The start of the 2022 Formula 1 World Championship is here, with a new generation of cars expected to create closer and more exciting racing throughout the field.
Last year’s title race was a thriller, albeit a controversial affair, as Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton went head to head in a battle for the ages.
Verstappen came out on top following a shock decision by race director Michael Masi, ,who did not fully comply with the sporting regulations in order to get one more lap of racing at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
What has happened since the 2021 Abu Dhabi GP
Before we get into the upcoming season, it’s hard to avoid the drama from Abu Dhabi. The FIA investigated the Safety Car restart at the 2021 F1 finale and their conclusions led to Masi being removed as race director.
He has been replaced by World Endurance Championship race director Eduardo Freitas and DTM race director Niels Wittich who will both share the role in 2022.
Red Bull team principal Christian Horner believes Mercedes bullied the FIA into getting rid of Masi and the saga continued to make the headlines throughout the winter.
With the season-opening Bahrain GP now on the horizon, it’s time to focus on the new season.
Who is the F1 2022 defending champion?
Verstappen will defend the F1 Drivers’ Championship for the first time in his career, with the number one on his RB18.
It’s the first time since 2014 that the number one has been used because Hamilton carried his iconic No.44 when he was World Champion and Nico Rosberg retired in 2016.
Mercedes will look to win a record-extending ninth consecutive Constructors’ Championship with Toto Wolff leading the Silver Arrows as team principal.
F1 2022 calendar – Miami joins the schedule
F1 plan to have a record-breaking 23-race calendar in 2022, with one event yet to be confirmed following the cancellation of the Russian GP amid the country’s invasion of Ukraine.
There is one new Grand Prix this year which is the Miami GP near the Hard Rock Stadium, the home of the NFL‘s Miami Dolphins.
The Australian, Canadian, Japanese and Singapore GP all return to the F1 calendar after a two-year absence due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Qatar, Malaysia’s Sepang International and the Bahrain outer layout are the favourites to replace the cancelled Russian GP.
Official 2022 F1 calendar
|1||Bahrain Grand Prix||Bahrain International Circuit||March 18-20|
|2||Saudi Arabian Grand Prix||Jeddah Corniche Circuit||March 25-27|
|3||Australian Grand Prix||Albert Park||April 8-10|
|4||Emilia Romagna Grand Prix||Imola||April 22-24|
|5||Miami Grand Prix||Miami International Autodrome||May 6-8|
|6||Spanish Grand Prix||Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya||May 20-22|
|7||Monaco Grand Prix||Circuit de Monaco||May 27-29|
|8||Azerbaijan Grand Prix||Baku City Circuit||June 10-12|
|9||Canadian Grand Prix||Circuit Gilles Villeneuve||June 17-19|
|10||British Grand Prix||Silverstone||July 1-3|
|11||Austrian Grand Prix||Red Bull Ring||July 8-10|
|12||French Grand Prix||Paul Ricard||July 22-24|
|13||Hungarian Grand Prix||Hungaroring||July 29-31|
|14||Belgian Grand Prix||Spa-Francorchamps||August 26-28|
|15||Dutch Grand Prix||Zandvoort||September 2-4|
|16||Italian Grand Prix||Monza||September 9-11|
|17||Singapore Grand Prix||Marina Bay Street Circuit||September 30-October 2|
|18||Japanese Grand Prix||Suzuka||October 7-9|
|19||United States Grand Prix||Circuit of the Americas||October 21-23|
|20||Mexico City Grand Prix||Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez||October 28-30|
|21||Sao Paulo Grand Prix||Interlagos||November 11-13|
|22||Abu Dhabi Grand Prix||Yas Marina Circuit||November 18-20|
F1 2022 format changes
In a bid to reduce the workload on the teams, the pre-event press conference and scrutineering have been moved from Thursday to Friday morning.
This means practice one will now take place in the early afternoon, with practice two at 17:00 at most European races.
The majority of the events also see Saturday qualifying taking place an hour later than the start time of Sunday’s Grand Prix.
For example, qualifying for the Monaco GP will be at 16:00 local time, with the race at 15:00 the next day.
Perhaps the biggest format change is the Q2 tyre rule which has been dropped. In previous years, the top 10 drivers from qualifying were forced to start on the same tyres that got them into Q3.
But from 2022, they will get a free tyre choice so we may see more strategic variation in the first part of the race.
Will there be sprint races in F1 2022?
Just like 2021, there will be three sprint events following a dispute over the budget cap and accident damage costs which cut the original plan of six sprint races in half.
The sprint races will take place at the Emilia Romagna GP (Round 4), Austrian GP (Round 11) and Sao Paulo GP (Round 21).
A major change to the sprint format is more points will be awarded to the winner of the 100km race, with the top eight drivers scoring points.
Eight points will be given to the first place driver, which is five more than 2021. The second place driver will receive seven points, with third place awarded six points, continuing down to one point for the eighth place finisher.
F1’s new points system for shortened races
In reaction to the controversial 2021 Belgian GP, F1 has changed the points that are given out during races which do not complete the full distance.
For points to be awarded, at least two laps must be completed without the intervention of the Safety Car or Virtual Safety Car.
The points system has also changed depending on the race distance that has been completed, with more points handed out for the more laps that have been done.
|Pos.||<2 laps||2 laps-25%||25-50%||50-75%||75-100%|
F1 2022 driver changes
There have been few drivers movements for the 2022 season, with just five driver changes from last year.
Most significantly, George Russell has replaced Valtteri Bottas at Mercedes to make an all-British driver line-up alongside Lewis Hamilton.
Guanyu Zhou is the only rookie in 2022 as he makes his debut for Alfa Romeo. In fact, Alfa Romeo have completely changed their driver pairing with Bottas joining the Swiss outfit, after Kimi Raikkonen retired and Antonio Giovinazzi made the switch to Formula E.
Kevin Magnussen made a shock comeback to F1 because of Haas‘ decision to drop Nikita Mazepin, allegedly due to the Mazepin family’s links with Russian President Vladimir Putin and the loss of sponsor Uralkali.
Alex Albon also returns to the grid with Williams, having acted as Red Bull reserve driver in 2021.
F1 2022 driver line-up
|Mercedes||Lewis Hamilton||44||George Russell*||63|
|Red Bull||Max Verstappen||1||Sergio Perez||11|
|Ferrari||Charles Leclerc||16||Carlos Sainz||55|
|McLaren||Lando Norris||4||Daniel Ricciardo||3|
|Alpine||Fernando Alonso||14||Esteban Ocon||31|
|AlphaTauri||Pierre Gasly||10||Yuki Tsunoda||22|
|Aston Martin||Sebastian Vettel||5||Lance Stroll||18|
|Williams||Nicholas Latifi||6||Alex Albon*||23|
|Alfa Romeo||Valtteri Bottas*||77||Guanyu Zhou*||24|
|Haas||Mick Schumacher||47||Kevin Magnussen*||20|
F1 2022 teams
There are no new teams in F1 this year although, some major title sponsors have joined the sport.
Red Bull signed a deal with cloud computing giant Oracle worth $300 million over five years to become the team’s title sponsor, after Honda left F1 at the end of 2021.
Honda‘s departure means Red Bull‘s and AlphaTauri‘s powertrains are officially from Red Bull Powertrains, although the power unit themselves will still be built from Honda‘s base in Sakura, Japan.
Meanwhile, Aston Martin announced a new partnership with global integrated energy and chemicals company Aramco.
|Red Bull||Red Bull|
F1 2022 technical regulation changes – A new era in F1
The 2022 regulation changes have been made to improve the racing by reducing the loss in downforce when following another car.
F1’s previous generation car saw drivers lose half of their downforce when running 1.5 seconds behind their rival.
However, the wider and higher rear wings, simplified bodywork, the banning of barge boards and reintroduction of ground effect mean the loss of downforce will be approximately 10 percent.
The drivers feedback about following other drivers during testing has been very positive, so the racing is set to be closer than its been for a long time.
“It still feels pretty good to follow,” said Williams driver Albon. “I feel we’re going to have pretty good racing.
“[Tyre] degradation we’ll have to see. But you can see there are people with huge degradation. Everyone seems to be degrading quite heavily which will be interesting at the weekend how that plays out.”
Bigger 18-inch tyres
Another key change is a move from 13-inch tyres to 18-inch wheels which will have a significant effect on tyre behaviour.
Tyre degradation appears to be similar to 2021, although many drivers have reported there is less overheating which is another positive factor that can improve the wheel to wheel racing.
The drivers and teams that can work out how to extract the most performance from the new Pirelli rubber will put themselves in a strong position.
Who impressed in 2022 F1 testing?
Ferrari and Red Bull stood out from the rest of the field in pre-season testing, with defending champion Verstappen stealing the show on the final day in Bahrain.
Charles Leclerc appeared to gel with the Ferrari nicely and was able to push the car with relative ease.
The midfield is set to be tighter than ever, whilst Haas have made a big leap forward as Mick Schumacher and Magnussen went faster than the team’s qualifying laps from last year’s Bahrain GP.
Who is the favourites for the 2022 F1 World Championship?
Verstappen has to be the favourite to win the 2022 F1 Drivers’ Championship after an impressive display on the last test day.
The Dutchman is unlikely to dominate though with Leclerc and Carlos Sainz quietly confident about Ferrari‘s chances to end their 14-year wait for a title in F1.
You cannot rule write off Mercedes though, especially Hamilton who has proved time and time again he has the talent to come back from setbacks and claw himself into championship contention.
If Mercedes are up there, don’t be surprised to see Russell on the coattails of Hamilton even though he is driving with a top team for the first time in his F1 career.
The development race will be vital and mistakes will be costly, so if testing is anything to go by, the driver will make the final difference and the teams will have to be on top form to become champions in 2022.