2022 Formula 1 Season Preview

On the leadup to the start of a new F1 season, we walk through the changes in drivers for each team, as well as try to make some predictions for how it might pan out.

14 mins read

Driver Line-Up

First lets have a look at the line-ups of each team, starting with poorest performing team from 2021 to the best.

Our first team is the American owned Haas team, who have suffered through their partnership with Russian owned business, Uralkali, who saw their owner, Dmitry Mazepin, being sanctioned. This saw Uralkali withdrawing, and Nikita Mazepin, son of Dmitry, losing his seat, being replaced by Kevin Magnusson, who had raced for the team from 2017-2020. Mick Schumacher remains at the team for his second season in the sport, following an impressive 2021.

Next up, Alfa Romeo, The Switzerland-based outfit struggled throughout 2021, which led to a complete overhaul in their driver line-up. The retiring Finn, Kimi Raikkonen, was replaced by fellow Finn, Valterri Bottas, who arrived from Mercedes. Antonio Giovinazzi found himself replaced by rookie, Zhou Guanyu, becoming China’s first official F1 driver. Zhou gained his seat following a strong F2 season in 2021, seeing him place P3 in the standings.

The jury remains out on the former Alpine academy driver, as some reports claim his backing of around 20 million USD is why he finds himself in a seat ahead of F2 Championship winner Oscar Piastri. Why this is a possibility, Zhou has proven himself capable, seen with his F3 Asian Championship title, as well as his 20 podiums from 68 race starts.

Williams are next, seeing Nicholas Latifi remaining with the team for his third consecutive season in the sport. The Canadian comes off the back of a relatively successful season, in which he scored seven points from 2 points paying positions (being P7 in Hungary and P9 in Belgium). The departing George Russell will be replaced with former Red Bull driver, Alex Albon, who returns from a year long break, which he spent competing in DTM as well as serving as Red Bull’s test and reserve driver.

This pairing has brought some questions due to Williams’ technical partnership with Mercedes being crossed with Williams taking on a driver from a Mercedes rival.

Aston Martin are up next, after finishing P7 in the Constructors Standing in 2021. The team are continuing with their driver line-up of four time World Champion, Sebastian Vettel and Lance Stroll. The Silverstone based team are the first we come across which are keeping the same line-up, however, it does see a change at the team principle level, with Otmar Szafnauer heading to Alpine, and being replaced by Mike Krack, who has been at the head of BMW’s global motorsport operations since 2014. Krack also has some experience in F1, being an engineer for Sauber from 2001-2009.

Alpha Tauri also remain with the same line-up of Pierre Gasly and Yuki Tsunoda. Gasly brings the experience which is needed through large regulation changes, and Tsunoda will look to bring some consistency to his racing after a largely disappointing season in 2021, which was bookended by an impressive debut in Bahrain (which he finished P9) and a fantastic race is Abu Dhabi (which he finished P4).

Alpine are at the halfway mark, and are also keeping hold of race winner Esteban Ocon and double World Champion Fernando Alonso. The two were closely matched throughout the 2021 season, with seven points separating them, which puts them in a good position to push on and try to crack into the Top four of the Constructors Standings. With two capable drivers, it will be down to the engineers at Enstone to provide a strong car to challenge those ahead.

McLaren remain with their line-up of Daniel Ricciardo and Lando Norris. Ricciardo’s 2021 was a mixed bag, struggling to take advantage of the cars performance during the first half of the season. This tough start was made to look worse when Norris had stood on the podium three times by the Summer break. As the season continued, Ricciardo looked to be getting a grip of the car, and he won in Monza, with Norris coming second was the highlight of McLaren’s season. Things on the whole are looking very positive for the papaya outfit.

The prancing horses of Ferrari also are keeping the same line-up of Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc. Following strong seasons from both drivers, which saw them separated by just five point five points, Ferrari look to be one of the best in a position to take advantage of the new regulation, and make a charge for their first Constructor’s title since 2008.

Red Bull remain with the line-up of Sergio Perez and the one time World Champion, Max Verstappen. With the reigning World Champion in their line-up, the Milton Keynes based team will be confident heading into the new season of retaining the Drivers title, as well as pushing for the Constructors, especially following Perez’s improvement in the second half of the 2021 season.

Finally, we get to the current Constructor’s title holders, Mercedes, who retain seven time World Champion, Lewis Hamilton, and bring in the promising George Russell from Williams. Obviously, having won eight Constructor’s titles in a row, will put them as favourites, especially considering who will be driving for them for the upcoming season.

Constructor Championship Predictions

P1 – Ferrari
P2 – Mercedes
P3 – Red Bull
P4 – McLaren
P5 – Alpine
P6 – Alpha Tauri
P7 – Aston Martin
P8 – Haas
P9 – Alpha Romero
P10 – Williams

First of all, I believe Williams will finish last this season, purely because they seem to have struggled with pace through testing, despite the promising performances of last year with Russell at the wheel. There is still potential to score points and it will be interesting to see how Albon readjusts to life in F1.

Next up Alfa Romeo, who, despite struggling greatly with reliability issues throughout testing, have looked very impressive when they have been able to keep the car together. It is likely that they could score some impressive points, however, I believe that they will have too many retirements throughout the season to score regularly.

Haas, I believe, will finish P8 as with the addition of the experienced Magnusson, they will be a far more cohesive unit compared to last year, especially when factoring in how much effort and resources have gone into this years car. They have looked impressive throughout testing, however I think that as the season goes on, those who began on the backfoot will find some consistency and begin to push back ahead of them.

In P7, Aston Martin, same as last season. This is because, much like last year, their car appears to be very inconsistent. In order to climb up the order, Lance Stroll will need to find some consistency, and Sebastian Vettel will need to recover quickly from his positive coronavirus test which sees him miss out the first race of the season.

It’s Alpha Tauri in P6, with Gasly at the wheel, anything is possibly for this team, as he could be one of the first in line to snatch a shock podium or two throughout the season. The only question mark hangs over Tsunoda, as it will be his responsibility to consistently compete with the likes of Alpine and McLaren rather than crashing out in Q1 and having to fight from the back.

I think Alpine will finish P5, as their drivers are very consistent, and their car has been largely reliable during testing. I can see the likes of Alonso competing with Gasly for a podium during some chaotic races throughout the season, and it is much more likely that Ocon will perform to a higher level than Tsunoda throughout the season.

McLaren, I believe, will finish P4, for a couple of reasons. Firstly, with Ricciardo missing testing due to COVID, he will take time to get used to the new car which will limit the amount of points the team will get from the first few races at least. Secondly, even with Norris completing testing, the team was having issues with brakes overheating, which is an issue that may take longer than just a few weeks to fix. Both issues will, I believe, will seriously hamper McLaren’s progress at the start of the season, and it would only be after the Summer break where we may see the team begin to consistently challenge for podiums and potentially even race wins.

Going bold on this one, with Red Bull ending the season, P3 in the Constructor’s Championship. This is because, despite Verstappen being at the helm, I believe that with the heightened competitiveness of the season, Perez may find himself struggling much in the same vein as he did at the start of the 2021 season. I think that this season will be very tight, and Perez could well notch another win under his belt this season at least.

Next up, P2, Mercedes. They have found testing rather difficult, with the new issue of ‘porpoising’ plaguing them more than most, and they may struggle to adapt their car to be able to reduce the issue while maintaining performance. However, I believe that the addition of Russell, as well as retaining Hamilton, will be enough to encourage the team to fix the problem quickly enough that they will be able to recover the early lost ground.

Finally, I believe that Ferrari will claim their first title since 2008, and finish P1 in the Constructor’s Championship. This belief comes from how impressive they have been in testing, with minimal to no reliability issues to speak of, as well as looking incredibly quick. These attributes, as well as having two incredibly strong drivers puts them in a very good position to take advantage of the other teams early shortcomings.

Driver Championship Predictions

P1 – LeclercP11 – Ocon
P2 – VerstappenP12 – Tsunoda
P3 – SainzP13 – Vettel
P4 – HamiltonP14 – Stroll
P5 – RussellP15 – Magnusson
P6 – PerezP16 – Bottas
P7 – NorrisP17 – Schumacher
P8 – RicciardoP18 – Albon
P9 – AlonsoP19 – Zhou
P10 – Gasly P20 – Latifi

In conclusion, I think that every driver has the potential to score points this season, and it will be very interesting to see of any of the teams have taken their car development in the a direction which leaves them far behind the rest of the field.

Hopefully by the end of the season in November, we can come back to this moment and see just how far off my predictions were.

Feature Image Credit: espn.com

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