Two days after the 2021 Formula 1 season came to its thrilling conclusion in Abu Dhabi the Formula 1 cars were back out on track. The occasion was two days of post-season testing. Its purpose was to give experience to young drivers and also allow teams to test the new 18-inch low-profile tyres that will be raced in 2022.
In 2022 the only new face on the Formula 1 starting grid will be Guanyu Zhou. The Chinese driver will drive for Alfa Romeo. His teammate will be Valtteri Bottas who has left Mercedes.
Alex Albon makes a return to the sport. The former Red Bull and Toro Rosso pilot replaces George Russell at Williams. In turn, Russell has taken Bottas’ seat at Mercedes.
In the early F1 betting odds for 2022, Lewis Hamilton is the 5/4 favourite to regain the world title with defending champ Max Verstappen on offer at 5/2 with Betfred.
Newcomer Zhou is 1,000/1 with bet365* to win the World Drivers’ Championship on his first attempt. His teammate, Valtteri Bottas is 300/1 with SportNation.
Mercedes Still Best
Nevertheless, some up-and-coming drivers got to strut their stuff. Nyck de Vries, Mercedes reserve driver, set the fastest time on day 1. Red Bull junior driver Liam Lawson, driving for sister team Alpha Tauri, was second fastest just ahead of Formula 2 champion Oscar Piastri driving for Alpine.
IndyCar race-winner Pato O’Ward followed in a McLaren. Alfa’s new boy, Guanyu Zhou was fifth best.
Max Effort on New Tyres
The cars testing the 2022 spec tyres could use their current drivers albeit they were at the wheel of ‘mule cars’ which were two years old. On day 1, Daniel Ricciardo was the fastest of these. Aston Martin’s Lance Stroll followed.
Charles Leclerc, George Russell, Valtteri Bottas (in his new Alfa Romeo) and a possibly hung-over Max Verstappen were other to try the new rubber.
Early 2022 F1 Drivers Championship Odds
- 5/4 Lewis Hamilton – Coral
- 5/2 Max Verstappen – Betfred
- 6/1 George Russell – William Hill
- 16/1 Charles Leclerc – bet365*
- 25/1 Carlos Sainz – bet365*
- 40/1 Sergio Perez – Betfred
- 50/1 Lando Norris – Unibet
- 50/1 Fernando Alonso – Unibet
- 80/1 Daniel Ricciardo – Betfred
- 100/1 Esteban Ocon – Betfred
- 150/1 bar
On day 2 only one young driver in a 2021 car made an appearance. That was Robert Schwartzman, a 22-year-old from St Petersburg, Russia who is currently in his second season competing in Formula 2. He was formerly a teammate of current Haas Formula 1 driver Mick Schumacher.
But there were plenty of familiar faces in a selection of old but familiar ‘mule cars’ testing the new 18-inch low-profile tyres. The times probably don’t account for too much but for the record, Lando Norris went fastest.
Sebastian Vettel, George Russell, Pierre Gasly, Carlos Sainz, Sergio Perez and Fernando Alonso and the incoming Guanyu Zhou were others to put in some mileage. There were almost three seconds between them.
The teams have now returned to their factories. Their new-look cars and liveries will not be seen until early to mid-February when they will be officially launched ahead of the first 2022 pre-season testing in Barcelona.
F1 2022 Race Calendar (Provisional)
|27 March||Saudi Arabia||Jeddah|
|24 April||Emilia Romagna||Imola*|
|3 July||United Kingdom||Silverstone|
|24 July||France||Le Castellet|
|30 October||Mexico||Mexico City|
|13 November||Brazil||Sao Paulo|
|20 November||Abu Dhabi||Abu Dhabi|
* subject to contract ** subject to FIA circuit homologation
* Formula One odds 2022 were correct at the time of writing. All betting odds subject to fluctuations.