It’s been a long time since a new Formula 1 season has been eagerly awaited like this year’s. How is Max Verstappen performing as the new world champion? Which team can handle the new rules best? What will Mick Schumacher do in his second year in the first division of motorsports?
Many interesting questions, many different opinions. We have brought up the most exciting propositions of the new season in Formula 1 and discussed them with interest. Today in Part One: Verstappen’s successful title defense, Russell’s impressive Mercedes appearance and Alonso’s insane return to the podium.
Thesis 1: Max Verstappen defends his world title
Mats Yannick Roth: The Dutchman proved it to everyone last year and is now completely beyond any expectations. This makes Verstappen even better, and the competition’s respect for him even greater. With the RB18, Red Bull’s designers also created a true masterpiece. Verstappen became the youngest two-time world champion after Sebastian Vettel and Fernando Alonso.
Jonas Hoffmann: After last year’s world title, Max Verstappen found himself in a new role. As the defending champion, the pressure and expectations are higher – and if you fail, the criticism should be even more difficult. But the Dutchman proved at the thrilling end of the 2021 season that the pressure wouldn’t hurt him too much. Especially since he can count on a great team that has once again designed a car for him.
Chris Rohdenberg: There is no doubt that Verstappen will have a say in the title fight. But: at the moment there are many indications that there will be no duel for the 2022 World Championship, but many drivers will fight for the most points in the races. On the contrary, it also means that it will be more difficult for Verstappen and Co.! In short: Verstappen’s next title has to wait.
Tobias Knob: No, and Lewis Hamilton won’t win the crown this year either. Instead, I think Charles Leclerc or Carlos Sainz. Ferrari made an excellent impression during test drives, and they’re both great drivers – why not sit in the red rider world champion Scuderia for the first time since 2007 Kimi Raikkonen (it’s been so long!)?!
Thesis 2: George Russell steals the show from Lewis Hamilton in a Mercedes
Chris Rohdenberg: Russell of a different caliber than Bottas. Finn was the perfect wingman – except for the small outliers – who finally landed the role. On the other hand, Russell wants to win titles with all his might. During his short stint at Mercedes in Bahrain in 2020, he has already proven he has what it takes to attack the world championship crown. And anyone who has taken a close look at his appearances with Williams knows that the quality of the young Briton is very high. Hamilton needs to be careful!
Mats Yannick Roth: Lewis Hamilton has been fighting for the world title since his first Formula 1 race 15 years ago. Over 280 Grand Prix at the highest level. When it comes to consistency and maximum performance, no one in the field can beat the Brit. In particular, not a fellow 24-year-old would still look around to see what old master Hamilton could do.
Jonas Hoffmann: Many whiners in Hamilton smell the pre-season morning air. There is no doubt that it will be more difficult for the Briton in the internal team duel than in previous years. But Russell still has to prove that his strong performance at Mercedes in Bahrain 2020 was no surprise and that he has the fortitude to be dangerous for someone like Lewis Hamilton.
Tobias Knob: I think the last minute knockout of the World Cup duel against Verstappen left its mark on Hamilton. Certainly, a defiant positive reaction would also be possible in the form of an explosion in performance. But also the opposite. This will be an opportunity for Russell. In any case, I think the young challenger can do a lot more for the great Mercedes than many think now.
Thesis 3: Fernando Alonso wins a race at the age of 40
Jonas Hoffmann: There is still some hope that the new era in Formula 1 will bring power density together as hopefully. But it will soon become clear that even with the new cars, a lot will remain the same and we will not see 15 different winners in the race. Alonso in particular is capable of anything in a crazy rain race – and maybe even a win. I wouldn’t bet on it.
Mats Yannick Roth: Fernando Alonso once landed on the podium in 2021 when he finished third in Qatar. In the significantly improved Alpine A522, things will go even further in the new season. But winning is not enough, six (!) contenders at Mercedes, Red Bull and Ferrari are very strong for this year.
Chris Rohdenberg: Despite all hopes, Alonso shouldn’t win a race in 2022 either. In the end, the A522 is probably too weak for that. Although there are still supposed to be new parts ahead of the season, will these upgrades help take the leap forward? Doubtful. I firmly believe that Alonso can still do that, but several lucky circumstances must happen for the Spaniard to end up on the top of the podium.
Tobias Knob: Good joke, Sebastian Vettel becomes world champion.