Darry Worthington takes a look at which drivers will be at which teams when the 2021 F1 season gets underway on the 21st of March.
Image copyright – Steve Haag Sports
We may still a couple of months away from the start of the 2021 F1 season but most teams have already their driver line-up for the year.
There’s been a lot of movement of driver movement ahead of the new season, and will check out which drivers will feature for which teams below.
2021 Drivers: Lewis Hamilton and Valterri Bottas (Unchanged)
The old adage of ‘if it’s not broken why fix it?’ comes to mind when looking at the Mercedes line-up. The all-conquering Silver Arrows have opted to retain the services of multiple World champion Lewis Hamilton, and probably the best support driver in the game, Valterri Bottas.
While there’s still a slight bit of doubt over Hamilton – the Brit is yet to sign a new contract – Mercedes should be able to get their main man even though he is demanding the same salary as last year despite Mercedes cutting costs due to the impact of COVID-19 on the automotive and sports industries.
I reckon Mercedes will find the money to match his salary demands or the duo will come to some agreement as Hamilton knows he has the best chance of surpassing Michael Schumacher’s Drivers’ Championship record behind the wheel of a Silver Arrow.
If Mercedes can sort their issues out with Hamilton then they’re likely to dominate like they did last season where they won 13 of the 17 races on the calendar.
2021 Drivers: Charles LeClerc and Carlos Sainz
In: Carlos Sainz from McLaren
Out: Sebastian Vettel to Aston Martin (*Formerly known as Racing Point)
This will be the first time in what seems like aeons since Ferrari start a season without a World Champion behind the wheel of one of their cars. While this is a bold move, it is a necessary one as a veteran driver, Sebastian Vettel, was in horrific form last year and needed replacing.
LeClerc, like Vettel, also had a tough time of it last season as he could only muster up two podium finishes with his best result being a second place in Austria. He did manage to claim a number of top 6 finishes, which helped ensure Ferrari managed to finish sixth of the Constructors’ Championship standings.
With Vettel now gone, the man who is tasked with filling his shoes is 26-year-old Carlos Sainz. The former McLaren man had a decent enough time of it last season finishing sixth on the Drivers’ Championship standings. He also managed to register a second-place finish at the Italian Grand Prix.
2021 Drivers: Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez
In: Sergio Perez from Racing Point (*Now known as Aston Martin)
Out: Pierre Gasly to Alpha Tauri
Like Ferrari, Red Bull have also made an interesting change in opting to bring in veteran Carlos Sainz from Racing Point while relegating the promising Pierre Gasly to Alpha Tauri.
The above is certainly a show of intent from the Red Bull team who will be looking to close the gap on a Mercedes team who beat them to the Constructors’ title by 254 points.
They now have to experienced drivers behind the wheels of their cars. They also have two in form drivers with both Verstappen and Perez enjoying solid returns last term; Verstappen finished third on the Drivers’ Championship standings registering two race wins, six second-place finishes and three third-place finishes, while Perez managed one race win, one second-place finish and only failed to claim points from two of the season’s 17 races.
2021 Drivers: Daniel Ricciardo and Lando Norris
In: Daniel Ricciardo from Renault
Out: Carlos Sainz to Ferrari
McLaren will be looking to build on their third-place Constructors’ Championship finish when they take to the track this term. The man tasked with helping them do this is former Red Bull man Daniel Ricciardo who has made the move from Renault. The Australian will replace Carlos Sainz who has moved to Ferrari.
Ricciardo’s partner for this season will be the promising Lando Norris. The British born Norris had a great time of it last season a podium finish and a number of top ten finishes. He and Ricciardo as a combination may well see McLaren push for higher honours this term.
Aston Martin Racing
2021 Drivers: Sebastian Vettel and Lance Stroll
In: Sebastian Vettel from Ferrari
Out: Sergio Perez to Ferrari
The biggest move of the off-season sees Sebastian Vettel end his long standing relationship with Ferrari and move across to Aston Martin Racing which is the Racing Point Team’s rebrand.
While Vettel will bring a lot of experience to the fold, it must be remembered that he struggled for form last year and only managed one podium finish and finished the season by posting 13th, 12th and 14th placed finishes.
Vettel will team-up with the talented Lance Stroll. Stroll produced a decent showing last season claiming two third places finishes and a number of top ten finishes.
2021 Drivers: Fernando Alonso and Esteban Ocon
In: Fernando Alonso *Out of retirement
Out: Daniel Ricciardo to McLaren
There’s some exciting news for race fans with Fernando Alonso making his return to F1 after a two-year hiatus. He returns to the team – albeit under a new name- that he won his 2005 and 2006 World Championships with.
Alonso will partner with the talented Esteban Ocon, who put in some great drives last year and managed to claim a second-place finish out in Sakhir.
This duo is certainly an interesting one and if the Alpine car is functional and competitive then we may well see the team improve on last year’s fourth-place Constructors’ Championship finish.
2021 Drivers: Pierre Gasly and Yuki Tsunado
In: Pierre Gasly from Red Bull
In Yuki Tsunado *Rookie season
Out: Danil Kvyat *No driver
Pierre Gasly will be looking to make a point when he turns out for Alpha Tauri this season. The former Red Bull man has been relegated to the what is essentially Red Bull’s junior side; Alpha Tauri. The youngster actually had a rather good time of it behind the wheel of a Red Bull last year, winning in Italy and scoring points in 10 of the 17 Grand Prix.
Gasly will partner rookie Japanese driver, Yuki Tsunado who makes the step up from Formula 2 where he finished third last season.
AlphaTauri managed a decent points return last season claiming 107 Constructors’ Championship points. They will, however, be looking to improve on that this time around.
2021 Drivers: Kimi Raikonnen and Antonio Giovanazzi (Unchanged)
One of only three teams to submit an unchanged drivers list for the year. Kimi Raikonnen and Antonio Giovanazzi will once again spearhead Alpha’s bid to move up the Constructors’ standings. The team really struggled last year only managing to claim eight Constructors’ points, with both drivers only managing four points apiece.
2021 Drivers: Mick Schumacher and Nikita Mazepin
In: Mick Schumacher *Rookie season
In: Nikita Mazepin *Rookie Season
Out: Romain Grosjean *No drive
Out: Kevin Magnussen *No drive
There’s a familiar name on the track this season with Michael Schumacher’s son, Mick, set to follow in his father’s footsteps and get behind the wheel of an F1 car. He will be joined by fellow rooking Nikita Mazepin, who was also driving in Formula 2 last season.
These two young drivers have big shoes to fill with the experienced duo of Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen having left. I suppose, however, that if they only need to claim four points to beat the points haul Grosjean and Magnussen achieved last season.
2021 Drivers: George Russell and Nicholas Latifi (Unchanged)
The third team that has not changed their line up is Williams. They have opted to retain the services of young guns George Russel and Nicholas Latifi. The duo failed to accrue a point between them last term, so any points on the scoreboard will be major improvement.