The countdown to the 2021 Formula 1 season has begun. Following a disjointed 2020 season, Formula 1 is aiming big with a planned twenty-third-round season this year. Let us see the things to expect from this upcoming season.
The excitement surrounding the return of the Schumacher name to F1 is Unlikely to Live Up to its Hype
Michael Schumacher’s son Mick Schumacher is making his F1 debut for Team Haas alongside fellow rookie driver Nikita Mazepin. The Ferrari-backed Schumacher has deservedly earned his spot in F1 after winning the F2 championship in 2020.
Despite all the media buzz, we are unlikely to see much from either him or Haas as the team has decided to focus its resources on the 2022 season to maximize their performance with the upcoming regulation changes in the next year. With the team coming off its worst season in 2020 and its decision to not focus on the 2021 car, the decision to go with a rookie pairing could prove costly as it is likely to impair any development this season. It is expected that the Haas team will be at the back of the grid, and Schumacher will little chance to showcase his abilities. We will have to wait at least another season before we can expect bigger things from him.
Haas and their Nikita Mazepin Problem
Nikita Mazepin is a Russian racing driver who is debuting for the Haas F1 Team this year. Throughout his junior racing career, he has been involved in plenty of incidents that raised questions about his level-headedness and character. The 2021 season hasn’t even started, and he is already engaged in a new scandal where he posted an inappropriate video on his Instagram account that showed him groping a woman. It would be interesting to see how the team deals with their new driver’s fanatical behavior.
Hamilton to Break Schumacher’s Record and Win his 8th Championship Title
Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton equaled Michael Schumacher’s championship title last year and could see his eighth title triumph this season with the Mercedes team looking to continue their hybrid era advantage over the rest of the field.
Team Ferrari looking to get back to the Front
After having a terrible season due to a horsepower drop following an FIA (F1’s governing body) directive at the start of 2020, Ferrari has been working head over heels on their engine to improve their power train and make up the enormous power deficit to other manufacturers. Ferrari must get it right time with the engine development being frozen at the end of 2021 to have a chance at winning with new rule changes. The engine is not the only problem for the team as they need to make significant aerodynamic overhauls to their draggy chassis from last year. The hope is the recent restructuring of their staff at Maranello will lead to better results as F1 is always exciting when Ferrari is up there fighting for the championship with the likes Mercedes and Red Bull.
Red Bull with a Strong New Line-Up and Momentum
With Honda leaving F1 at the end of the season, it is crucial for Red Bull and Honda to work together to get the engine right for the upcoming rule changes at the end of 2021. Red Bull was given a lifeline by the FIA and other engine manufacturers when they agreed to freeze engine development for the next few seasons. Heading into 2021, they will look to capitalize on this and set themselves up for success for the new regulations starting 2022.
The team has also shored up on their weakness of not having a competitive second driver alongside Max Verstappen for the past few seasons with Sergio Perez’s signing. With a seasoned driver like Sergio Perez joining the team, Red Bull will hopefully have more chances to fight against Mercedes as having two drivers at the Front allows them to run different strategies during the race and help out the lead driver in a close fight.
Fernando Alonso to Make a Return to F1 with Alpine
Two-time champion Fernando Alonso is returning to the grid after a sabbatical of two years. The Alpine team is looking to build on its 2020 performance and hoping to provide the champion with a competitive car that will allow him to fight for wins or podiums.
Vettel looking to Rediscover his Form at Aston Martin
2020 was a year to forget Sebastian Vettel, with Ferrari dropping him for younger Carlos Sainz as they decided to go into a rebuild. The four-time champion looked like a shell of himself last year, with his younger teammate Charles Leclerc outperforming him significantly in every race. F1 fans hope the move to Aston Martin will rejuvenate him to get his mojo back to compete at the highest level and prove that he is still one of the best drivers on the grid.
Changes Galore at McLaren
McLaren is renewing its partnership with Mercedes as it is switching back to the Mercedes engine from Renault this year. Given the lack of testing time this season with teams being limited to just three days of running, it might be a challenging year for McLaren’s reliability and performance, given the lack of time to validate any changes. That said, the arrival of the highly rated Daniel Ricciardo should provide them with some stability, and if the team gets its act together, it can navigate the challenges and give its fans hope that they can soon return to their glory days from the late 2000s.
Kimi Raikkonen Likely to Retire after 2021
Kimi Raikkonen, currently the longest-serving driver on the grid, is likely to retire this year.
The one-time champion currently has 312 F1 races to his name, ten fewer than record appearance holder Rubens Barrichello. This record is set to break by him.