Kurt Verlin
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2022 Formula 1 Season Could Be Epic

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Max Verstappen leads Lewis Hamilton at 2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix
Photo: Honda

Just four days from the opening grand prix in Bahrain, the 2022 Formula 1 season is already shaping up to be an epic one. It will be hard to do better than last year’s title fight, which went down to the last lap of the last race, but there are already several good reasons to think the upcoming year of racing could be a good one.

Head to Head: How Honda shapes up against the competition

More wheel-to-wheel racing

The 2022 regulations represent the largest single aerodynamic rule change the sport has ever seen. The cars look completely different, with new bodywork designed to clean up airflow and reduce the infamous dirty air effect that has long made it difficult for drivers to follow each other and battle wheel to wheel. But efforts to make overtaking easier in F1 are not new. Sure, the rules looked promising on paper — but after designers and engineers have done their best to find loopholes in the rules and push the technical regulations to their limit, reality can be very different from theory. Fortunately, after winter testing in Barcelona and Bahrain, drivers are reporting that yes, following is easier than before. For the fans, that means more on-track action, more battles, more drama, more entertainment.

Unique car concepts

So far, the new aerodynamic regulations have been a homerun in terms of how they have pushed the teams in different creative directions. In 2021, most of the cars looked very similar. If you weren’t a diehard fan, you might have had a hard time differentiating them without paint and sponsor stickers. In 2022, there is amazing variety across all of the cars. The Red Bull Racing car features aggressively undercut sidepods. The Ferrari and Aston Martin Racing cars are making heavy use of louvre slots on top of the pods, while the Mercedes seems to have essentially eliminated the sidepods altogether. It’s exciting to see how different the cars look and fans can’t wait to see how the different philosophies will translate to performance on the track.

Engine performance is closer than ever

A large portion of the turbo-hybrid V6 engine era has been clouded by the Mercedes engine’s initial supremacy over the rest of the manufacturers, and by rules that helped ensure this advantage lasted longer than it should have. But rivals have had time to catch up and with an engine freeze kicking in at the start of the season, it’s more important than ever that they close the gap — and it seems that they have. By Ferrari’s estimation, the team had a 25 horsepower deficit to Mercedes and Honda at the front, which it believes it has now completely overcome. There’s no way to really tell where the teams now stand when it comes to engine power, but they have been converging toward parity since 2014, and should be closer than ever in 2022.

There are other reasons to be excited for the 2022 season, like new driver pairings (look out for Lewis Hamilton vs George Russell in particular) and budget caps that should make it easier for small teams to compete with the big players. Whether you’ve been watching for years or only recently got into the sport, you probably won’t want to miss the 2022 championship!