2021 is going to be an interesting year. This is the year of the recovery from the pandemic. Although many countries are still in lockdown, most of the countries are in the process of rebuilding, rehabilitating the economy and recovering from the insanity of the last year. Just like any other sport, Formula 1 was also hit quite hard but it was clinical and organized the 2020 season successfully. What makes this year interesting in Formula 1 as before the pandemic F1 was planning to introduce the new set of regulations in 2021. But because of the pandemic this has been pushed to 2022. So 2021 will act as the current transition between 2020 cars and new cars in 2022. But nonetheless there have been significant changes made in the 2021 seasons which makes it a captivating and enthralling year to watch.
Some of the changes that makes this season unique from 2020 and 2022 are:
The downforce level has been decreased from the 2020 season in a bid to provide closer racing and overtaking and bunching up the field a bit from last year.
Less downforce will make the cars a bit slower hence moving away from the generation of the wider and fastest cars in its history. It also means less dirty/ aerodynamic air for the chasing car.
Restricted spending for the teams. The budget cap of $175 million dollars has been introduced so that each team spends the same base amount on the development of the car.
The higher the team finished in the 2020 season, the more token money they got to make developments on the car.
Longest F1 calendar in history with 23 races in a year. Although it would be challenging to say the least to organise 23 races, it certainly is going to be an interesting, exciting and long season.
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Besides all these regulation changes, there is certainly one of the most unique driver line-upings we have seen on the grid this year. 2020 driver market or “silly season” was the most happening and crazy of this 21st century. So many huge change ups and that too before the starting of the season.
So with the new season in front of us, let’s dive into our predictions:
1. There will be carnage in one constructor’s line up:
As mentioned above there are some talented bunch of line ups this year, but there is one driver’s pairing that has got everyone talking and for good reasons. But it has all the signs of wreaking havoc in the garage and that team is McLaren. Perhaps one of the stronger line ups on the grid with Daniel Ricciardo and Lando Norris, this pairing will bring lots of points for the team but also a lot of intense questions and tough decisions. Lando is the future of the team and the more settled driver of the two in the team. His stock has been rising slowly on the circuit and his career is certainly on the up but his teammate is Daniel Ricciardo, who is easily in the Top-4 drivers on the grid right now. He is more experienced, has won races, pole positions and is one of the fastest drivers of the grid but he is the new addition to the team after Carlos Sainz left for Ferrari. The dilemma for McLaren from the outside looks to be who are they going to prefer when the situation gets tense because Ricciardo is the more consistent on Sundays and has the experience but Norris is faster on a Saturday and is more experienced within the team. But one thing that could work in the team's favour are their off track personalities up till now. They are bot relaxed and funny characters but if the predicted tension within the team comes to life, will we see the repeat of 2016 Hamilton-Rosberg partnership?
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2. The second seat is cursed:
There has been a lot of talk since the mid of 2018 season about the second seat at Red Bull Racing. The problem arose when Ricciardo brilliantly won the race at Monaco nursing home, a mechanically problem car. Up till then Daniel had won 2 out of the 6 races and was very much in the hunt for the title with Hamilton and Vettel. But after his win, he did not even get a single podium finish for the rest of the season. Strange, isn’t it? His rest of the season was a nightmare with 8 retirements which were out of his control which made him publicly declare, “the car is cursed.” He left the team for Renault the very next season. Since his departure we have seen an unleashed Max Verstappen, his former teammate, and an inconsistent second driver. Ricciardo’s successors Pierre Gasly and Alex Albon are both quick and superb drivers but have struggled in the second car of Red Bull. There has been a combination of reasons for that:
Having a teammate like Max Verstappen is tough. He is a special talent and is clearly the team's preferred driver. If your performance is constantly compared to him, it is a mammoth task.
Impatient team bosses and pressure constantly being applied on the drivers does take its toll.
Red Bull also has a new driver line-up this season and is arguably the strongest on the grid. Sergio Perez had a career best 2020 season with a win to his name, so him getting a top seat was one of the stories of the year. Red Bull has brought him in so that they could close up the gap to Mercedes and be competitive with Verstappen. But even Checo will not be able to solve the problems at Red Bull. There seems to be something inherently wrong within the car and he has been signed on a one-year contract which even for him will not be enough even for a quality driver like Sergio Perez. Red Bull will finally have to admit in the end that in the turbo- hybrid era, their second car was cursed and Danny Ric was right all along.
3. Mazepin will score more penalties than points:
Nikita Mazapin is a controversial driver. Understatement. He has not even raced in F1 yet and might just be the most hated driver on the grid. His introduction to the sport has been far from pleasant but his career has been filled with controversies. From fighting with Illot to ultra-aggressive defending with Drugovich to crashing in a park farme and almost hitting Yuki Tsunoda with a finishing race sign. This trend does not look like ending soon and it seems very likely that he might develop a relationship with Stewarts throughout the course of the season. It might not help him that he will be one of the slower cars so watch out for him on turn 1 of every race.
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