Here’s Your Comprehensive 2022 Formula 1 Team and Driver Guide
Get up to speed as F1’s season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix takes place this weekend.
The excitement of the nail-biting 2021 Formula 1 World Championship is now behind us, and we must gear up for yet another lap around motorsport's greatest race courses and street circuits to see which constructor and driver emerge victorious this year. It wasn't long ago that Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton and Red Bull's Max Verstappen were fighting for racing supremacy, but now it's time to see how F1's powerhouses have prepared during the off-season for what will likely be a very different 2022.
Whether this is your first full season following the sport or your 30th (as is my case), it's always good to brush up on what's new ahead of the season opener. This is especially true this year, given the major rule changes that have taken place over the winter break, which have led to radically different cars, wheels, tires, and overall performance. Drivers, too, will have to learn how to master these new machines, which will be interesting—and hopefully entertaining—to watch during the first half of the season.
Without further ado, here is your 2022 Formula 1 team and driver guide.
Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team
A team that needs no introduction, really. After winning eight constructor championships, Mercedes knows a thing or two about building and developing F1 cars. It also knows how to cater to its number one driver, Lewis Hamilton, who in 2021 became the winningest driver in the sport's history with a staggering 103 race victories. After being denied his eighth drivers' championship in dramatic fashion last year, Hamilton will be looking to surpass Michael Schumacher's current record of seven world championships in 2022.
This year, however, it won't be all about Hamilton, because a driver highly regarded as "the next best thing" will be driving the other Silver Arrows car: George Russell. After making a name for himself in the lower series, racing for Williams F1, and even filling in for Hamilton while he was out with COVID, Russell has lots to prove this year. It will be interesting to see not if, but when the gloves come off on the track between these two.
Red Bull Racing
Even if it doesn't boast the stats of its archenemy Mercedes, Red Bull Racing is no stranger to the top step of the podium. With 75 wins under its belt and four constructor championships (all courtesy of Sebastian Vettel and Renault), the Red Bull Powertrains-powered (Honda) team knows exactly what to do in order to add a few more trophies to its cabinet. In a nutshell, all it has to do is beat Mercedes.
For that, it'll require the talents of main driver Max Verstappen, your 2021 world champion, and the services of Sergio Perez, aka the Tire Whisperer. It's a strong lineup that, on paper, should be able to storm Mercedes' castle in 2022. After all, it was able to do so pretty frequently last year, and one would think that the Milton Keynes squad will be hungry for more this time around.
The scarlet cars are synonymous with the pinnacle of motorsport, being the only team to have competed in the F1 world championship since its very inception back in 1950. Formula 1 is Ferrari, and Ferrari is Formula 1. The statistics—even if they're less reflective of recent times—speak for themselves: 253 fastest laps, 223 pole positions, 239 race wins, and most importantly, 16 constructor championships, making it the winningest team in F1 history. And this year, after the ups and downs (mostly downs) of recent seasons, the Scuderia will try to claw its back to the front and hopefully take a bite out of the Mercedes-Red Bull cake.
Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz will be entrusted with doing so, two young talents who have proven themselves in every category and with every team they've raced for. With the 2022 rules change giving the duo a solid opportunity to redeem themselves, the Monegasque and Spanish talents will likely push back on team orders to beat each other and their main rivals.
McLaren F1 Team
One of F1's most recent success stories, McLaren has come back roaring after years of meandering in the back of the pack. With CEO Zak Brown having secured the squad's financial future and first-class Mercedes engines, the focus is now on bringing the fight to Mercedes, Red Bull, and Ferrari. After several trips to the podium in 2021, it's unlikely that the Papaya Orange folks settle for anything less than third or higher in the constructors' championship. So, will it be them or Ferrari? That's the question.
Making those goals a reality will be the task of rising star Lando Norris and established winner Daniel Ricciardo. Norris came awfully close to his first win at Sochi last year and was able to deliver several podiums, while Ricciardo actually pulled off a majestic W at Monza—also flanked by Norris. Despite the amazing 1-2 finish in Italy, it was Norris who delivered better, more consistent results throughout the year. 2022 will be all about Ricciardo proving he's worth a fatter paycheck than his younger teammate.
BWT Alpine F1 Team
Titanic battles won't be limited to the front of the pack in 2022, as multiple teams will fight to be the "Best of the Rest" and secure as much FIA prize money as possible come year's end. Alpine will be one of those teams. Equipped with a new team principal plucked directly from one of its main competitors over the off-season, Otmar Szafnauer, the former Aston Martin boss will be anxious to spread his wings and turn the Renault-powered Alpine into a consistent point-scoring machine.
With former world champion Fernando Alonso and race-winner Esteban Ocon, Szafnauer shouldn't struggle too much to deliver on whatever promises he made to the French outfit. As far as car performance, however, it will be up to Alpine's engineers to provide the drivers with a car worthy of their talents. This is one of those instances where even an average car could deliver above-average results.
Aston Martin Aramco Cognizant Formula One Team
Aston Martin F1 Team heads into its sophomore year in the sport having learned some hard lessons. Led by billionaire owner Lawrence Stroll and powered by Mercedes engines, the Silverstone-based team hopes to fight the likes of Alpine and Alpha Tauri in the middle of the pack, though realistically, and based on last year's overall performance, they might be duking it out with Alfa Romeo and Williams instead.
Led by four-time F1 world champ Sebastian Vettel, whom the team unfairly expected to deliver magical results right out of the gate in 2021, Aston certainly has a wealth of knowledge in the experienced German. Lance Stroll, the son of the team's owner, however, would likely be out of a drive should he bear a different last name. And while the young Canadian has stepped on the podium three times now, it'll take a radical improvement to see him deliver in the British-green race car.
You can't help but wish anything but the best to AlphaTauri. The Italy-based sister team of Red Bull Racing is made up of hard-working, passionate folks who work tirelessly day in and day out to go neck-to-neck with teams that have 10 times their operating budget. Originally seen as a smaller, not-as-effective, driver-development machine for Red Bull, it's now a serious contender for points in almost every Grand Prix of the season thanks to good management, Honda engines (now Red Bull Powertrains), smart minds, and of course, good drivers behind the wheel.
French and Japanese racing drivers Pierre Gasly and Yuki Tsunoda are tasked with elevating AlphaTauri's status in 2022, from constant midfield contenders to perhaps frequent top-six finishers. Gasly has more than proven himself during his stay with the Faenza squad, earning his first F1 victory back at Monza in 2020. Tsunoda, despite having some not-great performances in 2021, shed most of his rookie jitters toward the end of the season and one can hope that translates into point-scoring runs this year.
Alfa Romeo F1 Team ORLEN
It's a year of firsts for the Alfa F1 outfit, given that both of its drivers are new to the team. And in many ways, it hopes 2022 will indeed bring many firsts, especially in the realm of Q3s, fastest laps, podiums, and maybe even victories. It seems a bit far-fetched, but anything is possible this year, especially given the hefty regulation changes that will affect all teams across the board. The Ferrari-powered cars will have their work cut out, however, as rivals AlphaTauri and Williams performed better and more consistently toward the end of 2021.
It'll be an interesting year for Alfa and a challenging one for its new lead driver, former Mercedes racer Valtteri Bottas, who is expected to not only replace the outgoing Kimi Raikkonen in terms of performance but also bring fresh ideas and spearhead car development. Considering Raikkonen scored 10 of the 13 points the team amassed last year, the pressure falls directly on Bottas to, at a minimum, exceed what his veteran compatriot accomplished. Shanghai-born Guanyu Zhou is F1's first Chinese racing driver and the team's second new addition. It's unclear how much he'll be able to accomplish in his rookie season with such an under-developed team, but I wish him luck.
Williams hasn't exactly enjoyed great fortune in Formula 1 in recent years, but 2021 proved to be especially tough for the famed squad. After selling out to an American investment firm in 2020, last year brought the sad passing of team founder Sir Frank Williams. Known for being a fierce racer and an even fiercer human, Sir Frank battled his personal shortcomings to run the best F1 team he could afford to run along with his daughter Claire. And despite the team's golden years being a distant memory, Williams has never lost its passion for the sport. After all, the Grove outfit has won 114 races, 129 pole positions, and nine constructor's championships.
Driving for Williams this year will be new-to-the-team Alex Albon, joined by Williams sophomore Nicolas Latifi, who will admittedly have to fight extremely hard to get close to any points-paying positions. The duo will also have some big shoes to fill, as George Russell's departure to Mercedes means the last Williams driver to make it to Q3 (repeatedly) and deliver Williams' most recent podium (Belgium 2021) is no longer there.
Haas F1 Team
After a disastrous 2021 season, you simply didn't think it could get any worse for the sole American F1 team on the grid—yet that's exactly what happened. Following Russia's invasion of Ukraine, Haas moved to separate itself from the Mazepin family, meaning Dmitry Mazepin's Putin-blessed money was no longer welcomed, and neither was his son Nikita. Team boss Guenther Steiner reportedly fired the Russian driver in writing, though this came days after the team stripped the Russian livery and Uralkali logos off its cars, trucks, and other gear.
Replacing Nikita will be former Haas driver Kevin Magnussen, who was let go from the team at the end of the 2020 season. Partnering the experienced Magnussen will be Haas' gem and practically only hope for funding, Mick Schumacher, the son of seven-time F1 champion Michael Schumacher. The young German will likely continue to improve throughout his second year in F1, and should Haas give him a better car than last year, it's likely he could take the fight to Williams and Alfa Romeo.
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