One purpose to root for each Formulation One driver and staff in 2022

Combating whom to assist in Formulation One this yr? That is the information for you.

In compiling this record, it is putting how troublesome it’s to recollect one other time Formulation One had the depth of expertise it does proper now. There is a mixed 14 championships on the grid and 5 or 6 drivers who look greater than able to establishing themselves as F1’s largest star within the subsequent few seasons.

There’s loads of candidates on your favorite staff or driver in 2022. Right here we run down all of them.

The season begins with the Bahrain Grand Prix on Sunday, reside on ESPN (10.55 a.m. Japanese time).

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Mercedes

Mercedes is the benchmark towards which success is measured in F1 proper now. Generally it is simpler to root towards the dominant pressure however Mercedes have made profitable races an artwork type since 2014 and it’s genuinely exceptional the way it has continued to boost its personal bar in that point. If Mercedes stays on prime or stays aggressive by way of one other large rule change (it did the identical factor in 2018) there can be no denying that that is the best F1 dynasty we have ever seen.

44. Lewis Hamilton

Followers of Lewis Hamilton have seen him rewrite F1’s historical past books repeatedly lately and he goes into this yr making an attempt to win an unprecedented eighth championship. He was controversially denied that file final yr and comes into this season with a rating to settle, which is usually when he races at his very best (see final yr’s Brazilian Grand Prix).

Hamilton, knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in December, is a spectacular racing driver. He is amazingly quick, whereas his good race craft and good tyre administration typically open up technique choices for Mercedes that might not exist for many different drivers. As a bonus, his legacy is not going to simply be outlined on the race monitor. Hamilton, the one Black driver within the sport’s 72-year historical past, has develop into an actual pressure for social change worldwide, pumping tens of millions of his personal cash into enhancing variety in Formulation One.

63. George Russell

After years of ready patiently for his likelihood, the time is now for George Russell. We noticed how good he is perhaps when he was one botched pit-stop away from profitable as Lewis Hamilton’s stand-in on the 2020 Sakhir Grand Prix and lots of within the paddock assume Russell is a Formulation One megastar within the making. If he lives as much as expectations Russell would be the way forward for Mercedes’ F1 venture for a very long time.

This yr Russell races alongside probably the greatest of all time and he might lay a marker down instantly by beating Hamilton throughout the season. Famously, Hamilton introduced his arrival on the scene by doing the identical to reigning two-time champion Fernando Alonso at McLaren in 2007. Might historical past repeat itself in 2022?

Crimson Bull

Crimson Bull is likely one of the greatest groups of the trendy period on and off the race monitor, an ideal mix of racing pedigree and prime stage advertising and marketing. Whether or not it is the enormous floating motorhome it brings to the Monte Carlo harbour for the Monaco Grand Prix, conducting a pit-stop at zero-gravity at an altitude of 10,000 metres, or letting Max Verstappen drive one among his automobiles down a ski slope, you’ll be able to at all times rely on Crimson Bull to do one thing utterly totally different to the remainder.

On monitor, it additionally occurs to be constantly one of many grid’s strongest groups, with chief automotive designer Adrian Newey nonetheless as revered now as he was 15 years in the past. Its driver programme stays the most effective producer of younger F1 expertise on the grid by a snug distance.

1. Max Verstappen

Max Verstappen, F1’s defending champion, has modified the sport since his debut in 2015, not simply as F1’s youngest race winner, however in utterly reshaping the game’s guidelines of wheel to wheel racing. His method is controversial to some however Verstappen can do issues with a automotive few others can match. Like Ayrton Senna, his refusal to surrender a nook when going wheel to wheel with one other driver has earned him a legion of assist — a motorsport survey of 167,000 followers performed final yr named Verstappen F1’s hottest driver.

Most amazingly with Verstappen is how unaffected he’s by the adulation and stress which surrounds him. His tempo might be relentless, virtually metronomic, corresponding to his untouchable efficiency ultimately yr’s Dutch Grand Prix, the primary ever in his dwelling nation since 1985. Verstappen appeared to be the one individual in Zandvoort who did not see what all of the fuss was about.

11. Sergio Perez

Sergio Perez at all times appeared like he was going to be one among F1’s unfulfilled skills when he was caught as a midfield driver who usually out-performed his automobiles for the odd podium right here and there. Then, he received in Bahrain final yr and moved to Crimson Bull for 2021, presenting the chance of a lifetime. It was troublesome to argue he did not deserve the chance.

Perez’s stage of assist in Mexico borderlines on non secular worship and as a racing driver he stays one among F1’s hottest. His model is tough to dislike and on the races he might tame the RB17 Crimson Bull final yr he was actually good — he must be much more comfy on the staff this season. Perez additionally confirmed his worth to Crimson Bull on the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix final yr, incomes himself the nickname of Mexico’s Minister of Defence for the way in which he held off Hamilton at a key level within the race.

Ferrari

How will you not love Ferrari? The Italian staff is steeped in historical past, having been a part of each F1 season for the reason that world championship began in 1950, however is getting into its 14th straight season with no title. Over the previous few years Ferrari’s behavior of falling in need of expectations and underwhelming racing followers throughout the globe has felt like a reasonably merciless joke. This might be the yr that every one modifications, which is sufficient of a purpose to root for the Prancing Horse in 2022.

16. Charles Leclerc

Charles Leclerc was on his option to turning into an celebrity in 2019 as a a number of race winner earlier than Ferrari bought into bother with the FIA over its engine and slid down the aggressive order in 2020 and 2021. However Leclerc’s exceptional expertise is not possible to disclaim. He claimed pole place on the Monaco Grand Prix final yr however a crash on the finish of qualifying in the end stopped him from profitable his dwelling race.

Leclerc is a particular expertise, who has received at each stage of racing he is been at and who virtually everybody within the F1 paddock earmarked as a future world champion from the primary second he stepped by way of its gates.

55. Carlos Sainz

Someway, Carlos Sainz nonetheless looks like an undervalued and underappreciated expertise. He is one among many motor racing stars who’ve struggled to interrupt out of the shadow of a well-known racing surname. Rejected by Crimson Bull earlier than stints at Renault and McLaren, final yr at Ferrari lastly felt like a correct breakout for the Spanish driver and he’s chasing that first F1 win this season.

However why cease there? He out-performed Leclerc, a longtime prime tier driver, throughout final season. Leclerc looks as if Mr Ferrari and the extra logical decide for ‘Ferrari driver who might be champion in 2022’, however Sainz thrives greatest when he’s being written off. If you wish to root for the underdog, Sainz is your man.

McLaren

Like Ferrari, McLaren is a sleeping big and one of many sport’s most revered groups. Nevertheless, its final constructors’ championship victory was in 2007 and it is solely simply dragged itself out of the darkish days of some years in the past when it was struggling to even make it out of the primary qualifying session each weekend. McLaren’s huge F1 headquarters in Woking, England appears like one thing out of a science fiction film.

It is an thrilling period for McLaren and this new regulation change looks like its alternative to maneuver again to the massive time. CEO Zak Brown has accomplished an amazing job rebuilding the F1 staff over the previous 5 years whereas juggling a return to IndyCar and an entry to Excessive E. Brown additionally appears dedicated to giving younger North American skills like Colton Herta a possibility to get their foot within the door in Formulation One.

4. Lando Norris

Lando Norris appears to be on an unstoppable rise to international superstardom. He is solely 22 however he is getting into his fourth season of Formulation One as one of many sport’s hottest drivers. Norris is like F1’s Gen Z star — he loves gaming and nonetheless usually streams to very large numbers on Twitch. He is completely happy speaking about psychological well being points and the way he offers with the stress of arriving in F1 so younger and with so many expectations.

One more reason he’s so fashionable away from all that’s that his expertise matches the hype. He out-performed Daniel Ricciardo final yr and will have received the Russian Grand Prix. That first win will come, there is not any doubt about that. Norris appears able to problem for a world championship as quickly as he has a automotive able to taking him there.

3. Daniel Ricciardo

Australia’s Daniel Ricciardo typically appears extra like he is on the brink of host Saturday Evening Reside than race in Formulation One, however that’s all a bit deceptive. Within the automotive Ricciardo stays one among F1’s prime skills, with eight wins to his identify since 2014.

Ricciardo is the driving force you need within the automotive when you have even the faintest sniff at victory, as he appears to discover a new stage in these moments, like ultimately yr’s Italian Grand Prix for McLaren. On his day Ricciardo is one among F1’s greatest drivers. He the game’s greatest at out-braking one other driver right into a nook — “lick the stamp and ship it”, as he described it. He risked so much in transferring from Crimson Bull to Renault in 2018 and at McLaren he hopes to return to the winners’ circle extra typically.

And if all that does not persuade you, he additionally drinks champagne out of his shoe when he is on the rostrum.

Alpine

Alongside Crimson Bull, Ferrari and Mercedes, Alpine (a sub-brand of Renault) is one among solely 4 F1 groups that builds its personal engines. That makes it a real constructor in F1 phrases, and in idea it might additionally make it F1’s sleeping big. The staff primarily based in Enstone has a protracted historical past within the sport, courting all the way in which again to Toleman — the staff that gave Ayrton Senna his F1 debut — and contains the title-winning outfits of Benetton and Renault, which helped Michael Schumacher and Fernando Alonso safe their first titles.

Common management modifications lately have meant long-term plans have been altered on an virtually annual foundation, and it stays uncertain that the staff will return to the entrance of the grid below its present five-year plan. Former Aston Martin staff boss Otmar Szafnauer is now in command of making that occur and will probably be fascinating to see how the staff evolves below his command.

Additionally, if you happen to like pink automobiles then Alpine is the staff for you. The French outfit will run a putting all-pink livery on the first two races earlier than switching again to a mixture of its conventional blue and pink for the remainder of the season.

14. Fernando Alonso

He hasn’t received a championship in over 15 years, however some say Alonso remains to be probably the most full driver in Formulation One. The 2-time world champion, who secured his titles again in 2005 and 2006 with Renault, is a tenacious competitor and nonetheless a real challenger for victories if he ever will get his arms on a automotive able to doing so. He can learn a race from the cockpit higher than some engineers handle from the pit wall, marking him out as a contender for factors irrespective of the place he begins on the grid.

After which there’s the story of unfulfilled potential. He is the driving force who ended Schumacher’s dominance within the early 2000s and seemed set to problem the seven-time champion’s data, just for a collection of dramas and poorly timed staff swaps to place a cap on his success. Alonso might simply be a five-time champion by now, however for therefore many causes he is caught on two. It could be an enormous story if the 40-year-old bought one final shot on the title earlier than retiring.

31. Esteban Ocon

Ocon is a real fighter. Not like lots of his contemporaries in F1, he did not have a racing driver dad or bucket a great deal of cash to construct his profession, and as a substitute needed to do it purely on uncooked expertise and outcomes. He beat Verstappen to the Formulation 3 title in 2014, however nonetheless needed to work twice as exhausting to make his debut in F1 two years later with backmarkers Manor.

Simply as his profession was constructing momentum at Pressure India in 2018, he was pressured right into a yr on the sidelines in 2019 when Lawrence Stroll purchased the staff and drafted in his son, Lance, to interchange Ocon. However the Frenchman fought again and returned in 2020 as a fair stronger driver earlier than taking the primary win of his profession on the chaotic 2021 Hungarian Grand Prix.

Had the timing of his arrival in F1 labored out in a different way, his hyperlinks with Mercedes might have seen him alongside Hamilton in a world championship-winning automotive, however for no matter purpose it wasn’t meant to be. However, do not rule him out for title success sooner or later.

AlphaTauri

It could be Crimson Bull’s junior staff, however AlphaTauri is arguably the best outfit in F1. Borrowing its identify and its model from Crimson Bull’s Austrian trend home means it is at all times trying sharp and the automotive’s crisp blue and white livery is a success with followers.

However do not write it off as model over substance; AlphaTauri has a protracted historical past of punching above its weight and has twice received its dwelling race, the Italian Grand Prix, in 2020 with Pierre Gasly and in 2008 with Sebastian Vettel when the staff was referred to as Toro Rosso. It is also been step one into F1 for all of Crimson Bull’s home-grown expertise, together with Vettel, Max Verstappen, Carlos Sainz and Daniel Ricciardo.

Go additional again within the staff’s historical past and you will find the legendary Minardi identify, which fought doggedly as a plucky backmarker in F1 for over 20 years.

10. Pierre Gasly

Pierre Gasly is one among two nice Crimson Bull reject redemption tales on the grid. Dropped by the staff in summer time 2019, he returned to its secondary outfit and received the Italian Grand Prix in 2020, which stays one of the vital astonishing race victories in F1 historical past. Rooting for Gasly, you are assured of two issues — he’ll qualify effectively and he’ll race exhausting, with lots of the perception he was usually out-performing the automotive in 2021.

Gasly nonetheless appears unable to persuade Crimson Bull he deserves a second likelihood, which is all of the extra purpose to leap onto the Staff Gasly bandwagon this yr.

22. Yuki Tsunoda

It is troublesome to search out causes to dislike Yuki Tsunoda. He is the primary to crack a joke about how small he’s (he stands at 5 foot 2 / 1.59m, small even by racing driver requirements) and admit he wants to surrender Uber Eats and gaming if he needs to remain in F1 long run. As a rookie, he struggled for consistency, however gave endearingly frank self-assessments to the media, which is a rarity in a sport as cut-throat as F1 and in an surroundings as notoriously unforgiving as Crimson Bull.

On monitor the Japanese driver might be one of the vital thrilling wheel-to-wheel racers of the lot and if he lives as much as all his guarantees of self-improvement in his spare time, he simply may be capable of present everybody what all of the hype was about when he joined F1.

Aston Martin

The legendary British sports activities automotive model returned to F1 final yr after a 61-year absence. If you understand the Aston Martin model, we cannot must work too exhausting to persuade you ways cool it’s, however assume James Bond and British engineering as the overall vibe.

Nevertheless, the racing staff behind the identify dates again to Jordan, which scrapped away as F1’s perennial underdog for practically 20 years earlier than being purchased by Indian billionaire Vijay Mallya. It is newest consortium of homeowners, led by Lawrence Stroll, have set their sights on shopping for their option to the entrance of the grid, so if you wish to be a part of a staff at first of its success journey, Aston Martin isn’t a foul place to look.

5. Sebastian Vettel

After Hamilton, Vettel has received probably the most titles of any driver on the grid with 4 to his identify from his time at Crimson Bull. Since then he is pushed and received races for Ferrari, the place he was adored by the staff however struggled to ship a title, and final yr switched to Aston Martin the place he hopes to rekindle his profession.

Vettel isn’t solely a proficient driver but in addition probably the greatest ambassadors for the game. Previously 12 months he has campaigned for LGBTQ+ rights in Hungary, promoted the significance of recycling after the British Grand Prix and proven his assist for Ukraine on his helmet following Russia’s latest invasion.

18. Lance Stroll

The son of staff co-owner Lawrence Stroll, Lance appears set to be a everlasting fixture on the staff for so long as he needs to stay in F1. He is about as laid again as a driver might be, however has proven glimpses of his underlying ardour for F1 when outcomes have gone his means, corresponding to his epic moist climate pole place qualifying lap on the 2020 Turkish Grand Prix.

Williams

Within the Nineteen Eighties and Nineteen Nineties, Williams was a powerhouse in Formulation One. The staff nonetheless sits second as probably the most profitable outfit by way of constructors’ championship victories — with 9 to its identify — however hasn’t received a title since 1997. Despite the fact that it’s not owned by the Williams household, everybody in Formulation One nonetheless has a tender spot for the British staff. To see the historic identify return to the entrance of the sphere can be one of many nice feel-good tales in sport, though the possibilities of that occuring this yr stay extremely slim.

23. Alexander Albon

Within the area of three years, Albon has had a rollercoaster F1 profession. On the finish of 2018 after a robust exhibiting in Formulation 2, it seemed like he was set to forge a path in Formulation E just for Crimson Bull to come back knocking on the final minute and signal him as much as fill a spot at its junior staff, Toro Rosso, for 2019. He was so spectacular within the first half of the 2019 season that he was promoted to the senior Crimson Bull staff halfway by way of the yr after which given a shot at partnering Verstappen for a full season in 2020. Sadly issues did not go his means and by the top of the yr he was again out of F1 and racing in Germany’s DTM collection in 2021.

However for all of the ups and downs, there is not any doubt that Albon deserves one other shot on the pinnacle of the game. At Williams he might have discovered the right surroundings to construct his confidence and show simply how good he’s.

6. Nicholas Latifi

He is one of many nicest guys in F1 and, on his day, has proven the potential to attain factors in an underperforming automotive. Over the previous two years he struggled to shine alongside Russell at Williams, however that will have been a mirrored image of how good his former teammate was reasonably than a mark towards his personal expertise.

Going up towards Albon is an efficient alternative for Latifi to point out he can nonetheless problem the most effective of F1’s younger drivers, and his success in doing so might decide how lengthy he stays within the sport after his present contract expires on the finish of the yr.

Alfa Romeo

Alfa Romeo has one of many longest motor racing histories of any automotive firm on the planet. Enzo Ferrari began out racing Alfa Romeos within the Nineteen Twenties and the identify remains to be one of the vital evocative within the motor business. These days, Alfa Romeo’s presence in F1 is a branding train as a part of a sponsorship cope with the Sauber F1 staff — the Swiss-based outfit that also makes and runs the automobiles. However when the branding appears nearly as good because the livery on this yr’s Alfa Romeo C42, that is merely another excuse to get behind the staff.

What’s extra, Sauber is one among F1’s most likeable groups, with a protracted historical past of punching above its weight and the quirky truth it is the one staff not primarily based in both the U.Ok. or Italy. This yr, it seems to have made a step ahead below the brand new laws, which might make it an everyday level scorer as soon as extra.

77. Valtteri Bottas

For the previous 5 years, Bottas has been greatest identified for being Lewis Hamilton’s teammate, so the change to Alfa Romeo is a bit like hitting the reset button on his profession. He’d nonetheless be at Mercedes if he’d had the selection, however the hope is that the brand new surroundings will assist re-energise the Finn after so a few years enjoying second fiddle to Hamilton. On his day, he is clearly one of many quickest drivers in F1 and was able to beating Hamilton in straight fights on multiple event.

If he can discover extra consistency now the stress is off, his profession might get a second wind that propels him again to the entrance of the grid. Beneath the straight-talking exterior there’s a brilliantly dry sense of humour, which can hopefully shine by way of as he leads Alfa Romeo this yr.

24. Zhou Guanyu

Zhou is China’s first full-time F1 driver and arrives within the sport with the expectation of nation weighing on his shoulders. F1 has lengthy tried to crack the Chinese language market, however regardless of a small and dependable fanbase that attends every race in Shanghai, the game has not gone mainstream within the nation. F1 hopes Zhou, who he’s undoubtedly probably the most proficient driver to emerge from China to this point, will change that.

He’s additionally the one rookie driver on the grid this yr, which comes with a level of stress but in addition a helpful excuse if he makes errors. He carried out moderately effectively in F2 final yr, taking 4 victories and ending third total, however there are a lot of who imagine the prospect to race in F1 at Alfa Romeo ought to have gone to the person who beat Zhou to the F2 title, Oscar Piastri. Zhou, naturally, might be making an attempt to show his doubters mistaken in 2022.

Haas

It is endured a couple of troublesome seasons lately, however when F1’s American staff is aggressive it’s the grid’s equal of Scrappy-Doo. A small outfit which has at occasions punched effectively above its weight on restricted sources in comparison with the remainder. Add to that the circumstances this yr, the place it comes into the season with no title sponsor and with a automotive that set headline grabbing occasions in apply, and it is perhaps one other nice underdog story.

47. Mick Schumacher

This one is simple. Mick Schumacher has probably the most well-known surname in motor racing. His father Michael is one among F1’s biggest ever and is beloved by followers so it is pure to need his son to be a hit. Mick looks like an F1 model of Dale Earnhardt Jr in that regard.

Schumacher’s race quantity, 47, is a nod to his dad — he is stated beforehand he looks like he is racing “for quantity seven”, a reference to the variety of titles his father received in his unbelievable profession.

However like Dale Jr, Mick can be decided to be his personal man and show he belongs on advantage. He has an amazing alternative to try this in 2022 in what might be a aggressive Haas. It is exhausting to search out many individuals in racing who don’t desire this to be one other Schumacher racing success story.

20. Kevin Magnussen

One of many nice comeback tales in F1’s latest historical past, Magnussen doubted he’d ever drive in F1 once more at first of this month, solely to be referred to as upon to come back again to Haas and change Nikita Mazepin. Magnussen is a hard-racing driver who battles for each inch of monitor, which is ideal for what Haas will want within the midfield this yr.

When he must be, he is outspoken and as his well-known run-in with Nico Hulkenberg exhibits, he is by no means afraid of telling one other driver the place to go. The Dane’s scrappy angle completely matches the Haas staff, which makes ‘Ok-Magazine’ very troublesome to root towards.

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