As the second Pre-Season test in Bahrain creeps ever closer, we asked some members of our Divebomb team to give us their predictions for the upcoming 2022 Formula One season. Read on to find out what our general manager, Aiden Hover, thinks will happen this year as the first part of our newest series! Also, be sure to check back over the next few days to hear from more of our team regarding their season predictions.
Written by Aiden Hover, Edited by Harshi Vashee
I’ll begin with the main event and predict that Lewis Hamilton will finally win his record-breaking 8th world drivers championship. The drive and passion Hamilton will have harnessed from last year's defeat at the hands of Max Verstappen will be hard to match. He is undeniably one of the most talented drivers ever to sit behind the wheel of a Formula One car and as we saw following Nico Rosberg’s championship in 2016, a reinvigorated Hamilton with a point to prove is unbeatable. However, it will be far from a cakewalk for the Brit and his Mercedes team as my next prediction labels Ferrari as the 2022 Constructors world champions.
Despite the insanely efficient, and I'm sure terribly fast design of the W-13’s body, I have a feeling that they will run into constant reliability issues as a consequence of how tight the rear of the car is; allowing the boys in red to capitalise and win their first title since 2008. Ferrari has undergone somewhat of a renaissance since their woeful 2020 season, managing to snatch third last year. I am hopeful that this upward trajectory will continue into 2022 and, whilst they should be taken with a barrel load of salt, the testing times so far are encouraging for the scarlet red F1-75, possibly leaping them ahead of RedBull who focused heavily on 2021 - a decision that may prove to have hurt the development of their 2022 challenger.
Continuing with Ferrari, most people are expecting Charles Leclerc to be the driver applying the most pressure to Hamilton, enabling Ferrari to clinch the constructor's title. However, I have a suspicion that Carlos Sainz will move into a leading role within the team as I am predicting him to outperform the Monegasque across the year becoming my shockingly good performer. The battle between the two will be extremely close nonetheless and I will go as far as to say the infighting within Ferrari is what will enable Hamilton to win the championship, despite an unreliable car. I predict the Ferrari duo to become too focused on one another - similarly to how McLaren lost the drivers championship in 2007 - developing into the main storyline of 2022.
On the other hand, I am predicting Alpine to be the biggest flop of the season. 2022 is a make or break year for them as they need to give Fernando Alonso a competitive car or they risk losing the Spaniard who, arguably, is Alpine’s greatest asset. With major restructuring behind the scenes and the introduction of Otmar Szafnauer into the team principal role, I really hope I am proven wrong with this prediction as it will be a crying shame to see Alonso walk away from Formula One once again having achieved nothing since his return. Furthermore, Esteban Ocon needs his chance within a front running team or else he risks wasting away into midfield obscurity - despite his brilliantly managed win in Hungary last year.
This brings me onto who I think will be 2022’s shocking race winner. We were treated to two stunning ‘shock’ wins last year with Ocon in Hungary and then the beautiful McLaren one-two in Monza headed by Daniel Ricciardo. This year we will almost definitely see a number of first-time winners, beginning with Carlos Sainz if any of my previous predictions are to be believed. He will almost certainly be joined by George Russell in his new Mercedes and I'm hopeful that Lando Norris will finally get his first win and, importantly, redemption for Russia last year. However, none of these will be overly shocking with all three teams involved already proven to be race-winning outfits; resulting in the honour of ‘most shocking race winner’ being bestowed upon the incredible, Sebastian Vettel. The German achieved what would have been two impressive podiums last year had he not been disqualified in Hungary and so, whilst I don't believe Aston Martin will be fighting at the front consistently, should there be a manic mixed up race, we could very well see Vettel win his first race since 2019 in a magnificent manner!
Despite the inevitable fanfare surrounding Vettel’s race win, I predict the German to dominate the news around the driver transfer market, announcing his retirement from Formula One during the summer break. As it stands, Vettel is contracted until the end of 2022 with an option to extend if he so wishes. However, I feel as though he will choose not to do so and instead focus on spending time with his family from 2023 - unfortunately ending the dreams of many (at least myself) of a Hamilton and Vettel teammate alliance at Aston Martin once Hamilton’s Mercedes contract expires.
Finally, I predict that Valtteri Bottas will be the most improved driver from last season. He never had the opportunity to shine at Mercedes, something that he definitely deserved considering the talent we all know the Finn has. Hopefully, moving into a leadership role at Alfa Romeo will award him this opportunity. I predict him to secure constant points finishes with the occasional podium as he works to develop both the car and his young teammate Guanyu Zhou. Furthermore, the immense knowledge he will bring from Mercedes to Alfa Romeo will be invaluable to the team's upwards ambitions and, with luck, will bring a big payoff to the Italian outfit.
There we have it, my predictions for the 2022 Formula One season. I hope that my dreams of an intense three-way drivers championship battle come to fruition, however, anything can happen in the world of Formula One and with a new era of cars, the season truly is anyone's.
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