Whilst the current Formula One’s (F1) season is still thoroughly under way, there is no harm in getting exited for what is to come, especially following the recent announcements regarding the 2022 season. Since early September the teams started revealing the changes that would be made to their line ups but the bombshell among them was Valtteri Bottas’s move from Mercedes to Alpha Romeo. As if that wasn’t enough, the very next day George Russell confirmed his position at Mercedes. This has been anticipated by fans ever since Russell was signed to the Mercedes “young driver programme” in 2017, and their reaction was no disappointment. As a result of George’s move, the field opened up for Alex Albon to make his return to Formula One and he will subsequently be taking George’s place at Williams. So, why does this mean we should start getting excited? Well other than the obvious – the rivalries, the thrill, the speed – these changes are going to introduce completely new dynamics to the coming season!
We are currently in the midst of a dramatic tussle between Mercedes and Red Bull for the championship (Verstappen currently has it by six points), with all still to play for. This rivalry is set to continue next season, but will Russell give Mercedes the edge? After Hamilton was hit with COVID-19 during the 2020 season, and was unable to drive the Sakhir Grand Prix, George was pulled up to take his place. This incredibly thrilling GP demonstrated the extent of Russell’s skill after he led the race for 59 out of the total 87 laps only to let down by a puncture and a catastrophic pit stop. Though we are yet to see the relationship dynamic pan out between Lewis and his new teammate, would it be implausible to believe we have the makings of a Hamilton vs Button rivalry on our hands?
When you are being compared with a 7-time world champion, it’s easy to under appreciate bottas’ ability as a driver
Another pairing that has the potential to make next season one to remember is that of Bottas and Giovinazzi. So far this season Alpha Romeo have remained relatively under the radar, bar a strong race in Russia landing Kimi his best result in two years (P8), but could their luck be changing with the addition of Bottas? Furthermore, could this change be just what Bottas needs to break away from Lewis’s shadow? You don’t have to be an avid Formula One fan to know that anyone partnered with Lewis has the high pressure job of keeping up. Whilst Bottas has given it a good shot, when you are being compared with a 7-time world champion, it’s easy to under appreciate his ability as a driver. When looking at his stats over the last five years, he has had 10 wins and so is a talent Alpha Romeo will greatly benefit from, especially after the retirement of a legend like Raikkonen. It should put them in a strong position for the coming season. Furthermore, the low-pressure environment that Alpha Romeo Provides for Bottas, similar that of Aston Martin for Vettel, could be just what he needs to develop his skill further. It’s this that will be so interesting to watch develop over the 2022 season.
If that wasn’t enough excitement already, there is also the addition of some interesting new regulations that are being implemented next year. Currently the teams are having to adhere to a $175 million spending cap, this is being reduced in 2022 to $140 million, initiating a sliding scale over the next four years. In theory, this means that the playing field will be levelled for the smaller teams such as Williams and Haas. Due to COVID-19 the teams were allowed to carry large parts of the 2020 cars over to the 2021 cars, such as the chassis, which is something that has a large bearing on how the car performs. As a result, questions have been raised in regards to how fair the cap actually is. Now COVID-19 is beginning to subside, the normal regulations are being reinstated and all teams must keep within the spending cap. So, though it might not be immediate, the coming season might be the start of equalising the field and the initiation some changes within the bigger teams.
The emphasis for environmental responsibility is growing every day as people are becoming more aware of their impact on the planet
Recently, Formula One has come under a lot of scrutiny for its effects on the environment. The 2022 season will see a rise in efforts on the sustainability front, specifically regarding fuel. The manufacturing of fuel to be more eco-friendly in F1 is an ongoing process and the fuel used next season will be something known as “E-10” (the E being Ethanol and the 10 being the percentage of the mixture.) The use of this new fuel means Formula One is slowly adapting with the changing world. The emphasis for environmental responsibility is growing every day as people are becoming more aware of their impact on the planet. The danger is that sports like Formula One will have no place in this eco future. The adaptations to the fuel are even more reassuring that the racing bodies are doing their hardest to make sure that we, the fans, will continue to be entertained every Sunday!
So, there you have it. You have drama, you have tension and progress! The 2022 Formula One season is set to be one for the books. Whether you are reading this as a seasoned F1 fan, or it has simply peaked your interest and you are doing some research, the coming season is one for all. But the most exiting thing? We can predict and speculate all we want but until the lights go out on that first Sunday we will have no idea; everything is all to play for.