Sebastian Vettel, Aston Martin, Bahrain International Circuit, 2022

Helmet rows, hot mics and more forgotten motorsport stories from 2022

2022 F1 season

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The 2022 Formula 1 season was full of drama on track and in the paddock, some of it leftover from the previous year’s controversies.

With all that going on, it was easy to overlook some of the strange and surprising stories of the last 12 months.

Red Bull ‘launched’ a show car

Formula 1 car launches always attract huge interest as they can give the first indication of how the teams will compare against each other for the season ahead with any innovative designs. That was especially the case this year as teams produced their first designs for radically new regulations.

Preferring not to give the opposition an early peek at their real RB18, Red Bull instead presented a repainted show car at their launch on February 9th. The real thing, which appeared in testing two weeks later, looked very different.

  • Red Bull presents first images of new car for 2022 F1 season
  • Magnussen’s F1 return has big repercussions

    After losing his Haas seat for 2021, Kevin Magnussen signed to front Peugeot’s return to sportscar racing the year after.

    It was a big-name signing for the brand and sportscar racing as a whole, and Magnussen went all-in with his preparations by doing the Le Mans 24 Hours with his father and embarking on a race-winning campaign in America’s top sportscar series IMSA. He was all ready at the start of 2022 to lead the development of Peugeot’s hypercar when Haas needed a driver and he got the call. Peugeot was then left in need of a replacement driver, and didn’t get to debut its innovative car until July.

    Uralkali’s threat to Haas revealed

    The dramatic pre-season developments at Haas involving the ousting of title sponsor Uralkali and Nikita Mazepin, the son of the company’s owner, overshadowed another notably story involving the team.

    In March the fourth series of Netflix’s F1 docuseries ‘Drive to Survive’ was released, which revealed the pressure Haas was put under by Uralkali during 2021. Mazepin’s father Dmitry threatened to withdraw their backing if his son’s chassis was not swapped with that of his team mate Mick Schumacher.

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    Vettel’s controversial helmets

    Sebastian Vettel's Bahrain pre-season testing helmet, 2022
    A tiny flag led to helmet headache for Vettel
    Aston Martin driver Sebastian Vettel twice changed his helmet design this year after getting into trouble.

    The first instance was at pre-season testing, when the Cyprus Automobile Association (CAA) spotted that in a banner of national flags going around the bottom of Vettel’s helmet there was the flag of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus. The self-declared nation encompasses the annexed northern part of the island, and is only recognised by Turkey. The CAA contacted the FIA, and the flag was removed.

    The second instance occurred at the Canadian Grand Prix, which led to a mid-weekend change of helmet. He had been wearing a helmet helmet bearing the slogans “Stop mining tar sands” and “Canada’s climate crime”. However through the year he did use a “No War” helmet, which included the revised banner of flags.

    • Vettel removes image of disputed flag from “No War” helmet after complaint to FIA
    • Sir Lewis plans a name change

      Lewis Hamilton may have one of the most recognisable names in all of sport, but he started the 2022 season by working on changing that.

      The seven-time F1 world champion revealed that he was trying to incorporate his mother’s birth surname, Larbalestier, into his name and that “it would mean the world to my family”. Later in the year he had another change in personal details to work on, as the government of Brazil made him an honorary citizen. The entry for the 2023 F1 season indicates he will continue to compete under the name Lewis Hamilton.

      • Hamilton changing his name to include mother’s surname, Larbalestier
      • Gasly’s agonised eighth

        Eighth place in the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix ended up being Pierre Gasly’s second-best finish of the season, and probably the most hard fought-for result as he battled through pain to reach the chequered flag.

        “It’s been the most painful last 15 laps of my entire career,” he said after the finish. “I don’t know what’s happened with my intestine, but I was dying inside the car. I was screaming because of pain.”

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        F2 driver penalised for obeying race control

        Hauger slipped up by entering pits
        On the Saudi support bill, a rather unusual situation occurred in Formula 2.

        Dennis Hauger was leading the sprint race when the Safety Car was called for. Race control sent a “SC through pit lane” message, which is usually used to indicate drivers need to go through the pit lane rather than the usual procedure of following the safety car on track. But 22 seconds later, another message announced: “Pit Lane Closed”. The track boards corresponded with the second message, and the Safety Car was on track waiting for the field.

        Hauger’s Prema team claimed they contacted race control repeatedly for clarification, to which the reply was to go through the pit lane. The leader entered the pits alone, a minute after the second message came through, and he returned to track in 12th place. Regardless of the instruction, Hauger had entered a closed pit lane and so earned himself a 10-second stop-go penalty. He finished 16th.

        F1’s newest track damaged by a cleaning machine

        The inaugural Miami Grand Prix suffered a setback when a machine being used to clean the Miami International Autodrome damaged its surface in two places before track action even began.

        The track was patched at turns seven and 17 following the damage, and further repair work was needed at turn 17 after the first two practice sessions. The patchy surface proved a problem for some drivers during the race.

        Both Perez’s wins in doubt

        Perez avoided a penalty which could have cost him Monaco win
        Red Bull’s Sergio Perez and Max Verstappen finished first and third in the Monaco Grand Prix, but that double podium wasn’t official until the stewards had gone through an appeal from Ferrari.

        They claimed that both Red Bull drivers had violated the rules by crossing the pit lane exit line during the race. The stewards deemed winner Perez had not, but Verstappen partly had with his left wheels. However he was deemed to still be within the rules.

        Perez only scored one other win during the season, and on that occasion he also had to wait for the stewards’ deliberations to end before celebrating. This time he picked up a time penalty for falling too far behind the Safety Car, but kept his win over Charles Leclerc.

        • Perez keeps win, Verstappen stays third as stewards reject Ferrari protest
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          Alonso’s Monaco go-slow

          Behind the fight for the Monaco GP win between Ferrari and Red Bull, Alpine’s Fernando Alonso held off Mercedes driver Hamilton for seventh. Hamilton became increasingly impatient at not being able to get past Alonso, whose slow pace meant they finished over half a minute behind sixth place.

          Alonso quipped “that’s not my problem” about Hamilton’s annoyance as he explained the reason behind his puzzling late-race pace.

          Horner admits Masi got it wrong in 2021 Abu Dhabi GP

          The Abu Dhabi row rumbled on through 2022
          The controversial finish to the 2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, instigated by race director Michael Masi not following rules by allowing several cars to unlap themselves and setting up a last-lap battle between title rivals Hamilton and Verstappen, drew the ire of Mercedes boss Toto Wolff straight away. It remained a topic of discussion well into 2022 as the FIA revealed the findings of its investigation and made sweeping changes in the hope of preventing a repeat.

          While Red Bull team principal Christian Horner was consistent in his defence of Verstappen’s success, he did eventually concede Masi had got it wrong.

          Russell’s boo debut

          At the Canadian Grand Prix, George Russell experienced something new in his F1 career: being booed by spectators.

          Russell’s response was saying such behaviour “needs to be stamped out”, and that it was taking “a bit of readjusting” receiving negative attention at grands prix since his move to Mercedes at the start of the year.

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          F2 trio banned

          Three different F2 drivers picked up bans during the course of 2022 for reaching 12 penalty points on their licences. Two of them were left cursing track limit violations which contributed to their totals.

          In the feature race of the season at Bahrain, Olli Caldwell exceeded track limits six times and as a result copped several time penalties, a drive-through penalty and then seven penalty points post-race.

          For the same scale of violation at Imola, Amaury Cordeel was handed five penalty points. He managed to accumulate a further seven points by round six, earning him an automatic race ban for the next event.

          Later in the season Roy Nissany joined the pair in copping a ban, largely for penalties arising from incidents with other drivers.

          • Why are Formula 2 drivers suddenly getting more penalty points – and even bans?
          • Candid quotes caught on camera

            Hamilton was eager to avoid another Copse crash
            Hamilton and Daniel Ricciardo were both caught revealing some interesting details in candidly-caught clips this season.

            In the media pen at the Austrian Grand Prix, Hamilton was heard talking privately to Leclerc about their victory battle in the previous race at Silverstone. “I don’t want to just clip you and send you off,” Hamilton said in reference to an around the outside pass by Leclerc at Copse – an intriguing admission given his clash with Verstappen at the same corner 12 months earlier.

            Meanwhile at the Dutch Grand Prix, 11 days after his early exit from McLaren had been announced, Ricciardo let slip his future plans to Perez. He was caught saying he’ll “take a year off, come back in 2024” in a clip that was then shared to social media. Weeks later, those very plans were officially announced.

            IndyCar’s top dog

            Norman Pagenaud is one of the personalities of the IndyCar paddock, although he’s not a human. The dog of 2016 champion Simon Pagenaud has a social media following and is so widely respected that he can stroll into the hospitality units of other teams in addition to the Meyer Shank Racing squad his owner drives for.

            At the Gateway oval, the four-legged celebrity even attended the autograph session usually only for drivers.

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            Ferrari’s tear-off suspicions

            Charles Leclerc, Ferrari, Spa-Francorchamps, 2022
            Leclerc endured a frustrating weekend at Spa
            Leclerc was forced to make an early pit stop during the Belgian Grand Prix when his front-right brake duct ingested a visor tear-off and it started to overheat.

            Ferrari put blame on Verstappen, who had removed a tear-off on lap one of the race while running just in front of Leclerc as they made their way up the order. The pit stop meant Leclerc could finish no higher than sixth from 15th on the grid, while Verstappen won the race after starting 14th.

            However later analysis of the video suggested the errant tear-off likely came from another driver, most probably Lance Stroll.

            Screen stops play in IndyCar

            While grandstands are the main method for spectators to watch racing at a track, large video screens showing the rest of the lap are also key to the fan experience. At the Grand Prix of Portland, a fault with one of those screens brought a practice session to a halt as it had started to tilt over and became a potential safety hazard.

            Tsunoda falls foul of relaxed rule

            Yuki Tsunoda, AlphaTauri, Monza, 2022
            Five reprimands meant a Monza penalty for Tsunoda
            Before the season began F1 increased the number of reprimands which trigger an automatic grid penalty from three to five. But AlphaTauri’s Yuki Tsunoda still managed to tip the balance, taking his fifth reprimand by driving with loosened seatbelts in the Dutch Grand Prix.

            As it was his fifth reprimand of the season, it copped him a 10-place grid penalty for the Italian Grand Prix. Tsunoda reached Q2 in Italy but didn’t take part as he also had a three-place grid penalty for failing to slow for yellow flags and then further grid penalties for changing power unit elements.

            Grid confusion at Monza

            Tsunoda was one of nine drivers to be handed grid penalties at Monza. This left some of the drivers confused about where they would be starting – at least two of them expected to line up seventh – and eventually led the FIA to issue new guidance on how the starting order is drawn up.

            Only one of the penalised drivers actually served their penalty in full, in a rather unusual situation. Check the story below for the full explanation of how the grid was decided.

            Points confusion at Suzuka

            Two race weekends later there was even more confusion about the implementation of the rules governing F1’s points system when the Japanese Grand Prix only ran to 28 of its scheduled 53 laps.

            New-for-2022 rules meant the winner could earn no more than 19 points for victory if a race ran less than 75% of its intended distance, but this clause wasn’t invoked wasn’t applied as intended in Japan. The situation was further clouded by a post-race penalty for Verstappen’s championship rival Leclerc. After much to-ing and fro-ing, Verstappen was eventually persuaded he had done enough to win the title due to the race finishing with a chequered flag rather than a red one.

            Another E-Prix cancelled

            Formula E should have made its return to Canada this year. Its 2016-17 season ended in Montreal but local opposition preventing further races there and the 2022 season was due to include a race in Vancouver on part of a former IndyCar track.

            However the event promoters and the city council didn’t see eye-to-eye, and the race was postponed to the 2023 season before being cancelled entirely. Documents later came to light highlighting how much of an organisational mess the proposed Vancouver E-Prix had been.

            Domenicali sparks rumours of ‘Caribbean’ race

            Domenicali’s visit to Colombia did not go unnoticed
            In January, Colombian president expressed support for the mayor of Barranquilla Jaime Pumarejo’s desires to build an FIA Grade 1 circuit in the port town. In August, FIA president Muhammed ben Sulayem is quoted on the topic of Colombia hosting an F1 race, then a month later the Barranquilla mayor claims he’s already in talks with F1. The series’ president Stefano Domenicali later visited the town and speculation began to mount around a possible ‘Caribbean Grand Prix’ in the future.

            But even with China being dropped from the 2023 F1 calendar, don’t expect a Colombian race to take its place.

            New names for junior championships

            Continuity isn’t always the best way to create brand recognition, according to these series:

            • Indy Pro 2000: announced in October it will become USF Pro 2000 for 2023. Its initialism of USFP2000 is very similar to USF2000, the series that feeds into it. At the same time, the ‘Road to Indy’ bill that both series run on shed its branding and became the ‘USF Pro Championships’ despite being the road to Indy for most drivers.
            • Indy Lights: Three weeks later, it did something similar. The series above USFP2000, having ‘departed’ the Road to Indy line-up of series for 2022, changed its name to Indy Nxt for 2023. Although the series styles it as ‘INDY NXT’, the new name is actually a stylisation of the word ‘next’ rather than an acronym
            • Formula Regional Asian Championship: Next up was FRAC, which has raced exclusively in the United Arab Emirates since 2021. It decided it will relaunch as Formula Regional Middle East next season as it has two rounds in Kuwait. In its announcement, it said that FRAC will continue to exist and return to racing in South East Asia and China once it is safe to do so.
            • Toyota Racing Series: A month before the start of its 2023 season, the iconic TRS changed name to Formula Regional Oceania and received a boost in superlicence points value from the FIA off the back of it. But it remains a national rather than international series, racing exclusively in New Zealand.

            Bird-strike caps frustrating year for F2 runner-up

            Pouchaire did not get the rub of the green in 2022
            Theo Pourchaire may have finished second in F2 this year, with three feature race wins, but he only scored five points in the final eight races. His season came to end with another luckless blow: He failed to see the chequered flag for a fifth time in 2022 when, for a second time in three race weekends, he struck a bird on the track at speed in the final race of the season. The damage to the internals of his car forced him to retire.

            The Sauber protege is now in limbo with his future after failing to win the title and earn himself an F1 seat.

            Former F1 star Fisichella makes single-seater return

            Giancarlo Fisichella, three-time grand prix winner and Ferrari GT star, ended a 13-year absence from single-seater racing by entering the Tasman Series finale on the Adelaide street circuit earlier this month.

            The 49-year-old made his F1 debut the year Adelaide was replaced by Melbourne, so it marked his first time on the track. Fisichella had been set for his open-wheel return in a S5000 car at the 2020 Australian Grand Prix, before that event was cancelled mid-weekend, and so his Adelaide appearance was also his S5000 race debut. He claimed a best finish of fourth from the weekend’s four races.

            2022 F1 season

            Browse all 2022 F1 season articles

Author information

Ida Wood
Often found in junior single-seater paddocks around Europe doing journalism and television commentary, or dabbling in teaching Photography back in the UK. Currently based...

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One comment on “Helmet rows, hot mics and more forgotten motorsport stories from 2022”

  1. The missile strike next to a racetrack during a GP weekend is also worth a mention!

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