Formula 1 2021: Season Preview

It’s back!! The 2021 Formula 1 season is upon us, and there is plenty to get excited about. We have new drivers, new tracks, and newly-named teams. This preview will go through everything you need to know, with the key details of each team, a brief look at their performance in testing, and a prediction of where they could finish this season.

Alfa Romeo Racing Orlen

BASED IN: Zurich, Switzerland

NATIONALITY: Swiss

POWER UNIT: Ferrari

TEAM PRINCIPAL: Frederic Vasseur

2020 DRIVERS: Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) and Antonio Giovinazzi (ITA)

2021 DRIVERS: Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) and Antonio Giovinazzi (ITA)

2020 PLACINGS: 16th (Raikkonen), 17th (Giovinazzi) and 8th (Constructors)

2021 CAR VISUAL:

Credit: The Race

TESTING NOTES:

Antonio Giovinazzi put in 124 laps on the second day of testing, finishing within a second of Valtteri Bottas in the Mercedes. This was a good result, but we also need to remember that the Alfa Romeo did a lot more laps to get there. In a race situation, it is likely that the Alfa Romeo will lag a long way behind the Mercedes, similar to last season.

Kimi Raikkonen, meanwhile, did 63 laps on the first day and finished in the same group as Charles Leclerc’s Ferrari and Sebastian Vettel’s Aston Martin, around the 1:33 mark. He drove 165 laps on the third day and took four seconds off his time, finishing less than a second off Max Verstappen’s Red Bull, but he had done a lot more laps in order to get there.

2021 PREDICTION:

Alfa Romeo had some good moments last season, with Kimi Raikkonen finishing in the lower points places in quite a few races. However, as a team, they are likely to only be around the bottom of the Championship. If they can finish above Haas, that will be a good result for them, but a good start this weekend could see them challenge a little further up as well.

Scuderia AlphaTauri Honda

BASED IN: Faenza, Italy

NATIONALITY: Italian

POWER UNIT: Honda

TEAM PRINCIPAL: Franz Tost

2020 DRIVERS: Pierre Gasly (FRA) and Daniil Kvyat (RUS)

2021 DRIVERS: Pierre Gasly (FRA) and Yuki Tsunoda (JAP)

2020 PLACINGS: 10th (Gasly), 14th (Kvyat) and 7th (Constructors)

2021 CAR VISUAL:

Credit: Motor Sport Magazine

TESTING NOTES:

Yuki Tsunoda was second on the third day, driving 27 more laps than Max Verstappen’s Red Bull, but only finishing 0.093 seconds behind the Dutchman. Pierre Gasly’s best day was the second day, when he finished two seconds faster than on the first day, but was then fractionally slower on the third day. He tended to post on average times of between 1:30 and 1:32, which is about where we would expect them to be.

2021 PREDICTION:

AlphaTauri were one of the surprise teams in 2020, but then they have always given us surprises. Even when they were known as Toro Rosso, they were claiming points and finishing higher than supposedly bigger teams in races, so perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised anymore to see them up there. This season, we can only expect them to continue to grow, and all eyes will be on Yuki Tsunoda to see how quickly he settles into the team.

Alpine F1 Team

BASED IN: Enstone, United Kingdom

NATIONALITY: French

POWER UNIT: Renault

TEAM PRINCIPAL: Laurent Rossi (CEO), Marcin Budkowski (executive director), Davide Brivio (racing director)

2020 DRIVERS: Daniel Ricciardo (AUS) and Esteban Ocon (FRA)

2021 DRIVERS: Fernando Alonso (ESP) and Esteban Ocon (FRA)

2020 PLACINGS: 5th (Ricciardo), 12th (Ocon) and 5th (Constructors – as Renault)

2021 CAR VISUAL:

Credit: F1

TESTING NOTES:

Esteban Ocon was only one second behind Red Bull and McLaren on the first day of testing, which is a very promising result. Fernando Alonso, on his return to the sport, was 13th on the second day, having done 137 laps, and was just over two seconds off the top. In comparison, Antonio Giovinazzi’s Alfa Romeo did three less laps and was just under half a second off, in fifth place. The Spaniard was ninth on the third day, so finished around the average mark overall.

2021 PREDICTION:

Alpine are one of those teams who we don’t quite know what to expect from, because they have a new identity and a new management team at the top. However, with the drivers they have, we can expect that they will be picking up points in most races, even if it is just a couple of points for coming eighth or ninth. They will be one of those teams that will finish around the middle of the Championship, possibly rising up the table if they have a good first few race weekends.

Aston Martin Cognizant Formula One Team

BASED IN: Silverstone, United Kingdom

NATIONALITY: British

POWER UNIT: Mercedes

TEAM PRINCIPAL: Otmar Szafnauer

2020 DRIVERS: Sergio Perez (MEX), Lance Stroll (CAN) and Niko Hulkenberg (GER)

2021 DRIVERS: Sebastien Vettel (GER) and Lance Stroll (CAN)

2020 PLACINGS: 4th (Perez), 11th (Stroll), 15th (Hulkenberg) and 4th (Constructors – as Racing Point)

2021 CAR VISUAL:

Credit: F1

TESTING NOTES:

Lance Stroll was fourth on the first day of testing, only one second behind Red Bull and McLaren. He only did one more lap than McLaren, so it is fairly accurate to say that Aston Martin were able to match their pace on the whole in that session. Stroll was third on the second day, less than a second behind Valtteri Bottas’ Mercedes after doing 70 laps, so, again, he was consistently around the top when it came to pace, which will give them encouragement going into this season.

A gearbox issue meant that Sebastian Vettel only did 10 laps on the second day, and finished bottom of the table. On the first day, he was 3.068 seconds off Max Verstappen’s Red Bull, after doing 51 laps; this was more than Lando Norris’ McLaren and his teammate Stroll, so it wasn’t a good 2021 testing for the German.

2021 PREDICTION:

Aston Martin are another team who we are unsure of what we will get from them. Under previous name Racing Point, they were one of the teams to watch in 2020, picking up a lot of points in a lot of races. Their testing performance has given us encouragement that they can continue that form, and challenge at the top of the league. The eyes will be on Sebastian Vettel, because this season is where we will see if last season’s issues were down to him or the Ferrari car. Testing didn’t go too well for him, so we will need to see some good early performances to ensure the whispers are silenced.

Scuderia Ferrari Mission Winnow

BASED IN: Maranello, Italy

NATIONALITY: Italian

POWER UNIT: Ferrari

TEAM PRINCIPAL: Mattia Binotto

2020 DRIVERS: Sebastien Vettel (GER) and Charles Leclerc (MCO)

2021 DRIVERS: Charles Leclerc (MCO) and Carlos Sainz Jr. (ESP)

2020 PLACINGS: 8th (Leclerc), 13th (Vettel) and 6th (Constructors)

2021 CAR VISUAL:

Credit: (Photo by Xavier Bonilla/NurPhoto via Getty Images) EssentiallySports

TESTING NOTES:

Charles Leclerc was sixth on the second day, finishing within a second of Valtteri Bottas’ Mercedes, but he had done more laps than the Finn.

Carlos Sainz Jr, meanwhile, on his debut in the Ferrari car, was third on the final day of testing. He had done more laps than Max Verstappen’s Red Bull and Lewis Hamilton’s Mercedes, but this was still a good finish for him.

Overall, Ferrari needed to do more laps to match the pace of the teams that they would hope to be around this season, which is not necessarily what they would have wanted.

2021 PREDICTION:

We don’t need to go into what happened last season, because there has been a lot said about how poor they were. 2021 needs to be better for them, with good pace and drivers who won’t compete with each other on and off the track, to the extent that the team loses out. With Leclerc and Sainz, that may not happen so much, because Sainz is much more of a team player, so will slot in where required and do the job that Ferrari need him to. He also has the pace and desire that Ferrari didn’t have with Vettel last season, so hopefully they will be a little more competitive this season. Their testing times show that the car might not be what is needed, but we will have to see whether that affects them in the first few races of the season.

Uralkali Haas F1 Team

BASED IN: Kannapolis, USA (main) and Banbury, United Kingdom (European)

NATIONALITY: American

POWER UNIT: Ferrari

TEAM PRINCIPAL: Guenther Steiner

2020 DRIVERS: Roman Grosjean (FRA), Kevin Magnussen (DNK) and Pietro Fittipaldi (BRA)

2021 DRIVERS: Nikita Mazepin (ANA) and Mick Schumacher (GER)

2020 PLACINGS: 19th (Grosjean), 20th (Magnussen) and 23rd (Fittipaldi)

2021 CAR VISUAL:

Credit: (Photo by Rudy Carezzevoli – Formula 1/Formula 1 via Getty Images) F1

TESTING NOTES:

It wasn’t a good third day for Haas, with their drivers finishing 14th and 15th, and the times saw Nikita Mazepin finish two and half seconds behind the top, whilst Mick Schumacher was just over three seconds behind. They did roughly the same laps as Fernando Alonso’s Alpine and Carlos Sainz Jr’s Ferrari, so this does not bode well for their season.

2021 PREDICTION:

Haas have been one of the teams nearer the bottom for a few seasons now, and this year needs to be the one where they improve and start to move back up the table again. They have changed their entire driver lineup in their efforts to reset and go again, with the highly-rated Mick Schumacher coming in, as well as Nikita Mazepin, who will race under the “Authorised Neutral Athlete” moniker this season. Mazepin has an interesting reputation, so we will see whether he settles down into Formula 1, or makes lots of noise and headlines for other reasons. However, with two rookie drivers, as well as their testing times generally being off the pace compared to other teams, it is hard to see them finishing any higher than last season.

McLaren F1 Team

BASED IN: Woking, United Kingdom

NATIONALITY: British

POWER UNIT: Mercedes

TEAM PRINCIPAL: Andreas Seidl

2020 DRIVERS: Lando Norris (GBR) and Carlos Sainz Jr. (ESP)

2021 DRIVERS: Daniel Ricciardo (AUS) and Lando Norris (GBR)

2020 PLACINGS: 6th (Sainz), 9th (Norris) and 3rd (Constructors)

2021 CAR VISUAL:

Credit: Formula1News.co.uk

TESTING NOTES:

Lando Norris was second on the first day, posting a fastest time of 1:30:889, matching Red Bull with less laps down, so this was a really good result for them, and will give them confidence that they can match the top teams again this season.

Both Norris and Daniel Ricciardo did the least laps of everyone on the second day, only driving 52 each, but both drivers still finished within two seconds of Valtteri Bottas’ Mercedes at the top, so, again, they were up there with the pace, which is a big positive for them.

2021 PREDICTION:

There is no doubting that McLaren have taken Ferrari’s place at the top of the Championship, challenging for podiums and race wins. Therefore, with Ferrari off the pace, we can only expect that they will continue this form during this season too. Their driver lineup has changed from last season, with previous driver Carlos Sainz Jr. moving to Ferrari, and Daniel Ricciardo has come in from Renault, as they were known last season, to take his place. This has made one of the most exciting lineups on the grid this season, both on and off the track, and we can expect that McLaren will be a team with smiles on their faces because of this. As for Championship placings, third is likely to be their highest possible final placing, behind Mercedes and Red Bull. However, they will have to watch behind them, because Aston Martin, Alpine and AlpahTauri will all be hot on their heels.

Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team

BASED IN: Brackley, United Kingdom (chassis) and Brixworth, United Kingdom (power unit)

NATIONALITY: German

POWER UNIT: Mercedes

TEAM PRINCIPAL: Toto Wolff

2020 DRIVERS: Lewis Hamilton (GBR) and Valtteri Bottas (FIN)

2021 DRIVERS: Lewis Hamilton (GBR) and Valtteri Bottas (FIN)

2020 PLACINGS: 1st (Hamilton), 2nd (Bottas) and 1st (Constructors)

2021 CAR VISUAL:

Credit: Motor Sport Magazine

TESTING NOTES:

Lewis Hamilton was two seconds off Red Bull and McLaren on the first day of testing, whilst Valtteri Bottas only drove six laps in total, so it wasn’t a good first day for the team overall. However, on the second day, Bottas was top of the table, having driven 58 laps, with Hamilton also doing 58 laps and finishing three seconds behind.

2021 testing was mixed for Mercedes, with a few stumbling blocks that they needed to overcome, and it has been interesting to read since then about how they feel Red Bull have a quicker car than them this season.

2021 PREDICTION:

We are at risk of saying the same things over and over again if we aren’t careful. 2020 was excellent for them, once again setting the pace and controlling the season. 2021 could be interesting for them, though, with testing not completely going to plan, and some of their lap times would have concerned them. However, it is still fairly certain that they will take another Drivers’ Championship and Constructors’ Championship, unless something goes drastically wrong for them. Red Bull will be their closest competitors, so it will be interesting to watch the battle between the two as the season goes on.

Red Bull Racing Honda

BASED IN: Milton Keynes, United Kingdom

NATIONALITY: Austrian

POWER UNIT: Honda

TEAM PRINCIPAL: Christian Horner

2020 DRIVERS: Alexander Albon (THA) and Max Verstappen (NED)

2021 DRIVERS: Sergio Perez (MEX) and Max Verstappen (NED)

2020 PLACINGS: 3rd (Verstappen), 7th (Albon) and 2nd (Constructors)

2021 CAR VISUAL:

Credit: Formula1News.co.uk

TESTING NOTES:

Max Verstappen topped the table on the first day of testing, with a time of 1:30:674, beating it on the third day with a 1:28:960, showing the progress he made over the testing weekend. There is no doubting that this gives Red Bull hope that it might finally be their chance to win the Championships again.

Their new driver, Sergio Perez, topped the morning session of the third day, finishing the day around the middle, and tended to average around a second and a half off the top over the three days of testing. This gives him and Red Bull something to work with over this season, so they will be pleased overall with the way both drivers and cars did.

2021 PREDICTION:

Red Bull have had to be satisfied with second place in both Championship tables for a long time now, but is this the season when they finally topple Mercedes off their perch? Mercedes certainly feel that this is a possibility, making Red Bull a team to keep an eye on. However, this could simply be the Silver Arrows trying to pile the pressure on their title rivals, so it’ll be intriguing to see how Red Bull deal with this. At the moment, we can only see them finishing second, but this will change if they have a solid first couple of races. They do have a good driver lineup, with Max Verstappen joined by Sergio Perez, who was Mr. Consistent for Racing Point last season. Red Bull did very well to snap him up when he was available, as he could be what is needed to bring the extra points to the team that were missing last season.

Williams Racing

BASED IN: Grove, United Kingdom

NATIONALITY: British

POWER UNIT: Mercedes

TEAM PRINCIPAL: Simon Roberts

2020 DRIVERS: Nicholas Latifi (CAN), George Russell (GBR) and Jack Aitken (GBR)

2021 DRIVERS: Nicholas Latifi (CAN) and George Russell (GBR)

2020 PLACINGS: 18th (Russell), 21st (Latifi), 22nd (Aitken) and 10th (Constructors)

2021 CAR VISUAL:

Credit: F1

TESTING NOTES:

Nicholas Latifi did the most laps on the second day, putting in 132, and ended up seventh in the table for that day. Therefore, like Alfa Romeo, it is likely that they will lack the pace to match the other teams, and will have to settle for battling with Alfa Romeo and Haas, who are likely to be the other teams near the bottom.

George Russell only tested on the third day, doing 157 laps in total, and finished sixth overall. His fastest time was 1.157 seconds off the top, registering a 1:30:117, and this will give him hope that he can claim at least one point this season.

2021 PREDICTION:

Unfortunately, as with the last few seasons, we can only expect Williams to be at the bottom of the Championship. They sadly have to do more laps to match the pace of the other teams, which means that, in a race, they will not be able to catch up with them. As we have mentioned, they will fight to pick up odd points here and there, but that will depend on good race strategies, which has caught them out before. They have new financial backing and new management, and will hope that these, in time, lead to positive changes for the team.

2021 Calendar

Calendar subject to change, in line with any future COVID-19 issues.
Calendar subject to change, in line with any future COVID-19 issues.

The 2021 Formula 1 season could be one of the most interesting ones yet, with plenty of teams in with a chance of winning races, and the top two apparently swapping over, according to defending champions Mercedes. At the bottom, there doesn’t seem to be too much that has changed, but we will have to see if any of the things mentioned in this preview come true. It is also very good to see the majority of planned races going ahead (as things stand), and back in all the usual locations. The first few races will give us a good indication of what we can expect, and the rest of the season will go from there.

One thought on “Formula 1 2021: Season Preview

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