The 2021 Formula 1 Season
Calendar changes Edit
- Following a very uninteresting Grand Prix in 2020, the Spanish GP was dropped in favor of the German GP returning to the Nurburgring,for the first time since 2013. The circuit had been bought by Arab investors and now has enough money to run Formula One races. It is under contract to run until 2025.
Driver/team changes Edit
- Toro Rosso reverted the name change to Alpha Tauri for 2020 since it was largely unpopular with fans.
- Valtteri Bottas was demoted to Mercedes's third driver after the 2020 season to make way for George Russell getting promoted from Williams. He picked up a Formula E drive with the german team.
- Ferrari, Racing Point and McLaren kept their lineups for third consecutive years.
- Red Bull extended the contract with both Max Verstappen and Alexander Albon for another season following a successful 2020 where they took 7 wins and 15 podium finishes beating Ferrari in the Constructors' Championship.
- Haas fired Romain Grosjean after a 13th consecutive no-point finish at the 2020 Hungarian GP. Robert Kubica rode the rest of the season for them and scored 15 points earning himself a 2021 drive alongside Kevin Magnussen.
- Antonio Giovinazzi was let go after an unsuccesful 2020 season in which he only scored 9 points compared to teammate Kimi Raikkonen's 37. Alfa Romeo picked up F2 runner-up and Ferrari Academy driver Robert Shwartzman to partner Kimi Raikkonen for 2021.
- Williams hired Pascal Wehrlein, despite his 3-year absence from the sport, and picked up Christian Lundgaard, who placed 3rd in Formula 2.
- Toro Rosso retained Pierre Gasly and hired F2 winner Juri Vips to become the first Estonian in Formula 1. Daniil Kvyat became a Red Bull and Toro Rosso test driver and picked up a WRC drive.
Season description Edit
During the tests at Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya multiple cars looked good - Mercedes and Red Bull looked like the top teams alongside McLaren, with Ferrari a little bit behind. Alfa Romeo led the midfield along with Renault, and Williams stepped up their game to be a strong midfielder again following horrible 2019 and 2020 seasons.
Round 1 - Australia Edit
Lewis Hamilton looked very strong, taking the first two practice sessions with Max Verstappen stealing the third. Ferrari struggled and barely made the top ten. Renault looked strong with consistent P5s and P6s, and Racing Point looked to be in the worst form taking the last places in 2 of the practice sessions.
Q1 saw the elimination of both Toro Rossos, both Williams and Kubica. In Q2 Renault's work was left useless after Daniel Ricciardo's engine died forcing him into P15. Surprisingly, George Russell didn't make the cut due to Mercedes' miscalculation and had to start 12th, behind Shwartzman but in front of both Racing Points. In Q3 Lewis Hamilton took pole position by just 0.053s over Max Verstappen and Alexander Albon. Leclerc took 6th and Vettel 8th to the disappointment of Ferrari fans. Carlos Sainz took 4th ahead of his teammate, with Hulkenberg slotting between the Ferraris and the top 10 rounded up by Raikkonen and Magnussen in 10th. In post-quali interviews, Hamilton expressed his happiness while the Ferrari drivers complained and Russell was disappointed.
Hamilton had a poor start and was overtaken by both Red Bulls immediately. At turn 3 Lundgaard braked too late and plunged his Williams into Ricciardo's Renault, senidng both cars out of the race. A safety car followed, which ended on lap 5. Leader Verstappen got a good restart, but the same couldn't be said about Albon, who was overtaken by Hamilton for second. An epic battle followed in the next few laps, as the Red Bull and Mercedes cars traded positions. However, in doing so, they allowed the McLarens of Lando Norris and Carlos Sainz to get closer. Verstappen was the first to box at lap 23, with his advantage of 7 seconds over 2nd Hamilton. Albon and Hamilton both followed into the pits immediately. Sergio Perez, who started the race on mediums and as such hasn't boxed yet, took the lead for a few laps. In the back, Russell struggled to get past Kubica's Haas, but eventually did so through the pits after a long pitstop from the Haas team. Nothing seemed to change throughout most of the Grand Prix, with Verstappen holding a comfortable advantage over Hamilton (who was 3 seconds ahead of Albon). However, on lap 38, Hamilton's engine failed, and he was forced to retire. He was so frustrated he threw his wheel out of the car. This allowed Albon to pass into 2nd, but not comfortably - Sainz's pace on hards was better than Albon's and he soon approached him on lap 45. Albon defended fiercely and didn't let the McLaren pass him for the rest of the race. On lap 48, Shwartzman and Ocon, running in 9th and 10th collided at the end of the main straight. Shwartzman's front wing was ripped off and Ocon suffered a left rear puncture. Both drivers went into the pits to fix the damage, but Shwartzman had his floor broken in the accident and was soon forced to retire on lap 51. Ocon finished the race but took last place. Nothing changed until the race end - Max Verstappen won before Alexander Albon, making it a Red Bull 1-2, and Carlos Sainz from McLaren completed the podium.
Post-race standings Edit
Round 2 - Bahrain Edit
Ferrari announced that they would bring a bunch of upgrades to the next Grand Prix. Being ahead in the engine department, they were expected to finish well on a track with lots of straights. An improvement was shown, with Charles Leclerc even winning the 2nd practice session and the duo finishing top5 in the others. Red Bull and McLaren looked great like Australia and Mercedes struggled.
Q1 didnt start well for Juri Vips, who crashed on his first lap losing control of his Toro Rosso at turn 10. After a red flag, Q1 saw the elimination of Vips, Stroll, Perez, Magnussen and Lundgaard. In Q2 the Red Bulls attempted to get through on meds but failed, while McLaren's Carlos Sainz actually managed to do it. Norris topped the session, before Vettel, Albon, Verstappen and Leclerc. The axe fell on Shwartzman, Wehrlein, Raikkonen, Kubica and Pierre Gasly. A five-team Q3 started with Ocon and Ricciardo setting very good laps unleashing some hidden pace, and being ahead of the Red Bulls with Albon leading Max, and the Ferraris, McLarens with Mercedes clearly off the pace of the top 4. On the second course of laps, Sainz was overall faster before Verstappen while surprisingly Renault locked out 2nd row with Ocon in 3rd and Ricciardo 4th. The rest of the grid ended up being Albon, Leclerc, Norris, Vettel, Hamilton and Russell.
Sainz started well and already had a second of an advantage by lap 1, while Max had a terrible start and fell behind the Renaults. Stroll and Magnussen touched which forced the Canadian to pit with a broken front wing. Leclerc took 5th from Albon with DRS at the start of lap 3, and held it for 7 laps despite the clearly faster duo of Albon and Norris in the best cars showcasing his skill. On lap 11 Juri Vips retired stopping on track with an engine issue. A safety car ensued, during which Haas took the risk and pitted Kubica in 13th onto a fresh set of meds, moving to a two-stop strategy. It was a godsend for Stroll, who caught up to the pack. The fresh start negated the advantage of Sainz and the Renaults. It ended on lap 15 and Verstappen in 4th was able to jump Ricciardo, his former teammate. Sainz pulled away from the rest once again, with 2nd to 4th keeping close. Ocon fiercely defended against Verstappen, while Ricciardo kept on Verstappen's tail thanks to Ocon and DRS. Eventually, on lap 27, the inevitable happened - Verstappen went into the back of Ocon sending both cars into a spin. Ricciardo profited and went through to take 2nd, and these two were passed by the following Norris and Albon. Ocon recovered before Verstappen, who was forced to pit with a broken front wing, coming out only 12th, and retiring just 2 laps later. Due to Ocon's damage, he soon folded to Leclerc. In the meantime, McLaren quickly reacted pitting Sainz and getting an almost free pit stop coming out 2nd only to Ricciardo, which effectively cemented Sainz's win. A pit stop battle of Albon and Norris followed, during which Red Bull's amazing crew got a full second faster pit stop (1.87s to 2.89s) and was able to jump McLaren's Norris and take 3rd. Albon soon pulled away. The race ended with Sainz taking a victory by a margin of over 45 seconds. Renault's Ricciardo cruised to 2nd and a bad race for Red Bull ended with 3rd for Albon just over McLaren's Norris. Kubica's two-stopper paid off and on the last lap he overtook the struggling Ocon for 8th.
Round 3 - Vietnam Edit
Following a boring 2020 race won by the dominating Mercedes team with Lewis Hamilton, everyone hoped for a more exciting race in 2021.