The 2022 Formula One season started with the Bahrain Grand Prix on 20th March, with 20 newly designed cars lined up on the grid. Red Bull started as favourites, but in truth, no one really knew what to expect at the Bahrain International Circuit, as the impact of extensive new regulations was yet to be tested under race conditions.
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Why The Regulations Changed
When the FIA, the sport’s governing body, first set out to rewrite the technical regulations, they had one aim. To increase overtaking and create more wheel-to-wheel, high-speed racing for fans to enjoy.
Other factors were also addressed, such as costs, environmental impact, and creating a more level playing field for all teams. But overtaking was the overriding consideration for regulators, keen to maintain Formula One’s status as the number one global motorsport.
Previous years have seen drivers stuck behind slower cars for lap after lap, unable to overtake due to ‘dirty air’ reducing their cars’ performance. The closer cars got to the car in front, the greater the loss of downforce and performance, reducing their ability to race.
The new regulations are designed to create a car that retains as much downforce as possible while following another car, creating more opportunities for overtakes and more exciting racing.
Have The New Regulations Worked?
While it’s still early in the season, it’s safe to say that if the racing we’ve witnessed so far is anything to go by, the regulations are definitely having an impact. Races are closer, overtakes are more frequent and predicting a winner is harder than ever before – which is great if you’re a fan of sports betting.
While the current World Champion, Max Verstappen, leads this year’s Championship, race wins have been spread around multiple drivers. Maiden Grand Prix wins for Red Bull’s Sergio Perez and Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz, highlighting a levelling of the playing field to some extent.
The British Grand Prix, Silverstone
The greatest example of the regulations doing their job was the British Grand Prix at Silverstone. While crashes, breakdowns and safety cars added to the excitement, the last 20 laps were some of the most memorable in a Grand Prix for a long time.
A four-way scrap featuring Mercedes rejuvenated Lewis Hamilton, Red Bull’s Sergio Perez, plus Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc of Ferrari, battled it out for the podium places in an edge-of-the-seat finale. Multiple overtakes, wheel-to-wheel tussles and some good old-fashioned high-octane racing, saw positions change hands numerous times in the final laps.
Previously overtakes resulted in the successful car pulling away and disappearing into the sunset, but what made this race more remarkable was the constant retaking of positions and neck and neck nature of each manoeuvre. It was everything that the regulations had been designed to do.
Miami Grand Prix
The inaugural Formula One race at the Miami International Autodrome lived up to all the pre-race hype. Max Verstappen appeared to be cruising to victory until Pierre Gasly and Lando Norris collided on lap 41, bringing out the Virtual Safety Car.
A flurry of pit stops later, and the leading contenders were once again fighting for the win, with race leader Verstappen unable to pull away from the persistent Ferrari of Leclerc. The Dutchman hung on, however, clinching a hard-fought win after starting third on the grid.
Behind them, Carlos Sainz took the final podium place with a late move on Perez after he made a mistake under pressure and locked up on lap 52.
Canadian Grand Prix
The Gilles Villeneuve Circuit in Montreal saw another very exciting race, although, as in Miami, the late excitement was in part due to a late safety car. Verstappen looked to be cruising home when Yuki Tsunoda crashed, leaving Carlos Sainz right behind the Red Bull driver’s car.
The next 16 laps saw some thrilling racing, but Verstappen held on to take victory with Sainz under a second behind. It wasn’t just up front where the action was either, with some superb tussles and overtaking throughout the field, including George Russell, who started 8th and finished 4th.
With so many great races still to come this season, here’s our pick of the ones to look out for.
Dutch Grand Prix
Round 15 travels to the Netherlands and the Zandvoort circuit on September 4th. A tight, twisty circuit, it’s perhaps most memorable for the spectators. Last year saw legions of loyal Verstappen fans in their trademark orange outfits, roaring the Red Bull driver home.
Expect no different this year as their hero goes for the title once more, in what will be an unbelievable atmosphere both on and off the track.
United States Grand Prix
Taking place at the Circuit of The Americas in Austin on Sunday, October 23rd this Grand Prix promises to be a spectacular occasion as Formula One returns to the States for round 19 of the 22-race season. With only a handful of races to go, every point will be vital, so expect lots of wheel-to-wheel action as the leading contenders fight for every point.
Abu Dhabi Grand Prix
The 20th of November sees the season-ending Grand Prix take place at the Yas Marina Circuit, and with the racing proving so unpredictable, it looks like it will once again decide who is the Formula One World Champion.
Can anything beat the unbelievable events of last season when Lewis Hamilton was overtaken on the final lap and robbed of the title? Thanks to the new regulations, racing is now closer and more competitive than ever, and with a four-way battle at the top, we might just see something even more spectacular.