It’s the start of a new year, and for some motorsport stars, it’s a fresh start with a new team. So here are five motorsport stars that are having a fresh start this year, that might just cause a surprise.
F1 – Valtteri Bottas
After five Championship-winning seasons, the Mercedes era for Valtteri Bottas is over. He was a driver who never really got the plaudits he deserved. He reached the third part of qualifying in every single Grand Prix for Mercedes, with is something that is very impressive.
He now starts a new adventure with Alfa Romeo, and while it may be seen as a considerable drop down the grid, his experience will be very valuable for the team.
It is a move similar to what Kimi Raikkonen did, drop from a title-fighting team to a lower midfield, but this is a move that I believe will bring out the best in Bottas.
He is a quality driver and while he wasn’t able to show World Championship winning pace over the course of the season, he has beaten multiple World Champions to a Grand Prix victory.
His battle with Hamilton at the 2019 British Grand Prix was probably some of his best driving ever and it really laid down a marker in front of the British crowd. If he can driver similar to his in the midfield next season, he might just spring a surprise.
Formula E – Oliver Askew
Making the switch from Indycar to Formula E is the 2019 Indy Lights Champion Oliver Askew, looking to show the world his potential after a tricky spell in Indycar.
He raced for Arrow McLaren SP during the 2020 season, but after a heavy crash during the Indy 500, he wouldn’t return until the season finale. He would then be dropped from the team with no reason stated.
2020 saw Askew return to Arrow McLaren SP as a replacement for the injured Felix Rosenqvist and would also race for Ed Carpenter Racing later in the season replacing the injured Rinus VeeKay.
It was announced in late 2021 that Askew would race for Avalanche Andretti alongside Jake Dennis. This is a partnership that I am very excited about as it is not only a fresh start for the team after BMW’s title sponsorship withdrawal, they are also getting an American driver for an American team.
I think Askew can fight in the top half of the grid and with Dennis being in the title fight last season, keep an eye out on the pair for the Team’s Championship as well.
Indycar – Romain Grosjean
His heroic escape from a HAAS car engulfed in flames during the 2020 Bahrain F1 Grand Prix was one of the greatest moments in the sport’s history and its amazing to see Romain Grosjean back behind the wheel of a racing car, only this time in the United States of America.
After a very solid rookie season, he now makes the move from Dale Coyne Racing to Andretti Motorsport, replacing Ryan Hunter-Ray.
This is a move that excites me because what Grosjean proved in his rookie season is that he really does have the pace and the skill to carve out a podium.
Now that he will theoretically be in a faster and more reliable car, I think we might just see the French driver claim a victory during the season and his debut in the Indy 500 will be something very exciting for motorsport fans around the world.
MotoGP – Remy Gardner
The Moto2 Champion, Remy Gardner, makes the step up to MotoGP for 2022 and will be one that many will be keeping a close eye on as he joins Tech3 KTM Factory Racing.
While many who don’t follow the series will probably have never heard his name, he dominated Moto2 in 2020 alongside his team-mate Raúl Fernández, who impressed as a rookie rider and will also make the step up to MotoGP with Tech3.
I am really excited to see how quickly Gardner can get up to speed and whether or not his three seasons in Moto2 will go a long way in terms of experience against his teammate who only had one season in the series.
WorldSBK – Scott Redding
This was a move that very little expected to see happen but what an exciting move it is. After going to battle with Jonathan Rea in 2020 for the World Championship and finishing third in 2021, he will be hoping to battle for the title in 2022.
Some might see this as a backwards step but BMW has been slowly improving since they returned to the series and how to have a very strong rider pairing in Redding and Michael van der Mark.
It will be interesting to see how quickly Redding can get up to speed on a BMW, but I don’t think he would choose to move to a slower bike if he really wants to be World Champion. I’m really excited to see what this partnership can achieve and I think that it’s one that maybe not this season, but next will be very strong indeed.