Three New Rookies And The Return Of A Icon: The 2021 Formula 1 Grid Previewed

Gemma Cockrell

The Formula 1 grid for the 2021 season is (finally) complete. Lewis Hamilton has signed his contract with Mercedes, and all twenty Formula 1 seats are filled. Now seems like the perfect time to take a look at the completed grid.

In 2021, three rookies will be racing in Formula 1, two of whom will be racing at the same team – Haas. I have already expressed my opinion on Nikita Mazepin, but I am much more optimistic about the other rookie, Mick Schumacher, the son of 7-time World Champion, Michael. Despite it being obvious that his full potential will not be reached this season at Haas due to limited car performance, if he has inherited the talents of his father then it is undeniable that he has a great racing career ahead of him in the future.

Tsunoda is very likely to have a top seat in the Red Bull team in the near future

Perhaps the rookie who has been deemed the most promising for this season is Yuki Tsunoda, who will be racing for Alpha Tauri. As a member of the Honda Formula Dream Project and the Red Bull Junior Team, Tsunoda is very likely to have a top seat in the Red Bull team in the near future. But for now, he will be able to prove his talents alongside Frenchman Pierre Gasly, who has raced at Alpha Tauri/Toro Rosso since 2018 (except for his brief stint at Red Bull in 2019). Gasly was an exciting driver to watch in 2020, providing a season highlight when he won his first race at Monza.

Speaking of Red Bull, it is no surprise that Max Verstappen will race for them again in 2021. After being promoted to Red Bull at only 18-years-old, he has seen great success at the team, finishing third in the Driver’s Championship in 2020. Many have predicted that 2021 will be the season that he manages to beat Valterri Bottas of Mercedes and finish second in the Driver’s Championship, which will be his best result to date. He will race alongside Sergio Pérez, whom Red Bull opted to sign at last minute as replacement for Alex Albon, due to his impressive performance during the latter half of 2020, including his win at the Sakhir Grand Prix.

As previously stated, Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton will both remain at Mercedes for the 2021 season. It seems very unlikely that Hamilton will not win his eighth World Championship, especially if the Mercedes car continues to dominate as it has done since 2014. Bottas has performed consistently in recent years, finishing second to Hamilton in the Driver’s Championship in both 2019 and 2020. However, at the end of 2021, both Mercedes drivers will be out of contract, and many predict this will leave a seat available for George Russell, who proved his talents in the Mercedes car at Sakhir in 2020.

Meanwhile, George Russell will remain at Williams in 2021, alongside Nicholas Latifi. Williams have struggled with their car in recent years, failing to pick up any points in 2020, but increased funding for 2021 will hopefully allow them to earn some points this season. However, this funding may have come too late to make much difference this year, and it is more likely that the improvements in performance will be witnessed in 2022 when the new regulations are introduced.

It is unlikely that [Alpha Romeo] will be a team to watch this season, as they are keeping the same driver line-up as the past three seasons

Another team which saw themselves near the bottom of the Constructor’s Championship in 2020 were Alfa Romeo. It is unlikely that they will be a team to watch this season, as they are keeping the same driver line-up as the past three seasons – Antonio Giovinnazi and Kimi Räikkönen. Many are predicting that this will be Räikkönen’s last year in Formula 1, as he is 41 years old, and he will be out of contract at the end of this season.

Charles Leclerc will remain at Ferrari in 2021, alongside a new teammate: former McLaren driver Carlos Sainz, following the departure of Sebastian Vettel, who saw very little luck at the team. After the announcement that these two drivers of very similar talent will be allowed to overtake each other, we can predict an intense teammate rivalry at Ferrari. However, after an incredibly disappointing 2020, it seems unlikely that their car will be able to challenge the top teams in the Constructor’s Championship.

Sainz’s departure from McLaren therefore left a seat open, which has been filled by Daniel Ricciardo. This is one of the most exciting moves of 2021, as Ricciardo is renowned as one of the most consistent and talented drivers on the grid. Lando Norris will also be staying at McLaren for his third season, and it is undeniable that this teammate partnership will be the funniest on the grid. McLaren’s social media game has always been strong, and with two of the wittiest and charismatic drivers in Formula 1 racing for them, we are bound to get some great behind the scenes clips and skits on their YouTube Channel and Instagram account throughout the season.

Following Sebastian Vettel’s departure from Ferrari, he will race for the newly branded Aston Martin (formerly Racing Point). Fans are eager that 2021 will be Vettel’s comeback year. We know what the four-time World Champion is capable of, and hopefully this year will see him shine once again. Lance Stroll will race alongside him, unsurprisingly, as his father Lawrence owns the team. However, despite receiving much backlash, Stroll has proven his talent, achieving two podiums and his first pole position in 2020.

With a team rebranding alongside a new team principal, 2021 sees huge change for the Alpine team

2021 will see another comeback from one of the greats – Fernando Alonso. After taking two years out of Formula 1, he will make his return at Alpine, formerly Renault. Fans are unsure what to expect from him this season, as it is well-known that taking a break from the sport can hinder performance. He will be joined by Frenchman Esteban Ocon, who raced for Alpine/Renault in 2020. With a team rebranding alongside a new team principal, 2021 sees huge change for the Alpine team.

Undoubtedly, 2021 will be a great season in Formula 1, as long as COVID-19 doesn’t interfere. Despite it being unlikely that anyone will be able to challenge Hamilton for first place in the Driver’s Championship, the midfield seems likely to be where the most exciting and unpredictable racing will take place. The season will commence on the 28th of March in Bahrain.

Gemma Cockrell

Featured image used courtesy of Mark Kent via Flickr. No changes were made to this image. Image use license here.

In article image 1 courtesy of @mclaren via Instagram. No changes were made to this image. 

In article image 2 courtesy of @mercedesamgf1 via Instagram. No changes were made to this image. 

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