Five Things I’m Looking Forward To Ahead Of The 2021 Season

While F1 in 2020 was initially heavily delayed and then featured a reduced but exciting calendar, we as fans were gifted a large number of races in a relatively short space of time and we saw a record-breaking season that was at times unpredictable, shocking, exciting, and emotional.

I’ve taken some time over the past couple of weeks to think about the five things I am most looking forward to seeing during the 2021 F1 season, and why I am looking forward to seeing them.

1. Aston Martin Back In F1

One of the most famous car manufacturers is back in Formula One. After last racing in the sport in 1959 and 1960, Aston Martin will become an F1 team again after a rebranding of the Racing Point Formula One team. Their last foray into the sport was disastrous, with no points scored and a large number of retirements for the number of races they entered.

They have, of course, been involved in F1 for the last few years as a title sponsor of Red Bull Racing, but the announcement that they will become a full constructor once again has whetted the appetites of many F1 fans, myself included.

I hope they have a more successful time this time around, and they will no doubt be bolstered by taking over a well-functioning existing outfit, and one that has close ties with the most dominant team on the grid: Mercedes. Definitely, a team to watch for the 2021 season.

They have an experienced and quick lineup for this season too. Lance Stroll remains with the team and enters his fifth season in the sport, and he will be joined by none other than 4-time world champion Sebastian Vettel, who leaves Ferrari after 6 seasons with the Italian giants. His experience will no doubt be a big help to the team, and this could be a chance for him to rediscover his best form.

2. The Schumacher Name Returns To The Grid

For 2021, the grid is boosted by what is possibly one of the most famous names in motorsport returning to the fold. Son of 7 times world champion Michael Schumacher, Mick Schumacher joins the grid driving for the Haas team after a brilliant performance in 2020 saw him take the Formula 2 crown at his second attempt. He won 2 races and scored a further 8 podiums on his way to the title and he has been rightly rewarded with a drive at the Ferrari-powered Haas team.

There is a lot of expectation on young Schumacher for this season, but I hope that doesn’t weigh him down too much. He has no doubt had to put up with it for most of his racing career; after all, being the son of one of the most famous and successful racing drivers of all time can’t be easy. He has managed it well though and has had a successful junior career.

It’s the first time the Schumacher name has been on the grid since 2012, and while he may not set the world alight in the Haas, it will be great to see the name back on the grid and also to see how he holds up against his teammate, fellow rookies and the experienced names around him. I can’t wait to see what he can do as he is a clear quick and consistent driver and his lightning-fast starts in Formula 2 have helped him, so it’ll be great to see him replicate that in Formula 1!

3. The Return Of A Familiar Face

F1 in 2021 will see one of its most highly-rated drivers return. Fernando Alonso will return to the sport driving for Renault F1 Team, who will be rebadged as Alpine.

At 39 years of age, he is taking a gamble by returning to the sport he loves, after taking a couple of years out to race elsewhere following an unsuccessful second spell at McLaren. He is returning to the team with which he won his two world championships in 2005 and 2006.

Interestingly, he will be racing against Mick Schumacher, igniting the possibility of more Alonso-Schumacher battles, following the fantastic battles Alonso had with Mick’s father Michael during his earlier years in the sport. Alonso was the man who ended the years of Schumacher dominance, let’s not forget!

He is fired up for his return to the sport, and although it has caused controversy and arguments, I cannot wait to see what he can do, as he was a brilliant driver and has done a lot for the sport, and if Alpine can give him a good car for 2021, there could be a good opportunity for a few podiums. He will also be there for 2022, which is surely what he must have his eye on more with the new rules and regulations.

4. Continued growth of Williams and Russell

2021 could be a big year for Williams. It’s their first full season under new ownership and they have recently just announced an increase to their technical partnership with Mercedes from 2022. It shows that the new owners have a strong desire to return the team to the front of the grid and I can’t wait to see how they get on.

For 2021, they will be starting their third season with Mercedes driver George Russell, who enjoyed a very strong weekend out in the dominant Mercedes in Bahrain when Lewis Hamilton was unwell with Covid-19. He is becoming a more rounded and experienced driver and is undoubtedly quick, so it will be great to see him start another season with Williams and hopefully help to take the team further.

For Williams, the coming season is a chance to move further up the grid after a much improved season following a disastrous 2019. They got into Q2 a fair few times courtesy of George Russell and were able to fight closely with the likes of Alfa Romeo, Haas, and AlphaTauri. Unfortunately, they didn’t score any points, but they came close a number of times, so 2021 has to be the season they get back into regular contention for scoring points.

As those of you who read my articles and watch the podcasts will know, I’m a big Williams fan, so the past couple of years have been rather painful for me, but I’m feeling positive ahead of this season and I’m confident Williams can start the process of getting themselves further forward.

5. Fresh Start For Sebastian Vettel

I mentioned earlier that Vettel was leaving Ferrari to join the rebranded Aston Martin team and I cannot wait to see how he gets on. He leaves Maranello, and the pressure that comes with it, to join the British outfit after 6 years of driving for Ferrari. It was his goal to win the title with the Italian giants and emulate his hero, Michael Schumacher, but unfortunately, that didn't come to fruition and he leaves the team with 14 race victories, 2nd in the championship on two occasions in 2017 and 2018, but sadly no championship glory.

I think he will fit in well at Aston Martin. He likes the way the team operates and loves everything British, including the old TV shows, so this could be a chance for him to get rid of the cloud over him following his last couple of seasons at Ferrari and start afresh with a team with smaller expectations and less pressure.

He has Lance Stroll alongside him for the season, so he will be expected to outperform the young Canadian, but I think once he settles in the team and settles in the car, he will be able to do this no problem. His goal is to still win championship number five of course, and it’s unlikely the team will be in contention for 2021, but with a rules refresh and shakeup planned for 2022, anything can happen!

So, those are my five main things. There are plenty of others of course, including Hamilton chasing title number 8, Ferrari pushing for a return to the front of the grid, Red Bull starting with a strong, tried and tested line up in Sergio Perez and Max Verstappen, and of course, a resurgent McLaren looking to build on their most successful season since 2012.

One thing is for sure: F1 in 2021 is set to be a very exciting season with lots to watch out for and a number of teams out to end Mercedes’ era of dominance!

As always, take care and stay safe!

Steve Thomson