Since the news broke that the 2021 regulation changes would be pushed back as a result of Covid-19, this year’s F1 season has been discussed as one that doesn’t matter. This is a view that I simply don’t agree with and think should not be discussed at all this year. While no one can pretend that this year is going to be the most exciting in Formula 1 history, there is still a lot to fight for throughout the grid.
Ultimately the biggest argument for why the 2021 season matters is that there is still a championship up for grabs. Despite Gunther Steiner and Haas confirming they aren’t developing the 2021 car, I can’t see why any other team would jeopardise their year in that way. It is true though that Mercedes are likely to have the upper hand, with only minor changes to the cars from the 2020 season. But they haven’t won it yet and the fight for the mid-field is vital to the future development for teams, based on the money they earn this year. With a streak of championships ongoing for Mercedes, they will not want to abandon the year because of a delay. And every other team on the grid will be pushing to reach their level and this year is of course no different.
Red Bull are clearly the team to watch closely this year with Sergio Perez replacing Alex Albon. This is a massive change for the team, one they surely hope will improve their reputation when it comes to second drivers moving forward. Williams will also be hoping for massive improvements this year to push them up the grid, as many teams are. Given this, it seems strange to hear so many fans and commentators talking about this season as one that doesn’t matter. With every team (except Haas) obviously wanting to push and improve this year, we will still have a lot to see this year.
This isn’t just an important year for the teams, but for many drivers too. This year could make or break their F1 careers. It is widely known that Esteban Ocon could possibly be replaced at the end of the year if he can’t show his strength. If this occurs for a second time, the Frenchman may struggle to ever return, meaning he has to prove his worth in 2021. He is far from the only driver in this position though.
Valtteri Bottas has George Russell breathing down his neck for a Mercedes seat constantly. It’s important to remember that the two drivers, as well as Lewis Hamilton, are out of contract at the end of 2021. Russell proved his talent in Sakhir last year in the Mercedes, as well as during qualifying sessions throughout the season in the Williams. This now means that everyone is aware that the young Brit deserves a quality seat in 2022, and if Mercedes choose not to give this to him, another team might. It will become clear over the next few months what the options are for this talented young driver.
In many ways, the opposite is true of George’s young junior series rival Lando Norris. He has already been given the opportunity to drive for a good team, but can he stay there? With Daniel Ricciardo joining the team, Norris will know that he has a lot to prove if he wants to compete for World Championships in the future. As the established McLaren driver, everyone is expecting that Norris should be equalling Ricciardo throughout the season. Everyone is aware that Lando is a talented driver but can he maintain his performance alongside the supreme skills of Daniel. If he can’t prove that he can, Norris may struggle to reach the peak of F1, as many deserving drivers have throughout history.
Another driver who is very much at risk is Antonio Giovanazzi following Alfa Romeo’s decision to keep the Italian driver this year. With so many rookies ready to make the jump to F1, Giovanazzi constantly has a lot to prove in order to keep his seat. The driver has never been noticed as a particularly outstanding driver in the field, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t capable of it. Kimi Raikkonen may also be at risk of course, although there is a difference in his case. Kimi seems to have a lot of choice over when he leaves, although we all expect that to be reasonably soon. This year could very well be the last for both drivers and they’ll want to perform.
With Haas being the one team to have two rookies on track, it is slightly disappointing to know that the team aren’t expecting or pushing for them to perform this year. It is obvious that nobody is expecting Schumacher and Mazepin to perform exceptionally well this year. This doesn’t mean they should give up though. It is a shame to tell two young drivers that they simply will not do well as they won’t have the a fully developed car underneath them. As with anything, your first experience of driving in F1 is something they’ll never forget. All three rookie drivers this year are experiencing something truly special and unforgettable and it would be nice for it to be remembered as a positive experience.
What do you think?
With so many factors, this isn’t a simple issue. What are your thoughts on the 2021 season. Let me know on in the comments or on any social media platform.