season. His race in a wet Singapore was messy, skidding off into the barriers pursuing Sainz and breaking his front wing. In Japan, he spent 16 laps stuck behind Esteban Ocon’s Alpine – a car he would have expected to finish ahead of by this stage in the championship – taking the chequered flag in fifth less than a second behind him.

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With only a handful of races remaining, Mercedes and Hamilton’s opportunities to take a win were running low. He fought immensely hard to challenge Verstappen in the United States but had to settle for second after Verstappen caught him with seven laps remaining. While Hamilton followed the world champion home a week later in Mexico, Verstappen had just been too fast for him to do anything about it.

(L to R): Lewis Hamilton; George Russell, Mercedes, Interlagos, 2022
He had to settle for second to Russell in Brazil
But then came Brazil. After accepting Brazilian citizenship in an extraordinary parliamentary ceremony before the weekend, Hamilton thrilled his new home fans by holding second place at the start of the grand prix behind Russell. But when Verstappen attacked him after the Safety Car restart, the two rivals inevitably collided, causing damage to his car. Despite the shunt, Hamilton fought back to reclaim second behind his team mate to have a genuine shot of battling him for a race win over the final ten laps of green flag racing. Russell held his nerve and Hamilton could only follow his team mate home, still securing Mercedes’ long-awaited first win of the year with a one-two finish.

Hamilton ended his most disappointing season for years with an underwhelming display in Abu Dhabi. He should have qualified higher than fifth but made an error in his final lap, then held onto the place by cutting a chicane, having to eventually be told to return the position laps later. While running fourth in the closing laps, his race and season ended four laps short with a hydraulics problem. Finally, he no longer had to race the W13 again.

While so much of Hamilton’s early difficulties could be put down to his team throwing everything and the kitchen sink into finding a solution for their car’s problems, he was still matched and beaten by his brand new team mate more often than many would have expected from a driver of the calibre of Hamilton. However, he showed he is still the same great driver as ever through the second half of the season.

With Mercedes now right back in the battle at the front, his rivals better be ready to fight against him far more frequently in 2023.

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Will Wood
Will has been a RaceFans contributor since 2012 during which time he has covered F1 test sessions, launch events and interviewed drivers. He mainly...

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57 comments on “2022 F1 driver rankings #6: Lewis Hamilton”

  1. Shocking. Despite getting lesser points than Russell, I wouldn’t rate his performances lower than Russell’s. He had the potential to win the British GP, along with a half chance of winning at Hungary and Zandvoort. He looked far more punchy son raceways than Russell.. and could have finished with a whole lot more points if a couple of things went his way.

    1. *punchy on racedays

      1. Agreed. Russell had luck on his side, which is an obvious advantage.

        1. Yep that’s right, as did Lewis for 7years straight.

    2. If and when both Hamilton and Russell are in a top car, and Russell beats Hamilton, that is when I will believe Russell is a better driver. Until then I will stay of the opinion that Hamilton is a very clean and fast driver and Russell is a fast but a chancer driver. Most of his successful overtakes would have been crashes if the driver in front hadn’t gotten out of the way. Take the first one in Bahrain Outer Circle 2021 on Bottas for example. That was a close crash IMO if Bottas hadn’t chosen to avoid it, and Russell is already guilty of causing many major crashes whilst trying to overtake. He’s a chancer.

  2. This is one of the worst Racefans rankings I have ever seen. I believe Hamilton was the stronger performer between him and Russell. But hard to argue this is probably one of if not his worst season ever. Especially he had a couple of weekends in Jeddah and Imola which was shockingly bad. His race in Baku wasn’t very good either. It took ages for him to catch up and pass Gasly while George was running comfortably ahead. However all of this came in the early part of the season when Mercedes had porposing issues.

    1. Been there since ’09. It is the worst Racefans ranking. The site wants so much be different to the drivers standings that it completely binned it.

      1. The first rating that put me off was Perez above Sainz. Perez had a better season than 2021 for sure. But he was completely dominated by Verstappen. And Sainz even with 6 DNF’s to Perez’s 3 finished only 62 points behind Leclerc while Perez was 149 points behind Verstappen. Then this rating is so bizzare. Just going by qualifying(13-9) Hamilton was a stronger driver than Russell. He was even better on raceday. The gap between them was larger than the gap between Ocon and Alonso in qualifying(11-9). So I don’t know how you can justify Ocon being 8th and Hamilton being 6th. With Alonso being nowhere to find. If you squeeze Hamilton into the gap between Alonso and Ocon which they have done here, that instantly makes it a “must” that Russell should be rated below Ocon.

        Simply if Alonso had a better season than Hamilton. Ocon had a better season than Russell period.

      2. Not “0.5”?! He’s NIGHT, man!

    2. I think you guys are missing the point that this is a SEASON RATING. It is not a rating based his career. Look at the results. Lewis’s very young teammate scored more points than him. Lewis did not win a single race. Lewis did have a much better second half of the season, which just happened to be when his teammate won the race. I probably would have put Lewis a bit higher but not by much. You may disagree with the rating but it certainly isn’t completely ludicrous.

      1. Jup this season he did not show much at the start. His finish to the season was strong, I think that is probably what has stuck in the writers opinion.

    3. Malith, you are correct in your assesment of this ranking. Obviously, a typo, as they neglected to put a “1” in front of the “6””.

    4. Not his worst season. Not even close. 2011 was his worst. Hamilton did explainable, dumb and mostly inexcusable errors in 2011. In 2022 he wasn’t bad actually. Just that he was not really motivated to compete so he’s was way too conservative until around mid-season. Even in Brazil he should have attacked Russell harder, but didn’t.

  3. I would have Lewis Hamilton above George Russell (and Fernando Alonso, but only just). I suppose the reason he is behind is because he had more low points. His drives in Jeddah and Imola were woeful, even if they were with trial setups, while in Spa he took himself out by driving into Alonso and in Singapore he made two poor mistakes and ended up ninth. But Russell was also pretty terrible in Singapore and in Silverstone, where he took himself and Zhou out, and was also responsible for quite a few other incidents during the season such as with Perez in Austria and Sainz in Austin.

    And Hamilton was faster than Russell. He was slower in the first half of the season, apparently because he was trialling different setups, but was unlucky to finish behind him in Australia and in Miami with poorly-timed safety cars. And he had far more potential wins lost. Silverstone a particularly strong drive in which he might have won without the late safety car. In Hungary he charged to second in the final stint and might have won without the problems in qualifying. In Spain he was as fast as Verstappen over the race distance after the Magnussen incident. In France he almost took the lead through the safety car for Leclerc’s crash and might have held off Verstappen. In Zandvoort he was set for a great battle with Verstappen, which I think he would have won, when Tsunoda needlessly stopped on track and brought out the VSC. In both Austin and Mexico he had a genuine chance to win had Mercedes used the strategy that Red Bull did, and in Brazil he was faster than Russell and I think he would have won without the incident with Verstappen.

    Overall, it was a poor season for Hamilton, although better than 2011, but he was extremely unlucky not to win a race and was close on many occasions, far more than Russell. I think he will be back stronger next year and fight Verstappen for the championship, although the two will be involved in many incidents.

    1. Robert Henning
      19th December 2022, 16:08

      Hamilton holding off and fighting Verstappen for a win is a good thing to dream about.

      Taking races such as France, Zandvoort, Austin and Mexico and believing he had a chance is hilarious at best and delusional at worst.

      1. Zandvoort he’s talking about the events before any SC at all, they were on different strategies, hamilton ahead and managing his gap I believe, ofc after the VSC and the SC he had no chance to keep verstappen behind, the only realistic chance was with a SC free race.

      2. And definitely in mexico the race was lost at start, with the choice of tyres.

  4. Can’t disagree with this ranking, I had Hamilton at six in my personal rankings as well (with the same top five).

    Obviously a bit of recency bias on display, for those thinking he should have ranked ahead of Russell. His failure to get to grips with the more difficult iterations of the W13 in the first part of the season really count against him – a multiple world champion should have done better, frankly.

    1. @red-andy

      He seemed on it and better than Russell from the Biritsh GP onwards. But that doesn’t seem to factor in the rankings either. If Lewis is 6th, I can’t see Russell any higher than 5th. Which means both Fernando and Norris are ahead of him in the rankings…. which also seems way off to me.

      Honestly, this season’s driver ratings are the worst I’ve come across. Ocon at #8 and Hamilton at #6?!?! How can there be just such a small difference between a mediocre driver who achieved a season best finish of P5 and Hamilton, who was probably the 2nd best race day driver on the grid.

      1. Fernando being in the top 5 is a bit of a joke but there is a long history of him getting a free pass.

        1. @slowmo

          I’m a huge Fernando fan.. and I would still rate him only at #6 this year. He did make some driver errors, and he wasn’t always maximising his performance on Saturdays.

          But then again these ratings are so ridiculous.. that if Ocon is rated #8… then I think Alonso has a good shot for #3.

          1. @todfod It’s just someone’s opinion isn’t it and a bit of fun. Hamilton isn’t going to lose sleep over the ranking and if he wins next year he’ll be number 1 again. In the grand scheme of things I’d have Verstappen, Norris, LeClerc as top 3 then the next 3 are Hamilton, Russell and Alonso. At the best Hamilton is only one or two places behind where I’d have ranked him.

        2. Ahah, I remember the site being called alonso fanatic back when it was called f1 fanatic whenever alonso got a good ranking! I’d have placed him 6th in this case, I’m guessing norris will be 3rd, so the only question remains if they put alonso inbetween the mercedes drivers, I think I would find it less strange to have russell 4th than alonso.

    2. Never subscribed to the common perception that Hamilton was slower to adapt to the W13 then his teammate. The bottom line is Hamilton was the more desparate of the two drivers. Whilst Russell had swapped his Williams for a Merc Hamiltons focus was to get the a dud car back to the front as quickly as possible before too much ground was lost in an expected title fight. Getting comfortable with a car that couldnt win wasn’t on the agenda.

  5. I rated Vettel this year higher then Lewis. So 6th is a bit undeserved.
    He made lots of mistakes, (spa, Baku, singapore etc.) did not got used to the car handling and was beaten by his unexperienced brandnew teammate. (as far as the merc team goes)
    So its probably his stature of world champion that saved him in this ranking.

  6. Hamilton’s season is almost impossible to rank because we don’t know to what extent the stories about him ‘testing’ things in the first half of the season are true, and/or had a significant effect on his performance. After all, not all tests are by definition worse than the baseline, so it becomes very difficult to say how well Hamilton did in those races.

    What’s more clear is that in the second half of the season he was more often than not the faster and more competitive of the two Mercedes drivers, despite some silly moves and choices between the races in Belgium, Singapore and Brazil.

    If Mercedes can run both cars in the same manner next season, I have little doubt Hamilton will come out on top.

    1. The Hamilton testing theory has been widely debunked l, not least by Russell.

      1. Not that I’ve seen.

      2. Was GR not again contradicted by his team in the end of season debrief video? believe it came out about a week or two ago, Shovlin and Vowles go on about it for a good min or two. https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=1&v=gK1u33A2D1w&feature=emb_logo&ab_channel=Mercedes-AMGPetronasFormulaOneTeam

        Ohh yes, the date uploaded 11 days ago… nearlly two weeks after GRs interview?

        One of them is telling porkies, i highly doubt its all of Toto, Shovlin, LH, and Vowles. Plus GR did confirm it earlier in the season too, believe it was silverstone.

  7. So top 5 is the best driver of each of the 5 best teams.

  8. Hamilton was overall faster than Russell, but more unlucky, more passive relative to pit calls and a bit more reckless (7 world titles in a car not getting anywhere, why shouldn’t he?) but its definitely correct that he was better than Perez and Sainz. Maybe even Alonso too, who was great, but i already see he being rated way too high again.

  9. Anybody suggesting Lewis should be ranked higher than George needs their meds. Yes he was trialing certain parts and set ups in the early races……. but he is supposedly the GOAT, and should have driven round those problems. George was more consistent over the whole season, so this ranking feels about right.

    1. He should have driven around the experimental parts and setups he was using to improve the car? Like he did when he was faster in most races on pure pace? The Strats just didn’t work in his favour not too much he could do about that. George got all the luck this year mad to argue otherwise.

    2. I agree. First of all this testing narrative has indeed been widely debunked as Cronies mentions above. So what remains is his supposed goat level. Have seen little to none of it this season.

  10. The only way to see this rationally is to judge Lewis by his own standards. Otherwise, this is a robot-generated ranking.

  11. Could anyone tell what he did better than PER or SAI to be rated higher ? His struggles in the beginning of the year were remarkably negative. He had fine performances later but nothing I remember to be memorable. He finished well behind his teammate and rightly so (unlike the OCO-ALO situation). We can’t say that RUS is still at the level of VER or even LEC, so being behind RUS by some margin should place him below this current rating.

    I am not going to defend either PER or SAI. Both disappointed I think. But overall they put better displays throughout the year (and more consistently) than HAM.

    1. Hamilton was faster than Sainz on numerous occasions on an inferior car as early as Spain.
      Was faster than Sainz even at Silvertone, the overtake was a matter of time when the safety car happened and changed the outcome of that race.
      Was ahead at the final race when the car failed and could even lose that place to Sainz that he would still finish ahead at the standings.

      Hamilton wasn’t worse than Sainz this year by any means.

      1. Thanks Edvaldo. I agree that SAI wasn’t as good. I don’t buy that he improved during the last part of the season. He was consistently off the pace during the race (good in qualifying only). But PER ? Still below HAM ? I don’t see it. I’d put RUS, PER, HAM in that order.

        1. Perez had the best car and couldn’t do much of note with it. He should have been in second place at most races and he wasn’t. Hamilton had the third best car and was regularly putting it on the podium. I don’t think this was a great year for Hamilton, but he was definitely better than Perez.

          1. Even comparing Hamilton with Perez is ridiculous imo.

          2. Malith, why is it ridiculous comparing HAM to PER for purposes of rating them in the 2022 season? Are they not both F1 drivers the race in all the 2022 races? Weren’t both beaten by their respective teammates? One key difference. HAM started as the nominal first driver of his team and ended up being the second. PER started well as the second driver and ended up being the second. This is significant because the development of the car goes normally in the direction of the first driver (which I think it is only normal and correct in the circumstances). PER disappointed, yes, but HAM is to me one of the greatest disappointments of the season. He couldn’t match his own teammate and had lamentable performances, especially at the beginning of the year.

    2. Could anyone tell what he did better than PER or SAI to be rated higher ?

      Hamilton was a contender for more race wins than Sainz despite being in a Mercedes, see: https://www.racefans.net/2022/11/23/how-many-victory-chances-did-hamilton-have-in-his-first-winless-f1-season/

      Pérez was in a Red Bull, and Verstappen showed what that car could do.

    3. Robert Henning
      19th December 2022, 16:11

      One thing I realized with Hamilton is people believing that he can magically find pace out of thin air.

      He is not rated over a season but only his highs, as if he’s a rookie whose potential we are trying to rate.

  12. Shocking rating. He was faster than Russell all season, sacrificed half his season with running experimental parts and setups and still was putting in performances better than Russells in race trim but was getting the bad end of the stick with luck. He’s absolutely in the top 3 this year. To say otherwise is to be utterly blind to reality.

  13. Spot on. I haven’t seen the rest of the rankings, but I assume the top 5 are Verstappen, Leclerc, Russell, Norris and Alonso. Hamilton should slot in right behind those. I’m sure he’ll do better if Mercedes have a competitive car next season. After 8 straight championship contending seasons, you can’t expect him to really dig deep just to lead the midfield.

  14. Lewis Hamilton’s worst season would make many drivers envious. He’s won me over with how he has dealt with this season. No matter the specific ranking, it was good to watch him respond to adversity this year.

    1. Robert Henning
      19th December 2022, 21:23

      I’ll retire the car if I were you, guys.

      Hamilton coping with adversity has been an immensely interesting experience to say the least.

      1. And then brought it home 5th, after yelding 4th on the last lap due to issues on the car.

        Your other post mentions people only looking at Hamilton’s highlights, but it looks like you’re doing the exact opposite.

        1. If I recall that was spain, where he was hit by magnussen early on and recovering from the back, probably the first race with a good car performance.

  15. Seems correct.

    The top five should be Ver, Alo, Rus, Lec and Nor.

    1. The top five should be Ver, Alo, Rus, Lec and Nor.

      That’s your nominations for #5, #4, #3, #2,#1 respectively then?

      1. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

        1. I would be very surprised if it ends in this order, I’d say verstappen, leclerc, norris, russell, alonso.

  16. It is difficult to argue against a rating of 6th for one of the best drivers on the grid when they finished the season 6th in the WDC, but it was with a hobbled car. Nevertheless, I rate Lewis higher than this. Of course, that leaves us with who I would put in 6th place instead. I feel it would be wrong to point a finger at any of those who haven’t been ranked so far, doing that feels unjust, and I’d want to put one or two more drivers in the top 5, meaning I’d end up with maybe 8 or 9 drivers in the Top 5 … which isn’t possible. As I look at those who remain to fill in the Top 5 I feel their being placed here is on merit. So, sorry Lewis, but I think you’re going to have to be placed 6th. I do hope Mercedes give you a better car next season.

  17. This season proved the so called GOAT is sometimes invincible without the best car. If he can’t make a difference with the 3rd best car what hope does the midfielders have against the top 3 cars?

  18. Superb in a great car, average in an average car – tale as old as time with F1.

    His spirited drives in Silverstone and USA were great but his negativity and amateur dramatics in Baku and Spa reminded everyone that when he gets a bad deal he’s often a bit of a spoilt brat.

    Sorry Lewis but the new guys are in town and, just like with all the previous GOATs, you’re going to get beaten.

  19. 6th, I don’t know if I’d say this is a fair ranking. Then again, where should he be ranked?

    However, people who are ranking George’s season below Hamilton’s, why?

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