Hamilton out to surpass Schumacher, Asia's latest hope and another new circuit – the 2022 Formula One season in numbers

By Sports Desk March 18, 2022

Following an eventful, dramatic and – dare we say it – the best Formula One season to date, the 2022 campaign has plenty to live up to.

Lewis Hamilton is going in search of a record eighth world title at the second time of asking after missing out to Max Verstappen on the final lap of the final race in 2021.

Reigning champion Verstappen is himself seeking some personal history this coming campaign, which begins with the Bahrain Grand Prix this weekend.

Ahead of what will hopefully be an equally as gripping season this time around, Stats Perform picks out some of the key numbers.

 

Hamilton narrowly missed out on surpassing Michael Schumacher as F1's most successful driver, though he has not missed out on top spot in successive years since joining Mercedes in 2013.

Should he match his achievement from last year, Red Bull's Verstappen (25 years, two months) would surpass Fernandes Alonso (25y, 2m, 23 days) as the second-youngest multiple world champion, behind only Sebastian Vettel (24y, 3m).

Mercedes may have suffered disappointment last time out, but they still finished top of the constructors' standings for a record-extending eighth time in a row. They are one short of equalling Williams as the second-most successful team, though Ferrari (16) are still well out in front.

In terms of other team milestones, Bahrain will be the 250th GP Mercedes have competed in, while they are six fastest laps away from setting 100. McLaren, meanwhile, are seven podiums from reaching 500 in F1.

Joining Hamilton at Mercedes this season is compatriot George Russell, who along with McLaren's Lando Norris is aiming to become the first Briton other than Hamilton to win a race since Jenson Button in 2012.

Bottas is now at Alfa Romeo and is joined by Guanyu Zhou, who will be China's first ever representative on the grid, making them the 39th country to appear in F1. Indeed, it is the first time three Asian countries will be represented, with Alex Albon (Thailand) and Yuki Tsunoda (Japan) also featuring.

 

Now 14 years on from their most recent constructors' title, Ferrari will equal their worst-such streak – 15 years between 1984 and 1998 – if they again miss out this term.

Carlos Sainz is Ferrari's big hope and he has either matched or bettered his performance from the previous season – both in terms of points and position – over the past six years when racing for just one team.

While his title chances are slim at best, Fernando Alonso has the opportunity to become the driver with the biggest margin between F1 titles of all time, 16 years on from his most recent success. 

Twenty-two events are currently locked in the F1 calendar for this year, with Miami set to become the 77th different circuit used when it hosts its maiden GP in May. It will be the 11th different track used in the United States, which is the most of any country.

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  • NFL Talking Point: What will decide the biggest games of a compelling Week 13 slate? NFL Talking Point: What will decide the biggest games of a compelling Week 13 slate?

    This is the kind of week you dream of as an NFL fan.

    Week 13 is set to serve up a plethora of compelling matchups that will have big implications on how the playoff picture takes shape.

    The NFC favourites the Philadelphia Eagles face a real test of their credentials as they take on the Tennessee Titans.

    Last season's AFC Super Bowl representative, the Cincinnati Bengals, host the Kansas City Chiefs in a rematch of the AFC Championship Game they stunningly won in Kansas City, and there's a highly anticipated reunion of former colleagues at Levi's Stadium, where the San Francisco 49ers welcome the Miami Dolphins.

    Not all of those aforementioned games are seen as the best by SmartRatings.

    SmartRatings is an AI-based platform that provides excitement ratings for sporting events, teams and players. The excitement scale, ranging from 0-100, is powered by complex algorithms that are predicated upon six primary variables: pace, parity, novelty, momentum, context and social buzz.

    The weight of each variable is dynamic and adapts as a season progresses. The excitement scale translates to the following general sub-ranges: 0-39 (Dull Game), 40-64 (OK Game), 65-84 (Good Game) and 85-100 (Great Game).

    Here, Stats Perform picks out three games from the top five with the most significant playoff implications and looks at the battles that could decide them.

    New Orleans Saints (4-8) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (5-6), Monday, 8:15 p.m. ET

    SmartRating : 60
    Win Probability : Buccaneers 68.6%
    Key Matchup : Marcus Davenport vs. Josh Wells

    The Buccaneers suffered a massive blow when right tackle Tristan Wirfs sustained a high ankle sprain in their loss to the Cleveland Browns last week.

    Wirfs is expected to be out three to four weeks, meaning he will miss a critical stretch for Tampa Bay as the Bucs seek to win an extremely underwhelming NFC South.

    That stretch starts with a rivalry game against the Saints on Monday Night Football, with New Orleans still only a game back in the win column of the Bucs despite their 4-8 record.

    New Orleans' defense has not been the force of years past but the return of Cameron Jordan and Marcus Davenport saw the Saints perform extremely well on that side of the ball in their 13-0 loss to the 49ers in Week 12.

    When he has been healthy, Davenport has been extremely impressive. He has a pass-rush win rate of 49.03 per cent and a 66.67 per cent win rate on run defense. His aggregate of 48.03 per cent is the fourth-highest among edge rushers. 

    Now he gets to go against Wirfs' backup in the form of Josh Wells. If Wells cannot find a way to slow him down, Tom Brady and the Bucs may struggle to move the ball on offense and give hope to a Saints attack needing life after being shutout by San Francisco.

    Miami Dolphins (8-3) at San Francisco 49ers (7-4) Sunday, 4:05 p.m. ET

    SmartRating : 62
    Win Probability : 49ers 53.5%
    Key Matchup : Mike McDaniel vs. DeMeco Ryans

    It's arguably the NFL's most distinguished offensive play-calling professor against his star pupil as Kyle Shanahan's 49ers host Mike McDaniel's Miami Dolphins in a mouth-watering contest teeming with narratives.

    McDaniel has spent much of his coaching career at the hip of Shanahan, following him to almost all of his NFL stops, including San Francisco, where he was run-game coordinator and then offensive coordinator last season before departing for Miami.

    Yet McDaniel, who has turned the Dolphins' offense into one of the most explosive in the NFL and the most efficient in the league by yards per play, will not be focusing on outcoaching his former boss, but instead outwitting San Francisco's defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans.

    Ryans will likely become a head coach in the coming offseason, having so far overseen another dominant season from the 49er defense.

    San Francisco's defense has allowed the fewest plays of 10+ yards (106) in the NFL and is also the top unit by yards per play allowed (4.69) and success rate (34.5%).

    The Miami offense leads the league in big plays of at least 10 yards with 174 and has a receiver in Tyreek Hill who has an open percentage of 68.18 against man coverage, that figure trailing only Stefon Diggs (68.57) as of Week 12, and a combined open percentage across man and zone of 51.67.

    The 49ers will hope to use the edge they have up front against a banged-up Miami offensive line to their advantage and boast the edge rusher with the highest aggregate win rate (52.42%) across pass rush and run defense for his position in the league in Nick Bosa.

    It is a true strength-on-strength matchup, and the clash between McDaniel's varied and high-powered attack against Ryans' versatile and ferocious defense figures to be fascinating to watch.

    Kansas City Chiefs (9-2) at Cincinnati Bengals (7-4)

    SmartRating : 68
    Win Probability : Chiefs 66.4%
    Key Matchup : Ja'Marr Chase vs. Chiefs' pass defense

    The Cincinnati passing game saw its hot streak tempered a little by the Tennessee defense in the Bengals' narrow win over the Titans last week, but a meeting with the Chiefs represents a favourable matchup for Zac Taylor's offense.

    Cincinnati's offense has averaged 293.3 net passing yards per game in the NFL since Week 6, the third-most in the NFL, and has done much of that damage without top wide receiver Ja'Marr Chase.

    Chase is due to return from a hip injury on Sunday, having recorded three 100-yard games in his first seven appearances of the season.

    He gets the opportunity to add to that against a Kansas City defense that ranks 21st in open percentage allowed to opposing receivers.

    That suggests he should have no difficulty returning to top form right off the bat in this conference title game rematch against a defense that is ninth-worst in the NFL by success rate against the pass.

    Though the Bengals had joy shackling Patrick Mahomes and Co. in the second half of that championship game, it is more likely the duel between he and Joe Burrow quickly becomes a shootout.

    How successful Chase is in taking advantage of a very vulnerable Chiefs secondary may dictate whether the Bengals can keep up and pull off the upset once more.

  • Messi to make 1,000th appearance, but career-defining match may still be to come Messi to make 1,000th appearance, but career-defining match may still be to come

    Lionel Messi will walk out the Ahmad bin Ali Stadium tunnel on Saturday with the expectations of millions on his shoulders when Argentina face Australia in the last 16 of Qatar 2022.

    That is nothing new, of course, for this will be the 1,000th match of a remarkable career that may yet to have peaked – though that will depend on whether Messi can inspire his country past Australia and all the way to World Cup glory.

    Now aged 35, Messi has already accepted this will be his final chance to lift the most famous trophy of them all, a little over a year on from helping La Albiceleste end their 28-year wait for a major title with Copa America success.

    Ahead of the seven-time Ballon d'Or winner's milestone match, Stats Perform looks at the numbers behind his previous 999 appearances for club and country – and why the next two weeks could yet define his career.

    Barca Breakthrough

    October 16, 2004. It would not be hyperbolic to suggest this was a day that football as we know it changed, with a 17-year-old Messi replacing Deco from the substitutes' bench in Barcelona's 1-0 win over city rivals Espanyol.

    In a sign of the mini maestro's longevity, he has since played alongside two players born after his Barcelona debut – Warren Zaire-Emery and El Chadaille Bitshiabu, born in March 2006 and May 2005 respectively.

    Both teenagers are on Paris Saint-Germain's books, where Messi is now plying his trade after ending his two-decade association with Barcelona in emotional circumstances in August 2021.

    Unsurprisingly, the majority of Messi's career appearances came during his 17 seasons at Camp Nou. He featured 778 times for Barca, scoring a staggering 672 goals and assisting 265, which amounts to 937 direct-goal involvements.

    He made more appearances against Real Madrid than any other opponent, playing 47 times against Barca's fiercest rivals.

     

    Good times under Guardiola

    Barcelona's inability to offer Messi a new contract due to their dire financial situation allowed PSG to pounce. After an underwhelming first campaign in Paris, the superstar forward has found his form this term.

    Messi has featured 53 times for the Parisians to date and has scored (23) and assisted (28) a combined 51 goals – just short of one goal involvement every match on average.

    He has already had two different managers at the Parc des Princes, with Christophe Galtier having replaced Mauricio Pochettino in the hot seat. That takes the number of head coaches Messi has worked under to 19.

    It was under Pep Guardiola at Barcelona, between 2008 and 2012, that Messi played his most games as he featured on 219 occasions under the Catalan and scored 211 times.

    Luis Enrique is next on that list (158 games), followed by Ernesto Valverde (124) and Frank Rijkaard (110), the man who gave him his debut against Espanyol.


    1,000 not out

    Some 18 years and 48 days on from that first appearance comes match number 1,000 for club and country – and what a truly huge occasion it is for Messi and Argentina, who recovered from a slow start in the group phase to advance.

    Messi has featured in 22 previous World Cup matches – one more than Diego Maradona as the most ever for an Argentina player – scoring eight times and assisting six more. 

    Incredibly for a player of his game-changing quality, Messi has yet to score in the knockout stages of the World Cup – 23 efforts, zero goals. Interestingly, the same is also true of archenemy Cristiano Ronaldo (25 shots without a goal).

     

    The aim for Messi will be to put that right against Australia on what will be his 169th senior cap, 17 years on from his senior international bow against Hungary, which came just 10 games into his career for club and country.

    And while it will be a special occasion for Messi, the man many consider to be the greatest of all time will hope to make it to 1,003 matches before Argentina's Qatar campaign concludes.

    Should that be the case and Argentina go on to lift the World Cup for the first time since 1986, a centre-stage Messi will have the defining moment of a truly special career that still has some way to go yet.

  • Giants bid to end miserable run against division rivals, in-form Eagles host Titans Giants bid to end miserable run against division rivals, in-form Eagles host Titans

    With just six weeks left of the regular season schedule, the drama in the NFL continues to ramp up.

    The playoff picture is wide open and Week 13 action presents clashes between a number of sides who each boast a winning record this season.

    Victories this week would provide a considerable boost for those teams' hopes of continuing beyond the regular campaign.

    A huge divisional rivalry between the Washington Commanders and New York Giants is the pick of the action, while there is also a rematch from last season's AFC Championship game with the Kansas City Chiefs seeking redemption against the Cincinnati Bengals.

    Stats Perform has delved into the numbers for those matchups along with some of Sunday's other big games.

    New York Jets (7-4) @ Minnesota Vikings (9-2)

    The Jets head to Minnesota with an 8-3 record against the Vikings, though have lost the last two meetings – including a 37-17 loss in the last meeting in 2018, which marked the most ever points scored by the Vikings in this series.

    Defensive strength has been key for the Jets this season, with last week's 31-10 victory over the Chicago Bears being the fourth time this year where they have held their opponents to 10 or fewer points – the last time they had such a sequence was five games in 2010, which was also their last season with a trip to the playoffs.

    The Jets defense will be tested against the Vikings' aerial threat, however, with Justin Jefferson and Adam Thielen each catching touchdown passes in the Thanksgiving win over the New England Patriots – the ninth time each player has had a receiving TD in the same game, which marks the most of any NFL teammates since Jefferson's 2020 debut.

    A win against the Jets would see head coach Kevin O'Connell join Jim Caldwell and Jim Harbaugh as the only men this century to earn 10 wins in 12 or fewer games to start their career as an NFL head coach.

    Washington Commanders (7-5) @ New York Giants (7-4)

    A series sweep for Washington last season was the franchise's first against the Giants since 2011, leaving the Commanders looking for their first win streak of at least three games against New York since a four-game streak that ended in 2000.

    Four consecutive wins on the road have seen Washington hold their opponents to 54 points total in those contests, marking the first time they have won four straight road games while allowing fewer than 60 points since 2001.

    The Giants head into the contest having lost their last five against divisional opponents, standing just 1-7 in that regard over the past two seasons. That makes them just one of two teams without multiple wins in divisional games over that span (also Denver Broncos, 1-8).

    Saquon Barkley remains the biggest threat for the Giants and sits just eight rushing yards short of his third 1000-yard season, where he would join Tiki Barber (6), Rodney Hampton (5) and Joe Morris (3) as the only Giants with at least three such seasons for the team.

    Tennessee Titans (7-4) @ Philadelphia Eagles (10-1)

    Philadelphia host the Titans on the back of a six-game winning run against AFC opponents dating back to last season, matching the Eagles' longest such streak in franchise history.

    Last time out against the Green Bay Packers, the Eagles scored a touchdown in four of their five trips to the red zone – with Philadelphia leading the NFL in touchdown efficiency in the red zone this season, scoring in 29 of 40 trips (72.5 per cent).

    Tennessee, meanwhile, have rushed for fewer than 100 yards in each of their last three games, matching their longest streak since Mike Vrabel became head coach in 2018.

    In the 20-16 loss to the Bengals last time out, Derrick Henry fumbled but was it was recovered. Of the 39 players with at least 200 offensive touches since the beginning of last season, Henry, Leonard Fournette and Christian McCaffrey are the only three to have not lost a fumble.

    Kansas City Chiefs (9-2) @ Cincinnati Bengals (7-4)

    Two meetings last season saw the Bengals win by three points in both contests, including in the AFC Championship game in Kansas City, with the Chiefs' last road win against the Bengals coming in 1984 – losing six straight since.

    A 26-10 home victory against the Los Angeles Rams last week saw Travis Kelce catch his 12th touchdown pass of the season, with no other tight end having more than five this term. The largest all-time gap between a league leader and second place stands at six (Rob Gronkowski in 2011 and Antonio Gates in 2004).

    The Bengals overcame the Titans 20-16 on the road last week, giving Cincinnati their first three-game winning streak of the season. Since 2018, they stand 3-34 when scoring 20 or fewer points in a game, but two of those wins have come against Tennessee.

    Cincinnati have converted 78.1 per cent (25-for-32) of their third downs this season when needing fewer than four yards, the best mark in the league. However, they've also allowed opponents to convert such third downs at a 76.5 per cent rate (26-for-34), the worst record in the league.

    Elsewhere…

    The Miami Dolphins head to San Francisco with a 4-3 record on the road against the 49ers, the second-best such record by any team behind the Carolina Panthers (7-4).

    The Los Angeles Rams host the Seattle Seahawks having won eight of the last 10 clashes between the two divisional rivals, with Seattle's last victory on the road in this matchup coming in Week 5, 2017.

    An overtime victory over the Seahawks last week was the second in a row for the Las Vegas Raiders, having beaten the Denver Broncos in OT in Week 11. No NFL team has ever won three consecutive games in overtime going into the Raiders' latest battle with the Los Angeles Chargers.

    The Dallas Cowboys host the Indianapolis Colts on the back of a four-game spell with at least 400 net yards, with only one longer streak in team history – running eight games in that regard in 2016.

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