F1 racing has been rocked by a series of controversial incidents in the 2022 season: from teams violating the regulations to drivers facing disciplinary action for off-track misdemeanors and secret meetings. We gathered all of the hotly debated moments and highlighted the biggest F1 controversy of 2022.
- #1 Race Director Decisions in F1 2022 season
- #2 Disobeying Team Orders
- #3 Oscar Piastri in the epicentere of F1 controversy 2022.
- #4 Red Bull Budget Cap is the biggest F1 controversy of 2022 season
- #5 Mercedes cars' porpoising and Regulation Change
- #6 F1 sprint races: to be or not to be?
- #7 Conversion from 13-inch to 18-inch tires
- #8 F1 no piercing rule: What is wrong with wearing jewellery in Formula 1?
- Controversy was an integral part of F1 2022 season
Controversies in Formula 1 are the engines of progress in terms of popularity. The more hotly debated topics Formula 1 has, the more people around the world are discussing it. Due to this, audiences of all ages are becoming more interested in races.
Enhanced regulations made the F1 2022 season one of the most intriguing for “behind the scenes” performances. A change in the Formula 1 regulations has caused the most stir among both fans and teams.
#1 Race Director Decisions in F1 2022 season
After Abu Dhabi 2021’s roaring finale, former FIA F1 race director Michael Masi was found guilty. Following the controversies between Toto Wolff and Michael Masi, the race director has retired from Formula 1. However, according to official FIA investigation, the decision to continue the battle between Verstappen and Hamilton on the last 1,5 laps of the Abu-Dhabi GP 2021 with lapped cars was human error.
Before that race, with the exception of two or three cases, it was difficult to blame Masi. Yes, it was an awful Belgian Grand Prix in 2021, when the race had been held for about four hours. However, Masi was always on the line to make sure the rules were clear.
After Romain Grosjean’s serious crash at the Bahrain Grand Prix in 2020, he directly assisted in resolving the safety issue. Moreover, he was the first to fly to Saudi Arabia to check Jeddah for safety compliance.
So in 2022, it was decided to replace Michael Masi with already two FIA F1 race directors: Neils Wittich and Eduardo Freitas, with Herbie Blash as Permanent Senior Advisor.
Because one of the distinguishing traits of Formula 1 is that it races in the rain. However, the decision to delay the start of the Monaco Grand Prix 2022 was highly questionable.
Similarly, the directors delayed the start of the Japanese Grand Prix 2022 only to stop the race a few corners in after an accident occurred.
Again it happened in Singapore, as the race was delayed because the track was deemed “too wet.”
Besides, there was a ban on messages between team and race direction.
#2 Disobeying Team Orders
No one Formula 1 season has been held without team orders, still causing the biggest stir among F1 fans. Red Bull and their drivers are the subject of the case.
In Sao Paulo, Max Verstappen’s engineer Gianpiero Lambiase asked Max to surrender his position so that Sergio could have two extra points in the championship battle with Leclerc. To which Verstappen vehemently responded, “I told you already last summer—you guys don’t ask that again to me, ok? Are we clear about that? I gave my reasons and I stand by it.”
Millions of F1 fans, as well as his teammate Sergio Perez, questioned his direct response. When it became clear that Verstappen wouldn’t concede the position, Perez responded by pointing out that he helped Verstappen win the championship last year by holding up Lewis Hamilton in the late stages of the final race at Abu Dhabi.
Moreover, there was plenty of speculation that Perez had spun on purpose during qualifying on Monaco Grand Prix. This was so that he would get the preferred strategy over Verstappen.
However, Perez continued to race alongside Verstappen in 2023 Formula 1 season.
#3 Oscar Piastri in the epicentere of F1 controversy 2022.
Perhaps this story is the most controversial, since no one is certain about its origins.
Just a few days into the summer break, Fernando Alonso announced that he would be leaving the Alpine and joining Aston Martin to replace retiring Sebastian Vettel. The announcement came as a surprise to everyone especially to Alonso’s team principal Otmar Szafnauer.
This unexpected move set off a chain reaction as Alpine announced that it would be putting its junior driver Oscar Piastri into its race seat for the next season.
Although the move sounded like a dream come true for Piastri, the announcement came out during sleeping hours in Piastri’s home country of Australia. So as soon as Piastri saw the statement, he countered the team announcement. He defently declined by stating that he would not be driving for Alpine in 2023. Moreover, the spicy added fact that it was Mark Webber who had been the Piastri manager who heated the tension, attracting the attention to his ward.
As it turned out, Piastri had already signed to drive for McLaren in 2023. A legal dispute erupted regarding the enforceability of the competing contract. Eventually, an arbitration panel ruled that Piastri could sign with McLaren, while Alpine was forced to leave with nothing.
#4 Red Bull Budget Cap is the biggest F1 controversy of 2022 season
The most loud controversy in F1 2022 season became the Red Bull budget cap “saga”. Thus, after weeks of speculation, it finally surfaced that Max Verstappen won his first World Driver’s championship after his team went over the budget cap by almost $2 million, which equates to a 1.4 percent overage!
The internet community erupted as many people called for the FIA to take the championship back from the team. As a result, the Red Bull F1 team was fined $7 million and reduced by 10 percent over the next 12 months.
#5 Mercedes cars’ porpoising and Regulation Change
The 2022 regulations brought back the use of ground effects to create downforce in F1. The sweeping new regulations aimed to close the gap between all the teams in the field and aid in creating less “dirty air” to help with passing other cars.
As a result of these ground effects, the car bounced at high speeds, resulting in “porpoising.”. As the results it creates vertical G-forces in Formula 1.
That was the Mercedes team, however, whose drivers struggled most with their cars’ porpoising. Lewis Hamilton often complained about back pain after racing, as we watched many times. This is how we got into this F1 controversy in 2022.
As a result of the outcry from Mercedes drivers and their customer teams who were spouting that there was a risk to driver health and safety, the FIA released a technical directive. It changed the way in which the FIA measured the floor plank and put an emphasis on the amount of porpoising allowable during a race weekend.
Therefore, from the Belgium Grand Prix Mercedes increased the pace. Remarkably it didn’t play a key role, as Mercedes didn’t have enough pace against Red Bull at the time.
#6 F1 sprint races: to be or not to be?
The F1 sprint qualifying format debuted at Silverstone in 2021. There were three sprint races in the 2021 season: the British GP, the Italian GP and the Brazilian GP at Sao Paulo. We have a full guide on what is a F1 sprint that you can also read. The 100km race brought a new level of brilliance without pit stops and tire changes.
On the other hand, the print race was the biggest F1 controversy 2022, as it meant a higher risk for the driver and for every team. As a result, in the sprint race in Monza, many drivers faced a laborious task. They comlined that it was impossible to avoid risks in the sprint, which was worth the team a tidy sum. Sometimes it can be more than the insured $75,000 crash payment.
Mercedes, Red Bull and Ferrari claimed their cars would take place in six sprint races, but with extra money on top of the budget cap, at £103m per team.
Unwilling to accommodate those financial demands FIA Formula 1 decided that the previously increased number of sprints from three to eight for the 2022 season was reduced to six.
#7 Conversion from 13-inch to 18-inch tires
The new era in Formula 1 implies a completely updated look for F1 cars. It was decided to switch from 13-inch Pirelli tires to 18-inch Pirelli tires for the stylish and aggressive look of F1 cars. As a result, it caused a new controversy in F1 2022.
The 18-inch Pirelli tires added a real fresh look and increased the average speed of the F1 car. But, the drivers and teams faced problems with it. Sebastian Vettel noted that big tires make visibility at the front came difficult. Moreover, new 18-inch Pirelli tires meant that their previously collected data on 13-inch tires went to the bin. It would not be an enormous loss for first-teams such as Mercedes, Red Bull or Scuderia Ferrari, but it would have a negative impact on Hass, Williams and Alfa Romeo.
#8 F1 no piercing rule: What is wrong with wearing jewellery in Formula 1?
It is impossible to explain why wearing jewellery in F1 season 2022 caused a stir. However, ahead of the Australian GP, race director Niels Wittich reminded us that some of the current F1 drivers still wear jewelry while driving.
Of course he mentioned Lewis Hamilton, and Wittich wasn’t the only one who noted that. Journalists and fans had seen Hamilton with his piercings. The updated rule states that each driver in Formula 1 should remove jewellery and precious metals for safety reasons. “The wearing of jewellery in the form of body piercings or metal neck chains is prohibited during competition and may therefore be checked before the start.” The main reason is that piercing has the additional risks during the F1 cars is on fire.
The FIA President Mohammed Ben Sulayem already said that Hamilton will be fined if he does not comply. In fact, it was Pierre Gasly who violated the disciplinary rules first. The AlphaTauri driver is religious and wears religious attributes while racing.
Former F1 driver Romain Grosjean knows very well how dangerous fire can be. His car was in the fire trap for 20 seconds at the Bahrain Grand Prix 2020. He has a special feeling about his wedding ring, which symbolizes protection and comforts him. Grosjean respects the F1 ban on piercing and jewellery, but he doesn’t agree to racing without his wedding ring. In spite of the fact that he is racing in Indycar, his ring will always be with him.
Lewis Hamilton was allowed to wear jewelry at the end of the season. Perhaps in the FIA they understood it was useless to restrict Hamilton, as he has more than a lot of piercing.
Controversy was an integral part of F1 2022 season
It’s difficult to imagine that the entire world would have written so loudly about Formula 1 ten or fifteen years ago. Winners used to make headlines. Michael Schumacher was like a real baron. Kimi Raikkonen made the loudest stories. Nobody would have imagined that today’s F1 drivers would lead all these headlines directly.
Every action at the Grand Prix under the gaze of millions of spectators has its consequences and can become another F1 controversy. With the broad discussions and different viewpoints, Formula 1 is forced to develop. As a result, we see changes in regulations, other actions and new controversies. It is a continuous process, but it is a development process.
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