Formulation One 2021 season: Lewis Hamilton’s reign, his inheritor and the challengers


Lewis Hamilton will start his quest to grow to be probably the most embellished driver in Formulation One historical past on Sunday in Bahrain.

Right here, AFP Sport seems on the drivers making up the grid for the file 23-race 2021 season:

With a file 95 race wins and a record-sharing seventh world title, Hamilton has completed what many thought was unimaginable, occupy the identical lofty pedestal as Michael Schumacher. The newly knighted Sir Lewis, who additionally has extra pole positions and podiums than another driver within the championship’s historical past, will now be favorite to earn the proper to be thought of Formulation One’s GOAT with an eighth title in what could possibly be his swansong.

He has emerged as a lot greater than only a token teammate chasing crumbs off Hamilton’s plate, though he’s nonetheless as a rule ‘quickest on Friday’ follow however not 48 hours later when it issues most. For Hamilton, Bottas “does his speaking on the observe, I’ve an enormous respect for him”. That got here after the Finn had disadvantaged him of the pole within the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix. He has signed, like Hamilton, a one-year contract extension till the top of this season.

— The Monegasque might be anticipating a greater season than final, which should not be exhausting after a misfiring automotive contributed to the crew’s worst efficiency in 40 years. He completed eighth, making the rostrum solely twice, and might be anxious to forge new and altogether extra constructive reminiscences with an improved automotive to capitalise on his prodigious expertise.

Additionally learn: Mick Schumacher proud to comply with in father’s F1 footsteps

He changed two-time world champion, Fernando Alonso, at McLaren and now four-time champion Sebastian Vettel at Ferrari to kind the crew’s youngest pairing prior to now 50 years. In Sainz Ferrari really feel they’ve discovered a really perfect match for his or her household, pointing to his technical skill, expertise and character. Final time period Sainz got here in sixth, along with his new teammate two locations behind.

Unbridled skill, a razor-sharp aggressive streak and streetcar racing nous have contributed to his place as inheritor obvious to Hamilton’s crown. A drop in kind by Pink Bull and Mercedes’ relentless excellence has counted towards his title goals, however a win within the final race of 2020 and robust kind in testing final week counsel Mercedes might not have issues all their very own manner this time period. Verstappen was better of the remainder to the Mercedes males the final time period, with two wins and 11 podiums. An enchancment is on the playing cards, with Honda supplying a brand new engine of their last season. It could be one almighty leaving present if the Dutchman was to interrupt Hamilton and his crew’s hegemony.

Issues regarded bleak for the favored Mexican by way of remaining on the grid for 2021 within the run-up to the penultimate race of final season. He was out of contract with Racing Level and with out a win from 189 begins. However he conjured up a stirring maiden victory to earn a name from Pink Bull to switch Alexander Albon who stays as take a look at driver after an inconsistent first season.

Ninth with 97 factors to Hamilton in his second season in F1 final yr, the 21-year-old Englishman is assured of being greater than a match for his new teammate Daniel Ricciardo after proving an equal associate to Ferrari’s new driver Carlos Sainz. He anticipates making ripples within the F1 pool in 2021. “I’m in that earlier part of my profession however I nonetheless must carry out very nicely, and there are not any excuses for me anymore.”

Learn extra: Mercedes open on Hamilton’s future after 2021, says Wolff

The person with the golden smile is relying on McLaren’s upturn in fortunes after a barren spell to assist reignite his profession after a quiet two years with Renault. Beneath the floor of his endearing good nature lurks a fiercely formidable streak, which at 31 and after 9 full seasons, is stronger than ever earlier than. His flashy good finest was dimmed by his under-performing French crew over the previous two years. At McLaren, he’ll wish to grow to be higher acquainted with the rostrum after solely two visits prior to now two seasons.

The 2005 and 2006 world champion with Renault returns to his old flame after a two-year flirtation with Le Mans, the Dakar Rally and Indy 500. He insists that at 39, a two-year exile, and jaw surgical procedure following a biking accident final month, he’s in one of the best form of his profession. Alonso final fired up an F1 automotive in anger in a McLaren in 2018 however says he’s now a extra full driver after successful Le Mans twice however failing to win the Indy 500 and emulate Graham Hill by finishing the so-called Triple Crown of successful the Monaco Grand Prix, Le Mans and Indy 500.

Ocon says he’s eager to relive “that podium feeling” after experiencing it for the primary time when second in Bahrain for the rebranded Renault crew. Quick, decided, unafraid of robust battles, and at 24 he’s impatient for his first win within the prime division after graduating as GP3 champion in 2015, proving himself with Manor and Drive India and a yr’s sabbatical ‘on the bench’ at Mercedes.

If his startling exhibiting in pre-season testing is something to go by this diminutive newcomer is poised to make a sizeable impression on his first season within the quick lane. With solely Max Verstappen in entrance of him, Tsunoda outperformed his hero Lewis Hamilton and a number of others to clock the second-best time. On Sunday again at Sakhir, he plans to depart warning within the pits and “push from the beginning. I do not wish to fear about making errors. I simply wish to go for it and assault.” The primary Japanese driver to compete in Formulation One since Kamui Kobayashi in 2014 stands at simply 1.59 metres (5ft 3in) and has hit the gymnasium to bulk up after confessing that he “could not even carry” his head after driving 123 laps in Abu Dhabi testing in December. He was named FIA rookie of final yr after ending third in his debut season with British crew Carlin within the Formulation 2 championship.

Additionally learn: Ricciardo on prime once more, Hamilton brings out pink flags

A yr after demotion from Pink Bull to their sibling crew the personable Frenchman conjured up his debut Grand Prix success in a chaotic race at Monza for less than his crew’s second-ever win. He took time to recuperate from a bruising expertise alongside Verstappen at Pink Bull and the 2016 GP2 champion might be eager to construct on final season’s kind. Aged 25 and with innate velocity and craft the highway is obvious for him to take pleasure in his finest season but.

The four-time champion with Pink Bull endured a depressing final season with Ferrari, coming in a humiliating thirteenth within the drivers’ championship. However now the German is again speaking a couple of fifth world title for the rebranded Racing Level crew. He concedes he was not at his finest in 2020, however says he has made peace with that and the winner of 53 Grands Prix, solely Hamilton and Schumacher have received extra, believes he nonetheless has all of the components to win the championship once more for the well-known British marque returning for the primary time to F1 since 1960.

The 22-year-old son of crew proprietor Lawrence Stroll might have had a cushioned arrival within the sport however his performances have helped silence those that questioned whether or not he deserved his place on the grid on advantage. Uncooked velocity, aggressive zeal and a helpful partnership with former teammate Sergio Perez helped produce his first pole place in Istanbul, outpacing Hamilton and firm in treacherous situations. He got here in tenth within the season standings on 74 factors, a tally to construct on this time period.

Hamilton wasn’t the one record-breaker in 2020 with the daddy of the grid beginning a file 323rd race on the Eifel Grand Prix on the Nurburgring. He arrived a fresh-faced 21-year-old at Sauber in 2001, went on to gather the 2007 world title with Ferrari, and now could be having fun with the twilight of his profession along with his first-team albeit underneath a unique identify. A modest sixteenth place and 4 factors final time period is a goal he’ll take pleasure in eclipsing.

He matched his extra illustrious teammate’s factors haul final time period after extending his tenure on the crew with a flourish to the top of an unimpressive opening half to 2019. Runner-up in GP2 to Gasly and may intention at persevering with his progress with a safe midfield place.

9 years after dad Michael’s final race the Schumacher identify is again on the grid with the F1 legend’s son Mick graduating as Formulation Two champion to drive for Haas. The 22-year-old says he is proud to comply with in his well-known father’s footsteps, however one other son of a world champion has warned of the pressures he should face. “It is not simple to be the ‘son of’. And with Mick, it’s 10 instances harder, as a result of Michael’s period was not so way back and he was rather more profitable,” stated Nico Rosberg.

The crew’s second rookie is the 22-year-old son of billionaire Dmitry Mazepin, a non-executive director of Russian firm Uralkali, the principle title associate of the Haas crew. He takes his place solely after the crew needed to maintain an inside investigation over a social media video that seemingly confirmed him making an unsolicited try to the touch a girl’s breast.

For his second season, Russell was tipped for stardom by Mercedes chief Toto Wolff after the 23-year-old stepped in for the Covid-19 quarantining Hamilton in Bahrain, upstaging Valtteri Bottas in Friday follow. He would possible have stolen the present within the race itself just for a bungled pit cease and puncture that left him in ninth. With modified possession, former champion Jenson Button in as a senior advisor, the gifted Russell can strategy the marketing campaign with loads of optimism.

– Like Lance Stroll, the 25-year-old Latifi is the son of a billionaire. In his second season after graduating because the crew’s reserve driver final time period and nonetheless trying to find his first level.

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