The 2021 Formula 1 season is set to be a historic one, with 23 races scheduled over 8 months and 4 continents. With three new drivers making their F1 debuts and a former World champion returning to the grid, it is set to be a long and exciting season.
The 2020 season saw Mercedes win both the Constructors (team title) and driver’s title comfortably. There were brief moments when Red Bull threatened to take the fight to Mercedes, but that fizzled out very quickly. Scuderia Ferrari, the giants of F1, finished a disappointing sixth, with their car well off the race and their drivers enduring a torrid season.
But that was last season. The new season brings new possibilities with new drivers, new circuits and new cars. So, which are the teams competing in the 2021 F1 season and what should you know about them before the season starts? Let’s answer these questions, one-by-one.
Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team – One of the most dominant team in the history of F1, Mercedes have been on a different level since 2014. Run by Team principal Toto Wolff, Mercedes boast a driver pairing of ninety-five race winner (7 time F1 world champion) Sir Lewis Hamilton and nine time F1 race winner Valtteri Bottas. Owned by Daimler AG, Mercedes is a part of F1 both as a team owner and engine supplier. They will supply their engine to Aston Martin Cognizant Formula One and McLaren racing.
Mercedes is known for their top of the class V6 turbo engine, transparent and streamlined team structure and a talented and innovative bunch of engineers. They were so dominant in 2014 that they clinched pole position in 18 our of the 19 races, won 16 of them and finished 1-2 in 11 of them. Little has changed in terms of their dominance at the top of the grid, with Mercedes winning every Constructors title since 2014.
Valtteri Bottas has already singing his contract for the 2021 season, with final terms being discussed between Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes on a long term contract. Mercedes are set for yet another record breaking season and they will start as firm favourites to win the 23 race season.
Sponsors: Petronas (title partner), INEOS, UBS, Epson, CrowdStrike, HP, IWC Schaffhausen, Ritz-Carlton, AMD, Monster Energy, Pure storage, Tommy Hilfiger, TIBCO
Scuderia Ferrari – Scuderia Ferrari, also known as “The Prancing horses” is the oldest F1 team on the grid. It is also the most successful team in F1 history, with 16 Constructors championships and 237 race victories. Run by Team principal Mattia Binotto, Ferrari employs Monegasque Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz Jr. to drive for them in 2021. Till 2020, four time F1 world champion Sebastian Vettel was the lead driver at Ferrari.
Scuderia Ferrari is the racing division of the parent company Ferrari. It was created by none other than Enzo Ferrari himself, initially to race cars created by Alfa Romeo. Eventually Ferrari started creating and competing with their own cars in Formula 1. They have not missed a single season since 1950, competing in F1 for 70 straight years.
Ferrari compete in F1 both as a team owner and engine supplier. They will supply their engines to Alfa Romeo racing and Haas F1 team. Currently, Ferrari are in the midst of a crises, with a sixth placed finish in 2020 and a car which is nowhere near to competing for race wins. Not a lot is expected from them for the new season and third place might be a realistic aim for the prancing horses.
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Red Bull Racing-Honda – Red Bull Racing took over from Jaguar Racing, owned by Ford Motor company, in 2004. They have been a part of F1 since 2005, led by Team principal Christian Horner. The Austrian team, owned by the energy drinks giant, employ Dutch youngster Max Verstappen and Mexican Sergio Perez, replacing Alex Albon, to drive their car in 2021. Red Bull racing cars are powered by engines created by Honda, the Japanese automobile company.
Red Bull racing, in their brief history, have already won the Drivers and Constructors championship four times, between 2010 and 2013, with Sebastian Vettel at the core of these victories. Since then, Red Bull have been a constant fixture in the top three, failing to compete for the title. In 2020, Red Bull won two races, both by Max Verstappen, as they finished second in the constructors championship.
Red Bull also own Scuderia Alpha Tauri, another Formula One racing team. They treat it as their sister team, giving young drivers an opportunity and a stage to impress Christian Horner and Dr. Helmut Marko (Advisor to Red Bull racing). While they did finish second, they finished a distant 254 points behind champions Mercedes. With 117 points between them and McLaren racing in third, Red Bull should comfortably finish in the top 2, with a title challenge being their ultimate goal.
Sponsors: Puma, tag Heuer, Honda, Mobil 1, Rauch, W66, Pirelli, Esso, AT&T, Citrix, HP, MyWorld, Piquadro, IRIS, Gold Standard, Alpha Tauri, Siemens, DMG Mori, Hexagon, Ansys, PWR
McLaren racing – McLaren are the second oldest Formula One team on the grid and the second most successful team, with 182 race wins and 12 constructors title. They are run by Team principal Zak Brown and Andreas Seidl, employing seven time race winner Daniel Ricciardo (moving from Renault) and Lando Norris. McLaren will be switching from Renault engines to Mercedes engines from the 2021 season.
The team has been on a steady upward curve since their humiliating ninth placed finish in 2017. Finishes of sixth, fourth and third since then have confirmed that McLaren are well and truly back and ready to compete for the top three places more consistently. In Daniel Ricciardo, they have also signed a proven race winner and a solid driver to compliment the young and extremely talented Lando Norris.
McLaren would be aiming to duplicate their third place finish in 2021, with a 117 points gap between them and Red Bull racing looking like a mountain too big to scale within one season. They are in for a tough fight from the teams behind them, with Alpine and Aston Martin signing former F1 driver championship winners for the 2021 season.
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Aston Martin Cognizant Formula One – After two years of poor results at the end of the 1950s, Aston Martin bowed out of Formula 1. But after a 60 years hiatus, Aston Martin is back in F1. Lead by former Team principal of Racing Point, Otmar Stafnauer and owned by Lawrence Stroll, Aston Martin will employ the services of four time F1 Drivers’ title winner Sebastian Vettel and second youngest podium winner Lance Stroll to drive their car in 2021.
Aston Martin have taken over from Racing Point F1 team, who finished fourth in an exciting battle for third place in 2020. They also scored their first win in Formula One in 2020, with Sergio Perez battling from 20th to win the Sakhir Grand Prix in Bahrain. The team will be looking to build on their strong 2020 season and have signed Cognizant as their title sponsors for the 2021 season.
After a strong 2020 season saw them punch way above their weights and finish fourth, Aston Martin will be aiming to go a step further to try and beat McLaren for the third spot. They have already sent a strong signal by signing 52 race winner Sebastian Vettel on a multi-year contract. It will be interesting to see if he will elevate Aston Martin to the next level or continue his poor form from last season at Ferrari.
Sponsors: Cognizant, EPOS, Ravenol, JCB, Bombardier, Pirelli, UPS Direct, ebb3, STL, Pelmark, Vaip Unlimited, Condeco, IFS, Schuberth, Univia, Hackett, Alpinestars
Alpine F1 team – Another brand taking over from a F1 team in 2021 is Alpine-Renault. Owned by French car manufacturers Renault, the rebranding was done to promote Renault’s sports brand Alpine. It will be run by Team principal Laurent Rossi and Davide Brivio, with the team employing two time F1 drivers’ title winner Fernando Alonso and Esteban Ocon for the 2021 season. Alpine is both a team owner and engine manufacturer.
Renault and Fernando Alonso have a strong history, with the duo winning their only two constructors and drivers title in 2005 and 2006. The reunion comes at a nice time for both, with Renault on the up with a strong 2020 season that saw them narrowly miss out on a third place finish. Alonso will also be looking to forget his bitter experience while trying to revive the fortunes of McLaren till 2018.
Alpine will be looking to build on the gains made by Renault in 2020 and will be looking at Fernando Alonso to get the most out of their car in 2021. If Alonso settles in quickly, then 2021 could be a very promising year for Alpine, with sky being the limit for their success.
Sponsors: DP World, Castrol, INFINITI, RCI Bank, Mapfre, BP Ultimate, DUPONT, Microsoft, Bell & Ross, EURODATACAR, Genii Capital
Scuderia Alpha Tauri – What an incredible year 2020 was for Alpha Tauri. Nobody at the team would have thought that they will win a Grand Prix this year, let alone their home Grand Prix. Run by Team principal Franz Tost and Hemlut Marko, Alpha Tauri will employ the services of race winner Pierre Gasly and F1 debutant Yuki Tsunoda for the 2021 season. They will use the engine supplied by Japanese automakers Honda to power their 2021 cars.
Rebranded from Toro Rosso in 2020, Alpha Tauri had a strong year in which they competed with Scuderia Ferrari all year. In the end, they ran out of gas and finished 7th, with Pierre Gasly winning only their second ever race. The win was particularly more impressive given the fact that he was dropped by Red Bull and demoted to Alpha Tauri a little over a year ago.
2021 could be a similarly strong year for Alpha Tauri, with their car following a promising trajectory. They should comfortably finish above the bottom three and with their ultimate aim being breaking into the top 5. In Yuki Tsunoda, they have signed a young and exciting driver who had an amazing Formula 2 season in 2020. They are well positioned to capitalise if any of the big hitters underperform.
Sponsors: myWorld, Edifice Casio, Alpha Tauri, Honda, randstad, Pirelli, RDB, Riedel, Siemens
Alfa Romeo racing – Alfa Romeo, previously known as Sauber Motorsport, had a torrid 2020. They managed to score just 8 points in the entire season, a regression of 49 points from 2019. Run by Team principal Frédéric Vasseur, Alfa Romeo will employ the services of former F1 world champion Kimi Raikkonen and Ferrari driver’s academy graduate Antonio Giovinazzi for the 2021 season. They will use the engine supplied by Scuderia Ferrari to power their 2021 cars.
Alfa Romeo had a year to forget in 2020. With Ferrari powered engine taking a major step back from 2019, Alfa Romeo were largely uncompetitive. The only positive they can derive from this season is the fact that Kimi Raikkonen finished 12th in the season ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, ahead of Charles Leclerc and Sebastian Vettel in their Ferrari.
2021 could be the year when Alfa Romeo realistically compete with Ferrari or it could be another long season, just like 2020 was. A realistic aim could be to compete for points at every race in the 2021 season. They have decided to stick with Antonio Giovinazzi, who has been solid, but unspectacular, ahead of Callum Ilott and Robert Schwartzman, who enjoyed a solid F2 season in 2020. Let’s see if their decision to stick with Giovinazzi pays off.
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Haas F1 team – Haas F1 team is another team facing the wrath of the poor Ferrari engine. Their woes were further compounded by their drivers giving inconsistent feedback, leading to virtually zero development of the car through out the season. Run by Team principal Guenther Steiner, Haas F1 have employed the services of two rookies in Nikita Mazepin and Mick Schumacher for the 2021 season. They will continue to run Scuderia Ferrari’s engine for the 2021 season.
2020 was a poor year for Haas, with Kevin Magnussen in particular losing out on great scoring opportunities because of reliability issues. These issues were partly the fault of both the drivers, who failed to help the team develop the car. What was perplexing was the fact that sometimes drivers provided contradictory feedback.
2021 is all set to be an exciting year for Haas, with two new faces leading the team in a historic 23 races season. They will be aiming to reduce the reliability issues that marred their 2020 season and hope to be competitive enough to challenge for points.
Sponsors: Jack & Jones, Mindmaze, Richard Mile, A-Star, Pirelli, Stichd
Williams Racing – Owned by Dorilton Capital, Williams racing is one of the oldest constructors in Formula 1, with 9 F1 constructors title and 7 drivers championship. They have had a torrid recent history though, with their car largely uncompetitive in races. Lead by Team principal Jost Capito and Simon Roberts, Williams employ the services of George Russell and Nicholas Latifi for the 2021 season. They will be running the Mercedes engine for the 2021 season.
Williams failed to score a single point this season, with George Russell impressing in Qualifying consistently but failing to convert it into points finish. Nicholas Latifi achieved the highest finish for the team last year, with two 11th placed finish. 2020 also saw a major shift at Williams, with Dorilton capitals buying majority stakes from Franck and Claire Williams.
2021 is going to be a big unknown, with Claire Williams ousted and replaced by Jost Capito. It will be interesting to see if he is able to help the team make major gains and come closer to the rest of the pack. If that fails to happen, 2021 will be a long and tiring season for Russell and Latifi.
Sponsors: Sofina, Lavazza, Acronis, Versa, Financial Times, Ponos, Symantec, IQONIQ, Pirelli, Umbro, PPG, Thales, DTEX, Precision Hydration, Crew Clothing, Michael Caines, U Earth, Life Fitness, SIA