The 2022 Formula 1 Grid and its Timing Partners
It's early March, and it’s almost time for the 2022 Season of the Formula 1 World Championship to start!
This year marks a pivotal moment in Formula 1. After last year’s epic climax (or debacle, depending on who you ask) a big change in regulations is bringing new innovation to the grid. Teams have been hard at work to adapt to the new set of rules, which aims to decrease aerodynamic performance and bring down lap times, while at the same time enhancing the influence of a driver’s skill. The cars look quite different from last year’s, most noticeably in the more flowing shapes of the bodywork and wings. So, as we are gearing up towards the opening race at Bahrain, it’s time to go through the 2022 grid and see which watchmaking companies we can see in the coming season.
What’s new for 2022
Before we go into the details of who’s running/wearing what, let’s take a closer look at the biggest changes for the 2022 season. We’re not going into too much detail here, as we only touch on the biggest changes.
The primary change is the complete redesign of the aerodynamic package. From front to back, there’s nothing left untouched from last year’s cars. New front and rear wings are designed to create less turbulence, and the newly shaped floor is intended to reduce downforce significantly. The next section of each car that has undergone a transformation is the side-pods and bargeboards. Looking at each team, it will be very interesting to see how the different designs will play out during a race weekend.
The final important thing to note is the introduction of 18-inch wheels. It might sound weird, but for a very long time, F1 relied on 13-inch rims fitted with a tire with a tall sidewall. So, changing the size of the rims means changing the tires, which means developing new suspensions systems. And besides that, wheel covers are allowed again, but only to limit the aerodynamic disturbance of the wheel and tire, and not to increase downforce on the car as a whole.
All in all, it is shaping up to be a very interesting year for sure, and I for one can’t wait for the whole circus to get underway, starting with the Bahrain Grand Prix on March 20th. The following video explains all the changes in detail.
Red Bull Racing & Tag Heuer
The 2022 season will be a very challenging one for Red Bull yet again. Following the dramatic outcome of the 2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, the team is looking to continue in the wake of Max Verstappen’s championship-winning form. As Honda are no longer the formal engine supplier to the team, this year will surely have its challenges for the racing outfit from Milton Keynes. Max Verstappen, being crowned champion last year, will run with Nr. 1 instead of Nr. 33. His teammate is Mexican driver Sergio Perez who put in a rather solid performance last year. In terms of partnerships, Red Bull Racing continues its relationship with TAG Heuer and we’ll surely see one or more special editions being released over the year.
Mercedes-AMG F1 & IWC
Mercedes is determined to fight back after last year’s dramatic defeat in the World Driver’s Championship. Although it won the Constructor’s Title, the team was gutted about the outcome of the final race and the season. It even resulted in a months-long media silence from 7-time world champion Lewis Hamilton. He will be joined by George Russel, and it will be interesting to see how fast the youngster can take to fight to Sir Lewis and the rest of the front runners. Watch-wise, IWC stays on as a partner so we can see those Big Pilot’s on the driving gloves during on-board shots again!
Ferrari & Richard Mille
Ferrari has arguably presented one of the best looking new cars of the 2022 grid. It looks very capable and the team is focused on clawing its way back to race-winning form after years of issues and drama. Historically speaking, the team has pretty much had the worst run of seasons to date, mostly thanks to its own doing. And honestly, it is about time for a return to glory, right? I mean, the Tiffosi desperately need something to cheer for and light Monza ablaze again! Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz stayed on as drivers and will be seen rocking those bold and technical Richard Mille watches again.
McLaren & Richard Mille
Richard Mille not only has ties with Ferrari but with McLaren as well. The team from Woking, England had a petty good season last year and finished 4th in the standings. Well behind the top three teams, but also well ahead of the rest. The surprise win at Monza helped of course, but every now and then the team showed great performances. With the experienced Daniel Ricciardo and golden boy Lando Norris behind the wheel, who knows what could happen this season! The new cars look great, with a new livery and colour scheme, and of course “RICHARD MILLE” planted firmly on the side of the nose.
Williams & Bremont
Personally, I am very happy the Wiliams team is still called Williams, after the late-great Sir Frank Williams. After severely struggling to find its way back to haul in some points during the last several years, the team has slowly shown improvements here and there. George Russel regularly made it into Q2 and sometimes even Q3 last year. With Russel departing though, it is up to Nicolas Latifi and former Red Bull protegé Alexander Albon to continue on that same progressive path. British watchmaking company Bremont joined Williams Racing as an official timing partner last year, which continues into the new season.
Alpine & Bell & Ross
Back in 2016, Parisian circle-in-a-square watch brand Bell & Ross joined then Renault F1 as official timing partner. While the team is now running under the Alpine name for its second year, Bell & Ross has stayed on as partners. The team can rely on former World Champion Fernando Alonso and Esteban Ocon to pilot the new A522, hopefully to some podiums and possible a win. Every year the team has worked with Bell & Ross to present new watches based on the team colours, so I’m curious to see how they will include the pink of title-sponsor BWT. But given the brand’s history, I’m sure they’ll make it work somehow.
Scuderia Alpha Tauri & Casio
Now, this is a bit of a strange one, I’ll admit it. Back when AlphaTauri was still named Torro Rosso, it had a partnership with Casio (specifically Casio Edifice). This year though, there’s no apparent sponsorship deal with the Japanese manufacturer but AlphaTauri does sell some branded Casio watches through its online webshop. With Yuki Tsunoda and Pierre Gasly staying on as drivers, the team is set to improve on last year’s performance. And who knows, maybe a Japanese driver behind the wheel of what is essentially still a Honda-powered car will lure in a Japanese watch company again.
Alfa Romeo & Rebellion
Alfa Romeo is the only team to have a completely new duo behind the wheel. Valtteri Bottas has made the switch from Mercedes, and F2 start Guanyu Zhou is making his Formula 1 debut. For a while, it was rumoured that Mick Schumacher would join, but the team opted for the talented Chinese youngster instead. Last year wasn’t anything impressive for the team so let’s hope this year will be a big improvement. If looks are to say anything, we could be in for a treat! Rebellion Timepieces, no stranger to the world of motorsports, has recently signed a partnership with Alfa Romeo F1 and can be seen on the wrists of Bottas and Zhou throughout the year.
Aston Martin – Girard-Perregaux
Historically, these two names both have an extensive history in their respective fields of business. Of course, Aston Martin in F1 is basically the rebranded Racing Point F1 team and is now running its second season only. Under the ownership of billionaire Lawrence Stroll, the Aston Martin team looks to improve after a difficult 2021 season. The team was regularly struggling in the mid-field pack and finished 7th overall, with about half the points of AlphaTauri in 6th. Four-time world champion Sebastien Vettel, and Lance Stroll have remained the team’s drivers for this year. Girard-Perregaux joined the team in 2021 as an official partner, which hasn’t changed into the new season. So we can probably expect some British Racing Green coloured GP’s again.
Haas F1 & Cyrus
Haas F1 is the team owned and funded (mostly) by American racing icon Gene Haas. He is the driving force behind the Stewart-Haas NASCAR team for 20 years and is active in F1 since 2016. After showing a promising form in the first few seasons, the last two or three years have been dreadful for the team. And the new year isn’t off to a great start either as it broke ties with its main title sponsor and was forced to cut ties with one of its drivers too. Mick Schumacher is rumoured to be joined by Pietro Fittipaldi for the new seasons, both of which have family ties with former F1 World Champions. When it comes to watches, Haas F1 has secured a partnership with independent watchmakers Cyrus, which was announced at the Monaco Grand Prix last year and continues into 2022.
Editorial Note: We hold no rights to the images portrayed in this article. All images regarding the 2022 Formula 1 cars are sourced from RaceFans.net and Formula1.com, unless stated otherwise in the captions.