1 Thing To Watch From Every Title Contending Formula 1 Team This Season
With lights out from the Sakhir Grand Prix in Bahrain mere hours away, and a massive aerodynamic regulation change, there may be a huge shakeup at the top of the order for the first time since the last engine regulation change in 2014 that ushered in an era of Mercedes dominance almost unparalleled in any other era of Formula 1 history. In this specific post, we’re going to do Formula 1 team previews for each title contending team.
With that being said, here’s one thing you need to keep an eye on throughout the Formula One season from each team with a legitimate shot at either the World Constructor’s Championship, or having one of their drivers earn the glory of being crowned World Driver’s Champion, listed in order of last year’s Constructor’s standings.
Formula 1 Team Previews
Mercedes- Sandbagging, or are the issues real?
Mercedes, after eight consecutive Constructor’s Championships, potentially face the most serious threat to their reign they’ve seen since it began, and it comes not from any other team, but from within. Throughout testing, and even into Friday’s practice sessions in Bahrain, and worryingly, even when using either of the sidepods Mercedes has run since unveiling their W13, porpoising has been a massive issue for the Silver Arrows.
In Formula 1 years past, Mercedes would often feign issues with their car to throw other teams off, but they seem to be at a visible pace disadvantage in this early stage of the season, with both the cars of Lewis Hamilton and George Russell experiencing severe bouncing under braking. It will be interesting to see, as the races unfold, if this holds the team back from either or both titles this season, which would be a massive shift in the power dynamics of motorsport’s premier competition.
Red Bull- Did they risk it all for 2021?
Since Max Verstappen was crowned World Driver’s Champion in Abu Dhabi to end last season, the question on many a race fan’s mind has been whether Red Bull compromised their 2022 development chasing titles in 2021. However, at least in this earliest of stages, that doesn’t seem to be the case, with Verstappen’s RB18 being the fastest car on the circuit in Friday’s practice sessions.
It remains to be seen, however, if that advantage holds when everyone’s cars are operating at peak performance, and whether Verstappen’s teammate Sergio Perez can match the Flying Dutchman’s pace, making Q3 on Saturday must-watch.
Ferrari- Can they finally put it all together?
Mattia Binotto, team principal at Scuderia Ferrari, made it clear in no uncertain terms that they would be sacrificing resources towards the 2020 and 2021 cars in favor of putting everything into this car, the F1-75. They have two immensely talented drivers in Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz, Jr., and many a Tifosi have long been eyeing this regulation change as having the potential to return their beloved team to the top step of the Formula One standings for the first time since 2008.
If it were ever going to happen, and Binotto’s dreams realized, it would be this season, with such a wealth of resources poured into the F1-75 compared to their rivals, even with the cost cap implemented this season. Ferrari have dreamt of this season for years since the regulation change was announced, and now it’s time for the Tifosi to finally have something to cheer about.
McLaren- Will both drivers stay on the same page, and maybe stay on the podium?
At times last Formula 1 season for McLaren, both of their drivers found form, culminating in becoming the only team to achieve a 1-2 across the entirety of last season at Monza for the Italian Grand Prix, but outside those moments, it was either one driver on, or neither. Even when they had one driver on, it just felt like the sky could fall at any moment, like Lando Norris’ first win at the Russian Grand Prix being snatched out from under him by poor weather and poor racecraft by both driver and team.
Being the only customer team at the upper echelon of the sport, McLaren may have the smallest window for growth in 2022, but much of that growth can be achieved by simply being consistent race-to-race, especially with F1 scheduling the largest calendar in the sport’s history. It will also be nice to see McLaren driver Daniel Ricciardo return to race in his home country for the first time since 2019, and his team will certainly be hoping he’s in good enough form to put on a real show for his Australian compatriots.