With the 2021-2022 off-season just weeks away from ending, F1 2022 is shaping up to be one hell of a ride. It’s all set to kick off on March 20th, at the Bahrain International Circuit.
Following an absolutely dramatic final run during the last season, all eyes are now on 7-time world champion Lewis Hamilton. Does he have his eye on the record-shattering 8th title?
is back. pic.twitter.com/Y53tSNvTFt
— Mercedes-AMG PETRONAS F1 Team (@MercedesAMGF1) February 14, 2022
As Mercedes-AMG Petronas releases an image confirming their stalwart champion’s 2022 run, let’s take a closer look at how Hamilton’s year is shaping up to be.
The Rise of Russell
No matter how good the driver, their chances of success are ultimately limited by the teams that back them (just ask Charles LeClerc.) In Mercedes’ case, things are promising as usual—although a few new changes to the formula may deeply influence Hamilton’s chances of rewriting history.
Chief amongst these changes is the introduction of 23-year-old George Russell’s—who is a whole 14 years younger than his new teammate—into the Silver Arrows. This isn’t a surprise for anyone at the team, of course. Boss Toto Wolff signed Russell to the Mercedes junior academy five years ago, and has since kept a close eye on his performance across three seasons at Williams.
This progress has largely been ignored by Hamilton, who did not speak much regarding Russell’s one-off team-up during the Sakhir GP last December. This has changed last week with Hamilton describing Russell’s transfer as “rightly earned”. On the other hand, Hamilton has also issued a rather ominous message towards Russell: “It is important that respect is always there,” he said.
Speaking earlier this year, Hamilton’s former McLaren teammate Jenson Button told the PA news agency: “It will be a big shift for Lewis to have a young kiddie come to his team who has already proven himself to be very, very quick in that car. That is mentally tough for Lewis. It is going to be a challenge and if he comes out on top, it will be his biggest achievement.”
“I think Mercedes and then it’s the fight between Lewis and George. I really can’t wait for that. Two Brits at Mercedes fighting for a world championship hopefully.”
Mercedes-AMG Petronas in 2022
Meanwhile, on the team front, Mercedes has opted to keep their cards to their chest, much like Scuderia Ferrari. Trailing behind other teams such as Red Bull Racing, Aston Martin, and HAAS, Mercedes have not yet revealed their 2022 car to the world—opting to launch the W13 on February 18th, one day ahead of Ferrari.
This said, Mercedes did shake up the competition by being the first to spur their new engine to life:
Simulator driver Anthony Davidson is perhaps the only person with a true understanding of Mercedes’ 2022 prospects so far. Speaking to Sky Sports last week, he shared a few thoughts on the developments:
“Mercedes, like all the other teams, have been working hard on these dramatic new cars ever since the regulations were revealed three years ago, and last season were able to run a mule car in Budapest and Abu Dhabi on the new bigger tyres to give them more data, and giving them a hint of where the cars should be on paper.”
“I don’t sense that they are quietly confident,” he says of Mercedes. “Much more that they are realistic, and there’s certainly no complacency about the situation.”
With just over a month to go, and Hamilton finally making a comeback from his social media exile, we’re excited to see if the GOAT puts out any statements before it’s time.
(Featured Image Credit: Mercedes-AMG Motorsport, FIA)