Predictions for F1 2022 season: Winners, losers, shocks and upsets?

With the 2022 Formula 1 season about to get underway, our writers have taken a stab at trying to predict this year’s world championship. 
George Russell (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W13 and Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1.
George Russell (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W13 and Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes…

Predicting what will make the headlines this year is a near-impossible task, especially with a major technical regulation overhaul potentially throwing the form book out of the window - but that hasn’t stopped us trying! 

Ahead of this weekend’s season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix, F1 Editor Lewis Larkam and reporter Connor McDonagh tackle some of the most pressing questions going into F1’s new era. 

2022 F1 drivers’ world champion?

Lewis Larkam:
Lewis Hamilton has returned with renewed hunger and determination to win a record-breaking eighth world title after the hugely controversial events of the 2021 finale. Providing Mercedes can give him a competitive car, Hamilton is bound to play a starring role in this year’s title fight. As he rather bullishly said, “if you think what you saw at the end of last year was my best, wait until you see this year”. 

Connor McDonagh: Even if Red Bull doesn’t have the best car in 2022, it has the best driver on the grid in Max Verstappen. The Dutchman is in the form of his life and on the back of a bumper new deal, he’s in the perfect team environment to become a two-time F1 champion.

Max Verstappen (NLD) Red Bull Racing RB18.
Max Verstappen (NLD) Red Bull Racing RB18.

2022 F1 constructors’ world champion?

Ferrari arguably has the strongest driver line-up on the grid in Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz. If they can continue to play nicely together and Ferrari does indeed have a front-running car, I can see this combination being the most consistent to successful deliver the constructors’ championship back to Maranello. 

CMD: Ferrari has looked impressive in pre-season testing and with its balanced driver pairing of Leclerc and Sainz, it is in a good place to win its first constructors’ championship since 2008.

One wish from the 2022 F1 season?

LL: A close and competitive championship where one team doesn’t steal a march on the rest. After being treated to such a classic season in 2021, it would be a real shame for F1’s new era to begin on a damp squib. 

CMD: Besides having a titanic multi-team and multi-driver title fight, a return to the top step of the podium for Fernando Alonso. The Spaniard hasn’t won since 2013 so it’s long overdue.

Sebastian Vettel (GER) Aston Martin F1 Team.
Sebastian Vettel (GER) Aston Martin F1 Team.

One shock of 2022?

LL: We’ll get three new grand prix winners…

CMD: Sebastian Vettel to announce his retirement. 

The biggest storyline of 2022?

LL: Whether Alpine can deliver Alonso a strong enough car to convince the 40-year-old two-time world champion to stay on in F1 into 2023 and beyond. The Spaniard’s future is likely to have major ramifications on the driver market, which could be fascinating with half of the grid out of contract. 

CMD: With porpoising an issue up and down the field, teams will be looking at ways to stop it while not compromising performance. Tricks with the suspension, attempting to add some rake to the car, technical innovation is likely to be a key storyline in 2022 given how important the development race is.

The driver to impress the most?

LL: Spurred on from an impressive first season at Ferrari, I think Sainz will continue to reach new heights this season. After multiple podium visits in 2021, a win surely can’t be too far away and his remarkably consistency will be vital to Ferrari’s championship bid. 

CMD: It’s fair to say Leclerc is probably underrated after he was beaten by Sainz in the 2021 drivers’ championship. Leclerc did beat his teammate in the qualifying and race head to heads and without some bad luck, he’d have finished ahead in the championship. Leclerc has shown countless times he’s one of the best in F1, particularly over one lap. 

The driver under the most pressure?

Daniel Ricciardo (AUS) McLaren MCL36.
Daniel Ricciardo (AUS) McLaren MCL36.

LL: After a challenging rookie season, Yuki Tsunoda needs to step it up in 2022. Tsunoda clearly has talent and speed, he just needs to find some consistency and iron out the kind of mistakes that blemished the start of his F1 career. We know how ruthless the Red Bull programme can be and it has several exciting young Red Bull juniors vying for a seat in F1. 

CMD: After an underwhelming first year with McLaren, Daniel Ricciardo is under immense pressure to perform in 2022. He’s on a big-money deal and ultimately he was the reason McLaren missed out on third in the constructors’ championship to Ferrari last year. He has to improve but after missing F1 testing due to COVID, it could be another slow start for the Australian.

Bahrain GP pole position & race winner?

LL: Verstappen for both. That Red Bull looked mighty in the second test. 

CMD: Given that he’s a bit of a Bahrain specialist, Leclerc would be my tip for pole position. For the race, Verstappen.

Winner of the F1 midfield battle?

LL: Assuming the top three is made up of some combination of Mercedes, Red Bull and Ferrari, then McLaren feels like the obvious pick to come out on top of the midfield scrap. This is the most difficult prediction of the lot given the midfield looks to be shaping up to be as competitive as ever. 

CMD: Based on pre-season testing, the midfield battle outside the top four is incredibly tight and very difficult to call. Haas and Alfa Romeo have shown impressive pace, while Alpine and Aston Martin were expected to close the gap right up to the top teams for this season. With Alpine’s strong driver pairing and potential to develop during the season, the French outfit is my pick.

Most intense inner team fight?

(L to R): Charles Leclerc (MON) Ferrari and Carlos Sainz Jr (ESP) Ferrari.
(L to R): Charles Leclerc (MON) Ferrari and Carlos Sainz Jr (ESP) Ferrari.

LL: Leclerc and Sainz has the potential to get fruity if both find themselves in a direct fight for the world championship. So far these two have got on well together and been happy to play the team game, but how would that change if they were battling each other for F1’s ultimate prize? If it works, the rewards will be great, but there could be fireworks. 

CMD: Ferrari has two drivers who have never fought for the title and given that the Scuderia is likely to be in contention throughout the year, Sainz and Leclerc will end up being the most intense inner team fight. 

2022 F1 drivers’ championship order?

LL: 1) Hamilton, 2) Leclerc, 3) Verstappen, 4) Sainz, 5) Russell, 6) Norris, 7) Perez, 8) Ricciardo, 9) Alonso, 10) Vettel 

CMD: 1) Verstappen, 2) Leclerc, 3) Hamilton, 4) Sainz, 5) Russell, 6) Perez, 7) Norris, 8) Ricciardo, 9) Alonso, 10) Ocon

2022 F1 constructors’ championship order?

LL: 1) Ferrari, 2) Mercedes, 3) Red Bull, 4) McLaren, 5) Alpine, 6) Aston Martin, 7) Haas, 8) AlphaTauri, 9) Alfa Romeo, 10) Williams 

CMD: 1) Ferrari, 2) Mercedes, 3) Red Bull, 4) McLaren, 5) Alpine, 6) Aston Martin, 7) AlphaTauri, 8) Haas, 9) Alfa Romeo, 10) Williams

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