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F1 2022: Nat Pinkham on next season's "Brawn 2009" shock champion opportunity

Sky F1's Nat Pinkham reveals what she's most excited about with F1 2022 on the horizon.

Max Verstappen
Published: Saturday, 18th December 2021 at 3:00 pm

Sky Sports F1 expert Nat Pinkham believes the new F1 2022 regulations could offer a chance for a team to emulate Brawn's stunning world title victory in 2009.

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Jenson Button was crowned champion that year after a remarkable performance during the newly-created Brawn GP team's only season in Formula 1.

The British driver won six of the opening seven races and held his own throughout the rest of the campaign to secure the world title against all the odds.

Speaking exclusively to RadioTimes.com, Pinkham believes next season could witness another huge shock on par with the success of Brawn and picked out notable highlights to come in 2022, including the sight of "good guy" George Russell stepping into a seat at Mercedes.

She said: "What excites me most is the fact that the regulation changes make it such a blank canvas that you could well see a team, even like Alfa Romeo, be able to perform.

"Who knows, they might just have found something, particularly with the help of Ferrari, to surprise a few people. They've got Valtteri Bottas and Guanyu Zhou as their driver line-up.

"You could just see some sort of freak case like that where someone just suddenly comes good, a bit like Brawn in '09. I think 2022 will offer that opportunity.

"We've got a lot of new fans to the sport and I don't think they're going to be disappointed because it's going to keep everyone on their toes.

"It's sort of ironic in a way that we thought that 2021 would be like a holding pattern for the year and it's been the most exciting year we've ever had – it's crazy!

"We thought we were just going to tread water until next year but it's actually been the opposite. We've set the bar pretty high for next year to entertain us, haven't we? I think it will in a different way.

"It will be so interesting to see these cars and how they'll cope and whether overtaking will be improved, which I'm sure it will be because the greatest brains in the sport have gotten together to find ways of achieving that."

Read more: Inside F1 2021 finale paddock: Nat Pinkham on “surreal” scenes after Lewis Hamilton loss

Not only will the cars look different next season but the usual merry-go-round of drivers sitting in the cockpits of each car has thrown up some terrific prospects.

Pinkham believes Russell's debut season alongside Lewis Hamilton at Mercedes has all the ingredients to energise the front of the Formula 1 grid all over again.

She said: "George getting in the Mercedes – I am so excited about that! That's what's so brilliant about this sport, there's sub-plots everywhere. George is the real deal – he is without doubt the real deal.

"This guy is so talented, you only have to see how he was able to step in at the very last minute in Bahrain in 2020 and to do what he did under that level of pressure was incredible. He's also just such a nice guy. You want the good guys to do well, and he's brilliant. That will be amazing to see.

"I think he will come out of the blocks and be great. What Lewis has been able to do this year is that he's been tested in new ways by Max and he's been able to rise to that challenge. I think the same will happen again next year with George, who will push and test Lewis.

"Lewis has said this year that's been why he's enjoyed it so much. It will sort of breathe new life into Lewis' career as well.

"I can't wait. Wait, I'm not saying that yet! Let me have two days off! I need a bit of a kip first, and then I'll say I can't wait!"

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