With Barcelona pre-season testing (or data collection or whatever it’s called) done and Bahrain on day 2 of testing at the time of writing, we’re starting to get a bit of a better idea of where everyone is for the upcoming F1 season. This also means that everyone and their next door neighbour have been making their predictions about what’s going to happen this year. With the new season only a week away from starting, I thought I’d be king of originality once again and jump on to that trend and come up with some predictions of my own. Some of these are bold, others not so much, hence why I’m calling them bold(ish) predictions. I’m fully ready for these to age poorly, but last year proved that in the crazy world of Formula 1 anything can happen!
Haas Score Points
Haas were really bad last year, like really really bad. Everything about the car was horrible and things were going just as poorly off the track as they were on it. This is really make or break for Haas now. They’ve undergone a bit of an image change in the last couple of weeks which is one they desperately needed. Following the Russian invasion of Ukraine there was absolutely no way they could’ve kept Uralkali as their lead sponsor and as a result of dropping them, keeping Nikita Mazepin as one of their drivers just made no sense. With Maz out it opened the door for Kevin Magnussen to come back to partner Mick Schumacher in what should’ve been the driver line-up last year. Bringing K-Mag back was a massive yes in that it’s starting to make Haas likeable again, and the car looks a lot better than last year. It’s no secret that Haas were putting all of their eggs in the 2022 basket and the early signs are that it may be paying off. I’m not expecting absolute wonders from them, but with two decent drivers in the form of Magnussen and Schumacher in the seats this year I can see them getting quite a few top 10 finishes.
Yuki closes the gap
It’s fair to say that Yuki Tsunoda was out raced by AlphaTauri teammate Pierre Gasly last season, with Gasly finishing p9 in the driver standings on 110 points and Tsunoda p14 on 32. Although with that being said there were signs of improvement from Tsunoda as the season went on, especially in the final stretch of the year. Now that he’s got a better feel for F1 and has had that rookie season under his belt, I think we can see a good season for Yuki this year. I’m not saying he’ll out perform Gasly, but I think the gap will be closed considerably. With this being Yuki’s second season in F1 there will be big things expected of him, especially being a part of the relentless Red Bull system where if your name isn’t Max Verstappen you’re never safe. Personally, I think Red Bull will use this as an audition season for Yuki to take Sergio Perez’s seat for 2023. Now I know that this sounds crazy when Checo is doing a perfectly fine job in the Red Bull and Pierre Gasly has experience driving for Red Bull before, but that team don’t really do second chances. Look at Alex Albon, he could’ve perfectly slotted in to an AlphaTauri seat for last season but the team opted for Tsunoda instead. Plus these are bold predictions, the easy choice would be Gasly’s getting the Red Bull seat and Tsunoda’s getting canned for 2023 but these aren’t supposed to be safe predictions. So yeah, Yuki closes the gap and gets the call-up for Red Bull for 2023. Unless they try and pinch Lando Norris from McLaren which will leave me 50 shades of sad.
Alfa Romeo get a podium
Very bold considering the team didn’t do much last year and haven’t for a long time, but with the new regulations this could be an interesting season for all the teams on the grid. I was going to go one better and say everyone gets a podium but I don’t think Haas will, no matter how bold I try and make this. The artist formerly known as Sauber opted for a completely new driver line-up this year being the only team to do so. They’ll be getting a very nice cash injection from Guanyu Zhou and a tasty bit of experience from Valtteri Bottas. With the grid expected to be closer this year and F1 usually having a few mental races that end up with some shock podiums (look at Hungary and Azerbaijan last year), this could open the door for a podium for Alfa. If I had to put money on who’ll get it, I’d say Bottas purely because of his experience and that I think he’s a better driver than Zhou but who knows. I just want to see Valtteri at his new team and Lewis Hamilton sharing a podium together to make the internet explode. Tell me with a straight face that you don’t want that.
Maiden wins for Sainz and Stroll
So this will divide opinion. First off, Carlos Sainz. I can’t really see there being too many arguments over this one. Sainz drove out of his skin last year in a Ferrari that got better as the year went on. He ended up with more podiums that teammate, Charles Leclerc, and the early signs are that the Ferrari looks white hot this year. The consistency he showed was unbelievable and if he drives as well as he did last year (which I’m sure he will) there’s no question that in a better Ferrari than in 2021, Sainz is going to be pushing for wins and will get his first. Now for Lance Stroll. Truth of it is, I really like him. I’ve said for three years now that Lance is going to get his first win in the upcoming season and I’m just going to keep running with it until it happens. But again, the regs are supposed to shake up the grid and we always end up with some shock winners like Esteban Ocon in Hungary last year so with those in mind, Super Lance gets his first win in 2022. And if he doesn’t? I’ll just make the same prediction next year and keep doing it until it happens.
Just wanted to point out that I don’t think these will be the only maiden wins. I think Lando Norris will get his first win and George Russell is in a Mercedes now so that’s obviously going to happen, I just wanted to go with Sainz and Stroll as the main points of the prediction. So bookmark it peeps, we’ll hear Marcha Real for a winner for the first time since Barcelona ’13 and O Canada for the P1 finisher for the first time since Luxembourg ’97.
Penalties for everyone
Okay bit of a boring one but at the same time it needs to be talked about. The goings on off the track are just as important as what happens on it, as was proven last year in the lead up to, and including, the final race of the season. The FIA and stewards were nothing short of an absolute joke last season when it came to penalties with them seemingly throwing darts at a board of penalties to decide who would get which punishment. They’ll be absolutely cacking their pants after the fallout of Abu Dhabi and will want to be in motorsport’s good books once again. They’ve made the right step in binning off Michael Masi, but expect this season to be done by the book to the absolute letter of the law. Being a strict teacher that nobody likes is the only way that they’ll be able to win any kind of credibility instead of just being grossly inconsistent with their penalties. This will annoy us as fans and will lead to more bickering on Twitter (not that it needs much for F1 fans to argue on there) but it’s going to happen.
Charles Leclerc wins in Monaco
This is bold, very bold. If you’re not an F1 fan then driver wins race in place might not seem that ground-breaking, but this is Charles Leclerc and Monaco we’re talking about. Whenever the Monegasque prince races in his home country either his arms turn into spaghetti and he crashes or his car decides to power down and it’s over before it’s even started. It’s a bit of a meme now that Leclerc and the Monaco Grand Prix’s relationship is as rocky as literally any couple who met on Love Island (with the exception of Tommy Fury and Molly-Mae Hague) but I think this is the year it changes. Ferrari are going to push for both the driver’s and constructors championships this year, the car looks incredibly fast and the drivers are more than capable. If Charles is going to push for the big one then he’s going to have to overcome his fear of street circuits and not put it into the wall on any track with a narrow road. Monaco will be the perfect opportunity for this because even though Saudi Arabia comes before it in the calendar I don’t count Jeddah as a real track, it’s beyond a joke how bad it is. With all this in consideration, this will finally be the year that Leclerc wins his home race to the delight of everyone.
Picture the scene. It’s Abu Dhabi, the last race of the season after another close year, we hear Crofty’s giddly little voice coming from the tv saying the following lines:
“INTO THE FINAL TURN, FERRARI THREW ALL THEY COULD AT HIM BUT IN THE END IT JUST WASN’T ENOUGH. THE FIREWORKS HAVE BEGUN, IT’S TIME, IT’S HIS TIME, THE RECORD HAS BEEN BROKEN! IT’S NUMBER EIGHT FOR LEWIS HAMILTON, CHAMPION OF THE WORLD!!!!”
Bit dramatic but you get the point. To lose it the way he did last season, Lewis Hamilton will be absolutely desperate to get that world championship to break Michael Schumacher’s record. Notice I said Ferrari too and not Red Bull? I think Ferrari will take the constructors title with how unbelievably consistent I think they’ll end up being, but Lewis will get the drivers championship. I’m not going as far to say that Red Bull will completely flop like some are predicting, but I don’t think they’ll be as good as last year. So much time went into making sure that the car was perfect for the last stretch of the season for Max Verstappen to win the world championship in 2021 but it’s come at the expense of development on this year’s. It won’t be an awful car, I just think that other teams that have spent more time on development will be better (case in point, Ferrari and Mercedes). Anyway, this is about Hamilton. He came so close last year to breaking the record and with the Mercedes looking pretty good for this year it could be his time. Plus now he has George Russell as his team mate who I can 100% see being used in a defence minister role to keep the other drivers off Hamilton’s tail, much like Sergio Perez was for Verstappen last year. With the fire that will be in his belly and the record in touching distance, this will be Sir Lewis Hamilton’s year.
Victor Martins takes the F3 title: Hard to decide this one because it’s a fairly strong grid but I think Martins will just edge it.
Theo Pouchaire wins the F2 title: If you’ve never heard the name Theo Pouchaire then I’d get used to hearing it. You may as well give him the nickname Bisto because the lad is different gravy… I’ll show myself out. I think he takes the F2 title and I’d even go as far to say that if Lewis Hamilton wins the world title and retires this year, then I want to see Pouchaire in the Mercedes for 2023. He really is that good.
Andretti F1 team get announced for 2023: It’s the worst kept secret in F1 at the minute but they’re coming! At some point Andretti F1 Team will be announced with a lineup that will include Indycar golden boy, Colton Herta.
So those were the predictions! I hope you enjoyed and they don’t all look awful come the end of the year. I’m off to watch the newest season of Drive to Survive. See ya!