F1 2022 season preview: New designs, new drivers but one familiar rivalry

    Max Verstappen overtakes Lewis Hamilton to claim a dramatic victory in the final lap of last season.

    (CNN)For the first time since the dawn of the Mercedes era -- the team has now won eight consecutive constructors' championships -- there is genuine uncertainty about how the Formula One season will unfold, with the Bahrain Grand Prix on Sunday kicking off the new campaign.

    A raft of new regulations, the biggest change in the sport since 1983, has prompted every team to drastically redesign its car, while Mercedes was beaten in the drivers' championship last year for the first time since 2014.
    Last season's dramatic conclusion in Abu Dhabi saw Red Bull's Max Verstappen win his first world championship, pipping seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton in the final lap.

      Russia in isolation

        In near unison with the rest of the sporting world, F1 moved to sanction Russia following its invasion of Ukraine. The sport's governing body announced that the Russian Grand Prix, originally scheduled for September 23-25, could not be held "in the current circumstances."
        Shortly afterward, it terminated its contract with the Russian Grand Prix promoter, "meaning Russia will not have a race in the future," read an F1 statement.
        The Russian Grand Prix had been due to move from Sochi to the newly renovated Igora Drive circuit in St. Petersburg in 2023.
          Nikita Mazepin was dropped from Haas F1 Team in the offseason following the invasion of Ukraine by Russia.
          Haas, meanwhile, terminated the contract of its Russian driver Nikita Mazepin as well as its title sponsor Uralkali, a Russian fertilizer producer part owned by Mazepin's oligarch father, Dmitry.

          Lewis Hamilton vs. Max Verstappen

          Hamilton and Verstappen's rivalry shaped F1 in 2021, a season widely acclaimed as one of the greatest ever due to their extraordinarily close title fight.
          In recent years, Verstappen has emerged as the only driver capable of challenging Hamilton's dominance, and their rivalry will define the contours of this season too.
          During their season-long duel in 2021, they crashed into each other three times -- at Silverstone, Monza and Saudi Arabia.
          The denouement was even more dramatic. Arriving at the final Grand Prix of the season, the two drivers were level in the race for the world championship.
          2021 F1 World Drivers Champion Max Verstappen is congratulated by runner up Lewis Hamilton after the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.