Is the F1 Championship a foregone conclusion?

ZANDVOORT, NETHERLANDS - SEPTEMBER 04: Race winner Max Verstappen of the Netherlands and Oracle Red Bull Racing celebrates on the podium during the F1 Grand Prix of The Netherlands at Circuit Zandvoort on September 04, 2022 in Zandvoort, Netherlands. (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)

Interest in Formula 1 continues to grow. With existing enthusiasts more engaged and new fans falling in love with the sport, viewing figures are going through the roof.

As a result, many bookmakers are also seeing a rise in the number of wagers being placed on F1 markets, including individual Grands Prix and the two championships. This has also been helped by the huge array of free bets that are available for use on these types of wagers, often with no requirement to make a deposit first.

Through last year, we saw some of the tightest odds in F1 history. Lewis Hamilton finally had a challenge for the title from the much younger and scrappier Max Verstappen. They traded blows on the track and swapped places in the points table time and time again.

And then, just to top it all off, the championship went down to the wire, with the winner decided on the final lap.

So with new rules being introduced for the start of 2022 designed to mix things up and help promote better racing, F1 fans’ hopes were high that we’d be treated to another nail-biting battle that would remain unpredictable right until the last round of the season.

The season got off to a good start

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In just the first race weekend, the Mercedes of Hamilton and Russell were struggling to match their dominant pace of recent years, the Red Bulls of Verstappen and Perez looked fast but suffered from reliability problems, and Ferrari were back on top with a one-two finish.

The Italian and Austrian teams spent the following few races leapfrogging each other, before Verstappen took the lead in the championship. Since then, he’s only been off the podium once, a seventh place finish at the British Grand Prix after picking up damage mid-race.

And despite rumors that Red Bull would suffer at the hand of mid-season rule changes aimed at preventing bouncing, the opposite appears to have happened.

So, with the European season over and a jam packed schedule of flyaway races now on the cards, is the 2022 Formula 1 World Drivers Championship now a foregone conclusion?

Max, Max, Super Max

BUDAPEST, HUNGARY - AUGUST 01: Max Verstappen of Netherlands and Red Bull Racing fans show their support before the F1 Grand Prix of Hungary at Hungaroring on August 01, 2021 in Budapest, Hungary. (Photo by Peter Fox/Getty Images)

As the lyrics of that annoyingly catchy Dutch song go: “he goes to the top, Max is the number one”. That’s certainly been the case in recent Grands Prix events, where we’ve seen Verstappen start from deep into the pack due to engine penalties and just breeze past everyone to take a comfortable lead from which he can control the race.

Red Bull have appeared able to bring upgrades to their car that has made it even faster than it was at the beginning of the season. The team really are at the top of their game and don’t don’t seem to be able to put a foot wrong.

Combine that with the fact that Max ended the Italian Grand Prix with a 116-point lead, with six races to go, and he’s in a very strong position.

The Flailing Horse

2022 Imola grand prix f1 leclerc shunt crash accident spin

Ferrari showed so much promise in the early part of this season, but a series of blunders in just about every possible area have resulted in the team losing valuable points. So much so, the famous horse looked more like it was flailing than prancing.

Primary title contender, Charles Leclerc, has been badly let down by his team over the season. They have continually surprised and impressed the entire sport with just how frequently they’ve managed to one-up themselves in making terrible strategic decisions during a race.

One of the most notable of these failings was at Hungary when the red team pitted the wrong car, at the wrong time, and put on the wrong tires, forcing Leclerc to have to make an additionally costly pit stop, losing the race and finishing sixth.

To top it off, Ferrari appear to have failed to keep pace with Red Bull in the development race. In fact, in a recent video, The Race argued that the team may have accidentally made it slower.

As the only realistic challengers to Verstappen and Red Bull, Ferrari and Leclerc are going to have to do something special to turn the tide in the final six Grands Prix.