Massive regulation changes are coming to F1 in 2022 and every team will be trying to take advantage of that, but which F1 team will see the most progress?
Now this is all just conjecture and guesses based on what the teams have told us and what their previous performance has been. We really won’t know what each team’s actual performance will be until pre-season testing and, even more likely, the first race.
So, by no means is this a comprehensive analysis of what will happen, rather what might happen.
Let’s take a look at the teams.
Of all the teams that will likely see progress that will actually put them in contention for race wins, maybe even a title win, Ferrari is the most likely. The team have made significant improvements in 2021 over 2020 and are no strangers to title fights. They also managed to improve their power units in 2021 using a modified hybrid system in the final third of 2021, that features a new energy store from 400 volts to 800. This certainly left the gap between McLaren much larger than it was during the first half of the season.
The team have promised something that the others have never mentioned – “significant innovations”. As Ferrari Team Principal, Mattia Binotto, said,
On top of the engineering, the team have the best driver duo on the grid with Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc who, when given the right machinery, can produce some fantastic results.
We go into more detail in another article.
For Haas, the only place they can go is up… or remain stagnant. But that doesn’t seem likely either. It is well known by now that the team had essentially written off 2021 in order to focus solely on 2022. Given this is the case, there’s no excuse in 2022 for lacklustre results. They won’t win any races in 2022 but they do need to start seeing results higher up in the midfield like they did just a few years ago. It’s certainly achievable too given that they have a bunch of Ferrari talent working for them now. Ferrari had to shuffle around a few employees due to the budget cap and given their working relationship with Haas, they sent most of their members down their way. Midfield fights are certainly achievable for Haas in 2022.
It was a weird year in 2021 for Aston Martin. When the team began underperforming in comparison to their Racing Point days, they put more of their focus on 2022. Since being bought by billionaire Lawrence Stroll, Aston Martin have access to a crazy amount of resources. They are no longer the small overachievers but aim to play with the big dogs.
As Aston Martin Technical Director, Andrew Green, said,
They also would have learnt a lot from copying Mercedes as Racing Point and maybe with their new access to resources mixed with this knowledge could provide a car that, at least in 2022, will be up the front of the midfield. It’s too early for them to be with the leaders but it is entirely possible that they will be a strong midfield team.
AlphaTauri were very strong in 2021 as their car had the performance to keep up and compete with Ferrari and McLaren. I always called Pierre Gasly the real scourge of Ferrari (in particular for Charles Leclerc). It was really Yuki Tsunoda that hampered the team’s progress, but given his rookie status, it was somewhat acceptable. But by the end of the season, Tsunoda showed some significant improvement.
The team are confident that if they just keep doing what they’re doing, they’ll be alright as Franz Tost, AlphaTauri Team Principal, said,
The most likely outcome for Alpha Tauri is to probably stay put in the rankings. Maybe slightly higher as long as Tsunoda performs well, which given that he outqualified Gasly in six of the last seven races of 2021, he just might.
Alpine are looking ahead a little further down the line than 2021. As Laurent Rossi, Alpine’s CEO, said, “We have a long-term project, the objective is to reach a level of competitiveness that places us on the podium as many times as possible in 2024. It’s a 100-race project, four years, four seasons.”
That doesn’t mean that 2022 is written off for the team. After all, they did quite well last year having managed to end an almost decade long drought of wins when Esteban Ocon won at Hungary. Fernando Alonso also managed to snag a few podiums as well. So the driver line-up is good to decent. It’s really the car that needs work in order for Alpine to catch up.
The team know this too which is why they have a new power unit concept that adopts the split turbo design popularised by Mercedes. Fernando Alonso seems to agree,
McLaren are very close to the pace of the frontrunners. That may be thanks to their use of Mercedes engines and with the 2022 car being the first time that McLaren will design a car based around this engine, the future is looking bright.
The knowledge gap is also beginning to close or maybe it has already. But McLaren CEO, Zak Brown, believes that the team is almost there,
They probably will be stuck in the midfield but they could surprise and eke out a few wins but a title fight is unlikely.
It is difficult to talk about Mercedes without direct reference to Red Bull as they face the same challenges going into 2022. What we can say about Mercedes with some confidence is that they are very unlikely to struggle in 2022. The only two things that may hamper their standing in 2022 is the driver duo and their lessened amount of available windtunnel runs.
We don’t know how Lewis Hamilton and George Russell will work together. Will they play nice, or will they compete with each and hamper their progress, leaving Red Bull to pick up the points left behind? Maybe they will push each other to reach new heights?
In regard to their available windtunnel runs, they have performed the same amount as Red Bull so no disadvantage there, but maybe Ferrari have the edge here.
A question that must be asked of both Red Bull and Mercedes is whether or not they used up all their resources in the 2021 championship fight? It doesn’t seem that Mercedes have according to Mike Elliot, Mercedes’ Technical Director,
Did they spend too much to win 2021? You might be tempted to think so, but they have likely spent no more resources than Mercedes did. As it stands, there is no evidence to suggest that Red Bull are at a disadvantage against Mercedes. Red Bull spent a lot towards the end of the season but Mercedes had to spend just a much at the beginning of the season thanks to aerodynamic rule changes. It seems the team definitely knew when and how to spend their money according to Pierre Wache, Red Bull’s Technical Director,
Red Bull and Mercedes are not the best just because they have a lot of money (yes, it’s a prerequisite for success, but it doesn’t always deliver results i.e., Ferrari). What adds to their success and why they won’t fall towards the back anytime soon, is their team. They have high quality personnel, fantastic facilities, superb working practices, and a culture of success.
What can we say is that the title fight will almost certainly still be between Mercedes and Red Bull but with the added possibility of a third challenger – Ferrari.
Williams have had a lot of rebuilding to, and they have already shown progress in 2021 since being bought by Dorilton. They managed to achieve a few points finishes and some impressive qualifying results. But one has to ask, was that all thanks to George Russell?
Nicholas Latifi also showed improvement in the car but never quite reached the same heights as his partner did. Maybe Alex Albon will bring something fresh to the table and take Williams further up the midfield. After all, he did drive for Red Bull, but… he was also fired from Red Bull.
For Williams, retaining eighth position is the minimum expectation for 2022. If they drop further down the grid, something has gone very, very wrong. They have the potential to climb a little further into the midfield and who knows maybe up a little further in a few years.
For Alfa Romeo, the acquisition of Valtteri Bottas has been described by Alfa Romeo team principal, Frederic Vasseur, as a “huge asset”. He’s fast, he’s experienced, and he’s in it for the long haul after having signed a multi-year deal with Alfa. The company are keen to see Bottas lead the team into a new era and beyond.
Newcomer, Guanyu Zhou, won’t likely make a huge impact in 2022 as each of the rookies last year faced their own share of problems.
What will make the difference is Alfa Romeo’s improved financial situation. They’ve got solid backing from the car company and the sponsorship deals that came with Zhou. As Fred Vasseur said,
The team are convinced they are heading in the right direction but likely aren’t expecting huge gains in 2022. They could earn more consistent points and maybe take Williams’ position. It seems likely those two will continue to fight each other for the lower end of the midfield.
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