The least surprising piece of Formula One news has been finally announced. Lewis Hamilton will continue to drive for Mercedes-AMG in 2021. And this means it is time to predict how this season will go for the twenty drivers on this year’s grid. With the cars not drastically changing between the 2020 and 2021 seasons, it is hard to see any drastic changes in the team standings. Despite this, with so many drivers changing teams, the ‘best of the rest’ battle will be one to watch with earnest this season.
Deciding the championship order of the 20 drivers is an almost impossible task. With so many new drivers at new teams, predicting how the season will go is difficult. With the champion returning, Hamilton winning another title is almost a guarantee. Second to Lewis may not be Bottas this year however, with the growing success of Verstappen putting him in an exceptional position. Now that he has Perez supporting him, the likelihood of both Red Bull drivers being successful is high. Daniel Ricciardo is also clearly hoping for major success this year, with his hunt for a championship becoming more time sensitive every season. Him and Norris are also likely to be a partnership where they support each other to more success throughout the year, possibly even a race win.
Vettel is also likely to make a big improvement this year with the Aston Martin car underneath him, and hopefully some new found enthusiasm. After a poor year for Ferrari in 2020, Leclerc and Sainz are likely to be so determined to succeed next season. Both drivers have been equally matched in terms of their driving ability so far, although Charles’ experience will win out overall next season. Rounding out the top 10 will be Stroll who will hope to have a more steady season, rather than jumping all over the grid as he did last year.
There is a lot of excitement around the return of Alonso but having missed two seasons, it may take him some time to find his feet again in the sport. Gasly will come through to take the next spot, hoping to take at least one more podium in 2021. Ocon is unfortunately unlikely to make any drastic improvements this season and will ultimately lose out to all but rookie Tsunoda and the lower order teams. Giovanazzi and Räikkönen staying beyond 2020 was a slight surprise, but their steady pace will continue to bring them a few points and a solid P14 and P15 in 2021.
This leaves the bottom two teams which will be an interesting battle to watch. Schumacher and Mazepin both had very successful F2 battles in 2020 and this is going to stand them in good stead in Formula 1. We all hope that Russell will gain some points in his Williams this year, putting him ahead of Mazepin who could struggle if he is as defensive as we have seen previously from the Russian. His success at the Sakhir Grand Prix proves to us, and more importantly him, that it is possible to do well and this will hopefully encourage him to find more success in 2021. This sentiment is also very much felt for Latifi, but the Williams has struggled so much in recent years this may be hard for him to achieve and the Canadian is yet to prove himself in Formula 1.
Of course, Mercedes and Red Bull are surely going to take the top places once again this season. I can be just as sure that Williams, Haas and Alfa Romeo are going to take the bottom three places. The increasing success of Williams and the continuous decline of the Haas team means that the these two could be interchangeable. The middle order is much harder to predict however, with new drivers at every team. The new McLaren, Aston Martin and Ferrari combinations are likely to lead to some serious battles both between teammates and between teams. Alpine and Alpha Tauri will also take part in this although their success is likely to be more limited.
Tell me what you think…
Nobody can ever settle on a clear order for these drivers with so much uncertainty about what will happen over a season. It might be clearer after pre-season testing but there will still be so many unanswerable questions so early in the year. Whether you agree or think these predictions are totally wrong, comment below or get in touch on any other social platforms.