Roger Diez: 2022 racing season wraps up

Roger Diez

Roger Diez

With the fall of the checkered flag on last Sunday’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, the 2022 racing season is a wrap. Max Verstappen had the car to beat and took both pole and the race win, taking his season total to 15 and the drivers’ championship.

His Red Bull teammate Sergio Perez couldn’t catch Charles Leclerc, however, giving the Ferrari driver second in the drivers’ title race by three points, 308 to 305. Mercedes’ George Russell was fourth with 275 and Leclerc’s teammate Carlos Sainz scored 246 points for fifth. Hydraulic issues sidelined Lewis Hamilton late in the race, leaving him six points behind Sainz for sixth. Red Bull dominated the constructors’ championship by more than 200 points over Ferrari, which had a 29-point gap to third place Mercedes. No other team was even close to the top three.

The Abu Dhabi race also was the swan song for Sebastian Vettel who is retiring from F1 after stints with Red Bull, Ferrari, and Aston Martin and four world championships. Daniel Ricciardo, Mick Schumacher, and Nicholas Latifi are also out of a ride for next season, but in the mix for reserve driver spots. Teams have already designed their 2023 cars and will soon have prototypes in the wind tunnel if they haven’t already. Red Bull may not have the advantage next year that they enjoyed in 2022, as their wind tunnel time has been seriously curtailed as part of their penalty for exceeding the 2021 spending cap. If Mercedes can capitalize on their late-season pace next year, we could see a much more competitive fight between them, Red Bull, and Ferrari next season.

Looking ahead to 2023, Formula 1 has its most aggressive schedule ever, with 24 races between March 12 and Nov. 20 including three in the U.S.

I’m looking forward to the inaugural Las Vegas Grand Prix, and I’m going to hold Appeal Editor Adam Trumble to his promise to apply for a press credential for the event. NASCAR will have its usual 36 points races plus the Busch Clash and the All-Star race. The season-opening Clash is on Feb. 5 and the Championship Round at Phoenix is Nov. 5. The NTT IndyCar series has 17 races on their schedule beginning March 5 at St. Petersburg and ending Sept. 10 at Laguna Seca. And the NHRA ‘s 21-race season starts March 12 with the Gainesville FL Gatornationals and ends Nov. 12 at Pomona.

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The NASCAR Cup series is back at the Los Angeles Coliseum for the second year, kicking off the season with the Busch Clash. They are also expanding their repertoire to include street racing with downtown Chicago as their first venture. It will also be the second season for the Next Gen car, with safety enhancements in the works that will hopefully reduce driver injuries and eliminate spontaneous combustion. The new car got mixed reviews from drivers, teams, and fans in 2022, but seemed to level the playing field given that 15 drivers won races to earn a playoff berth.

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Now that there’s no racing to watch on TV, I wanted to share something I just discovered. Apparently, there’s a sport involving two teams with 11 players each and an oval-shaped brown ball. And you can watch it on your TV almost any time during the holidays. So if by some odd circumstance you missed seeing it on Thanksgiving, you can spend all day today and Sunday watching it. It’s not racing, but it will provide some level of entertainment until the Busch Clash comes around on Feb. 5.

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