The 2022 Formula 1 season is just around the corner. What Drivers changed teams? Who isn’t returning to F1 this season?

Can Lewis Hamilton bounce back after his first time losing the Driver’s Championship since 2016? Or will Max Verstappen take back-to-back Championships and give Red Bull their first repeat Driver’s Championship since 2013?

We’ll break it all down here.

2021 F1 Season Review and Preseason Expectations

Formula 1 had one of it’s most incredible seasons ever last year in 2021. Verstappen took his first ever driver’s championship on the very last lap of the season, snatching the title straight from Hamilton’s hands.

On the other hand, Hamilton helped Mercedes snag its eighth consecutive Constructors Championship. He now has a chance to show everyone he’s still the best of the best, and I’m certain he’ll bring the heat from the first race all the way through the end of the season.

Since we know what’s going on at the front of the pack, let’s see what’s changing up in the midfield this coming year.

Driver Changes

Former Red Bull driver Alex Albon will be joining the Williams team as young phenom George Russell is to join the silver arrows of Mercedes. He’ll have to learn how to control the speed and power of the Mercedes while not stepping on Hamilton’s toes.

As Hamilton’s number two from the past few seasons Valterri Bottas replaced Kimi Raikonnen at Alfa Romeo after the legend retired at the end of the last season. Bottas will be joined by an F1 newcomer, Guanyu Zhou, who will become the first Chinese driver to start an F1 race.

Zhou has been a test driver in the past for both Renault and Alpine, but has yet to take the track in an official F1 Race. He also has raced in F2, F3, and trained with the Ferrari Driving Academy from 2014 until 2018.

As if that weren’t enough pressure for the 2022 Formula 1 season, Zhou has an opportunity to change the sport in the sense, bringing a huge audience in China toward the sport. F1 reported that Chinese viewership was up 40% last year from 2019, and adding Zhou to the roster will only help the sport grow.

The rest of the field remains the same, with top teams like Red Bull, Ferrari, McLaren, and Alpine all choosing to keep their drivers the same as the previous season. This makes for quite an interesting season, as it will be primarily down to the changes the teams can make on their cars to determine the outcome of this season.

2022 Formula 1 Rule Changes

Rule changes are one of the biggest things looming over the 2022 Formula 1 season. Aerodynamic testing will be limited for the more successful teams in order to allow for more catch up by the lower field teams.

Clearly the FIA is looking to make things more fair. A lower cap limit will allow midfield teams to have a better chance at producing the same quality car as the top tier teams.

In addition, power units are being frozen, meaning the teams can no longer improve them. This is so teams will focus on developing new units to match the 2026 engine standards that are coming, which will focus on teams running their hybrid engines in a fully sustainable manner. All of this appears to me to make competition more intense, less focused on money, and will help teams compete at a higher level.

With tire sizes being changed from 13 to 18 inches and the temperature regulations on heating tires pre race being lowered, all teams should have a chance to really change how F1 looks in 2022 and beyond.

What I’m Looking For

Even with all the rule changes, I’m still most excited just to see Verstappen and Hamilton go at it again this year. The 2021 season was crazy, accentuated by crashes, time penalties, and one of the most intense laps in F1 history to close it out. I cannot wait to see how these two incredible athletes bounce back, and I think Hamilton will reclaim the crown.

Oh, and to add more fuel to Hamilton’s revenge fire, Verstappen has elected to change his number this year from 33 to 1; to represent him being number 1 in the world. It already seems like the 2022 Formula 1 season will be the most intense yet!

 

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