Our 2022 Formula 1 predictions: Will Verstappen be in the top three?

07-01-2022 09:00
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2022 is upon us and work has already begun ahead of the upcoming Formula One season. The first race may not be until mid-March, but preparations are well underway as the teams navigate the new regulations.

Max Verstappen to finish outside the top three

We start with a big one. It’s been less than a month since Max Verstappen sealed his first world title, and Red Bull’s first Drivers’ Championship since 2013, but we think it could come at a huge cost.

It’s hard to say just how much time, effort and focus Red Bull put into the 2021 season, but it could have a detrimental effect on 2022. The Austrian outfit could well continue their upward trajectory, but we think that Honda’s withdrawal from the sport, and their focus on securing Verstappen’s title will see them drop away from the very front of the field.

As a result this will see Verstappen fall away from a title challenge. The Dutchman will no doubt secure a couple of victories along the way, but with Mercedes and an improved Ferrari team to compete with, Verstappen could be forced to drop back to the 4th and 5th placed finishes he was used to in his early Red Bull days.

He’ll be able to drag the car further up the field than it should, but it won’t be enough to secure a top three finish in the championship.

Haas to score points and close gap to the midfield

Haas’ 2021 season was one of the worst in Formula 1 history. Not only did they fail to score a single point, but they were miles off the pace in qualifying and the race. Mick Schumacher’s P12 at Hungary was their best result, and that was only due to the seven retirements in that race.

However, they didn’t develop the car at all last year, so they should be able to bounce back this season. Nikita Mazepin will be lucky to score points even if their car is vastly improved, but Schumacher has enough talent to score multiple points in 2022, and we think he’ll be able to close the gap to the likes of Aston Martin.

A closer title fight than 2021

Now this may seem extreme given Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton went into the final round level on points, but we think it could happen. The title protagonists may not head into the finale tied, but we believe it could well be a battle between four or five drivers for the title, similar to 2010.

That year there were three different constructors vying for the Drivers’ Championship, and with McLaren and Ferrari on the up, Red Bull perhaps falling back, and Mercedes hiring George Russell, it could be a case of four teams fighting for the Constructors’ Championship.

With Lando Norris and Daniel Ricciardo at McLaren, and Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz at Ferrari, they will compete right down to the wire with Red Bull and Mercedes.

Sebastian Vettel to retire at the end of the year

We saw Kimi Raikkonen retire at the end of 2021, and we unfortunately believe that 2022 could well be Sebastian Vettel’s last in F1. The German driver is now 34, and while he’s not quite Raikkonen’s age, he may decide to call it a day after this season.

His contract at Aston Martin expires at the end of the year, and while he could quite easily sign an extension, Vettel has previously said he’s been tempted by retirement before.

With Aston Martin falling to seventh last season, it could be another year of mediocrity for the team, and given Vettel has a family, he may choose to stop racing in order to spend more time with his wife and kids.

Russell to emulate Leclerc’s first season at Ferrari

George Russell’s promotion from Williams to Mercedes is an eagerly-awaited one, and we can’t wait to see how he’ll get on. His performances at Williams, and the display he showed when filling in for Hamilton in Bahrain in 2020, suggest he’s up to the task, and we believe he could have a similar season to Leclerc’s first campaign at Ferrari.

The Monegasque driver settled into the team immediately, and managed to extract the maximum out of his machinery, recording two victories in his debut season at the team. We predict that Russell’s first season at Mercedes will go in similar fashion.

Those are our five predictions for things that could happen in 2022, what do you make of them? Let us know in the comments section down below, and stay tuned for our upcoming pre-season content. 

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