(Editors note- This piece was turned in for publishing before the author watched FP1 and FP2 for the upcoming Bahrain GP. The author has already changed many of his opinions that you will read below, but is too lazy to edit the article. Enjoy the Bulseyeviewpoints from 3/17/22!)
F1 2022 is coming like a Mercedes W12 in a slipstream with the DRS wide open. The timing couldn’t be worse for this languorous blogger. Lets’ just say that life has gotten in the way of a detailed analysis for the upcoming season, so this will instead be more like a freestyle rap.
Speaking of rapping, I’d like my legal department to look into writing a F1 themed hip hop inspired Broadway play titled HAMILTON, LEWIS.
First scene intro:
Have you heard about the man named Hamilton
He’s a 7 time F1 world champion
Signed by McLaren when he was ten
He was lured by Niki to drive the Benz…….. All right you get the gist. I like it. F-Netflix, we are going to Broadway baby!
So, what are we looking at for ‘22? Other than the same power units, it’s basically a brand new formula. Forget Hamilton-Larbalestier* and Max, ‘22 is the year of the engineer. Which team has been able to interpret a brand new set of rules and produce a championship caliber car? Nail this design out of the box and you will be in good shape for years to come. Fail and it could spell doom. (Jesus I feel like Will Buxton doing commentary on Drive to Survive.)
(*Yes, Lewis is trying to change his name to Hamilton-Larbalestier)
Mercedes – Sidepods? Who needs sidepods? The W13 certainly wins the unique design concept award. Both Hamilton-Larbalestier and Russell seemed to be struggling with the handling of this updated package in Bahrain, but look out when they go to low fuel and turn up the engine on Saturday. Remember, it was just a few months back when Hamilton was driving by folks on the straight in Sao Paulo like they were driving stock cars. And how about this driver pairing? Incredible. Lewis gunning for revenge and 8 titles, Russell poised to show the world that he’s one of the best. So much at stake here. Prediction – Russell gives Hamilton-Larbalestier a tougher time than Bottas and actually beats him on pace a couple of times, but the consistent brilliance of Lewis will be too much for Mr Saturday and Russell will be playing the role of Bottas by Silverstone. Lewis P2, George P3.
Red Bull – World Champion Max Verstappen looks ready to defend his title and start rapidly climbing the pantheon of all time greats. As brilliant as Max is though, Red Bull CTO Adrian Newey is even more decorated. He’s got 10 constructors titles to prove it. As I stated above, this is the year of the engineer, so look for Newey and gang to flex their prodigious brain power and produce a car capable of winning both the drivers and constructors titles. The questions I have are 1. Can Red Bull improve upon the power unit without the might of Honda behind them and 2. Is Perez now fully comfortable and ready to outperform Russell to achieve both titles? Prediction – Max beats Lewis to the title in another closely fought championship and Perez becomes more competitive, but Mercedes wins a 9th constructors title in a row. Max P1, Perez P5.
Ferrari – The Scuderia looked quick and reliable in testing so is this the miracle that the Tifosi have been hoping for? Leclerc and Sainz are a class driver pairing and I’d like nothing more than seeing the red cars battling Merc and RBR for wins. The more the merrier. However, this isn’t the days of Schumi, Ross, Rory and Todt. I have my doubts that this current management group could actually defeat Toto or Horner over the course of 20+ races when the pressure is ramped up, development is vital, and race strategy is crucial to ultimate success. Prediction – Ferrari runs a closer 3rd and wins two races. Leclerc P4 and Sainz P6.
McLaren – The Woking crew were tough to read in testing. Lando was quick in Barcelona but struggled with brake issues in Bahrain. Danny Ric missed the second test with Covid so the lack of seat time could put him on the back foot to start the season. Prediction – McLaren will start the year on a lonely 4th place island, but will eventually catch the red cars to make for some great racing. Lando will continue to have the edge over D Ric in raw pace, but the new aero regs will allow Danny to show his wheel to wheel prowess again. Danny got his shock win last year in Monza, this year Lando will pull off another shocker. Lando P7, Danny P8.
Alpine – I feel like this team is always one boardroom meeting away from getting axed by the Renault bean counters so the race is on to become relevant in F1 on Sundays and sell some damn Clio’s on Mondays. They have brought in a whole new crew of management, some experienced such as team principal Otmar Szafnauer, but they have chosen to make F1 newcomer Laurent Rossi the CEO. Will he survive to see ‘23?. On the bright side, they have retained their excellent driver lineup of Alonso and Ocon. Last year ALO had a rough start after being out of the cockpit for two years and nearly getting killed by a lady leaving the supermarket while training on the bike. This year ALO hits the ground running and should be a midfield beast. Ocon is also in his prime now and should keep the Spaniard honest. Prediction – Alonso scores a couple of podiums and takes Danny Ric’s seat at McLaren. Ocon does a solid job and is joined by Gasly in ‘23 to form the French super team. ALO P9, Ocon P11.
Alpha Tauri – Our little team formerly known as Minardi is all grown up now and firmly ensconced in the midfield. Gasly is an established vet who is going to extract the maximum from the car. Yuki is still the great unknown. Based on his performance last year, I’m shocked he made the cut for year two. The Red Bull driver academy is notorious for being the equivalent of the TV show Survivor, so I’m wondering if Yuki’s people have some dirt on Franz Tost? We’ll see. Prediction: Gasly continues to impress and mix it up at the front of the midpack while Yuki improves, but ultimately loses his seat to Norwegian sensation Dennis Hauger for ‘23. Gasly P10, Tsunoda P16.
Aston Martin – Eventually Mr. Stroll’s investment in people and facilities will likely start paying dividends, but I think ‘22 will be another transition year for the team as they continue to load up on engineering talent and build a state of the art facility. And let’s be honest, Vettel and Stroll aren’t going to get it done in this loaded midfield. Prediction- Seb has a handful of nice days and a handful of Seb Spin moments while Lance drives around like The Green Ghost. Will Sr ever fire Jr? Vettel P12, Stroll P15
Williams – The loss of Russell will likely be a huge blow for Williams. Albon has some big shoes to fill and while Latifi is improving, he’s not the guy to lead you to the promised land. So two average drivers in a small team with a brand new design. Prediction: Blahh. Albon P19, Latifi P20
Alfa Romeo – For some reason I’m getting a feeling that Bottas is going to be one of the surprise performers of the year. He’s got pace and now he will have an entire team backing him up as the number 1. Give Bottas some confidence and he might be strutting around telling his critics to F-Off again. For rookie teammate Zhou, the goal is to get the miles in, keep it off the walls and make sure that the Chinese Yuan are being wired to Switzerland on the 1st and 15th of each month. Having Bottas as a measuring stick will be a great way to determine if Mr Zhou has a future in this business. Prediction- I’m seeing multiple Q3’s and the occasional 8-10th place finish among the Alpine’s and Alpha Tauri’s for Bottas while Zhou will be busy racing the Williams boys. Bottas P13, Zhou P18
Haas- I’ll admit it, I hated the Mazespin-Shumacher Russian backed crap wagon that we saw last year and hoped that Haas was going to pull the plug to put this American project out of its misery. However, Schumacher and K-Mag in a car capable of fighting in the midfield suddenly sounds pretty cool. Well done Mr Haas for making a tough decision and making your team infinitely cooler. Prediction – Schumacher won the F3 title in year two and the F2 title in year two so it’s a bit far-fetched to see this trend continue, but he’s going to impress. Magnussen is going to have his hands full keeping up with Schumi Jr but it’s comforting to know that both of those cars will be given a proper thrashing. Schumi P14, K-Mag P17
So there we have it. If it’s anything close to ‘21 we are in for a real treat. I can attest that F1 racing is still alive and well in the US after waiting for two hours to pre-order tickets to the Austin GP, only to get on the site and find out that the grandstands were completely sold out. So there are now two USGP’s for ‘22 and both are already sold out. Thanks a lot Netflix! What’s next, an American entry with heavyweight backing and a fast American driver? I feel like I’m being priced out of my neighborhood.
-Lewis starts slow, gets Covid again, loses motivation and gets clobbered by Russell. Lewis then goes on a 3 month bender, adds 75lbs and shows up in ‘23 looking like a bloated washed up rock star with a bald head on top and dreads on the side.
– Lewis starts strong, clobbers Russell and George becomes an entitled little diva crying foul play and claiming the team likes Lewis better. Toto sacks him after the summer break.
-Putin decides to lob missiles at the track that replaces his personal Sochi GP, starting WWIII and ending the ‘22 season prematurely. At the time of the bombings, Max was ahead of Lewis by 1pt and was declared the champion by the FIA. In the midst of WWIII, the British again go bananas on social media and plan their own all British F1 series.
-Ferrari win the first ten races and it’s then discovered that nothing on their car is legal, yet the stewards never flagged any issues.
-The new race control group starts penalizing drivers for “aggressive behavior unbecoming of a gentleman behind the wheel” and hands out an average of 17 drive through penalties per race. Magnussen is handed down the most drive throughs for the season and sets a record with 9 drive throughs in a single race.
-Michael Andretti gets awarded the 11th team slot, pays the $200m entry fee, hires personnel, builds a factory out, leases a Renault powerplant, flies the equipment out to the first race, only to find that his investors were indicted for running a crypto pyramid scheme and were all behind bars. Poor Colton Herta and Kyle Kirkwood never even get to leave the garage for FP1.
Well Let’s Do This!