With Max Verstappen becoming the first non-Mercedes driver to lead the championship standings since Sebastian Vettel in 2019, Formula 1 fans have been foaming at the mouth to see what team will eventually end the Mercedes dominance of the Hybrid era.
F1 has always been a sport of domination, with only two different teams and three different drivers winning championships in the last decade. The monotony for non-fans of the dominant team can be hard when they already know their driver has a low chance of winning. While Red Bull domination is nothing new, as the team won four straight titles with Vettel from 2010-13, the fact that Mercedes is verging on Ferrari levels of domination have fans concerned as to who will knock them off the top pedestal they have been on for the last seven years.
Who can do it? What team might rise through the grid? With the 2022 regulations changing, it really is anyone’s guess as to who will beat them, but we can make a few educated guesses.
Having been F1’s last dominant powerhouse team, Red Bull’s thorn in the side of Lewis Hamilton has been a welcome sight for fans this year. So much, in fact, that most fans have said they would rather have a boring race with nothing happen and have Verstappen win than an action-packed race where Hamilton wins. It seems unless you’re a Mercedes fan, you’re pretty much sick of Hamilton’s domination.
Christian Horner’s team has been incredible, at least with Verstappen. Second cars at F1 always seem to falter, as second drivers Sergio Perez and Valtteri Bottas seem more at pace with each other than their teammates. The biggest red flag for Red Bull is that Honda will be leaving F1 as an engine supplier, with Red Bull creating their own in-house engine program with Honda influence.
This worked extremely well for Brawn GP, as they used their Honda influence to win the 2009 title with Jenson Button. However, with Perez and Verstappen, Red Bull’s development and technology make them a firm candidate for a promotion to the top spot.
Welcome back to the limelight, McLaren: the team that gave Hamilton his first world title, and the team that fell down the grid faster than a hammer to the bottom of a lake. Despite the Honda engine disaster, McLaren has bounced back and now is starting to contend at the front of the grid. While they might not be ready for wins yet, the McLaren team is cementing themselves as the third best stable on the grid, edging ahead of Ferrari but holding their own against the Red Bulls and Mercedes.
Zak Brown has been putting a lot of faith in their number-one driver Lando Norris. The young Brit has achieved two podiums this season, coming at Imola and Monaco, and is steadily rising up the ranks of the sport. While Norris is still young, he now has two seasons of F1 racing under his belt and is now on his third despite being only 23 years old.
McLaren has shown many flashes of brilliance but still has a long way to come before they are back to their 2008 levels of success.
With the new regulations, there is no guarantee that there won’t be a complete shakeup on the grid. It is completely possible that anybody, really, could rise to the top. Teams like Ferrari, Alpine, Aston Martin and maybe even Williams could take advantage of the new cars to shoot ahead of their rivals.
Looking at a team like Haas, who completely gave up on 2021 to focus on next year, they put themselves in a great position to grow and get themselves off of the last row of the grid. If Guenther Steiner properly invests the UralKali money, Haas could see themselves return to form and get back into the middle of the field.
Williams is in the same boat. Now with stable management with Dorilton Capital and stable sponsorship from Sofina Foods, Williams has been improving more and more since their 2018 recession. The team is off the last row of the grid now, but is starting to compete more with the Alfa-Romeos as well. Williams has a lot of work to do. However, a Williams car possibly contending for the title is no joke, considering that a Bottas reunion could be in the works.
Any team has a chance to dethrone Mercedes. With Williams, Ferrari, McLaren, Red Bull and Alpine all logging championships over the course of their histories, these teams know how to win. But given the ever-evolving state of F1, the costs are often a big issue. Now that there is a cost cap and better regulations to make the sport more “fair,” fans are looking forward to the 2022 Australia Grand Prix to see who will cross the line first.