Formula 1 2021 season Kick-off – Part 1

With the pre-season testing too done and just a week until our first race weekend, it’s a good time to have a look at how the teams have prepared for this season. Let us start with ranking the teams based on their pre-season testing results and the drive lineup. Though, its very difficult to get an actual knack of their performances as teams wouldn’t have had proper runs in terms of set-up, low fuel runs for qualifying etc., we will try to understand how the teams could rank up based on their past performances and taking into consideration all development during the season break.

For a change, lets have a bottom – up approach in this.

 

  1. HAAS

Haas have had difficulties even before the season started as they had problems firing up their Ferrari engine until they reached Bahrain for the pre-season tests. The reason being the lockdown rules in Europe and the Ferrari mechanics not being able to travel to Haas factory. Haas is one of the two customers of the Ferrari engine along with Alfa Romeo. They had pre-season controversies as well, with their new driver Nikita Mazepin being involved in a controversy over a social media post.

With Gunther Steiner already stating that they would not put a lot of emphasis on developing the 2021 car, Haas seem to be starring at a tough season ahead. The other thing that makes it more difficult for the team is lining up two rookies – Mick Schumacher and Nikita Mazepin. This literally means less amount of experience in dealing with set-ups, lesser accurate feedback and therefore eventual difficulties in finding the right setup for both qualifying and race.

The positive thing is Haas has facilitated the return of “MSC” to the timing screens. The reigning F2 champion and son of 7-time F1 champion, Mick Schumacher had requested for MSC – his father’s timing screen name and rightfully so, this left almost every F1 fan teary eyed.

Both Mick and Mazepin had decent outings in the pre-season tests with no major mistakes. What needs to be seen now is how they show up at the Bahrain GP scheduled for the next weekend.

 

  1. Williams

Williams under the new leadership seem to have developed their car a bit but these are early days and nothing can be said of their performances as they did not have enough time for their star driver George Russell. They seem to have improved a bit over last year again, but we doubt it would be enough to get into the mid-field yet. Having said that, we never doubt the capabilities of a certain George Russell who was in mega form in qualifying. The race pace was where they were losing out and we hope that they improve and fight in the mid-field this year.

Their striking new livery is very much similar to that of Alpine and it gives a refreshing look first-up. Eyes would definitely be on this team during the first race weekend as we expect them to reduce their gap to the mid-field. Latifi too had a decent outing in pre-season tests and will be looking to up his game this season and be closer to Russell. He was out-qualified in every race weekend last year but would hope to avoid that this time around.

Needs to be seen what impression the strikingly new Williams car makes at Bahrain.

 

  1. Alfa Romeo

Kimi Raikkonen clocked the most laps – equivalent to 3 race distances during the last day of testing which clearly means that this car has the mileage under its belt. Both Kimi Raikkonen and Giovinazzi have had decent outings in the 2020 season and they would be looking to do the same as a slight improvement would mean they are fighting right in the mid-field. With Kimi sticking around, they have the most experienced driver on the grid, and expect him to show his class – as he did in Portugal last year.

Retaining the same line-up, Giovinazzi has probably got a last chance to prove his worth. He needs to up his game and for that, the first thing he needs to concentrate is on beating his old fox teammate. Kimi is not a easy guy to beat, but with age not on his side and probably this being his last season, Antonio must put up performances which would help him retain his seat for 2022.

 

  1. Aston Martin

This team by no means can struggle to be as low as 7th but the reason we put them here is because of the problems they have had in pre-season testing. Their new recruit, the 4-time world champion Sebastian Vettel has had hardly any running with gearbox issues, change of floor eating up his allocated time. Lance Stroll did show some pace in the pre-final day but their lack of running means they are slotted at the bottom of the super tight mid-field group.

There is hardly anything to differ between the teams slotted from 3rd to 7th and this could well prove to be the case in reality as well. Lance Stroll was error prone last season with so many involvements in crashes that saw him lose critical points. Sebastian Vettel too had a season which was no where close to his standards. The team might cheer him up to perform much better but going by their problems in testing, it seems to be hardwork for them during the next weekend – but we expect them to be strong and sort out their issues.

 

  1. Alpine

The re-named Renault team have attracted a lot of eyes – firstly because the team sees a return of the two time champion Fernando Alonso and secondly because of their livery. They definitely seem to have one of the best looking cars on the 2021 grid. The experienced Alonso hit the track as if he was never out of F1. The recent jaw surgery doesn’t seem to be troubling him at all.

Both Alonso and Ocon had decent outings in the pre-season tests. The car seemed reliable and fast enough to compete with the mid-field pack like in 2020.

The team-mate battle is something to look for here as Alonso will be eager to show the world why he is the one of the all time F1 greats and Ocon would be giving his all to prove to the team that he deserves the seat. Ocon has had a fairly topsy turvy F1 career till date, he must start putting up performances otherwise his place is in danger with fellow Frenchman Pierre Gasly knocking the doors.

 

Check out part 2 for the top 5 teams!!

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