4 Things to Watch For in the 2022 F1 Season
2021 was a record year for Formula 1 but 2022 could be just as big if not bigger than last season
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As we wind down the final days of 2021, many are still talking about that record Formula 1 season we got this year. An intense championship battle that came down to the last race and the last lap plus a whole host of exciting races with first time winners and different podium sitters, 2021 will go down as one of the best seasons in F1 history. As great as this season was, it is now time to put it in the rear view mirror and focus on the next season in 2022. This upcoming season of Formula 1 is a critical one for the sport and the changes coming in 2022 are massive ones that we haven't seen in quite some time. So in this video, we've narrowed our list down to 4 things you need to look out for in the 2022 F1 season.
1 - The Start of the Verstappen Era?
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After entering the sport as a 17 year old back in 2015, it took 7 seasons for Max Verstappen to deliver on his World Championship expectations as he became Driver's World Champion for 2021. Despite the final race controversy, their is no denying that Verstappen deserved the championship after a stellar season in which he hardly put a foot wrong. 2021 was the first season in which Verstappen actually had a real chance at challenging for the title as the RB16B/Honda package was the fastest at certain points throughout the year. On his first opportunity, he was able to win the championship and dethrone one of F1's greatest along the way. So as we head into 2022 with a new champion, will this mark the beginning of the Verstappen era? As good as Max's 2021 season was, his rivals on track might be slightly concerned as the 24 year old Dutchman can get even better. He handled the pressure of the championship fight extremely well for a driver in his position and as he explains in his own words, he's already achieved everything he wanted too in F1.
This attitude from Verstappen could make him an even more successful driver in the sport. If the pressure is off and everything from now on is just a bonus like he says, it's quite possible we could see the start of a dominant Verstappen era. But in this sport, that success isn't always determined by the driver. Red Bull will need to provide Verstappen the car to be able to fight for championships just like Mercedes did for Hamilton in this past decade. The new rule changes could make Red Bull the dominant team once again or it could backfire on them just like the last regulation changes to the hybrid era. However the pecking order shapes up on the grid next season, Verstappen will be the driver to watch as the defending champion and he'll no doubt be ready for another season of full sends in 2022.
2 - Dawn of a New Era in Formula 1
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F1's new era of rules and regulations were delayed by a year but we've finally arrived at the long awaited new era of Formula 1 cars. After 8 straight years of Mercedes domination relatively unchallenged, Formula 1 needed to make changes to it's cars and regulations to try and give us a more balanced and closer Formula. Whether that will actually happen remains to be seen but nonetheless, their is plenty to be excited about ahead of this massive shift in regulations. The changes are so drastic that is could be a video on its own so here's just a short list of some of the major changes.
The aerodynamic philosophy will change the most as for the first time since 1982, ground effect returns to Formula 1. This means that the floor will now be largely responsible for generating downforce and it also aims to remove the 'dirty air' effect from various bodywork components. And speaking of that bodywork, say goodbye to the complex bargeboards and they will be completely removed for 2022 once again in an aim to improve cars following each other on track. The barge board furniture will be replaced by wheel bodywork as wheel covers return to F1 next season and the front wheels now have a deflector on them as well. This intends to minimize the effects of the wake produced by the wheels as they rotate. The wheels will look dramatically different in 2022 as well as we move from 13 inch to 18 inch rims next season. Teams were testing the 18 inch tyres recently in Abu Dhabi as they tried to get a feel for the grip the larger wheels offer. Other major changes to the cars include the front wings which will be made up of a maximum of 4 elements and the nose also attaches directly to the wing, much like it used to before the middle of the 1990s. At the rear of the car, the new rear wings will essentially be without end plates to try and reduce the vortices around the back of the wing. The DRS system will remain for 2022 but that can be changed if the new generation cars produce good racing and the desired results. In summary, the new generation of cars should be more 'on edge' to drive but lap times are anticipated to be closer to 2021 than initially expected.
Besides the changes to the cars, the cost cap will drop from $145 million to $140 million in 2022. We also have a whole host of driver lineup changes with the big ones coming at Mercedes who welcome in George Russell to the team in what is their first driver lineup change since 2017. Through the rest of the grid, Alfa Romeo will have a completely new lineup of Valtteri Bottas and Guanyu Zhou while Williams will welcome back Alex Albon to the sport as he partners Nicholas Latifi for 2022.
3 - The Quiet Contenders for 2022
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Red Bull and Mercedes stole the headlines for 2021 with their season long championship battle, but the teams who had a quiet 2021 could be contenders come lights out in Bahrain. Although the teams have been working on these new cars for quite some time now, teams that weren't involved in the year long title battle could put full focus and resources into 2022. Now that doesn't mean that Haas will come out of the gates next year and be champions but as we saw with the last big rule change, we could get a shakeup at the front of the grid. Look out for a team like Ferrari who have been putting in a lot of work behind the scenes on the 2022 project. With their upgraded power unit expected to bring them on par with the likes of Mercedes, Ferrari's long road to recovery could pay dividends next season. And considering Carlos Sainz's stellar debut season at Ferrari, the Scuderia could be in prime position to steal the spotlight away from Red Bull and Mercedes. Or could we see another mid-field team such as Alpine or McLaren find some ingenious design tricks like Brawn did in 2009 and see them as championship contenders? This will be a key aspect of next season that many fans will be keeping an eye on. We all loved the close 2021 title battle but how great would it be to see 3 or maybe even 4 drivers and teams fighting for the championship? But don't count out the likes of Mercedes just yet. They are coming off the back of their record 8th straight Constructor's trophy and they've already fired up their W13 machine before the calendar even strikes 2022. And what about Red Bull? After all they are the defending Driver's champions but not many are talking about their repeat chances next season. Will the push to dethrone Mercedes prove costly for them heading into this new season? We'll have to wait until testing to get an idea of who aced the new regulations but that all adds to the excitement of potential new contenders in Formula 1.
4 - The Sprint to a Record Calendar
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2021 was a record calendar season for Formula 1 and get ready because 2022 is expected to break last year's records. If the current calendar stands, 2022 will see 23 Formula 1 races completed which will be the most in the sport's history. We could've picked some other things to look out for in the 2022 season but the calendar itself is an important one. In addition to the 23 races, 6 of those will feature the Sprint Weekend format with the first one coming straight away in the first race at Bahrain. The other nominated venues are expected to be Imola, Canada, Red Bull Ring, Zandvoort, and Interlagos but those will be confirmed at a later date. We've also got the addition of a new circuit to the calendar as the Miami Grand Prix will debut in May. The street circuit around the Hard Rock Stadium will be an interesting one after many years of negotiations, the US will finally get another F1 race in Miami. Some changes to winter testing this year as well, their will be 6 days of running in total with the first three coming at the Circuit de Barcelona Catalunya, and the next three at the Bahrain International Circuit. And finally, the demands of this record calendar are sure to be felt by F1 teams and its personnel. The season will begin on March 20th and will finish on November 20th. Luckily for the people working in F1, their will only be one triple-header of Russia, Singapore, and Japan with an additional 7 double headers throughout the year. Of course changes can always be made but as of now, we're on course to smash a lot of records in the 2022 season.