It’s the most wonderful time of the year! It’s time to open ourselves to widespread humiliation in November with our F1 2022 predictions.
Jon Wilde was PlanetF1’s World Champion in 2021 and so emphatic was his victory, runner-up Finley Crebolder has since left us and gone travelling around the globe in an extended period of self-reflection.
But, there is some extra competition this year and given how unpredictable this season could be with regulations overhaul now finally in place, just one point really could be enough to lift the silverware come the end of the 2022 campaign.
Enough preamble, let’s get to it…
Who will be Drivers’ World Champion? (1 point)
Mark Scott: I think after the events of last year, a certain driver called Lewis Hamilton is going to have all the motivation he could ever need to clinch a record-breaking eighth World Championship title. Incredibly brave and radical choice, I know!
Michelle Foster: I want to say Charles Leclerc or Carlos Sainz because it should be, and one day it will be, but not this year so I’ll say Max Verstappen will successfully defend his title.
Jon Wilde: Despite the controversial nature of his victory, Verstappen will be oozing confidence even more than usual. This year, there should be no cloud over what could be a decisive success.
Henry Valantine: Adrian Newey designs and mass regulation changes normally go pretty well together, so I can imagine Max Verstappen being pretty much out of sight relatively quickly.
Jamie Woodhouse: Even if Mercedes and Hamilton do start this season on the back foot, I am sure they will soon stage a fightback. And once that happens, although I’d love another new name to claim the World Championship trophy, Hamilton is my pick to place his name on it for an eighth time.
Sam Cooper: Looking past Lewis Hamilton in any season is tough and no tougher than this year when he has a point to prove but, with that being said, I just feel Max Verstappen takes it again this year.
Oliver Harden: Max Verstappen. Red Bull are now too strong and settled for Mercedes to get away with another scruffy pre-season.
Who will be Constructors’ World Champion? (1 point)
Mark: Just like most other pre-seasons that pass, I’m not falling for the playing of the world’s smallest violin from the Mercedes camp. I don’t mean to dismiss the strength of Red Bull and Ferrari but I just can’t bring myself to back against the Silver Arrows, especially having swapped Bottas out for Russell.
Michelle: Mercedes, the Lewis Hamilton/George Russell combination will see Mercedes secure a ninth successive teams’ trophy.
Jon: I’ll be different and go for Red Bull. Perhaps Mercedes really do face an uphill task with the W13 and if so, Red Bull may just build too big a gap early in the season.
Henry: I mentioned the likely flying start for Red Bull, but keeping Mercedes down – especially with that driver line-up – will be tough, so I’ll back Merc for yet another title.
Jamie: Yeah…with that Hamilton/Russell combo, I can see Red Bull’s wait going on. A ninth Constructors’ title on the trot for Mercedes I say.
Sam: Even with a new driver in one of the seats, it is really hard to look past Mercedes but I think Sergio Perez found his form towards the end of last season so I would not be surprised to see the title race go down to the last few grands prix.
Oliver: Red Bull, despite ongoing reservations over whether Perez can be consistent enough to support Verstappen.
Who will finish with the wooden spoon in the Constructors’ Championship? (1 point)
Mark: Deary me, even this isn’t a guaranteed point this year. Why are we doing this? I’m still going to go with Haas but think they will score at least a point.
Michelle: I think this season, predicting P10 is more difficult than ever as the bottom three from the past few seasons all showed a few encouraging signs in pre-season testing. But I fear the chaos of the pre-season, Haas’ reliability issues, and of course that missing money, will cost them in the end.
Jon: Williams. Testing didn’t go brilliantly for them and they just seemed a bit…concerned.
Henry: Every car got a good bit of running in during testing, but I can see Haas still lagging behind – but only just.
Jamie: It is a good job that I drafted notes in my phone, or I would probably have needed to nip out to buy another notebook having changed my mind so many times on this one alone. I don’t see any team lagging this season, but Williams are my pick to prop up the standings. I see Haas tailing off as the season progresses thanks to a lack of funding, but feel their early form will yield enough points to avoid P10.
Sam: Having watched Drive to Survive and felt sorry for the many plates Guenther Steiner has to spin just to keep his team on the grid, I’m backing them to not finish last, especially with K-Mag back. In their absence, I think it will be Williams bringing up the rear.
Oliver: Williams, unable to fill the gaping hole left by George Russell’s graduation to Mercedes.
Let’s have your full 2022 Constructors’ pecking order from first to last… (1 point for each correct place)
Mark: Mercedes, Red Bull, Ferrari, McLaren, Aston Martin, AlphaTauri, Alpine, Alfa Romeo, Williams, Haas.
Michelle: Mercedes, Red Bull, Ferrari, Aston Martin, AlphaTauri, McLaren, Alpine, Williams, Alfa Romeo and Haas.
Jon: Red Bull, Mercedes, Ferrari, McLaren, Alpine, Aston Martin, AlphaTauri, Haas, Alfa Romeo, Williams.
Henry: Mercedes, Red Bull, Ferrari, Alpine, McLaren, Aston Martin, Alfa Romeo, AlphaTauri, Williams, Haas.
Jamie: Mercedes, Red Bull, Ferrari, McLaren, AlphaTauri, Aston Martin, Alpine, Haas, Alfa Romeo, Williams.
Sam: Mercedes, Red Bull, McLaren, Ferrari, Alpine, AlphaTauri, Aston Martin, Alfa Romeo, Haas, Williams.
Oliver: Red Bull, Mercedes, Ferrari, McLaren, AlphaTauri, Alpine, Aston Martin, Haas, Alfa Romeo, Williams.
Onto some stand-out driver battles now…who will score more points: Hamilton or Russell? (1 point)
Mark: As much as I am a big fan of George Russell and his undoubted talent, Hamilton is still going to be main man at Mercedes this year.
Jon: I just wonder whether what happened in, and since, Abu Dhabi may prove to have been a watershed for Hamilton. A hungry Russell 13 years his junior is a different kettle of fish to Valtteri Bottas. George gets the vote.
Henry: I can see a 2019 Leclerc vs Vettel-esque upsetting of the apple cart here, but I still find it implausible that Hamilton gets beaten over the course of the year in the same car. Lewis for me.
Jamie: As Henry points out, the comparison to Ferrari in 2019 is clear, but while Vettel by then was slowly slipping from his best form, there has been no sign of a Hamilton decline. I think Russell will shine at Mercedes in 2022, but Hamilton will edge it in the points scoring.
Sam: While it may not be the 161.5 gap it was last year, I still back Hamilton to beat his team-mate by a considerable margin.
Oliver: Hamilton. In his desperation to make his mark, Russell will make more mistakes than is expected of a Mercedes driver and pile pressure on himself.
Leclerc or Sainz? (1 point)
Mark: This is very tough. I may as well flip a coin for this one…it’s landed on Leclerc.
Michelle: Last year I thought Leclerc would destroy Sainz, he didn’t. This year I’ll stick with the Monégasque driver but it will be close.
Jon: It’s a huge year for Leclerc, could even be make or break. I’ll take him to rise to the challenge.
Henry: Sainz was so consistent in 2021 but if Leclerc has a year without bad luck and incidents (his Monaco DNS springs to mind), he should have enough this time.
Jamie: Hamilton/Russell may threaten this, but as for current proven pairings, Sainz and Leclerc I really think is the strongest team line-up in Formula 1 right now. As for which Ferrari driver triumphs in 2022, I say Sainz once again by a single-digit points margin.
Sam: Sainz for me but I think it will be very close.
Oliver: Leclerc, who will find he is a more complete driver after two long years in uncompetitive cars.
Norris or Ricciardo? (1 point)
Mark: I’m jumping out of the Ricciardo hype train. Lando made me (and a few others…cough cough) look very silly last year and I can’t see Danny Ric coming back to do the same thing this year.
Michelle: Norris… and I fear for Ricciardo’s future on the grid.
Jon: Another shout for Lando. Last season didn’t go well for Ricciardo and this year has started badly too.
Henry: I’ll be the odd one out here: I’m backing Ricciardo. He outscored Norris after the summer break last year and he seems rejuvenated after finally getting to go home over winter. I reckon we’ll see the best of the Honey Badger in 2022.
Jamie: I reckon that we will see Danny Ric back to his best in 2022, but I pick the ever-improving Norris, boosted by his new contract, to narrowly win this inter-team battle again.
Sam: As much as I love Danny Ric, it seems the McLaren car is just more suited to Norris’ driving style so I’ll go with the Brit.
Oliver: Norris, on an upward trajectory compared to his team-mate. Ricciardo will be much improved but not enough to change the way the wind is blowing at McLaren.
Alonso or Ocon? (1 point)
Mark: Fernando Alonso every day of the week and twice on Sunday.
Michelle: Alonso. Silly question.
Jon: You guys may be a tad harsh on Ocon there…he’s a race winner! But yes, agreed, Alonso is different gravy.
Henry: Ocon has grown a lot, but Alonso is still at the top of the talent tree for me. Yes, even with Lewis and Max.
Jamie: Ocon is a fantastic racing driver, but Alonso is Alonso, so I do not see him being outscored by Ocon over the season.
Sam: Mr El Plan himself, Alonso.
Oliver: Alonso, whose peaks remain astonishing even at 40.
Mick or K-Mag? (1 point)
Mark: Sorry Mick, but I think K-Mag’s experience is going to shine through here.
Michelle: This one also hurts to answer. I want to say Mick so, so, so bad but Magnussen has speed to go with his experience. He may have been out for a year but it won’t be long before he’s showing Mick how it should be done.
Jon: A big test for Mick and one he needs in his second year. Could be close, but the great(ish) Dane to edge it.
Henry: Mick’s future Ferrari credentials could hinge on this year, and I’ll back him to step up to the challenge. Mick gets it for me, Clive.
Jamie: Mick is the second-season specialist. He gets my vote.
Sam: Provided K-Mag can avoid hitting his usual quota of crashes per season, I’d back him to beat Mick.
Oliver: Magnussen, who will challenge the idea that Michael’s boy is Ferrari material.
And your one word answers for the rest of the driver battles at Red Bull, AlphaTauri, Aston Martin, Alfa Romeo and Williams (1 point each)
Mark: Verstappen, Gasly, Vettel, Bottas and…Albon.
Michelle: I think Mark has this one spot on; Verstappen, Gasly, Vettel, Bottas and Albon.
Jon: Go on, just to be different…Verstappen, Gasly, Stroll(!), Bottas, Albon.
Henry: Groundhog day here. Verstappen, Gasly, Vettel, Bottas, Albon.
Jamie: Verstappen, Gasly, Vettel, Bottas, Albon.
Sam: Verstappen, Gasly, Vettel, Bottas, Albon.
Oliver: Verstappen, Gasly, Vettel, Bottas, Albon.
Predict a driver move ahead of the 2023 season (3 points)
Mark: Oh yeah, no problem at all. I’m desperately looking for a way to get Oscar Piastri onto the grid somehow but I can see Fernando Alonso and Esteban Ocon teaming up for at least one more season. Let’s get him in at Alfa Romeo then alongside Valtteri Bottas.
Michelle: Unless Ricciardo signs in the next month or two I fear a repeat of 2021 will see McLaren opt to put Pato O’Ward in the car for 2023. And of course Piastri has be on the 2023 grid but it won’t be with Alpine. Maybe he’ll take Ricciardo’s McLaren seat.
Jon: Now then, this is tricky. I’ll go for Gasly being given one more chance at Red Bull, provided he shines at AlphaTauri like he did in 2o21.
Henry: Theo Pourchaire will replace Guanyu Zhou at Alfa Romeo for 2023 as Formula 2 champion. You heard it here first.
Jamie: I say Alonso gives up on El Plan and leaves Alpine at the end of the season, allowing Piastri to slot into an Alpine race seat for 2023.
Sam: Verstappen to Mercedes. I’m just kidding! I think Gasly deserves to be at a top team but I don’t see an obvious spot for him right now so how about Oscar Piastri to finally make his way onto the grid. I agree with Mark and Michelle that he could be lining up for McLaren this time next year.
Oliver: Alonso will roll the dice one last time and replace the retiring Vettel at Aston Martin, a team with more long-term potential than Alpine.
And finally…what’s your bold prediction for the 2022 season? (5 points)
Mark: This planet will still exist. Oh, sorry, something F1 related…Sebastian Vettel will win a race this season. Don’t ask me how.
Michelle: Russell will win a grand prix before Hamilton does.
Jon: That the only reigning or past Drivers’ World Champion on the grid at the start of 2023 will be Max Verstappen.
Henry: There won’t be an out-and-out backmarker. Every team will score at least 20 points this year.
Jamie: Mercedes will give up on their zero-pod idea.
Sam: Hamilton and Russell will crash into each other at some point.
Oliver: As the dust settles, Michael Masi will join a team (no, not Red Bull!) in a sporting director-type role. Despite everything, there must be a huge amount of knowledge to tap into there.