After a sensational end to the 2021 Formula One season, it is time to leave the past behind and although there was a huge level of acrimony at the recent Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, it will have done little to mute the celebrations of Max Verstappen.
Celebrations that came about after the Dutchman clinched his first ever Driver’s Championship and with Red Bull finally managing to break the Mercedes monopoly, they will now look to assert their own period of lengthy dominance.
One that they managed to earn before – as Sebastian Vettel was responsible for successive crowns between 2010 and 2013. Although before the end of 2021, it was nothing but Mercedes glory from 2014 onwards.
However, the success of Verstappen has certainly ushered in a new era of the sport and although there has been constant talk of Formula One’s next generation coming to the fore, that generation has had to mainly lie in wait.
Because that generation has had to wait for the former king to be usurped and with Lewis Hamilton failing to earn an eighth and record-breaking championship crown, he will look to return to his throne in 2022.
That is if the Mercedes ace bothers to take to the track at all and with the British ace mentioning retirement after the controversial ending to the 2021 season, it may need team boss Toto Wolff to change his mind.
Then again, you cannot doubt Hamilton’s burning desire to win and with that eighth crown eluding him, he would love nothing more than to bounce back in the best possible way and surpass the legendary Michael Schumacher as the most successful driver of all time.
On the assumption that Hamilton does enter his Mercedes cockpit once more, then it will make for an interesting debate in terms of who will be champion in 2022 and for those who use sports betting apps, they will have a tough decision to make.
Will it be the defending champion who continues his own chapter of supremacy, or will it be his arch nemesis that returns to the top step of the podium? One thing that is for sure, is that there is little to split them in terms of the current betting odds.
While a lot could depend on how Red Bull deal with taking their previous Honda engine in-house and with the powerplant now being rebranded under their own team’s name, they will be tasked with picking up where the Japanese manufacturer left off.
With Honda announcing their decision to quit Formula One at the end of 2021, it left the Red Bull team in a state of flux and with both few and unfancied options in terms of a replacement engine, it meant that Christian Horner and his colleagues had to think outside the box.
Because with both Ferrari and Mercedes both highly unlikely to provide customer engines to Red Bull, the only feasible option left at the time was Renault and with the two entities already having a messy divorce, getting back into bed was always going to be a non-starter.
Which meant Red Bull had to request an engine development freeze instead and in doing so, it meant they would at least have the capability to take on the previously Honda-badged engine and continue using them under their own Red Bull banner.
Which leaves us in the scenario we are in now and with 2022 also seeing a new generation of car design, it will be interesting to see who gets to grips with the evolution of technology first and what advantages they can gain.
Of course, it should not be forgotten that these changes in technology should also open up the field considerably and although Mercedes and Red Bull have largely had it their own way in recent times, it is hoped that both Ferrari and McLaren will find themselves back at the front of the grid.
Not to mention the likes of Aston Martin and Alpine who will not want to move out of the midfield and if they can make a lightning-fast start to 2022, then it should mean that racing fans are in for another incredible year of Formula One action.