The 2022 Formula One season gets underway in Bahrain this weekend, with 10 teams and 20 drivers all competing for the title of world champion.

Lewis Hamilton vs Max Verstappen

A cloud of controversy still hangs over the sport after last season’s nail-biting finale in Abu Dhabi.

After leading the Grand Prix for its entirety, Lewis Hamilton’s eighth world title was snatched away by a last-lap pass that saw Max Verstappen become F1’s first Dutch world champion.

Verstappen has set the fastest time during pre-season testing, whilst Hamilton has continued to struggle in his porpoising Mercedes.

Ahead of the Grand Prix this weekend, Hamilton has said “Bahrain is going to be tough. It’s very bumpy in Bahrain right now. It’s going to be better than it was in testing because it is a night race, obviously.”

He added: “Obviously, the Red Bull looks ridiculously fast at the moment and the Ferrari. But we are the best team, so…”

Ferrari’s Resurgence

Having not competed for a world title since 2007, Ferrari seeks redemption in 2022.

The Italians finished 3rd in the constructor standings in 2021, their highest finish since 2019.

Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz both had stints at the top of the timesheets during testing but Team Principal, Mattia Binnotto, remains confident that they are not the favourites to win it all.

He said: “I still believe Red Bull and Mercedes are the main (favourites).

“I think as Ferrari, we should try to be at least outsiders, try to be as close as we can. And if we look at the performance so far…so difficult to judge. Certainly, I hope it will be very close at the end, all together.”

McLaren Struggles

A positive start to testing in Spain was overshadowed by disappointment in Bahrain for McLaren.

The British team encountered numerous new issues in testing, in a session that Lando Norris called “less than ideal”.

Norris added: “We’re behind where we want to be, where we need to be, and where we can say we’re confident in any way going into the first race. It’s not great but we’re getting through as much as we can. We’re definitely making progress, but definitely not in the position we want to be in.”

Daniel Ricciardo failed to make an appearance for the second stint of testing in Bahrain after contracting Covid-19. The Australian is attempting to overcome a disappointing season in 2021, where he finished 8th in the driver’s standings.


George Russell’s Mercedes Debut

George Russell makes his official debut for the Mercedes team on Sunday, replacing Valtteri Bottas.

The ex-Williams driver impressed many throughout 2021, with his best performance coming from a rain-soaked Belgium, where he finished 3rd.

Heading into 2022, the former F2 world champion remained positive despite Mercedes’s testing struggles. Speaking to Any Driven Monday, Russell said:
“The points and the championships from previous years don’t benefit you when you start a new season. Everyone is on zero, everyone starts from scratch, and I think that’s the exciting thing at the start of a new campaign”

Hulkenburg Replaces Vettel At Aston Martin

Nico Hulkenburg will make his return to Formula One for the first time since 2020, as he replaces the absent Sebastian Vettel.

Vettel tested positive for Covid-19 early on Thursday morning but aims to be back for the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix next week.

When and where?

The countdown to lights out in Bahrain begins with Qualifying at 3pm on Saturday, with the first race of the season taking place on Sunday at 3pm.

Featured Image Credit: The Presidential Press and Information Offices of Azerbaijan. (Creative Commons Licence)