When will we see the 2021 cars and liveries?
Formula 1’s ‘launch season’ looks a little different to normal this year amid the global pandemic. Furthermore, with teams required to carry over their 2020 chassis for the new season on cost-cutting grounds, the 2021 challengers are by regulation more evolutionary than ever.
Most teams are staging digital-only unveilings, with McLaren kicking off the events with their team launch and the first glimpse of the Mercedes-powered MCL35M on February 15. Ferrari are splitting their pre-season promotion across two online events, while Aston Martin and Alpine are respectively launching their new eras.
Only Haas are yet to confirm a launch date for their new car.
Car and team launch dates
When is pre-season testing?
As recently as 2015, F1’s pre-season programme stretched to three test sessions and 12 days. For 2021 that is down to just a single three-day test.
And, for the first time in recent memory, that session will not take place in Barcelona. Instead, the Bahrain International Circuit will stage its first pre-season test for seven years, two weeks before F1 returns to the desert venue for the season-opening race.
Pre-season testing dates
When does the new season start and when are the races?
The second version of a record 23-race 2021 calendar was published in early January, with Australia moved back from its traditional season-opening slot to November and China postponed from its April position. Imola has again been added while the third round remains unconfirmed.
New F1 boss Stefano Domenicali recently told Sky Sports that the sport had to remain “flexible” about the calendar amid the pandemic.
Who’s driving for who?
Drivers: Lewis Hamilton (*contract pending) and Valtteri Bottas
Lewis Hamilton still does not have a Mercedes contract in place yet but all expectations remain that an agreement will ultimately be struck in the forthcoming weeks to formally confirm the seven-time champion in their line-up once again. Valtteri Bottas stays on for a fifth consecutive campaign after agreeing a one-year extension in August.
Drivers: Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez
For the first time since 2007, Red Bull have gone outside their tried-and-trusted driver development programme to fill one of their seats after Sergio Perez was saved from what would have been a unwarranted year on the sidelines just before Christmas. The long-time Racing Point/Force India driver, who finally became an F1 winner last month, becomes the latest driver to take on the formidable challenge of being team-mate to Max Verstappen, Red Bull’s established team leader. Honda start their final year in F1, but Red Bull remain hopeful of being able to take over the Japanese manufacturer’s engine into 2022.
Drivers: Daniel Ricciardo and Lando Norris
Two big arrivals at the upwardly-mobile Woking squad for 2021 – proven race winner Daniel Ricciardo and, seven years after their long running partnership ended, Mercedes engines. Lando Norris, still only 21, will compete in his third season in F1 after an impressive first two years of his career up against former team-mate Carlos Sainz.
Drivers: Sebastian Vettel and Lance Stroll
Gone is the Racing Point name of the past two years to be replaced by that of the world-renowned Aston Martin, with both entities now under the same ownership. The high-profile rebrand is accompanied by the significant arrival of four-time champion Sebastian Vettel from Ferrari, with Lance Stroll staying alongside for his third season at his father’s team.
Drivers: Fernando Alonso and Esteban Ocon
A mix of the past and future here at what was Renault for 2021. Fernando Alonso returns for a third spell at Enstone after two years away from F1 but the team name and image are undergoing a rebrand – Alpine is the name of Renault’s sporty car brand. After a challenging single year next to Ricciardo, Esteban Ocon now faces an even more successful F1 driver as his team-mate.
Drivers: Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz
There may not be a world champion in Ferrari’s line-up at the start of the season for just the second time in the last quarter of a century, but in Charles Leclerc and new signing Carlos Sainz they have two of the best drivers of F1’s new generation. Leclerc usurped Vettel as the Scuderia’s team leader over the past two seasons and Sainz, a fast and accomplished performer in his own right, will provide a fresh challenge.
Drivers: Pierre Gasly and Yuki Tsunoda
Japan’s Yuki Tsunoda arrives to join Monza race winner Pierre Gasly after impressing the team last year in his test outings for them and a race-winning rookie season of F2. Gasly has re-established his career back at the team since mid-2019 and developed into one of F1’s most consistent drivers. Like sister team Red Bull, AlphaTauri enter the final year of their present engine arrangement.
Drivers: Kimi Raikkonen and Antonio Giovinazzi
One of only three teams staying with an unchanged line-up, Alfa Romeo will continue to blend the unmatched F1 experience of 2007 champion Kimi Raikkonen, 41, and the improving Antonio Giovinazzi for the third year in a row. The big focus will be on trying to improve the team’s competitiveness after a tough 2020.
Drivers: Nikita Mazepin and Mick Schumacher
In a complete change of driver direction accelerated by the financial impact of the global pandemic, Haas have swapped 300 Grands Prix worth of experience in their line-up for an all-rookie pairing. Planning for the future towards the 2022 rules overhaul, F2 champion and Ferrari junior Mick Schumacher is joined by Russian Nikita Mazepin.
Drivers: George Russell and Nicholas Latifi
George Russell is the team’s exciting lead driver and will enter the third and final year of his contract at Williams, with Mercedes possibly coming calling for 2022. Nicholas Latifi remains for a second term, when both drivers and the famous team will be bidding to turn 2020 progress back into points in the first full year of its new ownership era.
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