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 writer, Danny Jones, thinks will happen this year as the next 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 Danny Jones, Edited by Umut Yelbaşı
It is always difficult to truly get a picture of the pecking order after just one round of testing, and 2022 is no different. That being said, it does seem that it will be Mercedes, Red Bull and Ferrari at the front, although McLaren looked quick toward the end of the Barcelona test days. A World Champion will need a car to suit their ability, and without a true representation of car performance, it is a very difficult choice to make, but I predict Max Verstappen to retain his driver’s championship. Verstappen was driving at his very best in most races in 2021, and when he is on it, he is truly unbeatable. The Dutchman is an expert at extracting everything out of a car’s performance, which has been the key factor in his regular humiliation of teammates, and his ability to do so puts him in good stead heading into the 2022 season, even if Red Bull do not have the tools to be as successful as they were in 2021. It is a big season for Verstappen, in order to prove many of the doubters wrong, after the events that transpired in Abu Dhabi, and with his clear desire to retain the Number 1 shows the hunger he has for 2022
Mercedes have been truly untouchable in the constructor’s championship since 2014, and they will surely stay near the front in 2022. But, Ferrari look like the dark horses coming into this season, and I predict they will win the championship. Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc were very evenly matched in 2021, and both had standout moments throughout their campaign, but will need to take it to the next level in 2022, particularly if they want to give Ferrari it’s first constructors title since 2008. The talent of the Ferrari pair is undeniable, both are considered some of the best drivers in the field, and I expect both to be at their very best in 2022. With Russell being unfamiliar with Mercedes, and I expect Perez to struggle alongside Verstappen, it could be the perfect opportunity for Ferrari to put their previous 2 disastrous seasons behind them, and put them back into the forefront.
Most Improved Driver
Yuki Tsunoda had a particularly disappointing 2021 season, with Tsunoda himself being surprised that he was retained for 2022. A stellar debut in Bahrain was what many thought would be a sign to come, but the 21 year old struggled throughout the rest of the season, with crashes and mistakes being far too frequent, and was unqualified by Pierre Gasly in every race until the season finale at Abu Dhabi. But, he rounded off his disappointing season with an impressive 4th, after a gutsy move on Valterri Bottas, and was potentially unfortunate to not have been standing on the podium. And I expect this sort of form from the Japanese in 2022. We saw flashes of brilliance on a regular basis, and if he can work on his consistency and with his added experience, mistakes should decrease. There is no doubt that Tsunoda has bags of potential, and I expect him to flourish this season. It will be a critical year for Tsunoda, as Liam Lawson, Juri Vips, Dennis Hauger and Jehan Daruvala will all be sniffing at an AlphaTauri seat, which is why his 2022 is critical, and I expect him to excel.
This would normally be difficult to predict, even with an idea of the full running order, but with car performance not fixed, it makes this even more challenging. But I’m going to back Fernando Alonso for a surprise victory in 2022. There were reports that Alpine had found a loophole in the regulations, we may still see that in the Bahrain test, but there was nothing to suggest so in Barcelona. The success of ‘El Plan’ will be interesting to see in 2022, Alonso has always seemed confident on Alpine’s chances heading into this season. But, I don’t expect them to be quite as high as they seemed to believe. That said, I do think Alonso will win his first race since 2014. You wouldn’t have been able to tell last year that Alonso had spent 2 years out of the fray, and we saw unbelievable performances from the Spaniard in Hungary and Qatar. And I believe ‘El Plan’ will provide a victory, where and when remains to be seen, but will it only be a matter of time before Alonso is back on the top step?
Shock Good Performer
Many would say Sebastian Vettel outclassed Lance Stroll in 2021, but in reality that really isn’t the case. The Canadian picked up more points finishes, and was probably more consistent. And I think in 2022, that he will be a surprise to many. Stroll’s career has been underwhelming, but we have seen moments of quality, regularly out of absolutely nowhere. He is a much better driver than most believe him to be, and I think that 2022 will finally be the year where we see what he can do behind the wheel of a race car. I expect him to outperform Vettel in 2022, but it remains to be seen how successful he will be. I do personally have doubts over the AMR22, it dosen’t seem as quick as it really should be, but I still believe that Stroll will spring a surprise in 2022.
Flop of the Year
Alex Albon’s F1 return is highly anticipated, but unfortunately, I can’t see it being successful in the slightest. Many may have seen him as fortunate to receive another opportunity after his humiliation by Max Verstappen in 2020, but after George Russell’s departure to Mercedes, Albon was selected to replace the Brit. I expect the Thai to have similar fortunes to his 2020 season, and struggle to beat Nicholas Latifi, what many would see as a simple task. His year out the sport, and his need to familiarise to a new team setup will only hinder his chances, and with a Red Bull return looking unlikely, it makes Albon’s career a bit of a dead path, and unfortunately I cannot see him helping his chances in 2022.
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