It’s finally here, the first race week of the 2022 Formula 1 season. Are you excited? I’m excited. We’ve been counting down the days to lights out at the Bahrain Grand Prix, and ahead of that momentous occasion we have been rounding up everything you need to know about the sport. And now, we’re onto our final installment in the series.
Over the past few weeks, we’ve covered all the aerodynamic changes that have helped shape the 2022 F1 cars. And last week, we rounded up all the developments made to wheels and tires on this year’s racers.
Now, we’re tackling all the drivers, teams and tracks you’ll see over the course of the 2022 Formula 1 season. From returning drivers to team shuffles, we’ve you covered with everything you need to know before for lights out in Bahrain.
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Ch Ch Ch Changes
Ahead of Formula 1’s overhaul of its technical and sporting regulations, several teams decided they wanted to overhaul their personnel for the new season. This means that of the 10 teams you’ll find on the grid this year, four of them are fielding a new lineup of drivers in 2022.
The big news is at the top of the field, where the Mercedes AMG Formula 1 team has replaced veteran racer Valtteri Bottas with the promising young talent of George Russell. The move has been rumored for years as the team followed Russell’s development at Williams, where he has driven since 2019.
But last year, Mercedes could no longer ignore Russell’s potential. He consistently made appearances in both Q2 and Q3 in qualifying, helped the team secure its first double-digits points haul since 2017 and even earned his first podium in F1. It seemed inevitable that the young Brit would be offered the Mercedes drive, alongside seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton.
But what about Bottas? Well, the Finn has had a successful career at Mercedes. Sure, he hasn’t claimed the world title while at the team, but has put in some great performances. While at Mercedes, he racked up 10 wins across five seasons.
After leaving the Silver Arrows, he joins Alfa Romeo on a multi-year deal. Bottas replaces Kimi Raikkonen, who retired at the end of last year. The 32-year-old will no doubt be hoping that the Italian team has got a handle of the new regulations, after Alfa spent the past few years knocking round the back of the pack.
At his new team, Bottas will partner China’s first F1 driver, Zhou Guanyu. The 23-year-old racer joins F1 after finishing third in the 2021 Formula 2 championship.
Back With The Backmarkers
With George Russell departing Williams for Mercedes, a seat was freed up at the historic British team. That position has been filled by returning racer Alex Albon, who spent a year on the sidelines in 2021 after losing his seat at Red Bull Racing.
When it was announced that Albon would be making a return to the F1 grid, he said: “I am really excited and looking forward to returning to a Formula 1 race seat in 2022. I’m extremely thankful to Red Bull and Williams for believing in me and helping me on my journey back to the grid.”
The Thai-British racing driver, who will continue to be a Red Bull athlete while racing for the Mercedes-backed team, will partner Canadian driver Nicholas Latifi at Williams.
Meanwhile, American team Haas was the final squad to secure its driver lineup for the 2022 season. That’s because it recently severed ties with title sponsor Uralkali due to CEO Dmitry Mazepin’s connections with Russian president Vladimir Putin. Once the partnership was terminated, racer Nikita Mazepin was left out of a seat as his position at the team was directly linked to the deal.
Because of this, the team was left with just a few days to secure a second driver for its 2022 campaign. While many onlookers hoped that driving duties would be awarded to reserve racer Pietro Fittipaldi, the squad instead announced it would be bringing another old face back to the grid.
After departing the team in 2019 to be replaced by Nikita Mazepin, Danish racer Kevin Magnussen is back in Formula 1. He joins Mick Schumacher, who is entering his second season in the sport.
Magnussen raced for Haas between 2017 and 2020. During this time his best result for the American outfit was fifth place. Prior to this, he achieved his one and only podium in F1 with McLaren, a team he raced for in 2014.
The driver lineups across the remaining six teams on the grid remain unchanged.
As such, Red Bull will once again field reigning champion Max Verstappen and Mexican driver Sergio Pérez. Meanwhile, Aston Martin retains both Sebastian Vettel and Lance Stroll.
McLaren continues to partner Daniel Ricciardo and Lando Norris, while Ferrari retains its pairing of Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc.
At Alpine, it’s race-winner Esteban Ocon and Fernando Alonso. While Alpha Tauri retains both Yuki Tsunoda and Pierre Gasly.
It isn’t just the teams that are changing this year, there’s also a raft of updates to the 2022 F1 calendar.
While the season will, once again, kick off with a race in Bahrain, it’s all change after that. As it stands, the 2022 calendar takes in 22 races, after the Russian Grand Prix was canceled following the country’s invasion of Ukraine.
Among those 22 races are four iconic events that return to the schedule after being struck from the calendar for the past two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The first of these is Australia, with F1 racing around Albert Park once again in April.
The sport also has races scheduled in Canada in June, Singapore in the first week of October and Japan just seven days later.
F1 will also host its first event in Miami in May. Running on May 8, the event will take place on a new circuit on the grounds of the Miami Dolphins stadium. This will be the first of two events in the USA, with F1 returning to Circuit Of The Americas later in the year.
Elsewhere on the schedule there are races in Brazil, Mexico and The Netherlands. And F1 will return to hallowed circuits such as Spa, Monza, Imola and Silverstone before the season closes in Abu Dhabi.
But let’s not get caught up in the final race of the season just yet! We’ve got 22 grand prix to enjoy before then.
It’s a big year for Formula 1, with the new regulations expressly created to bring about closer racing. And, after testing in Bahrain last week, it really does look as though we could be treated to yet another stellar fight for the driver’s and constructor’s world championships this year.
So, you’d better set your alarm for 11 a.m. ET on Sunday, when lights go out in Bahrain for the first race of the 2022 F1 season.