The 2022 Formula 1 Championship is underway and it’s shaping up to be a classic year, following a spectacular opening race in Bahrain. Here’s our guide to the drivers and teams competing in F1 this year.
Want to brush up on your team knowledge ahead of the rest of the season? Here’s everything you need to know about the 2021 Formula 1 teams and drivers.
2022 F1 team guide
Here are the F1 teams and drivers for the 2022 season. Which team has the best-looking car, do you think, and which drivers will you be supporting this year? Let us know in the comments.
Mercedes retains Lewis Hamilton but Valtteri Bottas is gone for 2022, replaced by British driver George Russell, formerly of Williams.
Russell briefly deputised for Hamilton at the end of the 2020 season, after the seven-times world champion tested positive for Covid-19. Russell put in an impressive performance that, for a while was looking like a debut victory, or at least a podium. That was until a puncture put an end to his hard charge.
Russell has repeatedly proven his ability in qualifying with Williams and it’ll be exciting to see the team dynamics at play now he’s paired with Hamilton.
The W13 challenge is 18 months in the making and 98% new, according to Mercedes, and it includes some interesting wavy bodywork at the side-skirts and underneath, though the team seems to have a fundamental issue with “porpoising”, whereby the nose of the car bounces, thereby unsettling the car under braking.
Pre-season, anyone betting against them for a shot at the drivers’ and constructors’ titles in 2022 would have needed their head examined, but it doesn’t look like 2022 will be Mercedes’ year.
Red Bull Racing
Red Bull was second out of the blocks to reveal its 2022 team and livery, complete with a new title sponsor.
The driver line-up remains the same at Red Bull. Sergio Pérez’s performance in 2021 was solid rather than spectacular, but he has proven himself to be a great team player capable of skillfully defending positions, such as was seen in Abu Dhabi where he kept Hamilton behind for a time, allowing Verstappen to catch up.
Honda is slowly-slowly pulling out of F1 (again) so Red Bull has bought the intellectual property rights to its engine, meaning that the team will continue with an update of the same hybrid powertrain — no bad thing as Honda is leaving the sport having finally developed a front-running powertrain (again). Red Bull has also poached a number of powertrain engineers from the likes of Mercedes, which could prove beneficial over time.
Sadly, despite clear speed, there are reliability concerns after both cars retired from the opening grand prix of the season in Bahrain.
No driver changes at Ferrari with Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz remaining. The Scuderia has taken full advantage of the substantial shake-up to the car design rules to create what looks like the fastest car going into the first part of the season, and Ferrari scored a brilliant one-two at Bahrain.
Ferrari said the design phase of the new F1-75 “was tackled with an innovative, unconventional approach”, which suggests the engineers took risks in order to try to leapfrog Mercedes and Red Bull, and clearly that has paid off.
Clearly the team to beat this year.
There’s consistency in the driver line-up at McLaren, with Daniel Ricciardo and Lando Norris both staying at the Woking-based team, though the engineers don’t seem to have interpreted the new car rules as well as rivals and the MCL36 looks to be a backmarker in 2022.
Still, Norris is tipped as a future world champion and Ricciardo scored some stunning results in the second half of 2021, including a sensational win in Italy, so the drivers will hope for some points as the season progresses.
A decent 2021 performance for the old campaigner Fernando Alonso sees him stay at Alpine alongside Esteban Ocon.
The team has a new title sponsor in BWT and its pink branding will dominate the car for the first two races of the season as a thank you to the Austrian water treatment firm, before reverting to the livery you see above.
Alpine improved throughout 2021 and Alonso scored a brilliant podium in Qatar, so the team will be hoping it can be at the top of the chasing pack in 2022.
Staff at both factories, at Enstone, UK and Viry-Châtillon, France, spent 18 months working on the car and they’ve taken a brave approach, particularly with the RE22 power unit; Alpine CEO Laurent Rossi told the engineers to go for broke with a new split turbine and compressor design pioneered by Mercedes, so it could be very powerful but potentially unreliable. Particularly given it’s the only team using the Renault machinery, meaning it’ll have done fewer testing miles by the time of the first race.
Those concerns didn’t seem to be an issue in Bahrain, with both cars managing to finish in the top 10 in Bahrain. Expect Alpine to be near the top of the mid-pack.
As you can tell from the pictures, AlphaTauri seems to have been relaunched this year as a fashion brand as much as a racing team. Couture aside, though, prospects for Red Bull’s B-team on track are decent given the resources available from its behemoth parent company.
But while the car design appears to be one of the neatest and the ex-Honda power unit is strong, performance seems to be adequate rather than spectacular.
Pierre Gasly was one of the real stars of 2021 and we can expect him to extract the most from the 2022 package, though his engine caught fire in Bahrain so reliability may be as much a concern for the team as raw pace.
Yuki Tsunoda remains, too, though he performed well below expectations last year and could be inconsistent again this year, which would hamper the team’s prospects in the constructors’ championship. Despite flashes of speed, to have secured a seat for 2022 suggests Tsunoda brings more to the team than driving duties.
Sebastian Vettel and Lance Stroll remain with Aston Martin. Four-times world champion Vettel, having earned Aston Martin its first podium position at Baku in 2021, is a good choice for a team that needs an experienced winner right now.
Stroll is the son of the billionaire team owner, which helps, but he has also shown good speed and has shone on track from time to time.
The car appears to be slower than many expected, though Aston seems to be quicker than McLaren and Williams. Expect mid-pack results this year.
A new line-up at Alfa Romeo sees Kimi Räikkönen, who’s retired from F1, and Antonio Giovinazzi, who’s headed over to race in Formula E, replaced by Lewis Hamilton’s old Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas and the first Chinese F1 driver, Guanyu Zhou. Reserve driver duties will once again be performed by Robert Kubica.
Bottas has proven himself more than capable of winning races, so his performance at Alfa Romeo will be an interesting one to watch, especially now he’s the clear team number one driver. That worked wonders for Pierre Gasly when he returned to AlphaTauri after a disappointing spell in the Red Bull A-team.
Zhou finished third in the 2021 F2 championship and won the 2021 F3 Asian series, so there’s plenty of talent there, and he proved quick and consistent at the first race in Bahrain.
But while the C42 seems to be a step up from the 2021 car, Alfa may struggle for points in 2022.
What a difference a year makes. The 2021 season was an embarrassment for Haas, with its inexperienced drivers Mick Schumacher and Nikita Mazepin battling to keep the worst cars in F1 on the track… and away from each other.
But Haas’s decision early in 2021 to halt development of that year’s car to concentrate on the new VF-22 proved a wise one, and with its Ferrari power the car was very quick indeed in Bahrain.
It seems that not only has Haas leapfrogged several teams in one go but we now expect them to score points at most races. It’s easily the biggest turnaround of recent years, and a brilliant underdog story.
Off track, though, it was a disastrous start for the team, as it took the decision on February 24 to drop its Russian title sponsor Uralkali as a result of the country’s invasion of Ukraine. Team boss Guenther Steiner said that the team has no financial woes with the loss of Uralkali, though some wonder how true that can that be. Uralkali is now taking the team to court to claim a refund on its investment.
Better news is that replacing its Russian driver Nikita Mazepin with Kevin Magnussen, after Motorsport UK banned Russians from competing in Britain, on a new multi-year deal seems to have been inspired. The Dane easily outpaced team-mate Mick Schumacher in Bahrain and scored a brilliant fifth in Bahrain (helped by the two Red Bulls retiring, but still very impressive).
With George Russell at Mercedes, Williams’ new lead driver is the returning British-Thai driver Alex Albon, backed up by returning pilot Nicholas Latifi.
Williams has had a number of lacklustre seasons, to say the least, and its first full year not under the control of the Williams family doesn’t look like a return to the glory achieved under its recently-deceased founder in the 1980s and 1990s.
For our money, the FW44 is the most attractive car on the grid, though it seems to have less grip than the best cars out there, and neither car scored points at the opening race. Significant changes within the team mean this could be another development year before we see a proper step up in performance in 2023.
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