Predicting which team will come out on top in Formula 1 over the 2022 season is very difficult due to the new technical regulations.
Rule changes are common in F1, although major redesigns to the sport’s technical regulations only happen every 3-5 years.
It’s possible that the pecking order from 2021 completely turns on its head, or one team designs a car which is utterly dominant.
To get an idea of how much change can happen, let’s take a look at the seasons from this century when there were big regulation changes.
The 2006 F1 season
2005 Drivers’ Champion: Fernando Alonso – 2006: Fernando Alonso
2005 Constructors’ Champion: Renault – 2006: Renault
F1’s V8 era began in 2006 with every team, apart from Toro Rosso due to financial reasons, changing from a 3.0 litre V10 to a 2.4 litre V8 engine.
Although Fernando Alonso and Renault defended their titles in 2006, they faced a significantly stronger challenge compared to 2005.
Having endured a disappointing 2005, Ferrari and Michael Schumacher bounced back by taking the fight to Alonso.
Ferrari and Renault won 17 of the 18 events in 2006, underlining their battle at the front of the grid.
Meanwhile, McLaren and Kimi Raikkonen lost ground to Renault in 2006 after they were their closest challenges a year earlier.
A mixture of poor reliability and incidents continued for Raikkonen, although it was clear he didn’t have the car to challenge for regular victories.
The 2009 F1 season
2008 Drivers’ Champion: Lewis Hamilton – 2009: Jenson Button
2008 Constructors Champion: Ferrari – 2009: Brawn
One of the most famous regulation changes in F1 history came in 2009, when the newly named Brawn team stunned the field to win the championship.
There were numerous technical changes from 2008 to 2009, including the introduction of slick tyres, and a revamp in the aerodynamic rules which saw lower and wider front wings and higher and narrower rear wings.
A big controversy were the ‘double diffusers’ that were ran by Brawn, Toyota and Williams. The innovation gave the three teams a performance advantage and was part of the reason Brawn dominated the early stages of the season.
Meanwhile, McLaren and Ferrari, who were F1’s top two teams in 2008, fell down the pecking order as they watched Brawn and Red Bull battle it out for the title.
The development race was also a decisive area in 2009, and this might be replicated 13 years later in 2022.
The 2014 F1 season
2013 Drivers’ Champion: Sebastian Vettel – 2014: Lewis Hamilton
2013 Constructors’ Champion: Red Bull – 2014: Mercedes
Another huge regulations change in 2014 so the start of a new era for F1.
The V8 engines were replaced by turbo-hybrid power units which F1 still use today.
Mercedes had by far and away the best power unit so the Silver Arrows had the first of multiple dominant seasons as they won 16 of the 19 races in 2014.
The cars looked different too with distinct bodywork changes and the return of low front noses, which led to the teams taking visibly different approaches with their front wing and nose.
Sebastian Vettel and Red Bull were the pace setters in 2013, but the four-time World Champion struggled with the new rules as he failed to win a race in a full season for the first time in his F1 career.
The 2017 F1 season
2016 Drivers’ Champion: Nico Rosberg – 2017: Lewis Hamilton
2016 Constructors’ Champion: Mercedes – 2017: Mercedes
The 2017 technical regulations led to record-breaking cornering speeds due to the wider and grippier cars.
Bigger Pirelli tyres were implemented, along with the car width increasing from 1.8m to 2m and the rear wings being lowered. These key changes made the cars 4-6 seconds quicker at most tracks compared to the previous year.
Mercedes defended their championships, but had their toughest season in the turbo-hybrid era yet, at the time, when Ferrari and Vettel threatened them for the majority of the 2017.
Even though Vettel led the championship going into the summer break, a combination of being outdeveloped by Mercedes and crucial mistakes, such as a first corner crash at the 2017 Singapore GP, handed the title to Lewis Hamilton with two races to spare.