F1 2022: Our writers give their predictions ahead of what’s set to be an epic season.

The 2022 Formula 1 World Championship gets under way with this weekend’s Bahrain Grand Prix, and there’s no better time than now to grill our experts for some hot takes and bold predictions about the season ahead. Will Buxton, Lawrence Barretto, David Tremayne, Mark Hughes and Samarth Kanal are put on the spot before the campaign kicks off.

Which team were your star of testing?

Will Buxton (F1 Digital Presenter): Haas. They arrived at Barcelona with a car which got everyone talking, given the huge lead time and work put into it after they sacrificed 2021 to focus on the new rules. But then freight delays, the removal of their biggest sponsor and termination of the contract of one of their drivers put them on the backfoot.

While the financial aspect may still prove to be of concern, Nikita Mazepin’s replacement with Kevin Magnussen immediately seemed to lift the team. There’s confidence at Haas that they’ve produced a decent car, and the glory runs they put in shone a ray of bright light on a team that have been under a cloud for too long. In how they bounced back from tremendous difficulty, they’re my stars of testing.

Samarth Kanal (Staff Writer): Ferrari showed the way. No real reliability issues, some blistering laps, and two happy drivers who had to start playing down their own chances.

Lawrence Barretto (F1 Correspondent & Presenter): Ferrari. The Prancing Horses won pre-season with sensational reliability and ruthless efficiency. It honestly couldn’t have gone any better for the Italians and gives them a platform in which to take the fight to Red Bull and Mercedes.

David Tremayne (Hall of Fame F1 Journalist): Red Bull might have been the fastest in testing in Bahrain last week, on the C5 Pirellis, but for me the most outstanding were Ferrari. Charles Leclerc was seven-tenths slower, but was running the harder-compound C4s. The F1-75 looks beautiful, was quick right from the start, and was always there or thereabouts in Barcelona and Bahrain. And its reliability enabled Charles and Carlos Sainz to rack up a lot of mileage. So Ferrari got off to a great start, as one of the strongest of all driver pairings got the job done thoroughly and without histrionics.

Mark Hughes (Special Contributor): Probably Haas. Not just because of the difficult lead-up to it but because they had basically put themselves on the competitive backburner for two years until the new regs came in. Yet immediately they seem to have bounced right back to where they used to be before that hiatus.

Which team and driver do you think will be champions?

MH: At the moment, with present time bias it seems hard to look past Red Bull and Max Verstappen. But I have a feeling that the Mercedes, when properly unlocked, is going to be devastatingly good. So I’ll go with Mercedes for the constructors’ but Verstappen for the drivers’ – because Max doesn’t have a George Russell-calibre of driver in his own team to take points off him.

WB: Do we really believe Mercedes are on the backfoot? While I do believe both Russell and Lewis Hamilton’s protestations that they’re not on top of things, this is Mercedes and we cannot write them off. Red Bull looked strong throughout. But, and I really don’t want to jinx it, Ferrari have had the most consistent and impressive form across the six days of pre-season running of any team. Ferrari go in as favourites. For me, team champions. Drivers’? Lewis wins number eight.

SK: I lost a few hours of sleep thanks to this question but I’ll just bite the bullet and say: Carlos Sainz of Ferrari. The team? Mercedes. They will ace the development war and win a ninth title in a row, but miss out on the drivers’ championship.

LB: I think we’re in for a repeat of last year’s result, with Max Verstappen successfully defending his title – helped in part by Red Bull having the best package early in the year – and George Russell beating Sergio Perez often enough to give Mercedes a ninth constructors’ championship.

DT: Given their reliability in testing, and the speed that the RB18 revealed on the final day in Bahrain, plus the omnipresence of Adrian Newey in a new formula that will once again be dominated by aerodynamics rather than the power unit, I’d say at this stage Max Verstappen and Red Bull look a pretty decent bet. But Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes, now with George Russell, will give him a really hard time. It will benefit the new world champion that he’ll be the primary focus of his team’s efforts, however, whereas Merc will as ever allow their drivers to race.


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