Welcome to the 2022 Formula 1 season! With one of the craziest and most controversial seasons of all time behind us, we look forward to what promises to be another exciting season in 2022. Massive regulation changes have led to all the teams bringing radical new challengers to the first race of the season, with the cars looking vastly different from the 2021 cars.
With this, this first race of this new era is very difficult to predict, but we will dig into the teams’ performances during testing and their history to find some value in the betting markets.
Be sure to check out the site before every Grand Prix during season 2022, as we will have a preview of every Grand Prix, analyse the betting markets, and look to give everyone some winning Formula 1 bets!
F1 Bahrain GP Betting Tips
Schedule: Practice 1 (Friday 11pm) Practice 2 (Saturday 2am) Practice 3 (Saturday 11pm) Qualifying (Sunday 2am) Race (Monday 2am)
Pre-season testing started in Barcelona, with 3 days of testing at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya. It was Lando Norris who came out on day 1 and set the pace, more than half a second up on Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc. Ferrari took first place on day 2, with Charles Leclerc setting a 1’19.689 to sit 0.229 seconds ahead of the Alpha Tauri of Pierre Gasly. On the final day of testing, the big boys ramped it up, with Lewis Hamilton going fastest on a 1’19.138, just under 0.1s quicker than teammate George Russell. The Red Bull pair of Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez finished 3rd and 4th, some half a second slower than the Mercedes’. And we thought, here we go again….
Two weeks later, testing resumed at the Bahrain International Circuit, the site of the opening round of the 2022 Formula 1 season. Here, we were expected to get a look at who the contenders were for not only the Bahrain Grand Prix, but the Formula 1 World Championship. On day 1, Pierre Gasly showed that Alpha Tauri should be in for another solid season, setting the fastest time on a 1’33.902, nearly half a second up on Carlos Sainz. Whilst both Mercedes and Red Bull didn’t set very competitive times, both teams managed plenty of laps, working on reliability. Day 2 saw Ferrari shine, with Carlos Sainz setting the fastest lap, a 1’33.532, nearly 0.5s clear of Max Verstappen, and over 0.6s quicker than Lewis Hamilton. It appeared we could have a three-way fight on our hands early.
On the final day of testing, Max Verstappen and Red Bull signalled their intent, with an incredible 1’31.720 lap, almost 0.7s quicker than 2nd fastest man Carlos Sainz. Meanwhile, Mercedes appeared to be struggling, with Lewis Hamilton indicating Mercedes were in no position to fight for wins to start the season. Advantage Verstappen and Red Bull.
With so many changes in the regulations heading into the 2022 Formula 1 season, any predictions made is mostly guess work. Several teams looked very competitive at the recent testing sessions, whilst others appeared to be struggling. However, only the teams truly know how much fuel they were running, how hard the drivers were pushing, and how many upgrades were left off the cars during the test. Because of this, it’s good to get an idea of any correlation between testing times and how the cars look when they roll out for the first practice session of the season.
If we look back to the 2021 season (and even further), Mercedes appear to do a good job of sandbagging during testing. They look to play down their chances early, with the team and drivers alike (particularly Sir Lewis Hamilton-Larbalestier) often moaning about how difficult the beginning of the season will be and how they are behind the 8-ball. Fast forward a few weeks, and that inevitable sight of Hamilton standing atop the podium with the English anthem playing makes us all wonder how Mercedes managed it again?
Ferrari, on the other hand, seem to be the opposite. Several times the last few seasons they have come out of pre-season testing looking like they could be once again at the sharp end of the grid. Once the curtains are lifted however, we see Ferrari are once again mired towards the front of the midfield, fighting for the odd podium, but nothing more. Why will this season be any different?
We could go through each team individually, but the fact remains we won’t know exactly where these teams stand until Saturday evening, when one of these drivers will set the fastest lap in Q3 to take Pole Position.
History tells us the Mercedes is very, very good around this racetrack, particularly during the turbo-hybrid era (2014-2021). Mercedes have won 6 of the 8 races during this time, with Ferrari the only other constructor to claim a victory, winning in 2017 and 2018 (Seb Vettel). Vettel has won the Bahrain Grand Prix on 4 occasions, bettered only by Hamilton (5).
Mercedes and Ferrari also had a strangle-hold on qualifying in that time span, with Mercedes claiming 4 pole positions, and Ferrari 3. That was broken last year, with Max Verstappen claiming pole, almost 0.4s quicker than Hamilton in second.
Given Red Bull appeared the quicker car for most of last season over one lap, and the fact they looked genuinely quick in testing, I lean towards them having the edge in one lap pace. It is because of this I like Verstappen to take Pole Position for the Bahrain GP. I don’t believe the histrionics coming out of Mercedes that they are so much slower than Red Bull, but I do believe over one lap the Red Bull has an advantage. I would not be at all surprised to see Charles Leclerc lining up on the front row, with the Ferrari pace looking solid and Leclerc being a noted qualifier.
In the race, I look towards Mercedes being a lot closer to the front. The problem this year for them, as opposed to 2021, is the Ferrari’s, and potentially the McLaren’s, being a lot closer to the pace of the Mercedes. This could mean Hamilton doesn’t just have Verstappen to deal with, and Mercedes may have to strategize for a podium, rather than a win.
The midfield should be headed up by McLaren, who have a good record in Bahrain, however there are genuine reliability concerns for the team. If these have been solved, I expect Lando Norris to be battling with George Russell, Sergio Perez, and Carlos Sainz for the positions just outside the podium. I’m hoping Daniel Ricciardo can get back to his best, but having just recovered from Covid, he may struggle in this race.
The rest of the mid-field should be tight, with guys like Pierre Gasly, Fernando Alonso, Esteban Ocon and Seb Vettel all battling it out for a top 10 finish. Keep an eye out on the Haas drivers, who looked very quick in testing. Depending on their fuel load levels, they could be the big improvers to start the season in 2022. Yuki Tsunoda made his debut at this track in 2021 and had a great weekend. He finished 4th at the final GP of the year in 2021 and will be looking to get this season off to a good start. I like him to push for points in this one.
I can see a Verstappen lights to flag win, but I’m going with someone with a little more value given the uncertainty heading into the first race of a new era. Forza Ferrari!
Max Verstappen Fastest Qualifier ($2.37 at Sportsbet)
Lewis Hamilton Top 3 Finish ($1.90 at Betfair)
Lando Norris Top 6 Finish ($2.60 at Bet365)
Yuki Tsunoda Top 10 Finish ($2.50 at NEDS)
Mick Schumacher Top 10 Finish ($3.50 at NEDS)
Charles Leclerc Winner