F1 preview 2022: full Formula One teams and drivers grid guide

All-new cars could shake up the order, while Russell joins Mercedes, Zhou is China’s first F1 driver and Magnussen returns in Mazepin’s seat

Ten teams and 20 drivers will once again take to the starting grid to kick off the 2022 F1 season in Bahrain this weekend.

But although there hasn’t been as much driver movement over the winter as usual, the field looks radically different thanks to brand-new technical regulations that mandate simpler aerodynamics and bring back ‘ground effect’ for the first time since the early eighties. 

Closer, harder and more entertaining racing from lights to flag has been promised – as well as a closing of the gap between the frontrunners and the midfield.

Mercedes-AMG

  • Engine: Mercedes-AMG
  • Races: 249  
  • Wins: 124
  • Titles: 8  
  • Last year: 1st

2022 Prospects

Merc will be right there once again– but the fight could be even closer and more unpredictable than 2021. 

While the 2021 driver’s title slipped from Hamilton’s hands in controversial fashion in the closing laps at Abu Dhabi, the Silver Arrows did continue their unbroken run of constructors’ championship victories, which now stretches right back to 2014.

The utter dominance seen in recent seasons is unlikely to be repeated – simply because there are so many paths of development for both Mercedes and its rivals to follow with the new cars.

Red Bull will be right there and it’s increasingly looking like Ferrari will be, too, with McLaren not far behind. You only have to look at the ultra-skinny sidepods that Mercedes introduced between the Barcelona and Bahrain pre-season tests to appreciate the pace of technical change that F1 will experience for at least the first few races of 2022.

Drivers

44 - Lewis Hamilton

  • Races: 288  
  • Wins: 103
  • Titles: 8  
  • Last year: 2nd 
  • Age: 37 

2022 Prospects

The 2021 finale was a bitter pill to swallow, but Hamilton looks like he has emerged from the off-season with his incredible drive and competitiveness undimmed – it’s game on.

63 - George Russell

  • Races: 60  
  • Wins: 0
  • Titles: 0  
  • Last year: 15th 
  • Age: 24  

2022 Prospects

Russell has been the ‘next big thing’ for a few years; now it’s time to deliver. He’ll need to better Hamilton on at least a couple of weekends to keep his strong reputation intact.

Red Bull Racing

  • Engine: Red Bull
  • Races: 326  
  • Wins: 75
  • Titles: 4  
  • Last year: 2nd

2022 Prospects 

Red Bull will be going all out to win both titles this year, not just the drivers’ – and there’s every chance it’ll do it.

While the circumstances of the 2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix will be debated for as long as there are motor-racing fans, there’s no doubt that Red Bull and Verstappen had at least as strong a season as Hamilton and Mercedes last year – and that the Dutchman fully deserved his first world title.

Last season also showed Red Bull is now pretty much on an even keel with Mercedes technically, with the advantage see-sawing from one team to the other depending on the circuit.

The new rules naturally add another variable to this, but any advantage one may demonstrate over the other in the early races could be quickly wiped out by further car developments as the season progresses – something which hasn’t been true for a few years now.

Drivers

1 - Max Verstappen 

  • Races: 141 
  • Wins: 20
  • Titles: 1  
  • Last year: 1st 
  • Age: 24  

2022 Prospects

The Dutchman is at the very peak of his powers right now, and with both the 2021 title and a rock-solid long-term Red Bull deal under his belt, this could be the start of a new era of domination.

11 - Sergio Perez

  • Races: 217  
  • Wins: 2
  • Titles:
  • Last year: 4th 
  • Age: 32  

2022 Prospects

Perez faces the same dilemma at Red Bull as Bottas did at Mercedes: a very good Grand Prix driver in the shade of one of the all-time greats. He’ll need to make peace with de facto number-two status. 

Ferrari

  • Engine: Ferrari
  • Races: 1,032  
  • Wins: 237
  • Titles: 16 
  • Last year: 3rd

2022 Prospects

This is Ferrari’s best chance for a long time to break the Mercedes/Red Bull stranglehold at the front of the field.

Ferrari looks like it could have made the best initial stab at the 2022 rules. It has taken a self-described “risky” approach and turned out a radical-looking car that, with tyres factored in, seemed to be on the pace in the first pre-season test.

As is the case with Mercedes and Red Bull, however, a dominant run in the first race (or first few races) doesn’t mean Ferrari will have the season sewn up, with the technical-development race likely to play much more of a factor in 2022 than it has tended to of late.

For Ferrari, there’s also an additional complicating factor in the cockpit, where its two drivers are very closely matched. Leclerc’s long-term deal indicates he’s the ‘chosen one’, but Sainz has settled in much faster than expected and could really come into his own this season. 

Drivers

16 - Charles Leclerc

  • Races: 81  
  • Wins: 2
  • Titles: 0  
  • Last year: 7th 
  • Age: 24  

2022 Prospects

If Ferrari delivers him the car, Leclerc is more than capable of taking on Hamilton and Verstappen – however, unlike them, he doesn’t have a clear number-two in the other car.

55 - Carlos Sainz

  • Races: 141  
  • Wins: 0
  • Titles:
  • Last year: 5th 
  • Age: 27  

2022 Prospects

Underrated for years, Sainz could be a frontrunner in the right car and had a better 2021 than Leclerc; this is possibly the most interesting team-mate battle on the grid.

McLaren

  • Engine: Mercedes
  • Races: 906  
  • Wins: 183
  • Titles: 8  
  • Last year: 4th

2022 Prospects

McLaren is firing on all cylinders and looking more like a top-three team – but the challenge remains huge.

McLaren is still working its way back from the nadir of its Honda years, but it feels like the team is now pulling hard in the same direction and that the end goal of fighting at the front isn’t far off.

Senior figures will tell you that a full-on title charge won’t be possible until its new wind tunnel and simulator are on stream, so 2024 at the earliest. But form in testing suggested the squad may have done a good enough job with its 2022 creation to be a podium threat from the get-go.

In Lando Norris the team has its ‘future champion’ secured on a long-term deal – along with the leadership team of Zak Brown, Andreas Seidl and James Key. The one question mark heading into the year is Daniel Ricciardo, who struggled at times to master the 2021 car and will be hoping 2022’s new rules suit him better.

Drivers

3 - Daniel Ricciardo 

  • Races: 210  
  • Wins: 8
  • Titles: 0  
  • Last year: 8th 
  • Age: 32            

2022 Prospects

Ricciardo’s struggles to gel with last year’s McLaren were only partly offset by his Monza win; he needs to get back on terms with Norris if he’s to secure his long-term future at the team. 

4 - Lando Norris

  • Races: 60  
  • Wins: 0
  • Titles: 0  
  • Last year: 6th 
  • Age: 22 

2022 Prospects

With contemporaries Gasly and Ocon having both taken victories, and Russell likely to do so at Mercedes before long, Norris will be firmly focused on joining the winner’s circle this season.

Alpine

  • Engine: Renault
  • Races: 22  
  • Wins: 1
  • Titles: 0  
  • Last year: 5th

2022 Prospects

Ocon’s win masked a less impressive season-long run in 2021; Alpine could easily fall behind AlphaTauri or Aston.

It has been a tumultuous winter at Alpine, where the Renault sub-brand’s overall boss Laurent Rossi is playing more of a hands-on role than many would expect.

Having ousted the team’s executive director Marcin Budkowski and illustrious special adviser Alain Prost, Rossi has now installed ex-Aston Martin team principal Otmar Szafnauer to the get the French squad’s title ambitions back on track.

Things could go one of two ways from here: Alpine will either make progress towards the front, or get left behind by the other midfield teams with top-three ambitions – McLaren and Aston Martin.

There was no clear picture from the first pre-season test, where a fire on Alonso’s car seriously curtailed mileage, so for the moment a big question mark remains over Alpine’s potential form.

Drivers

14 - Fernando Alonso

  • Races: 336  
  • Wins: 32
  • Titles: 2  
  • Last year: 10th 
  • Age: 40  

2022 Prospects

Alonso delivered some very strong drives during 2021 and definitely still has fire and fight left in him – the question is now whether Alpine will come good soon enough for him to deliver.

31 - Estaban Ocon

  • Races: 89  
  • Wins: 1
  • Titles:
  • Last year: 11th 
  • Age: 25  

2022 Prospects

No-one begrudged Ocon his first win in Hungary last season, but it came in fortunate circumstances. If this year’s car has genuine pace, more visits to the podium are a certainty in the course of 2022.

AlphaTauri

  • Engine: Red Bull
  • Races: 40  
  • Wins: 1
  • Titles: 0  
  • Last year: 6th

2022 Prospects

Seventh in 2020, sixth in 2021... fifth in 2022? A tall order, but not impossible, especially if Tsunoda knuckles down.

Formula 1’s archetypal ‘B-team’ has been galvanised by ultra-close midfield scraps in recent seasons – not to mention Gasly’s popular win at Monza in 2020.

And after some odd years of drivers being promoted and demoted back and forth from Red Bull, it once again has a ‘finishing school’ role to play, this time for the highly rated Japanese Yuki Tsunoda.

His flashes of speed were too often spoiled by inexperience and impatience during 2021, so the team’s efforts to get him back on the straight and narrow will be an interesting storyline to follow.

On the technical front, the Faenza squad has produced a tidy interpretation of the new F1 technical rules and had a quietly confidence-inspiring run in the first pre-season test, spoiled only by an off for Gasly on the final day.

Drivers

10 - Pierre Gasly

  • Races: 86  
  • Wins: 1
  • Titles: 0  
  • Last year: 9th 
  • Age: 26

2022 Prospects

Verstappen’s new deal means a return to Red Bull is no longer an appealing prospect for one of F1’s top midfield battlers; he needs to keep in the spotlight with an eye on the busy 2023 driver market.

22 - Yuki Tsonoda

  • Races: 22  
  • Wins: 0
  • Titles: 0  
  • Last year: 14th 
  • Age: 21  

2022 Prospects

Tsunoda himself admits that he underestimated the multifaceted challenge of F1 in his rookie year; a more mature and rounded approach could bring the results that his raw talent is capable of.

Aston Martin

  • Engine: Mercedes
  • Races: 28  
  • Wins: 0
  • Titles:
  • Last year: 7th

2022 Prospects 

Aston at the very least needs to finish higher than in 2021, but a fierce and unpredictable midfield scrap is likely. 

Seventh was a disappointing result for Aston Martin’s first season as an F1 works entry since 1960 – mainly because of this squad’s impressive ‘giant-killing’ record in its Force India and Racing Point days.

Owner Lawrence Stroll agreed, and laid the blame at the feet of team principal Otmar Szafnauer, who has now jumped ship to midfield rival Alpine. In his place comes Mike Krack, who has experience of the transition from independent to manufacturer F1 teams from his time at BMW Sauber in the mid-2000s.

Stroll is leaving no stone unturned in his quest to make Aston a title winner, pouring millions into a new factory and wind tunnel at its Silverstone base. Those facilities won’t be fully on stream until the 2024 season, though, but continued progress in the meantime is needed.

Drivers

5 - Sebastian Vettel

  • Races: 280  
  • Wins: 53
  • Titles: 4  
  • Last year: 12th 
  • Age: 34  

2022 Prospects 

Two podium finishes (albeit with one subsequently disqualified) showed Vettel hadn’t totally lost his old spark during 2021 and there’s every chance that could continue this season.

18 - Lance Stroll

  • Races: 101  
  • Wins: 0
  • Titles: 0  
  • Last year: 13th 
  • Age: 23 

2022 Prospects

​​​​​​​The odd podium finish is probably the limit of Stroll’s F1 potential; the point at which Aston should start looking for a young-charger replacement with championship-winning pace is fast approaching.

Williams

  • Engine: Mercedes
  • Races: 770  
  • Wins: 114
  • Titles: 9  
  • Last year: 8th

2022 Prospects

We are only at the beginning of a long climb back to the front for Williams, but Albon could spring some surprises.

Although the team passed out of family ownership in late 2020, the death of its founder Frank Williams last November felt like the definitive end of the squad’s original, hugely successful incarnation.

The new investor owners, along with former Volkswagen motorsport boss Jost Capito in the CEO’s chair, are putting a long-term plan in place to get the Grove outfit back to competitiveness, but the harsh reality is that 2022 is too early for the results of that work to bear fruit.

Adding to the evidence that Williams is now playing the long game is the fact that no-one at the team is particularly worried by the lack of a title sponsor, indicating it wants to find trusted partners who are in F1 for the long haul, rather than having to strike quick deals to keep going from season to season, as was the case before.

Drivers

6 - Nicholas Latifi

  • Races: 39 
  • Wins: 0
  • Titles:
  • Last year: 17th 
  • Age: 26

2022 Prospects 

Briefly in the spotlight after his Abu Dhabi crash brought out the title-deciding safety car, Latifi is unlikely to make headlines again and will struggle to match Albon in either qualifying or the races.

23 - Alexander Albon

  • Races: 38  
  • Wins: 0
  • Titles: 0  
  • Last year: N/A 
  • Age: 25  

2022 Prospects 

Rescued from GT racing obscurity by Williams, the former Red Bull hot prospect is now in a prime position to become a key part of the team’s hoped-for revival planned by the new owners.

Alfa Romeo Racing

  • Engine: Ferrari
  • Races: 170 
  • Wins: 10
  • Titles: 0  
  • Last year: 9th

2022 Prospects

Bottas should extract the maximum from the car, but it’s still hard to see Alfa in the thick of the midfield fight.

Alfa remains the odd one out among F1’s manufacturer teams – mainly because it’s not really a manufacturer team at all, rather an ongoing title sponsorship of the outfit formerly known as Sauber.

That means the Swiss team’s latter- day struggles to escape the back of the grid have continued in its latest guise, with constructors’ championship finishes of eighth, eighth and ninth respectively in 2019, 2020 and 2021 doing little to dispel the ‘permanent backmarker’ tag.

In testing, Alfa’s C42 car was one of the worst affected by the bouncy ‘porpoising’ problem caused by F1’s new ground-effect aerodynamics during the first three days’ running at Barcelona.  A loss of mileage due to mechanical failures only added to the pressure, leaving the squad on the back foot going into Bahrain.

Drivers

24 - Guanyu Zhou

  • Races: 0  
  • Wins: 0
  • Titles:
  • Last year: N/A 
  • Age: 22 

2022 Prospects 

Zhou carries all the expectation of being China’s first-ever F1 driver on his shoulders, but simply a solid learning year soaking up Bottas’ considerable knowledge will serve him best at this stage. 

77 - Valtteri Bottas

  • Races: 179  
  • Wins: 10
  • Titles: 0  
  • Last year: 3rd 
  • Age: 32 

2022 Prospects

Mentally ground down by five seasons spent attempting to match Hamilton at Mercedes, the Finn has the opportunity for late-career reinvention at Alfa, as team leader and mentor to Zhou.

Haas

  • Engine: Ferrari
  • Races: 122 
  • Wins: 0
  • Titles:
  • Last year: 10th

2022 Prospects

Off-season disruption came at exactly the wrong time; another character-building year could be on the cards.

Haas dominated headlines in the lead-up to the new season – but not for anything it was doing on track. The US-owned team acted quickly to sever ties with Russian driver Nikita Mazepin and his father’s company Uralkali in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and the end result is a surprising return for Kevin Magnussen.

The Dane had seemed content to be putting F1 behind him before world affairs intervened, so he’ll be hoping that Haas’ decision to abandon development of its 2021 car early to put full focus on the new rules for 2022 will pay off in a major way.

The competitive reset that’s promised by those rules offers Haas its best chance yet of a return to the midfield glory days of its debut season – although on the strength of testing, beating Alfa Romeo may be all that’s doable in the short term.

Drivers

20 - Kevin Magnussen

  • Races: 120  
  • Wins: 0
  • Titles: 0  
  • Last year: N/A 
  • Age: 29 

2022 Prospects

Magnussen seemed done with F1 at the end of 2020, but hasn’t hesitated to step in at short notice following Mazepin’s dismissal. The challenge of racing 2022’s new cars may well have intrigued him.

47 - Mick Schumacher

  • Races: 22  
  • Wins: 0
  • Titles: 0  
  • Last year: 19th 
  • Age: 22  

2022 Prospects

The novelty of ‘Schumacher Jr’ has worn off and Magnussen is a strong known quantity to be measured against. This has just become a make-or-break year for the young German.

2022 F1 calendar

For 2022, the US gets a second F1 race, with a brand-new event in Florida. The Russian GP in September has been scrapped; Turkey may yet be added as a replacement.

Round 1: 18-20 March - Sakhir - Bahrain Grand Prix

Round 2: 25-27 March - Jeddah - Saudi Arabian Grand Prix

Round 3: 8-10 April - Melbourne - Australian Grand Prix

Round 4: 22-24 April - Imola - Emilia Romagna Grand Prix

Round 5: 6-8 May - Miami - Miami Grand Prix

Round 6: 20-22 May - Barcelona - Spanish Grand Prix

Round 7: 27-29 May - Monte Carlo - Monaco Grand Prix

Round 8: 10-12 June - Baku - Azerbaijan Grand Prix

Round 9: 17-19 June - Montreal - Canadian Grand Prix

Round 10: 1-3 July - Silverstone - British Grand Prix

Round 11: 8-10 July - Red Bull Ring - Austrian Grand Prix

Round 12: 22-24 July - Paul Ricard - French Grand Prix

Round 13: 29-31 July - Budapest - Hungarian Grand Prix

Round 14: 26-28 August - Spa - Belgian Grand Prix

Round 15: 2-4 September - Zandvoort - Dutch Grand Prix

Round 16: 9-11 September - Monza - Italian Grand Prix

Round 17: 30 September-20 October - Marina Bay - Singapore Grand Prix

Round 18: 7-9 October - Suzuka - Japanese Grand Prix

Round 19: 21-23 October - Austin - United States Grand Prix

Round 20: 28-30 October - Mexico City - Mexican Grand Prix

Round 21: 11-13 November - Säo Paulo - Brazilian Grand Prix

Round 22: 18-20 November - Yas Marina - Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

Who will you be backing this year? Let us know in the comments...

Recommended

New Alfa Romeo sports car to break cover in 2023
Alfa Romeo sports car - exclusive image
News

New Alfa Romeo sports car to break cover in 2023

The limited-run Alfa Romeo sports car could be a celebration of the brand's iconic combustion-engine history and our exclusive image previews how it c…
17 Aug 2022
Alfa Romeo to launch new large electric saloon in 2027
Alfa Romeo large electric saloon - front (watermarked)
News

Alfa Romeo to launch new large electric saloon in 2027

Alfa Romeo boss tells Auto Express the firm will develop a large saloon car in the USA – but that Europe will get it too
15 Aug 2022
New Aston Martin DBR22 is a 705bhp limited-run speedster
Aston Martin DBR22 - front
News

New Aston Martin DBR22 is a 705bhp limited-run speedster

The carbon-fibre-bodied two-seat Aston Martin DBR22 roadster celebrates 10 years of Q division, and comes with V12 power
15 Aug 2022
New Mercedes-AMG One hypercar will be built in Coventry
Mercedes-AMG One - front
News

New Mercedes-AMG One hypercar will be built in Coventry

How do you build a 1,048bhp hypercar? Mercedes tells all...
10 Aug 2022

Most Popular

New Nissan Ariya 2022 review
Nissan Ariya - front
Road tests

New Nissan Ariya 2022 review

The entry-level version of the award-winning Nissan Ariya has a 250-mile range
15 Aug 2022
DS 4 vs Audi A3: 2022 twin test review
DS 4 and Audi A3: Both cars front tracking
Car group tests

DS 4 vs Audi A3: 2022 twin test review

Audi’s A3 may be the benchmark in the premium hatchback class, but DS wants to challenge that status with its new 4
13 Aug 2022
New 2022 MG7 could be a cut-price Audi A5
MG 7 - side
News

New 2022 MG7 could be a cut-price Audi A5

The new MG7 saloon has been teased ahead of its August reveal
8 Aug 2022