Why F1 2021 Grid hasn’t been this hot since 2010.
For the first time in over a decade, we have a Schumacher back on the grid. The legacy continues with young Mick, son of World Champion Michael Schumacher. What can we expect from him? He may take a while to warm up so we shouldn’t expect results until the second half of the year or maybe 2022. Alongside him are rookies Yuki Tsunoda and Nikita Mazepin, each of them looking to make their own mark on Formula 1. Mazepin comes with his own share of news press, none of it positive recently. Tsunoda, with strong ties to Honda, means the return of an Japanese driver to the F1 paddock since Kobayashi’s exit in 2013.
Then there are the veterans, some very experienced racers indeed. 7 Times World Champion Lewis Hamilton returns to Mercedes alongside his fellow driver Valterri Bottas. Pre-season testing showed mixed results for the Merc and this only adds to the spicy mix as the once projected leader seems to be in for the fight of their lives. Will another world title fall through Hamiltons grasp or will be claw back an 8th victory to celebrate.
The return of Fernando Alonso to Renault has fans abuzz as well, the two times world champion will have to duke it out with Sebastian Vettel for his place among the front of the grid. Both drivers have come a long way, each fighting their way back towards a leading position. Vettel’s shock announcement wasn’t a surprise during the 2020 season but going to the newly renamed Aston Martin team in the British racing green livery, is a surprise. Here’s to hoping that the once 4 times world champion will be back to showcase his best driving.
Then we have those that are seasoned, no longer considered rookies but just as hungry for the win. Daniel Ricciardo and Lando Norris in the Mclaren, Carlos Sainz Jr and Charles LeClerc in the Ferrari and George Russell in the Williams are all hoping to make big moves as well. Russell in particular, needs to show that like in the Sakhir Grand Prix, he has the speed and qualities that make him desirable to fill a Mercedes seat for 2022.
Special mention to Sergio Lopez for his 2020 season, the driver that fans rallied behind and celebrated when he signed with the then-named Force India Racing Point F1 team now drives with Max Verstappen in the Red Bull Racing Team. His drive along side Verstappen should bring great things to the grid and be a major threat to an 8th Mercedes world title.
If all cars hold to the same capabilities as they did last year, it is likely that the top 4 or 5 positions should be some mixture of Hamilton, Bottas, Verstappen, Perez, Vettel and Alonso. This may not happen though, as Mclaren, Alpine, and Alphatauri have shown impressive results in pre-season testing. Alonso, as a returning World Champion, should be an old hat at getting up to speed.
Gasly and Tsunoda were especially impressive and while they are competitors, the two young racers may have the makings of a great team. Norris and Ricciardo in the Mclaren were equally quick, though it remains to be seen if these two experienced racers can get along on the track. Mercedes certainly weren’t slow but the gap is much closer than is comfortable for the defending World Champion team.
The 2021 season is shaping up to be a monster, with a stunning 23 races to go through. It is the hope of F1 fans that no races are cancelled, that all teams remain safe during this turbulent time and to bring some measure of joy and celebration to racing fans the world over.