The Formula 1 season is so close to being underway and fans could not be more excited. New rules, new car specs, and new drivers are the talk of the town right now, as well as some of the issues Haas has undergone so far this year.
Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes have seemed to struggle a bit at preseason testing, and Red Bull and Ferrari look extremely fast. I’ll discuss the news we’ve learned over the past few weeks and get you all sorted out for the Bahrain Grand Prix, the first race of the season, on March 20th.
Haas Under Pressure
Haas signed with Russian fertilizer company Uralkali as a title sponsor in 2021. Recently, due to the invasion of Ukraine by Russia, Haas has cut ties with Uralkili. The owner of the Russian company is Dmitry Mazepin, associate and friend of Vladmir Putin.
When Haas signed with Uralkili, part of the deal was that Mazepin’s son Nikita would be driving in a Haas car. He had a rough season last year and came in dead last scoring zero points. Haas will be moving on from Mazepin and have signed Kevin Magnussen to make his return to F1.
Magnussen was a Haas driver from 2017-2020 and drove decently for the team. He had more than 10 top ten finishes in his four year stint with the team which is very good for Haas standards.
Magnussen recorded the fastest lap of the day at preseason testing in Bahrain on his first day back in the car. Although they have now found their driver, Haas still has to deal with finding a new title sponsor and changing their livery so it does not look like a Russian flag.
Mercedes struggling early
Last year Lewis Hamilton did not win the Drivers Championship for the first time in seven seasons. Although it’s too early to truly tell, he may be in for another second place season. Hamilton and Mercedes have not looked as quick at preseason testing as their rivals Red Bull.
Hamilton had this to say about Mercedes’ lackluster preseason performance:
“I’m sure everyone (in our garage) can figure it out, we’re not the quickest at the moment. Ferrari looks to be the quickest and perhaps Red Bull, and then maybe us or McLaren. I don’t know, but we’re certainly not at the top… At the moment I don’t think we’ll be competing for wins.” -Lewis Hamilton, seven-time world champion
Of course Hamilton could be downplaying his performance in order to trick other teams before next weekend when the season starts in Bahrain. However, many don’t think this is the case.
Last year Mercedes had a similar problem at the beginning of the year. In the new season of F1: Drive to Survive on Netflix, Lewis can be seen examining Max’s car before a race. Lewis lost three races in a row and was looking to help the Mercedes team fix their car.
On March 20th we’ll see what happens. The Bahrain Grand Prix will be the opener and we’ll get to see how the field looks in these new 2022 cars. The liveries are all beautiful in my opinion and racers like Lando Norris praised the designs for allowing closer and faster racing.
Red Bull is Ready
Max Verstappen has looked mighty quick in Red Bull Racing’s new RB18. He set the fastest lap-time on the last day of preseason testing by nearly seven-tenths of a second. He’ll be looking to win his first race with the number 1 on his car after switching once he took home the Drivers Championship.
Red Bull’s second driver Sergio Perez recorded a fastest lap in the morning session as well and has looked clean and in control in testing so far. Both racers will be looking to take down Mercedes off of their pedestal this season.
Team Principal Christian Horner has been very happy with both Verstappen and Perez’s times so far in preseason testing. He’s also been impressed by Ferrari but seems to insist that Mercedes is better than they’re showing.
“The rate of development (for the new cars) will be fast and intense and I expect Mercedes will be a huge factor in this championship, I have no doubt.” -Christian Horner, Team Principal of Red Bull Racing
Verstappen has dethroned Hamilton as the Drivers champion, and now Horner will have his hands full trying to dethrone nemesis Toto Wolff and Mercedes as the Constructors’ Champions.
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