With raw talent, skills behind the wheels, sheer determination, sophisticated techniques and an aggression that few can match, a new class of young racers are leaving no stone unturned to become F1 champions.
Let us take a look at these rising stars, who seem to be some of the most promising F1 drivers this 2022 season.
The young challengers to Lewis Hamilton’s legacy
Lewis Hamilton was in sublime form and was thought to win his much-deserved eighth title in this season. However, 2021 champion Max Verstappen, who is only 24 years old, got in his way last year, and it looks to be the same scenario for him this year.
Also, it is interesting to note that 24-year-old Monégasque driver Charles Leclerc of Ferrari and his 27-year-old Spanish team-mate Carlos Sainz Jr took the first two places on the podium after the first race of the 2022 season at the Bahrain Grand Prix.
Hamilton, who is the second-oldest racer at 37 (after 40-year-old former F1 champion Fernando Alonso) in the current season, is clearly facing a tough challenge from the younger brigade.
Here are all the other young drivers to watch for the 2022 F1 season:
“I want him to learn as much as he can and grow as much as he can and I have no doubts he’s going to be a strong competitor,” said Lewis Hamilton about the 24-year-old Russell, a fellow Brit who is the new Mercedes teammate of the seven-time Formula 1 champion.
Russell has had one podium finish, in the 61 Grand Prix races he has participated in so far. Before Mercedes, he raced for Williams with whom he made his F1 debut in 2019. At all 21 Grands Prix races in his rookie season, he out-qualified his seasoned team-mate Robert Kubica. Prior to this, he was selected by the Silver Arrows for Racing Support to become the third member of the Mercedes-AMG Petronas Young Driver Programme, joining incumbents Pascal Wehrlein and Esteban Ocon.
The young driver was so promising that when Hamilton was down with COVID-19 in 2020, Russell was picked to replace him for a one-off Mercedes appearance at the Sakhir Grand Prix.
Just 22 years old, the British driver is increasingly proving to be a major star on the circuit with five podium finishes in 61 races. Four of those finishes came in the 2021 season. Norris is also one of the youngest drivers in F1 history to secure a pole position.
Since debuting with McLaren in 2019, Norris has progressively become a formidable challenger to other drivers rising from the eleventh position in his debut season to the sixth place in 2021 season.
The rise of Scuderia AlphaTauri’s Japanese racer Yuki Tsunoda has been like a fairytale. It has taken the 21-year-old just over three years to reach the F1 ring from the Japanese F4 circuit.
In fact, when he arrived in Europe in 2019, Tsunoda had no knowledge of the continent’s tracks.
Cut to 2021, he was the youngest driver in the top tier grid and a year later he is one of the most promising young F1 drivers of all time — if he can keep his cool on the track, that is. His highest race finish so far has been fourth place in one of the races and all eyes are on him to see if he can rise above the challenge of outpacing his fellow drivers.
The Canadian-Belgian racer has had three podium finishes in 101 Grand Prix that he entered after making his debut in 2017 with Williams. Stroll, 23, currently races for Aston Martin Formula One team.
Interestingly, his father, Lawrence Stroll, is a Canadian billionaire businessman, and part-owner of the Aston Martin F1 Team. Stroll has also raced for Racing Point F1 Team, which his father created after buying Force India back in 2018.
Lance Stroll is particularly known for his excellent performance in wet weather, making him one of the most promising F1 drivers to keep an eye on this 2022 season.
Guanyu is special among F1 racers as he is the first Chinese driver in the history of the elite motorsport competition. The 22-year-old races for Alpha Romeo, and made his debut in the first race of the 2022 season at Bahrain Grand Prix, finishing 10th.
“It’s amazing, I’m so speechless, you know?” he told F1 TV after the race. “It was [such an] emotional race, so intense. To be scoring my first ever Formula One points in my debut is something I would only have dreamed of one year ago or two weeks ago.”
Born in Shanghai, Zhou is another fairytale rise in F1. He was around five years old when F1 came to China in 2004. At the time, Zhou watched and cheered for his idol Fernando Alonso at the Shanghai Grand Prix. Now, Alonso, who drives for Alpine-Renault, is his competitor on the circuit.
Zhou has been living in the UK since he was around 12 years old, where he moved for studies and training for his motorsport career.
Formula 1 runs in Mick Schumacher’s genes. He is after all the son of seven-time Formula 1 champion Michael Schumacher and nephew of Ralf Schumacher. Thus, there is no doubt he is one of the most promising F1 drivers in this season.
The 23-year-old German driver is a force to be reckoned with on the tracks. He won the F3 championship in 2018 and the F2 in 2020 before entering the F1 circuit with Haas in the 2021 season.
He has participated in 23 Grand Prix races for Haas, with his highest race finish at the 11th place. And while he is racing for Haas, Schumacher is also the reserve driver for Ferrari — the constructor with whom his father created history.
Born in England, the 26-year-old Albon is a Thai-British racing driver for Williams who competes under the flag of Thailand.
He made his F1 debut for Scuderia Toro Rosso at the 2019 Australian Grand Prix. He was promoted mid-season to Red Bull Racing. In the nine races with Red Bull in 2019, he finished in the top-six eight times.
He is the first Thai driver to have landed on the F1 podium when he finished third in the 2020 Tuscan Grand Prix. But despite his highly impressive performance, Red Bull dropped him in the 2021 season.
Albon, who has raced 39 Grand Prix to date and finished on the podium twice, is now looking for bigger glory with Williams.
(Hero and featured images: Peter J Fox / Contributor/Getty Images)
This story first appeared on Lifestyle Asia Singapore