The 2022 F1 silly season is pretty much upon us, and while 2021’s driver merry-go-round was over pretty much before the 2020 season had begun there are still at least ten seats up for grabs on the 2022 Formula 1 grid.
The grid has been relatively stable for several years now, with no new teams joining since Haas and no teams leaving since Caterham and Marussia departed. Panthera Team Asia had announced that it was to join the F1 grid in 2021, and then delayed it to 2022, but there is literally no information available on them now (other than a small mention on Wikipedia) so we’re happy to say they won’t be arriving.
The only major change expected for 2022 then will be Red Bull switching from Honda power to... Honda power with a different name. The Japanese auto giant is quitting F1 (again) after 2021 and Red Bull will be taking the production of engines in house, after agreeing to take on the programme and recruiting a new division (mostly from Mercedes). Alfa Romeo also renewed its headline sponsorship deal with Sauber, meaning the team will remain on the F1 grid in 2022. While neither Sauber or Aston Martin has technically confirmed an engine for next season, it would be astonishing if there was a change from Ferrari and Mercedes respectively.
That just leaves the F1 drivers’ market in flux. Eight drivers have clear contracts for 2022. Esteban Ocon is confirmed at Alpine having signed a three-year deal, Sebastian Vettel has a multi-year deal at Aston Martin and so does Max Verstappen at Red Bull. Lewis Hamilton has recently signed on to remain at Mercedes for at least two more years. The Ferrari pairing of Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz Jr. are both confirmed for 2022 as are McLaren’s Lando Norris and Daniel Ricciardo.
That leaves Haas, Alfa Romeo, AlphaTauri and Williams without a single driver confirmed for the 2022 F1 season. Haas is expected to retain Mick Schumacher and their second driver, while Alfa Romeo looks increasingly like retaining its pairing of Antonio Giovinazzi and Kimi Räikkonen.
Yuki Tsunoda initially impressed at the start of his debut season with AlphaTauri but has faded over the following races, leaving a few questions over his future, with Pierre Gasly also yet to commit to AlphaTauri for longer than the end of the 2021 F1 season, meaning there could be a whole new line-up in the Red Bull junior team next year. The second seat in the main Red Bull team remains up for grabs, but Red Bull has hinted recently that it may re-sign Sergio Perez after some impressive performances in 2021 including his second F1 victory in Baku.
Williams is waiting on George Russell to decide where his future lies, with the young Englishman continuing to impress and definitely in with a chance of a jump to Mercedes in 2022, should the team from Brackley decide that Valtteri Bottas’s time is up. A decision on the future of Nicholas Latifi is also still to come. That leaves the final TBA on our list as the second Aston Martin seat, which we can easily put Lance Stroll’s name by, given his father’s stake in the team.
We’ll keep you updated with all the twists and turns of the 2022 F1 drivers market over the coming months. But who do you think deserves a seat in 2022?