By Joel Roberts
The 2022 Formula 1 season gets underway this weekend in Bahrain with an all-new look to the cars on the grid.
This will be the first race with new regulations in place mandated by the governing body, the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile .
These include 18 inch tyres for the first time, overwheel winglets and the return of wheel cover. The aim of these new rules is to promote closer racing and make overtaking more likely.
Therefore, it will be intriguing to see how different teams have adapted to these changes.
Max Verstappen will be looking to get his title defence off to the best possible start, whilst Lewis Hamilton will be hoping to regain his crown this year following the controversy of the Abu Dhabi grand prix in December.
The teams had a preseason shakedown in Spain before the televised practice sessions in Bahrain last week.
Testing in Formula 1 can be misleading, but it looks like Mercedes could be a bit off their usual blistering pace whilst Red Bull racing and Ferrari looked consistently quick around the desert circuit.
McLaren also had problems. Due to Daniel Ricciardo testing positive for Covid-19, his teammate Lando Norris had to do all the testing for the team. Ricciardo has now tested negative so will be racing this weekend.
Mercedes has a new driver line up for this year, with Toto Wolff bringing in George Russell from Williams to replace Valtteri Bottas.
Bottas has moved to Alfa Romeo to partner the only rookie on the grid, Guanyu Zhou.
Alex Albon is making a return to F1 after a year without a seat to replace Russell at Williams.
Meanwhile at Haas, Kevin Magnussen is also making a return to F1 after a year out. He replaces Nikita Mazepin, who was dropped by the side as a result of his father’s links to Vladimir Putin. Haas has impressed in practice.
Red Bull, Alpine, Aston Martin, McLaren, Alphatauri and Ferrari have all retained their driver line up for the upcoming season.
The season opener last year was also at Bahrain where Verstappen took pole position.
However, it was Hamilton who ultimately got the win following some controversy surrounding track limits at turn four, where Verstappen overtook Hamilton outside the track limits and had to give position back.
It will be a fascinating weekend in the sport of Formula 1 that promises to light the fuse for a new year.