The Formula 1 season is right around the corner with the Bahrain GP kicking off the season, set for Monday, March 29. Here are five things to look out for, in what will be Formula 1’s 71st season. (Image description: The coveted RedBull Racing competing at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, Montréal, Canada. Source: Jp Valery)
By Marco Krantis | @KrantisMarco
The 2021 Formula 1 season is right around the corner, with round 1 beginning March 29 at the Bahrain International Circuit. Formula 1 seasons have become predictable, with Mercedes winning 8 straight Constructors Titles. Will this year be more of the same? Here are five things to look forward to in the upcoming season, as it attempts to break the mould of years past.
Lewis Hamilton looking to make it 8 World Drivers Championships.
Last year it was business as usual for Hamilton, dominating the grid and topping the driver standings with a 124-point lead on second place. That performance brought his World Championship tally to seven, equalling Michael Schumacher for the most World Drivers Championships accumulated by a driver.
Re-signing with Mercedes somewhat guarantees him that coveted number eight, as the German manufacturer has won the last eight Constructors Championships. The grid will have their hands full, as Hamilton, who is regarded as one of the greatest to ever do it, will add increased ambition to what already is a baffling skill set and consistency for the British driver.
The legendary car manufacturer will be licking their wounds, after a humiliating and uncharacteristic season which saw them finish sixth in the Constructor Standings last year. The team, which usually finds itself as the second-best manufacturer, dealt with powertrain issues, specifically around horsepower.
Those difficulties spurred the team to reinvent the 2021 engine. Ferrari Team Principal, Mattia Binotto said, “we have invested a lot in developing further the power unit for 2021, and for 2022”.
Along with a revamped engine, Ferrari have added 26-year-old Carlos Sainz to their driving line-up, which features the young prodigy Charles Leclerc. Sainz signs after finishing sixth in the driver standings last year. The focus on revamping specifications and driving talent will give Ferrari a fighting chance of returning to their usual seat, as one of the cornerstones of Formula 1 racing.
Lofty expectations on rookies
Mick Schumacher and Yuki Tsunoda will have tremendous expectations on them in their rookie season. Mick will have big shoes to fill, as he attempts to follow in his father’s incredibly large footsteps, as Michael Schumacher is regarded as one of the greatest Formula 1 racing drivers in history.
Schumacher will have millions of fans tuning in to see what the youngster can produce, sizing him up to his father on a regular basis. Fans will be quick to judge, so the German will look to impress early, grabbing fans to his cause, and eventually helping him make the push to a Ferrari seat in the future.
Tsunoda will face pressure in a different way, with the Red Bull Junior program—something he has been a part of since 2018— being the most ruthless program for young talent. The program is known to cut away dead weight, such as Albon and Kvyat, quickly. Along with this, the youngster will have a whole nation behind him, as he is the first Japanese Formula 1 racing driver to feature since 2014.
Rookies entering Formula 1 rarely carry a whole nations expectation with them. The Japanese driver will have to perform well, and quickly, if he hopes to retain his seat, appease his fanbase, and graduate from AlphaTauri to the big leagues at RedBull.
McLaren packing new weaponry
McLaren finished third last year in the team standings, an impressive performance from the manufacturer that was backed by the unreliable Renault engine.
2021 will be a different outlook for the British racing team, as they have opted for a Mercedes powered engine. The decision change will be backed by serious firepower, as the Mercedes engine is a proven winner which has supported Mercedes’ eight straight World Constructors’ Championships.
The new move will give McLaren a chance at dethroning Mercedes, as the contract is in place for the next four years. The added engine will meet their talented driver line-up which features young-gun Lando Norris and the true-blue Aussie Daniel Ricciardo.
The Cornerstones of Formula 1 will be sweating as their usual constructor standings may be put in jeopardy with added competition set to be introduced in the upcoming season.
Return to normalcy
The COVID-19 pandemic put a strain on the usual F1 calendar, with cornerstone racing locations not appearing last year.
To combat the pandemic while still racing, the FIA (controlling body of F1) opted for a ‘European Centric Calendar’, prioritising locations which were willing to host these events and allowed numbers of people to travel to them.
Newly added locations, such as fan favourites like Imola and the Nurburgring, made unusual appearances last year.
The legendary Monaco Grand Prix, which wasn’t run for the first time since 1954, will return this year. Further Cornerstones making their return will be the Australian Grand Prix, which was dramatically cancelled last year, along with a host of other names.
Fans enjoyed the new additions so much, that Imola will make its return on April 18 in the second round of the F1 Calendar. Even though last year brought a breath of fresh air, fans will be interested to see their top drivers competing on usual track favourites once again.
There are no guarantees that with the new additions the F1 season will be any different this year. Yet for the first time in a while, it brings an unpredictability and excitement that hasn’t occurred in seasons past.
I for one am hoping it will be a season to remember, and all my predictions turn out to be true…