Get Ready For The First Race Of The 2022 F1 Season

Formula One / 6 Comments

Here's everything you need to know before the Bahrain Grand Prix this weekend.

It's time for the 2022 Grand Prix season, and we can only hope that it's as thrilling as the 2021 season.

Only 22 races are confirmed after the FIA canceled the Sochi Grand Prix in Russia, but a 23rd race will be confirmed shortly. The FIA is currently talking to two countries.

While many hope to return to the Nurburgring, an all-new street race, or an inaugural African Grand Prix, the most likely scenario is a second race in either Qatar or Bahrain.

There will be a wider variety of tracks this season, however. Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the format has included two races at the Red Bull Ring and repeats at some of the Emirates-based tracks. As it currently stands, there are no repeats scheduled.

The Australian Grand Prix is back, as is Canada. Singapore is also back in the mix, and in May, the USA will be hosting the inaugural Miami Grand Prix.

For now, let's focus on the first race of the season.

Red Bull Daimler AG

Bahrain International Circuit

Like last year, the season's first race will take place at the Bahrain International Circuit.

The Emirates tracks, except Saudi Arabia, are highly entertaining, thanks to modern designs. The Bahrain track was designed to include a little bit of everything. There are three long straights with a DRS detection zone at the end of the two longest straights. And in between, you have slow technical corners and a few high-speed kinks.

Oddly, the Bahrain International Circuit's lap record does not belong to a current F1 driver. Pedro de la Rosa set a time of 1:31.447 in 2005. During the second pre-season testing session in Bahrain, nobody could match that time. Max Verstappen got close with a 1:31.720, but we'll have to see what he can do on race day.

Drivers will run a total of 57 laps for a total race distance of 192.64 miles.

F1 Google Maps

Mind Games

The first and second pre-season testing sessions went well for most teams. Even Haas' new driver, Kevin Magnussen, set the fastest lap time on one of the testing days.

There has been a lot of attention around these tests, with media outlets comparing lap times. It isn't significant, however. Testing days exist to test the new technology and are not meant to be competitive. Push a newly developed car to the limit too quickly, and you're going to bin it.

Testing lap times are irrelevant and are used purely for mind games. Max Verstappen set the fastest time during testing, and he commented that he wasn't pushing to the limit.

Lewis Hamilton said that the Ferraris were looking quite good and that his team wasn't quite at that level yet. Ferrari's Carlos Sainz responded by saying that it was a typical Mercedes comment, downplaying its performance before the race.

The fact is this: We'll only know what the cars are capable of after Saturday's qualifying sessions. All times set before that mean nothing.

McLaren/Facebook Alfa Romeo Racing Orlen/Facebook Haas F1 Team/Facebook Scuderia Ferrari/Facebook

New Regulations

This year the FIA introduced the biggest regulation change in more than a decade. It's a small taste of the massive changes coming in 2026.

Viewers at home will only be able to notice the results of the new aerodynamic regulations. In short, the FIA changed the regulations to remove the dirty air behind an F1 car. In theory, this should result in closer racing. Will it work as the FIA intended, however?

The dirty air behind the driver in front gives the race leader a big advantage, and it's not in any team's interest to partake in 57 laps of close racing. Those fancy new Safety Cars will end up doing more laps than the F1 cars.

If it does work, we're in for a highly entertaining race. The Bahrain Circuit's tight right-hander after the long straight is already gnarly on the first lap, with all the cars bunched together. Now imagine a whole race with midfield bunched together constantly battling for position.

Red Bull

The New Race Director

The FIA decided to remove Michael Masi as F1's race director following the controversial final race of the 2021 season.

FIA President Mohammed Ben Sulayem announced a new referee system and a Virtual Race Control Room. The thinking behind it is that the teams have a significant number of people watching every second of the race, while race control has to make do with the bare minimum.

The FIA will now rely on the latest technology to keep an eye on everything, and will likely penalize drivers heavily during the first few races to make a point. If you drive like a spanner, you will get caught.

F1 now has two race directors, namely Niels Wittich and Eduardo Freitas. They won't work together but on alternate race weekends. The only permanent role belongs to the senior advisor to the race director, Herbie Blash.

We like this idea. In any other international sport, referees are changed all the time. Some say the calls might not be consistent from one race director to the next, but it is the fairest way to handle the main criticism leveled against the FIA in recent years.

The Rookies

There is only one rookie this year. Zhou Guanyu is Formula 1's first Chinese driver, and he'll be joining former Mercedes man Valtteri Bottas at Alfa Romeo. The F1 veteran will have a lot to teach the young racer as he's finally unleashed from the constraints of playing second fiddle to Lewis Hamilton.

Alex Albon returns in the Williams FW44 after sitting on the sidelines for 2021. He raced for Red Bull in 2020 but was replaced by Sergio Perez, who proved to be the perfect wingman to the new world champion.

George Russel is not a rookie, but he has moved from the back of the grid into a top-tier car. He joins Mercedes alongside Lewis Hamilton, likely scoring a sweet company car. He looks like a Mercedes SL kind of guy.

Will Mercedes let him run free, or will he be expected to take over Bottas' role as points scorer for the constructor's championship?

More importantly, can he handle the pressure? As we've seen previously with Alex Albon and Pierre Gasly, young drivers tend to buckle under the pressure in a top-tier car.

Daimler AG Daimler AG Daimler AG

Who Will Win?

Good question.

It will likely be Lewis Hamilton or Max Verstappen. At last year's Bahrain Grand Prix, Hamilton won, with Verstappen less than a second behind.

We hope it doesn't play out that way. There's some serious talent on the grid, and we're hoping for even more of a shakeup this season. We'd like to see at least four serious competitors for the world championship. Lewis and Max can stay, but we want to see Lando Norris and Carlos Sainz get in there as well.

Let's hope Ferrari and Mclaren did enough to elevate their cars out of the midfield and into the top-tier battle. It's not much fun watching the same two cars duke it out every second weekend.

Red Bull Daimler AG Scuderia Ferrari/Facebook McLaren/Facebook

Join The Discussion



Related Cars

To Top