October 4, 2022

We’ve had 13 exciting rounds of racing with this new era of Formula 1 hardware, but what are the strengths and weaknesses of each team’s cars? F1 technical expert Mark Hughes weighs the pros and cons of the 10 cars on the 2022 grid, from the Red Bull RB18 to the Williams FW44.

1.Red Bull

Strengths: Pace, consistency and reliability on race day. In Verstappen’s hands, the RB18 is a devastating tool, fast on all types of circuits and has proven to be very responsive to aerodynamic development.

Weaknesses: It was a late-gestation car, so it had some early-season reliability issues. He doesn’t quite have Ferrari’s explosive qualifying pace and it’s taken around a third of the season to provide him with the stronger front-end balance Verstappen needs to extract the best out of himself. Occasional rear tire deflation problem, like in Austria.

READ MORE: Analysis of Red Bull’s sweeping updates for the British Grand Prix


Red Bull introduced an “extended shelf” section on the RB18 at Silverstone – possibly forming another channel that could speed up rear airflow

2.Ferrari

Strengths: The fastest car of the season so far, as evidenced by Charles Leclerc’s spectacular pole position tally. It has a chassis balance that allows Leclerc to really extract the maximum out of a single qualifying lap – an inherently better balance in this regard than the Red Bull. It is super strong on acceleration and generates a lot of downforce.

Weaknesses: Ferrari made big strides in power units from 2021 and cashed in on the power gains without having fully addressed reliability issues – hence the string of grid penalties, with more likely on the way. The limited trails up front also tend to bring out some overwork susceptibility to its outside front tire.

READ MORE: Could this F1 2022 design trend explain these strange rotations for Leclerc and Verstappen?


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Ferrari couldn’t turn qualifying pace into race wins – but their F1-75 is a formidable package

3.Mercedes

Strengths: It generates good downforce in high-speed corners, fully competitive with Ferrari in that territory as long as the track is smooth. Despite his dynamic issues, he can still comfortably overtake the best in midfield and is very good on his tire usage during a race stint, better than Red Bull or Ferrari, although he is usually too far behind to that it matters.

Weaknesses: A very narrow setup window, even after his porpoising/rebounding issues were tamed after Baku. It still handles bumps and curbs very poorly. He struggled to extract the maximum from the tires in a single lap, seriously compromising his performance in qualifying.

READ MORE: The problem Mercedes attacked with its Silverstone upgrade package


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Mercedes stuck with their slim sidepods, adding tie rods to reinforce the floor of their W13

4. Alpine

Strengths: It proved to have a strong aerodynamic platform that allowed for a steady improvement in downforce without the balance being disturbed. It’s reasonably good across a wide range of cornering speeds. The new split turbo PU also proved to be quite powerful and although reliability was not perfect it was better in this respect than Ferrari. Good use of tires in races.

Weaknesses: Still lacks ultimate downforce compared to the top three teams. The reliability of Alonso’s car in particular has been poor.


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Alpine brought redesigned sidepods and a new floor to Silverstone

5.McLaren

Strengths: On low downforce tracks, it seems to have good aerodynamic efficiency, much like its predecessor. He was more immune than most to porpoising. He’s very good at warming up his tires, which helps qualify on tracks where that’s a problem and hides his aerodynamically weak front end in places like Monaco.

Weaknesses: A generally weak front end, both under braking and on corner entry, especially slow corners. The use of tires on a racing relay is not very good. High fuel consumption and old tires can lead to a poor appearance. Not an easy ride, so not consistent.

READ MORE: Why gearbox layout could be key to solving the porpoising puzzle


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McLaren’s MCL36 is effective in low downforce areas, but the car is limited by its weak front end

6. Alfa Romeo

Strengths: He’s quite a versatile performer, capable of being ‘the best of the rest’ against the contrasting demands of Miami and Barcelona. His Ferrari engine gives him a performance edge in midfield. Initially, he had a weight advantage over his rivals.

Weaknesses. That same Ferrari PU also gives it a reliability challenge. The team’s operations throughout testing also caused him to lose a lot of time on the track, often compromising all weekend. He gained weight with development as others shaved him off.

HEAD TO HEAD: How do F1 teammates compare over the summer break?


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Reliability may have overshadowed the Alfa Romeo C42’s potential

7.Haas

Strengths: Ferrari PU and good high-speed downforce performance can make it the fastest car in midfield on occasion.

Weaknesses: It’s less convincing in low-speed corners than at high speed and until Hungary there was almost no performance development, which set it back a bit.

WATCH: Important updates for Haas in Hungary


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Haas brought scalloped pontoons to Hungary as part of a major upgrade

8. Alpha Tauri

Strengths: Slow cornering performance isn’t bad. The mechanical grip gives it a decent chance at tracks like Monaco and Baku (where it has called itself “best of the rest”). Powerful and reliable Honda PU.

Weaknesses: It’s not as aerodynamically competitive as the car of the last two seasons. It lacks downforce at high speeds, especially up front, and can be tricky to set up. The lack of development until France also played its part in their gradual fall further down the grid.

READ MORE: Our editors pick their top three drivers, best performances and biggest shocks of the 2022 season so far


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AlphaTauri provided a major update in France but failed to score for five consecutive weekends

9.Aston Martin

Strengths: There were flashes of promise from the car after it received its major upgrade in Spain. It was briefly potentially an inferior Q3 qualifier but operational difficulties disguised it, especially in Montreal. The new high downforce wing introduced in Hungary is very efficient.

Weaknesses: The car in its original form was sorely lacking in downforce and was badly affected by porpoising. It was improved with its Red Bull-like upgrade, but since a further upgrade at Silverstone the team seems to have taken a wrong turn as it struggled to get out of Q1.

READ MORE: The man behind the runner – Lawrence Barretto gets to know the real Sebastian Vettel


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Aston Martin have interpreted the rules to produce a unique rear wing

10.Williams

Strengths: Since its extensive Silverstone aero upgrade, it has shown better performance in fast corners. In Austria, he qualified 1% faster than his average so far. Generates tire temperature quickly, which helps it especially in wet/mixed track conditions.

Weaknesses: The original sidepod zero concept didn’t work. It lacked downforce, its balance was poor and the mechanical aspects posed further limitations. The car’s ride quality now needs to be improved to take full advantage of the aero upgrade.

ANALYSIS: Why Williams and Albon are staying together for 2023 and beyond


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Williams has opted for a more conventional sidepod design with their latest updates