The 2021 Formula One season is just around the corner – set to kick off in Bahrain on 28 March 2021.
There are plenty of reasons to watch this year with new and exciting teammate pairings, the biggest ever calendar in the sport's history, updated rules and regulations, and some rebranded teams.
While some may argue the sport hasn't been going through its greatest chapter, with a handful of teams continuing to dominate, there are some indicators the mid-pack will be in closer contention.
Here is your cheat sheet for the 2021 F1 season.
2021 race calendar
This year's calendar is the biggest ever in F1 history, with 23 rounds making up the season.
Melbourne, traditionally the season opener, has been shifted to the back-end and now slots in after Brazil on 21 November.
We missed out last year and fans cannot wait to have all of the action return to our backyard. A full resurface of the track will be undertaken along with an alignment of several corners to improve racing.
There's a new addition with the inaugural Saudi Arabian Grand Prix slotting into the first week of December.
Imola returns to the calendar. It acted as a pleasant replacement last year with so many disruptions to the season and now takes the spot of the Chinese Grand Prix.
With long lead times for infrastructure, street circuits were some of the first to get canned in 2020. This year, fan favourites such as Monaco and Singapore make their return.
Vietnam doesn't make the cut, even though it was set to make its debut in April 2020.
You won't have to wait too long in between races as there are five instances of back-to-back rounds and two triple-headers.
|2.||18 Apr||Emilia Romagna||Imola|
|5.||23 May||Monaco||Monte Carlo|
|8.||27 Jun||France||Paul Ricard|
|9.||4 Jul||Austria||Red Bull Ring|
|10.||18 Jul||Great Britain||Silverstone|
|16.||3 Oct||Singapore||Marina Bay|
|19.||31 Oct||Mexico||Mexico City|
|22.||5 Dec||Saudi Arabia||Jeddah|
|23.||12 Dec||Abu Dhabi||Yas Marina|
2021 race teams & drivers
It was a long silly season indeed, but after months of some exciting changes and new teammate pairings, here is what's new for 2021:
After purchasing up to 20 per cent of Aston Martin, Canadian billionaire Lawrence Stroll renamed his Racing Point F1 team after the historic British car brand, and is now known as Aston Martin Racing.
Renault continue their assault in F1, however, under a new name. The team has rebranded as the Alpine F1 team and will now be sporting colours of the French flag – blue, red and white (previously yellow).
Daniel Riccardo makes the switch from Renault to McLaren, teaming up with young gun Lando Norris.
Sebastian Vettel exits Ferrari after six years with the team and makes the move to Aston Martin Racing, lining up alongside Lance Stroll.
Carlos Sainz Jr takes Sebastian Vettel's seat at Ferrari, while Charles Leclerc's contract sees him at Maranello until the end of 2024.
Fernando Alonso makes his return to F1 after leaving at the end of 2018 when he was driving a McLaren. He'll slot into the Alpine F1 team with Esteban Ocon.
There's a shake up at Red Bull, yet again, with the team known for its high turnover in drivers. Alex Albon has been replaced by Sergio Perez who makes the move from Racing Point. Max Verstappen is set to stay with the team until the end of 2023.
There's an exciting new, young line up at Haas with one of the names familiar to the racing world. Mick Schumacher, son of legend Michael Schumacher, moves up from F2, as does his teammate Nikita Mazepin.
Yuki Tsunoda is also new to F1 and is joining the AlfaTauri team, replacing Daniil Kvyat.
|Alfa Romeo||Kimi Räikkönen & Antonio Giovinazzi|
|Alpine (previously Renault)||Fernando Alonso & Esteban Ocon|
|AlfaTauri||Pierre Gasly & Yuki Tsunoda|
|Aston Martin (previously Racing Point)||Sebastian Vettel & Lance Stroll|
|Ferrari||Charles Leclerc & Carlos Sainz|
|Haas||Mick Schumacher & Nikita Mazepin|
|McLaren||Daniel Ricciardo & Lando Norris|
|Mercedes||Lewis Hamilton & Valtteri Bottas|
|Red Bull||Max Verstappen & Sergio Perez|
|Williams||George Russell & Nicholas Latifi|
The ones to watch
McLaren have all the right ingredients this year. Enduring a number of tough seasons, last year they finished third in the constructors' championship after putting up an epic fight against the mid-pack. In 2021, Mercedes is supplying their powertrain, and they have Aussie driver Daniel Ricciardo piloting the machine. The combination of the car, Dan, and the young gun, Lando make them a strong contender.
Ricciardo looks to be well placed for success this season, too. While he was criticised for his move to Renault, and then again it was thought his luck had run out when Ferrari didn't sign him, he can thank his lucky stars that never happened (for those who aren't aware, Ferrari aren't performing so well). This contract is another chance for the Aussie and it seems like the perfect fit.
Rules and regulations for 2021
This year would have been a new chapter for the sport with new technical regulations set to be introduced by F1 and the FIA. Due to the pandemic, this has been postponed until 2022 and in an effort to assist teams with any financial difficulties, they will be using their 2020 chassis in 2021.
There are still plenty of changes that should make things interesting this year. Here are just a few for 2021:
For the first time in F1 history, a cost cap is being introduced, with the baseline set at $145 million – plus, teams will be granted an additional $1.2 million per race.
Aerodynamic restrictions are in force. The teams have spent years finding ways to increase downforce and now this is being reversed. The target reduction is set at 10 per cent. The reason for this limitation is mainly due to safety, as too much downforce could only hamper the Pirelli tyres which have been carried over from 2019. Therefore, the floor has been narrowed in the rear by 10cm, slots have been removed from the floor, diffuser fences clipped and rear brake ducts limited in size.
All practice sessions are now set at 60 minutes. Free Practice One and Two were traditionally 90 minutes in length but have been shortened to give the drivers less time to get a feel for the car prior to race day.
DAS has been banned. Mercedes were the only team equipped with the dual axis system which was triggered by the driver on the steering wheel and gave the advantage of reducing drag and downforce.
New materials are permitted to make the sport greener. This could also assist with the weight of the cars with fabrics such as linen, bamboo, hemp, cotton and flax now falling within the regulations. They are also obviously more cost effective than carbon-fibre.
There's a slight increase in the minimum weight of the cars, from 746kg in 2020 to 752kg in 2021, as well as an increase in the minimum power unit weight allowed from 145kg in 2020 to 150kg in 2021.
After the controversy with Racing Point and their 'Mercedes like' car from 2020, the sport has cracked down on copied parts.
There will be a regulated tyre allocation for each team, each race weekend including two sets of hard tyres, three sets of mediums and eight sets of softs. Pirelli are also aiming to deliver additional compounds this year which were tested in Practice sessions in 2020.
Let us know what you're looking forward to in the comments section below.