Formula One 2021-22 Silly Season Update

Thirteen races down and nine remain to a competitive 2021 FIA Formula One World Championship season highlighted with a new financial regulation and budget cap for every team, aerodynamic and technical changes to the current F1 cars, sporting regulations, race weekend and on-track activity changes, calendar and circuit changes amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and a series of on- and off-track, competitive exchanges between two organizations (Mercedes and Red Bull) vying to emerge as champions of 2021.  

Mixed into the competitive 2021 season are a series of changes pinpointing a number of drivers and teams prior to the 2022 F1 season, with nearly all of the 20 seats on the grid being filled and a majority having guaranteed spots to remain with their current organizations while others are bound to move to a new home for the new season. 

Here is a rundown of each team and their driver lineup for next season:

For the first time since 2017, the Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team, which entered this season as the reigning championship-winning team and currently leads this year’s constructors’ standings, will feature a new competitor to its two-car roster. That competitor is George Russell, who was named a Mercedes F1 driver for the 2022 season on September 7. Russell, a native from King’s Lynn, Norfolk, England, is currently competing in his third racing season with Williams Racing. Despite being mired back in 15th place in the drivers’ standings, he achieved his maiden podium result after qualifying and finishing second in the rain-shortened Belgian Grand Prix at Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps in late August. Russell will be a teammate to Sir Lewis Hamilton, the reigning seven-time F1 champion who has won four Grand Prix events this season and is runner-up in the current drivers’ standings. Hamilton, meanwhile, signed a two-year contract extension in early July to remain with Mercedes, a deal spanning to 2023, as he continues to his pursuit for a record-setting eighth Formula One title and 100 Grand Prix victories.

Russell’s transition to Mercedes means that he will be replacing Valtteri Bottas, a native from Nastola, Finland, who has been competing with the silver arrow team since 2017 and has achieved nine career wins in F1. While he has yet to achieve his first Grand Prix victory of 2021, Bottas is up in third place in the drivers’ standings. The Finnish competitor, though, revealed on September 6 that he will be joining Alfa Romeo Racing Orlen on a multi-year basis, beginning in 2022. Bottas will be replacing Kimi Räikkönen, the 2007 F1 champion who announced his intention to retire from the sport on September 1. Alfa Romeo has yet to announce its full two-car driver lineup for next season, with the status of Antonio Giovinazzi, Alfa Romeo’s current second competitor and a third-year F1 driver from Martina, Italy, unconfirmed. 

Like Mercedes, the Williams Racing team will feature a new competitor to its organization next season. That competitor is Alexander Albon, a former Red Bull Racing competitor who has competed under the Thai flag, as announced on September 8. Albon made his Formula One debut in 2019 while driving for Toro Rosso, now know as AlphaTauri. Midway into the season, he replaced Pierre Gasly to drive for Red Bull and continued to drive for the team through 2020, where he earned two podium results, before being demoted to the role of reserve and development for Red Bull this season. Albon will be a teammate to Nicholas Latifi, a native from Montreal, Quebec, Canada, who is in his second full-time season in F1 and will remain with Williams for the 2022 season. Latifi is currently in 16th place in the drivers’ standings, one spot behind his current teammate, George Russell, while the Williams team is up in eighth place in the constructors’ standings following four top-10 points-paying results.

Meanwhile, Red Bull Racing Honda, which is runner-up in the constructors’ standings behind Mercedes, will be retaining its two-driver lineup for the 2022 season. Max Verstappen, the current championship leader who has won seven Grand Prix races this season, including the recent Dutch Grand Prix at Circuit Zandvoort, is guaranteed to be with the team through 2023 while Sergio “Checo” Perez, an 11-year racing veteran who won the Azerbaijan Grand Prix in June, signed a one-year contract extension on August 27 to remain as a Red Bull competitor for another season. Perez is ranked in fifth place in the drivers’ standings.

Scuderia AlphaTauri Honda, a sister team to Red Bull Racing, will also feature the return of Pierre Gasly and rookie Yuki Tsunoda as the team’s two drivers for 2022, which was confirmed on September 7. Gasly, winner of the 2020 Italian Grand Prix, has achieved a podium result at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix in June along with 12 top-10 points-paying results while Tsunoda, the 2018 F4 Japanese champion, a three-time Formula 2 winner and a newcomer to Formula One this season, has finished in the top-10 five times. Gasly is currently in eighth place in the drivers’ standings, five spots ahead of teammate Tsunoda, while AlphaTauri is ranked in sixth place in the constructors’ standings.

Like the two Red Bull organizations, Scuderia Ferrari Mission Winnow, which is ranked in third place in the constructors’ standings, will feature no changes to its driver lineup for next season. Charles Leclerc, who has won his maiden two Grand Prix races since joining the historic organization in 2019 and is placed in sixth in the current drivers’ standings, is under contract with Ferrari through 2024 while Carlos Sainz Jr., the newest member of the organization who has achieved four podium results since 2019, is scheduled to retain his Ferrari seat for 2022. Sainz, currently, is a spot behind teammate Leclerc in the standings.

Another team that will feature no changes to its driver lineup is the McLaren F1 Team, which is ranked in fourth place in the constructors’ standings. Lando Norris, who has achieved four podium results since 2020 and is in fourth place in the drivers’ standings, inked a fresh multi-year contract in May to remain as a McLaren F1 competitor for 2022 and beyond while Daniel Ricciardo, the team’s newest competitor and a seven-time Grand Prix winner, is slated to remain with the organization on a multi-year basis. Ricciardo is ranked in ninth place in the drivers’ standings, five spots behind his teammate, with nine top-10 results.

Coming off their recent on-track successes, the Alpine F1 Team, which rebranded from Renault and is in fifth place in the constructors’ standings, will also feature no changes to its lineup for the 2022 season. Esteban Ocon, who won his maiden Grand Prix event in Hungary in early August and is 11th in the drivers’ standings, signed a contract extension in mid-June to remain with Alpine through 2024 while Fernando Alonso, a two-time F1 champion who returned to full-time competition following a two-year break, confirmed in late August that he will return to compete with Alpine next season. Alonso is currently a position ahead of teammate Ocon in the standings.

Despite enduring an up-and-down season, the Aston Martin Cognizant F1 Team, which rebranded from Racing Point and is placed in seventh in the constructors’ standings, is expected to retain Sebastian Vettel and Lance Stroll as the team’s two drivers for next season. Vettel, a four-time Formula One champion who achieved his first podium result with the team at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix in June, is in 12th place in the drivers’ standings, two spots ahead of teammate Stroll, who has achieved six top-10 points-paying results.

Finally, the Uralkali Haas F1 Team, which sits in the bottom of the constructors’ standings and has yet to score a single point through 13 scheduled Grand Prix events, is also expected to retain its two-driver lineup for the 2022 season. Mick Schumacher, an F1 newcomer and the reigning Formula 2 champion who is the son of seven-time F1 champion, Michael Schumacher, is in a tie at the bottom of the drivers’ standings with his rookie teammate Nikita Mazepin, who finished in fifth place in the 2020 F2 standings with two victories and is the son of Dmitry Mazepin, a Russian businessman who is also the chairman and core shareholder of Uralchem Integrated Chemicals Company.

With the 2022 Formula One full driver-team lineup yet to be determined, the 2021 F1 season is scheduled to resume at Monza Circuit for the Italian Grand Prix on September 12 followed by Sochi Autodrom for the Russian Grand Prix on September 26.



The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of SpeedwayMedia.com.

Andrew Kim
An avid motorsports enthusiast from California with aspirations of working in any form of communications, PR or digital/social media in motorsports.

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