It is just a few days until Formula 1 is back on our tellies and bringing us joy through the small screen. Although this year is slightly limited in being able to physically attend a race weekend due to the pandemic, there are still many joyous F1-related things to look forward to. From new tracks to new (and old) drivers, there’s lots to gear up for ahead of the upcoming 2021 season:
Lewis Hamilton’s attempt at the record-breaking 8th World Championship
Even though the F1 season had a slightly shortened calendar last year due to COVID-19, this did not stop newly-knighted Sir Lewis Hamilton and his domination on the grid. If anything, he was further ahead than ever in the points and this lead to him winning his world-record equalling 7th World Championship. This year I’m sure we can expect much of the same. Despite a rocky start to testing this past weekend, Mercedes will surely iron out all the troubles experienced in Bahrain and come March 26th, Hamilton will dominate in the new Mercedes W12. Either way, Hamilton is sure to break more records this year so buckle up everyone! It’s going to be pretty exciting to witness sporting history being made.
New Driver Partnerships
This year we see a significant reshuffle of the drivers on the grid. With the existing drivers of Ricciardo going to McLaren, Sainz to Ferrari, Vettel to Aston Martin, and Perez to Red Bull, it’s safe to say there is a serious game of musical chairs going on in the sport this year. Moreover, the fresh faces of Tsunoda, Schumacher and Mazepin will be making their way up from F2 and embarking on their rookie season. It will be interesting to see how all the new teams settle into the season and what this fresh blood will bring out onto the racetrack.
A possible comeback for Vettel and Alonso?
In 2020, it was announced that 4-time world champion Sebastian Vettel would be changing teams and leaving Ferrari after 6 years to join the all-new Aston Martin, formerly known as Racing Point. With a particularly rough 2020 season, it will be interesting to see how Vettel gets on at his new team and hopefully make his way back up the standings.
The same goes for 2-time World Champion Fernando Alonso. Back on track for 2021 after 2 years out of F1, the Spaniard gets a chance to dominate in his usual fashion this upcoming season. If history is to repeat itself, Alonso should feel right at home with Alpine, the same team that brought him world championships in the past and the most success in his driving career to date.
Races at different circuits
One of the positives to come out of 2020 was the return to some classic circuits that F1 had not been to in a while (I’m looking at you Imola and Istanbul!), and with it some new tracks like Portimão, Portugal and new track layouts with the Sakhir Grand Prix.
Not having been there since 1985, this year F1 is going back to Zandvoort in the Netherlands after its originally planned return to the sport last year being cancelled due to the pandemic. As a home race for Verstappen, it is sure to bring lots of Dutch national pride to the forefront of the race. We will also see the debut of the Saudi Arabian grand prix, with the Jeddah Street circuit being a new addition to the F1 calendar.
Needless to say, we love many of the already established circuits in F1 that the sport returns to year after year, but nevertheless it was refreshing to see the drivers pushed to experience something different with the shakeup of circuits in 2020. Hopefully, 2021 will bring more of the same with new and exciting circuits leading to great racing.
Testing a new Sprint Race Qualifying format
Always looking for new ways to improve and make the sport as exciting as possible, this year F1 are in talks to test out a new qualifying format. With the details still to be revealed, it is expected that at the three trial sprint races will take place at Silverstone, Monza, and São Paulo later this year. According to F1, this is a way to shake up the racing weekend but if it doesn’t end up working, no harm, no foul. Don’t get me wrong, I think that the current qualifying format is great but if this new set up means that the person on poll doesn’t nearly automatically win the race and we get a bit more of a fight, I’m all for it!
Something to look forward to
It looks like the world is starting to open up again, but with the prospects of us all staying home for a little while longer, escaping the constant monotony of university being online and assignments to go to some different corners of the world is like sweet engine revs to my ears. This past F1 winter break has only lasted a few months, but I cannot wait to have something to fill my weekends and enjoy in my limited down-time of final year.