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Formula One 2022: Saudi Arabian Grand Prix Predictions

Aditya Chaudhuri Aditya Chaudhuri

Formula One heads to Jeddah for the season’s second race.

After a thrilling season-opener in Bahrain, racing is truly back and so are Ferrari. The opening race saw plenty of action and we got our first look at the new era cars and what the changes mean for Formula One going ahead.

Even though it’s just one race, I’ve analysed the opening race and what it means for the upcoming one. 

Also Read – 2022 F1 Predictions

Ferrari’s back

Formula One’s most iconic and loved team were back on the top step of the podium, which was the moment of the season-opener. Charles Leclerc gave Ferrari their first win since Singapore 2019 and Carlos Sainz made sure it was a one-two for the Italian team. 

Ferrari have had a horrible last couple of years, with a 2020 season to forget and a less than ideal 2021. With the new regulations announced for 2022, Ferrari put all focus on the 2022 car mid-2021, and the results seem to be showing. 

Even though they weren’t the quickest car in pre-season testing, Ferrari showed strong pace and they made it count. Red Bull, who arguably have the quickest car on the grid at the moment, bottled qualification on Saturday and Ferrari’s Monégasque took full advantage of that to take a second pole at the venue he scored his maiden pole back in 2019. 

With Ferrari starting 1-3, a podium or double podium seemed very likely, but a win was still debatable given that Max Verstappen was just behind the pole sitter. Leclerc, though, reminded us why he is one of the best on the grid. He put in a scintillating drive from start to finish and won multiple wheel-to-wheel battles with Verstappen to take a deserving win. 

Ferrari are now a good 44 points clear of their closest rivals, and with Red Bull having some serious reliability issues and Mercedes not having arrived to the party yet, the Scuderia should build on this advantage. 

For Red Bull, even though we are only a race into the season, the pressure is truly on. They have had reliability issues in the past that have ruined their competitiveness. Along with that, the team will have to keep reigning World Champion Max Verstappen calm and collected. The young Dutchman was frustrated for a large part of the race in Bahrain for various reasons, and if Red Bull want to be fighting regularly for wins, they need a mature head on their main driver. 

Heading to Jeddah, it’s going to be advantage Ferrari once again, with Red Bull a close second. 

Saudi Arabian Grand Prix Pole Prediction: Leclerc/Verstappen/Sainz

Saudi Arabian Grand Prix Win Prediction: Leclerc/Verstappen/Sainz

Saudi Arabian Grand Prix Podium Prediction: Red Bull/Ferrari/Mercedes

Mercedes power struggling

Lewis Hamilton scored yet another podium for Mercedes, while George Russell finished a respectable fourth in his first race as a full-time Mercedes driver, but the Brackley-based team know that they were handed a podium and a good haul of points because of Red Bull’s reliability issues. 

The eight-time Constructors’ champions have started off slowly and don’t yet seem to be on the same level as Ferrari and Red Bull yet. The Mercedes engine just doesn’t seem as strong as it has been over the years, and it was evident in Bahrain. All of the teams with Mercedes power units struggled, as McLaren finished P14 and P15, Williams managed P13 and P16, while Aston Martin saw their drivers in P12 and P17. 

McLaren, who already came into the race with front axle issues, had a mediocre testing, but they would not have expected such a poor outing. After finishing last year strongly, the Woking-based team have a long way to go if they want to be fighting for wins and podiums again. The same goes for the other Mercedes PU teams of Aston Martin and Williams. 

There doesn’t seem to be an immediate fix, and the teams will only be allowed to make slight updates and have to wait for at least a couple of races into the season before they could apply the upgrades. Till then, for McLaren, Aston Martin and Williams, making the most of the chaos ahead to sneak into the points should be the best they can hope for. 

Change of order?

If the McLarens, Aston Martins and Williams struggled, it was the rise of the Ferrari-backed teams of Alfa Romeo and Haas. It was a P5 finish for Haas’ Kevin Magnussen on his Formula One return, while the Alfa Romeo duo of Valtteri Bottas and debutant Zhou Guanyu scored a double points finish with P6 and P10 finishes respectively. 

Both Haas and Alfa Romeo looked competitive at the pre-season testing, and given the struggles of the Mercedes-backed teams and should Red Bull face more reliability issues, both these teams would want to capitalise on that to score big. Should there be any reliability issues or other incidents up front on the track, count on Alfa Romeo and Haas to not only score big but maybe even sneak in a podium.

The sister Red Bull team of AlphaTauri could also sneak into the points with the ever-consistent Pierre Gasly. He was running well in the points in the season-opener, until a late issue saw him retire the car, while a low-starting Yuki Tsunoda put in a stellar drive to score points for the Italian team. 

Dark Horses For Podium: Alfa Romeo/Haas/AlphaTauri

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Aditya Chaudhuri

Aditya Chaudhuri

Hailing from the City of Joy, the things that bring me joy are cricket, a good non-tilt CS:GO session, F1 and movies.

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