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Ten races that changed the 2022 title fight

SPIELBERG, AUSTRIA - JULY 10: Max Verstappen of the Netherlands driving the (1) Oracle Red Bull Racing RB18 leads Charles Leclerc of Monaco driving the (16) Ferrari F1-75 during the F1 Grand Prix of Austria at Red Bull Ring on July 10, 2022 in Spielberg, Austria. (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images) // Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool.

An in-depth look at how the 2022 Formula 1 championship fight changed in 10 latest races.

April 10th, 2022. Charles Leclerc won the Australian Grand Prix, his second victory of the season. Meanwhile, Max Verstappen retired from the race after a mechanical issue, his second DNF of the year.

Leclerc is 46 points ahead of Verstappen in the Drivers’ Championship and Ferrari are 49 points clear of Red Bull Racing in the Constructors’ Championship. It seemed that Ferrari would keep the momentum going in the upcoming races. However, everything changed from that moment on.

Emilia Romagna Grand Prix

After a difficult start to the season, Verstappen was unreachable at Imola. The Dutchman was the quickest in qualifying, won the Sprint, and triumphed in Sunday’s race with the fastest lap. His teammate Sergio Perez finished second.

Speaking about Ferrari, Leclerc was on the verge of a podium finish but had a spin and finished 7th. Carlos Sainz was stuck in the gravel on the opening lap after a collision and retired from the race.

The gap in the Drivers’ Championship: Leclerc is 27 points ahead of Verstappen.
The gap in the Constructors’ Championship: Ferrari are 11 points ahead of Red Bull.

Miami Grand Prix

Ferrari showed their strong qualifying form by locking out the front row in Miami. The Red Bull drivers were right behind them on the second row. However, it turned out that Verstappen had a better race pace. He overtook Leclerc on lap 9 of 57 and won the race with the Ferrari drivers behind on the podium.

The gap in the Drivers’ Championship: Leclerc is 19 points ahead of Verstappen.
The gap in the Constructors’ Championship: Ferrari are 6 points ahead of Red Bull.

Spanish Grand Prix

It looked as if Leclerc had the victory in the bag after having started from the pole position. However, his car suffered a mechanical issue and he had to retire on lap 28 of 66. Red Bull had a 1-2 finish in the end with Verstappen taking the checkered flag. Sainz finished the race right outside the podium.

Red Bull took over the lead in both championships after that race.

The gap in the Drivers’ Championship: Verstappen is 6 points ahead of Leclerc.
The gap in the Constructors’ Championship: Red Bull are 26 points ahead of Ferrari.

Monaco Grand Prix

Leclerc took the pole position on home soil for the second year in a row and Sainz was 2nd. Perez and Verstappen were 3rd and 4th respectively.

Wet weather became a challenge on Sunday. The positions in the top 4 had not changed since the start. Perez was the first of them to switch to Intermediate tires. Leclerc and Verstappen did the same a lap later, while Sainz stayed out.

The Spaniard pitted on lap 22 and got Hard tires. Surprisingly, Leclerc followed his teammate and got the same compound which meant he had lost the position. After the Red Bull drivers got Hards, Perez was leading with Sainz, Verstappen, and Leclerc behind. They finished the race in that order.

The gap in the Drivers’ Championship: Verstappen is 9 points ahead of Leclerc.
The gap in the Constructors’ Championship: Red Bull are 36 points ahead of Ferrari.

Azerbaijan Grand Prix

Leclerc took his fourth consecutive pole position of the season in Baku. He lost the lead to Sergio Perez at the start. From that moment on, things were getting worse and worse for Ferrari. Sainz stopped outside the track due to an engine issue and retired from the race.

In fact, the Virtual Safety Car was of great help for Leclerc as he had made a pit stop. He inherited the lead after both Verstappen and Perez pitted. Big misfortune struck the Monegasque as he had an engine failure a lap later and was forced to retire.

Red Bull capitalized on Ferrari’s issues as Verstappen and Perez had a 1-2 finish. That result allowed the Mexican to move up to P2 in the standings.

The gap in the Drivers’ Championship: Verstappen is 34 points ahead of Leclerc.
The gap in the Constructors’ Championship: Red Bull are 80 points ahead of Ferrari.

Canadian Grand Prix

The race in Montreal was a damage limitation for Leclerc. The Monegasque got a new power unit after the Azerbaijan GP and began the race from the back of the grid due to having exceeded the limit of used components. Leclerc managed to get to P5.

Carlos Sainz fought Max Verstappen for the win until the end of the race but came up short. The Dutchman converted the pole position into race victory. Meanwhile, Perez had retired from the race.

The gap in the Drivers’ Championship: Verstappen is 49 points ahead of Leclerc.
The gap in the Constructors’ Championship: Red Bull are 76 points ahead of Ferrari.

British Grand Prix

Leclerc and Sainz were going 1-2, while Perez was 4th and Verstappen 8th due to bodywork damage. It seemed like a perfect scenario for Ferrari. Everything changed on lap 39 when Esteban Ocon stopped at the track, triggering the Safety Car.

Ferrari decided to make a pit stop for Sainz only. He got Soft tires and Leclerc stayed out on Hards. Ahead of the restart, the Spaniard was told to make a gap to his teammate. However, he made a pass for the lead moments later and won the race. Leclerc was not able to hold off Perez and Lewis Hamilton and finished the race 4th. Verstappen nursed his car to P7.

After the race, Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto defended Sainz’s actions and stated that the close gap between the drivers did not allow them to make a double-stack pit stop.

The gap in the Drivers’ Championship: Verstappen is 43 points ahead of Leclerc.
The gap in the Constructors’ Championship: Red Bull are 63 points ahead of Ferrari.

Austrian Grand Prix

Verstappen won the Sprint ahead of Leclerc and Sainz, though Ferrari’s race pace looked promising. The Monegasque proved it the next day as he had passed Verstappen on the race track three times to win the race. He retook P2 in the Drivers’ Championship.

Despite Leclerc’s success, Ferrari still had issues. Sainz was chasing Verstappen for P2 in the closing stages but an engine failure put his car on fire. Perez’s retirement earlier in the race was good news for Ferrari, though.

The gap in the Drivers’ Championship: Verstappen is 38 points ahead of Leclerc.
The gap in the Constructors’ Championship: Red Bull are 56 points ahead of Ferrari.

French Grand Prix

Leclerc and Verstappen had a close fight for the lead at the start of the race. However, we did not see the outcome of that battle. The Ferrari driver lost the rear of his car, spun, and hit the barrier.

Verstappen was out of reach for his opponents and was victorious at Le Castellet. Sainz started the race from the rear due to an engine penalty. He had a shot at the podium but crossed the finish line in 5th place.

The gap in the Drivers’ Championship: Verstappen is 63 points ahead of Leclerc.
The gap in the Constructors’ Championship: Red Bull are 82 points ahead of Ferrari.

Hungarian Grand Prix

Ferrari had better starting positions at the Hungaroring compared to Red Bull. Sainz and Leclerc were 2nd and 3rd respectively. Verstappen and Perez were 10th and 11th.

Leclerc jumped Sainz after his first pit stop and eventually overtook George Russell for the race lead.

Later on, Ferrari decided to switch Leclerc from Medium to Hard tires which turned out to be a bad decision. He lost pace and was passed by both Verstappen and Russell. In the end, Leclerc went to the pits again and got Soft tires. He finished the race in P6.

Verstappen won his eighth race of the 2022 season despite a spin earlier.

The gap in the Drivers’ Championship: Verstappen is 80 points ahead of Leclerc.
The gap in the Constructors’ Championship: Red Bull are 97 points ahead of Ferrari.

The situation in both championships totally changed in those 10 races. A combination of different factors did not allow Ferrari to convert the performance of their car into good results. At the same time, Red Bull capitalized on those slip-ups, though they faced issues occasionally as well.

Ferrari have 9 races to catch Red Bull and challenge them. Although there is a lot to work to do, the championship fight still can go the other way around.

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