With all the unmistakable stories that motorsport delivered in 2021, the blackboard is now wiped away with the new year in front of us.
Speedcafe.com takes a look at motorsports around the world to come up with a series of predictions that may prove prophetic or downright stupid over the next 363 days …
Check out the first lot of 11 predictions HERE.
12) Adelaide 500 gone for good
Okay, these aren’t the most positive predictions for the year ahead, but it’s just a gut feeling.
There is no way I have any glimpse into the development of the South Australian state elections … but it feels like the opportunity to revive the Adelaide 500, if the incumbent Steven Marshall-led government is re-elected, could be gone forever.
On the other hand, Peter Malinauskas and Labor have a lot to do when they stand up.
13) Ricciardo outperforms Norris
Despite a shock victory in Monza, 2021 is considered to be Daniel Ricciardo’s worst season in Formula 1.
However, he closed the gap to Lando Norris after the summer break and picked up the strings when he got the chance.
Make no mistake, Ricciardo is still in a class and the new generation of cars will mean that this season he won’t be competing against a team-mate who has a two-year lead.
Expect Ricciardo to be truly the spearhead that drove McLaren off the top.
14) Winterbottom retires to take the lead from Team 18
Again, there’s no information to suggest that Winterbottom is actually considering hanging the helmet up in late 2022, but this scenario makes some sense.
Establishing a post-career career path is an important step for any athlete, and Winterbottom is still at the heart of Charlie Schwerkolt’s work. An offer to become a team boss might be too good to turn down.
Over 40-year-old champion James Courtney also seems to have a fallback option on television – but Tickford Racing announced a multi-year contract extension in October, so that transition may be a little further back.
15) Miller on the Phillip Island podium
It’s a big year for the entertaining Australian.
Judging by how Ducati ended the 2021 MotoGP season, Miller should have a masterful machine under him. But with Jorge Martin and Enea Bastianini, Ducati also has two outstanding talents who knock in the door for a factory tour.
A return to the Australian coast will definitely bring Miller some sunshine, and Phillip Island will finally return to the world stage in October.
Miller was on the podium in the premier class at the last visit to the championship in 2019 and was Moto3 winner there five years earlier.
16) Learning curve for Gardner
What a sensational championship Remy Gardner put together in 2021 and it’s brilliant that he was duly rewarded with a promotion (as opposed to the unfortunate Oscar Piastri).
It’s unlikely to see results right away, however, given the premier class field quality – not to mention Tech3 KTM Factory Racing had a tough time last year.
However, Gardner has shown in Moto2 that he can build himself up to a championship campaign over a longer period of time.
17) Gasly on the go
Pierre Gasly has done an excellent job of rebuilding his reputation since he was beaten by Max Verstappen on the Red Bull senior team in early to mid-2019.
But being with the second Red Bull team isn’t the forever solution to his F1 ambitions. So if he can’t drop Sergio Perez for 2023, a move to another location is certainly in sight.
The up-and-coming powerhouse Aston Martin could make sense if Sebastian Vettel hung up the helmet.
18) S5000 spectacle on the Gold Coast
That prospect has hovered for years as a replacement for the old days when IndyCars sped the streets of the Gold Coast.
Finally, fans are ready to get these quality open-wheelers that will navigate the Surfers Paradise chicanes as part of the 2022 S5000 Tasman series.
Roberto Merhi was a solid win for the 2021 edition, but with boundaries hopefully completely fair later this year, what kind of talent can be attracted this time around?
19) Percat surprises fans
Few in the industry doubt how good Nick Percat is.
But now the 2011 Bathurst 1000 winner has the chance to show everyone outside what he is capable of, as he is getting the first chance of his career to be in a full-time top.
There has to be a bit of slowing down on the first few laps as he familiarizes himself with his new team and car – especially since he has a top notch teammate Chaz Mostert who is already rooted in the WAU manner – but he should be regular on the hunt that comes second half of 2022.
20) Schumacher scores more than once
Haas took a calculated risk, and I love it. Their existing package was hard to save, so they gave up all hopes for 2021 to jump-start the competition for the new regulations of 2022.
But now this risk has to pay off.
Mick Schumacher showed enough promise, especially with some good bike-to-bike rides in Hungary, to suggest that he will be ready to capitalize.
21) Payne becomes Super2 race winner
Matt Payne’s first affair with the Dunlop Super2 series didn’t quite go according to plan, and perhaps that was the driving factor behind Grove Racing’s delay in its promotion to the main game.
The pace was there, but sometimes the race wasn’t.
There is no substitute for speed, however, and Payne will be good enough to claim at least one race win this season.
22) The best Drive to survival still
I mean, there hasn’t been a bad season of hit Netflix documentaries, but the 2021 roundup is sure to trump it all, given what happened.
For my part, I can’t wait.
The views above are those of this author and not necessarily the broader Speedcafe.com team.