We’re approaching the final corner and the starting boxes are in sight on the new Formula One season.
There are new faces in new cars, new teams, new rules and plenty of expectation.
Who will win the championship is the talk of most of the build-up but there are plenty more questions being asked.
Here are our predictions for all of the runners and riders during the upcoming Formula One season…
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It’s been easier to look somewhere other than Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes than it has been for a number of years given what happened in testing… but it’s still not that easy. Max Verstappen may win a few races but Hamilton will become an eight-time world champion and Mercedes will join him with their eighth consecutive title to round out the turbo-hybrid era
Just like picking Hamilton and Mercedes as winners, picking Williams and Nicholas Latifi would be the easiest answer here. And while we’re still predicting Latifi will finish bottom of the drivers’ championship, George Russell will finally win Williams a couple of points for the first time since 2019. Haas have been on a downward slide for years and with two rookies at the wheel in Nikita Mazepin and Mick Schumacher, it could be a baptism of fire. Haas for the wooden spoon.
BEST OF THE REST
This has actually been the most exciting award to win over the last few seasons with Mercedes, Red Bull and Ferrari excluded. This season, on the back of last year’s disaster, Ferrari are included. Aussie bias aside, Daniel Ricciardo should finish best of the rest with what looks like a speedy new Mercedes-powered McLaren. McLaren are also our pick to finish third in the constructor standings. Ferrari have too much work to do but it will be interesting to see how former multiple world champions Sebastian Vettel and Fernando Alonso cope in the midfield.
Mick Schumacher, Nikita Mazepin or Yuki Tsunoda? Given we’re predicting Haas to be rock bottom of the constructor standings, Tsunoda is winning this one. He was mightily impressive in the pacy-looking Alpha Tauri despite his over-zealous use of DRS and should carry it into the new season. It would be great to see MSC high up on the leaderboard again but it seems unlikely at this stage.
BIGGEST BLOW UP
There are so many possibilities: Christian Horner vs Toto Wolff, Guenther Steiner vs Netflix, Valtteri Bottas vs “whom it may concern”, Fernando Alonso vs Esteban Ocon, Sebastian Vettel vs Ferrari, Nikita Mazepin vs the stewards and so much more.
Now that the Haas duo of Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen aren’t there to crash into each other, it seems like much slimmer pickings this year. Carlos Sainz has been on the wrong end of a number of collisions while Nikita Mazepin got into trouble a few times in F2 for his aggressive driving style. You think the Russian might just get caught up in a fair bit of traffic at the back of the grid, especially during the first few corners of racing.
The biggest upset potential is coming in the teammates battle, with Sergio Perez in with a chance of beating Max Verstappen and Lando Norris even taking on Daniel Ricciardo. However, the two biggest upsets could be involving the two former world champions in the midfield. Esteban Ocon is more than capable of getting under Fernando Alonso’s skin and beating him after two years out, while the Sebastian Vettel of 2020 would face a real tough fight against Lance Stroll, even if it’s because his billionaire owner father puts extra weight in the German’s car to slow him down.
FIRST DRIVER PUNTED
History suggested Red Bull will churn through another one but in Sergio Perez they now have a race winner and getting rid of him won’t be as easy and removing Alexander Albon or Pierre Gasly in the previous two seasons. Realistically, it’s unlikely any driver will be replaced midseason, but with new regulations and a shake-up in the pack coming next year a lot of teams will be looking to their 2022 line-ups early on. And Valtteri Bottas could be the first one to go.
HOW MANY TEAMS WILL WIN RACES?
Four. Mercedes (obviously) and Red Bull, with McLaren to end their nine-year barren spell on the top step of the podium and Ferrari to pinch a win somewhere as well.
HOW MANY TEAMS WILL GIVE UP ON 2021 EARLY?
All of them. With the pandemic ruining last year, teams are in a race against time to build their new car for the new era starting next year. Teams out of contention will therefore likely pass on any significant upgrades for this season, with most of their efforts being dealt to next year’s offering. Mercedes will probably push for the longest, just to get Hamilton that eighth world title secure but don’t be surprised if many teams, especially Ferrari, start focusing on 2022 early.
THREE BOLD PREDICTIONS
-Daniel Ricciardo and McLaren to win a race
-Lewis Hamilton to retire at the end of the season (if he wins no.8)
-Lance Stroll to beat Sebastian Vettel