10 reasons to be excited for Formula 1 in 2022

Finley Crebolder
A close up of the side the Formula 1 2022 prototype. Silverstone July 2021

A close up of the side the 2022 prototype. Silverstone July 2021

With new regulations and driver line-ups amongst other things, there is more reason than ever to be excited about F1 heading into the 2022 campaign.

Here are 10 specific reasons why we should all be looking forward to the upcoming campaign…

The hope that F1 sorts its sh*t out

If we could have changed one thing about what was, on the whole, a fantastic 2021 campaign, it would have been the governance by Michael Masi and co which created controversy after controversy.

The biggest of those was, of course, Masi’s decision to effectively throw out the rule book to set up a grandstand finish at the season finale in Abu Dhabi, but that was by no means the only questionable call of the year. Whether dealing with track limits or wheel-to-wheel incidents, the Australian and his colleagues severely lacked clarity and consistency throughout 2021.

On the bright side, the manner in which the title fight was decided brought such issues into the light and, given just how much the sport’s reputation was damaged because of it, steps will surely now be taken to ensure such things never happen again.

The FIA obviously cannot fix everything overnight but they can, and most likely will, be far more assertive from the start of 2022 onwards and will ensure they are not influenced by wider circumstances or pressure from teams. They are fairly simple and easy changes to enact, but would make a huge difference.

The on-track action in 2021 was simply sensational, but too often the brilliance of drivers was overshadowed by the actions of officials. That cannot be the case again and, if lessons have been learned, it will not be.

New cars!

It’s always exciting seeing the new cars unveiled and put through their paces for the first time, but that will be the case more than ever in 2022 given the new regulations.

For one, they will look like nothing the sport has seen before, which means there will be far more than just a new livery to get pumped about when teams release their creations.

More importantly though, they hopefully will give us much better wheel-to-wheel racing to watch on track, with that having been a primary goal when the new regulations were decided.

There is little doubt the 2022 challengers will look great, and there is a good chance that is not the only reason we will have to like them.

The next chapter in a truly great rivalry

Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen side-by-side. Saudi Arabia December 2021
Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, and Max Verstappen, Red Bull, side-by-side in Saudi Arabia. December 2021.

The titanic battle that saw Max Verstappen and Red Bull take on Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes in 2021 created one of the greatest rivalries in modern F1, and it could yet develop into one of the greatest ever.

Whether it remains so intense in 2022 does, of course, largely depend on how strong the two teams are, but just seeing which of them has dealt with the new regulations better will be fascinating in itself.

If they have similar machinery, Verstappen and Hamilton will all but certainly be as ridiculously good as they were this year, while things between them may well get feistier than ever given the history they now have, as will the war of words between Christian Horner and Toto Wolff.

The hope is that a number of teams and drivers will be able to battle it out at the very front of the field regularly next year, but as long as those that did so in 2021 are up there again it will be quite the fight regardless.

The Hamilton/Russell pairing

And it will be made all the more interesting by the fact Hamilton will have a new team-mate in the form of George Russell. How both drivers and their team handle things will be nothing short of fascinating.

If Russell performs as well as many expect him to, Hamilton will be facing a challenge from a team-mate – and Wolff and co will have a real intra-team battle on their hands for the first time since 2016, when things got *a little* out of hand between the seven-time former World Champion and Nico Rosberg.

Back then, Wolff vowed he would never allow such a thing to happen again, but if Russell has the pace to challenge his compatriot and is not willing to play second fiddle then the Austrian’s hands will be tied.

How the two Britons compare will tell us a huge amount about just how good they are inside the car, and if they end up in a tight battle with one another it will be very interesting indeed to see what happens away from the track. Bring it on.

Ferrari back at the front

If there is a team fighting for wins and titles next year other than Red Bull and Mercedes it is, all things considered, most likely to be Ferrari, which is an exciting thought indeed.

Looking at the huge amount of progress they made in 2021, the strength of the power unit they introduced towards the end of it, the vast resources they have at their disposal and the fact they have been working on their 2022 challenger more and for longer than the front-runners, the chances seem high that they will be more than the best of the rest next season.

The thought of the Prancing Horse back at the front is mouth-watering in itself, but even more so because of their driver line-up of Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz. Both were excellent in 2021, and seeing them battle for wins with Verstappen and Hamilton as well as each other is something we would absolutely love to see.

They have the resources. They have the drivers. They just need the machinery. And there are plenty of signs to suggest they will produce the goods in that department.

The realisation of El Plan

Alpine of Esteban Ocon with 'El Plan' rear wing. Abu Dhabi December 2021.
A rear view of Esteban Ocon's car, with 'El Plan' emblazoned on the rear wing. Abu Dhabi December 2021.

The last time Ferrari really got close to winning the title was in 2012 courtesy of Fernando Alonso and 10 years on, the Spaniard may finally resume his quest to become a triple World Champion.

Looking at how he performed in his first year back there is little doubt he is still good enough to go toe to toe with the very best. Aside perhaps from his qualifying pace, he is arguably more than a match for the likes of Hamilton and Verstappen in every area.

Whether he will be able to challenge them next season obviously depends on what car he is given but there seems to be a lot of optimism coming from Alpine, who were one of the first teams to switch their focus to their 2022 challenger.

Admittedly, Alonso having anything more than midfield machinery again remains a long shot, but it is certainly not impossible. After all, with him claiming a podium and his team winning a race in 2021, El Plan has gone well so far…

The return of the Honey Badger

The man Alonso replaced, Daniel Ricciardo, had one of his poorest seasons in 2021, struggling to adapt to his McLaren machinery, but there are plenty of reasons to believe he will be back to his scintillating best in 2022.

The Australian struggled hugely to get to grips with his new car but made a lot of progress over the course of the season, winning a race and outscoring team-mate Lando Norris in the second half of it.

That period showed the driver who was more than a match for Verstappen at Red Bull is still in there somewhere, and judging by the progress he has made he could be back at that level again.

There are few better sights in F1 than the Honey Badger on top of his game, and we reckon we will see that a whole lot more in 2022. Bring on the shoeys.

Make or break for Aston Martin

No team on the grid needs to make bigger steps forward in 2022 than Aston Martin and whether they do so or not, the chances are it will be entertaining.

If they can produce a top car we get to see Sebastian Vettel fight against the best at the front again, which would be a very welcome sight, as would seeing such a brand do so.

If things do not go so well, meanwhile, there will likely be a lot of anger and some fireworks with Lawrence Stroll and Martin Whitmarsh at the helm, which could be fun. Unless you are Otmar Szafnauer, that is.

The rise of the 2021 rookies

There was a lot of excitement about two of the three rookies that joined the grid last year, Mick Schumacher and Yuki Tsunoda – no offence, Nikita – but for different reasons neither really made his mark. We reckon that will change in 2022.

Schumacher drove well but was stuck in comfortably the worst car in the grid, so had next to no chances to actually fight other drivers for positions higher than P18. With Haas focusing solely on their 2022 challenger for the entirety of 2021, he will surely have better machinery in his second season and more chances to show what he can do.

For Tsunoda, meanwhile, his driving rather than his car was the issue, with the Japanese driver making mistakes throughout the year. There were times when it was clear he is an enormous talent though, and with a year under his belt he should be able to show that more often.


We are heading into the Great Unknown

Most years, we head into the season with a fairly good idea of what the pecking order will be. Ahead of 2022, nobody has any idea whatsoever what it will look like – and it does not get any more exciting than that.

While the bigger teams are most likely to remain at the front, the budget cap has decreased the advantage they have and there is every chance a midfield outfit or backmarker has nailed the regulation changes far more than anyone else such as Brawn did in 2009 with the double diffuser.

Figuring out whether one team has done so or not will be a lot of fun, just like the season as a whole if the pecking order has been properly mixed up as so many have dreamed of.

Only a few months until we find out…