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Everything to know heading into the 2022 F1 season

Formula 1 is back for its 2022 season. We break down everything you need to know ahead of the new season after a thrilling finish last year.

Max Verstappen (NDL) Red Bull Racing, RB16B, Honda engine and Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 Team after winning the final race during the Grand Prix Formula One of Abu Dhabi at Yas Marina Circuit on December 12, 2021 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. Photo by Irwen Song ATPImages/Getty Images

Welcome to Formula 1 — the premier global racing series — as it embarks on its 73rd season. Last year saw 7-time World Champion Lewis Hamilton’s title-winning streak halted on the final lap of the final race of the season. Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen took the checkered flag in Abu Dhabi in highly controversial fashion to claim his first championship and marked the end of Mercedes seven-year dominance.

2022 ushers in new technical regulations and salary cap limitations aimed at making the racing more competitive. With teams arriving to the first race of the season with completely different initial designs, there is ample opportunity for a shakeup in the driver and team standings. Four past World Champions and drivers from 14 different countries set the field for what is expected to be a thrilling season.

How Many Teams Are There?

F1 is comprised of ten teams: Alfa Romeo, AlphaTauri, Alpine, Aston Martin, Ferrari, Haas, McLaren, Mercedes, Red Bull, and Williams. Each team has two drivers, with all 20 drivers racing each weekend. Every team also has reserve drivers at the track in the event a primary driver is unable to compete.

Key Drivers To Know

  • Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) - 7-time Champion (tied for all-time first place), 103 wins (1st all-time) & 103 poles (1st all-time), finished second last season after winning four straight titles. +135 favorite at DraftKings Sportsbook to win his eighth title this year.
  • Max Verstappen (Red Bull) - 10 race wins last season resulted in his first F1 Championship. Second best odds to win the title at +180.
  • Lando Norris (McLaren) - One of the top young drivers who earned four podiums (top three finishers) last season and McLaren’s best chance of returning to the top since 2008 with Hamilton.
  • Charles Leclerc (Ferrari) - Had back-to-back wins in his first season with the Italian team in 2019 and is seen as the legendary team’s best chance to revive their glory. Third best title odds at +700
  • Fernando Alonso (Alpine) - 2-time Champion, 32 wins and 22 poles. Alonso could get off to a fast start given his experience and adaptability to the new design.
  • George Russell (Mercedes) - After three seasons with Williams, Russell makes the move to a championship contender and could be the eventual successor to Lewis Hamilton. Fourth best title odds at +800.

How Does The Point System Work?

Drivers and teams accumulate points from each race that add up over the course of the season to determine the Drivers & Constructors (Teams) Championships. The drivers who finish 1st through 10th earn points based on their position - 1st (25), 2nd (18), 3rd (15) .... 10th (1). An additional point (1) is awarded to the driver who completes the fastest lap during the race, as long as they finish in the top ten. Team points are accrued from both drivers’ finishes added together. Whichever driver and team have the most points at the end of the season claims the respective championship trophy.

Rule Changes for 2022

This season ushers in a brand new era for Formula 1 with sweeping changes coming to most areas of the sport:

  • Race Director - Last year’s director Michael Masi is out following his controversial decisions in the 2021 title-deciding race. He will be replaced by two individuals who will rotate the duty each race and they will be assisted by a new video review system similar to VAR in soccer.
  • Technical Regulations - The biggest change for 2022 will see completely redesigned cars with variation from all ten teams. The new regulations are designed to encourage closer racing and maximum passing opportunities.
  • Tires - An increase to 18-inch tires is expected to improve grip and reduce degradation.
  • Sprint Races - Short races will occur on the day before (Saturday) three selected Grand Prix events with points being awarded to the top eight finishers.
  • Salary Cap - In order to promote more parity among the teams, new spending limits have been enacted. Teams are capped at $140 million in 2022 with that number falling each season.

How Does Qualifying Work?

Qualifying is broken into three sections. Q1 features all 20 drivers and lasts 18 minutes, with the top 15 fastest times advancing. Q2 repeats with format with the remaining drivers, lasting 15 minutes and only the top ten moving forward. Finally, in Q3 the top ten drivers have 12 minutes to set their fastest lap and starting place in the race. Each driver’s finishing position from the respective groups decides the running order for the Grand Prix.

The 2022 F1 Schedule

2022 will be the longest F1 season ever, featuring 22 races held around the globe. After running 21 circuits in 2018 & 2019, COVID restrictions have been lifted and fan-favorite tracks in Australia, Canada, Japan & Singapore are returning to the schedule. The season kicks off on March 20th in Bahrain and will conclude on November 20th in Abu Dhabi. 2022 also marks the debut of the brand new Miami Grand Prix in May, which is the second American race on the calendar — joining the October United States Grand Prix in Austin, Texas.

TV Coverage

In the United States, ESPN holds television rights for Formula 1, primarily rebroadcasting Sky Sports (UK)’s coverage. Each practice, qualifying session, and Grand Prix are featured on the ESPN family of networks. Fans without cable can directly purchase full F1 coverage via F1TV.

3 Big Storylines To Track This Season

  1. New Designs - It’s all question marks heading into the first race under new regulations. Some teams will move up the running order based on their designs while others may struggle in the opening rounds. With Mercedes not yet up to speed during testing and 2021’s last-place team Haas topping the time charts one day in Bahrain, anything is possible as everyone comes to grips with the new cars.
  2. Hamilton v. Verstappen - How will these two race each other following the dramatic ending last season? With Red Bull looking like the early favorites in Bahrain testing and Mercedes lacking speed, how long will it be until the sport’s top two drivers are battling each other for this year’s championship?
  3. Ferrari - The last time the 16-time champion Italians won the F1 Constructors’ Title was 2008 and the Drivers’ Championship the year before. After impressive test runs in Barcelona and Bahrain, could this be their return to glory with two standout young talents in Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz?

Whether you are a long-time supporter, recent adopter, a fan of Netflix’s Drive to Survive docuseries, or brand new to the series, it’s the perfect time to jump aboard as Formula 1 embarks on a brand new era of car designs and competition. The 2022 F1 season kicks off this week with the Bahrain Grand Prix on Sunday, March 20 at 11 am ET.