With the Bahrain Grand Prix fast approaching, racing fans all over the globe are gearing up for a new season of Formula 1, as Lewis Hamilton looks to win a record breaking eighth World Championship. This season brings with it plenty of intrigue, as a former champion returns, two rebranded teams make their debuts and young Brits look to make a name for themselves.
2021 Formula 1 World Championship Preview, Schedule, Prediction & Tips
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DRIVERS - HAM TO WIN, CONSTRUCTORS - RED BULL 1ST, MCLAREN 3RD & ASTON MARTIN TO BT FERRARI @ 16/1
The 2021 F1 Preview
Fernando Alonso makes his return
After two years away from F1, Spanish driver Fernando Alonso will return to the sport with the rebranded team Alpine. Alonso is a two-time winner of the World Drivers’ Championships, with both wins coming while racing for Renault in 2005 and 2006. Now 39-years-old, the Spaniard claims he is motivated and completely fit, despite fracturing his jaw in a cycling accident in February.
Expectations for Alonso are varied, with some anticipating a difficult return to racing following a two-year sabbatical, while others expect him to be relatively impressive. Whatever happens, it will be great to see a former champion back on the grid, as he has been a fascinating watch throughout his time in the sport and is known for maximising the ability of his car, as he did so in 2012 and 2013 when he finished second in both championships behind Sebastien Vettel who was driving a superior Red Bull car.
Hamilton looks for record breaking Championship win
Recent years have been heavily dominated by Lewis Hamilton, who has won six out of the previous seven World Drivers’ Championships, with his former teammate Nico Rosberg winning the other. This brings his total up to seven, level with the great Michael Schumacher, so a win this season would see the Brit break the record for most Championship wins. However, speculation surrounding Hamilton’s future has also been a topic of discussion, despite the seven-time World Champion recently penning a new deal for 2021.
The new contract only lasts for one year, which has effectively just delayed rumours about Hamilton’s future, but they will start up again later on in the year. Some are predicting that the 36-year-old may retire if he is successful in claiming an eighth World title, while some see this as an opportunity for Mercedes to promote a younger driver, such as George Russell, who stood in for Hamilton at the Sakhir GP.
HAMILTON TO WIN THE DRIVERS CHAMPIONSHIP, MCLAREN TOP 3 & ASTON MARTIN TOP 4 IN THE CONSTRUCTORS, BOTTAS 3+ RACE WINS, VERSTAPPEN 2+ RACE WINS @ 16/1
Could this be Bottas' final chance to win it at Mercedes?
Mercedes driver Valterri Bottas' contract runs out at the German team at the end of the season and could be seriously under threat following George Russell's impressive display at the Sakhir GP last year when he was loaned to Mercedes from Williams following Hamilton's absence, which saw him lead the majority of the race until his team faltered badly in the pit stops towards the end of the GP.
This was perhaps a look into the future, as he comfortably lead Bottas. The Finn joined Mercedes from Williams back in 2016 after German driver Nico Rosberg decided to retire from the sport, having narrowly beaten teammate Hamilton to the title. Since then Bottas has been the dream second driver, often bowing down to team orders when asked to and consistently finishing high up the grid, taking points away from rival teams and drivers.
He will know that this could be his last chance to repeat the feat of Rosberg who was a lot more punchy and aggressive in his driving style when he beat Hamilton, so he may look to do the same and leave the German team in style. Bottas finished second in the Drivers Championship last year, winning races at Austria and Russia and will be looking for a career-best season in order to try and keep his seat at Mercedes.
F1 Tips - Bottas
VALTTERI BOTTAS TO WIN THE DRIVERS CHAMPIONSHIP 2021 @ 12/1
Verstappen could be the one to stop Mercedes' dominance
Red Bull Racing driver Max Verstappen poses the greatest threat to Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes GP's dominance in F1. The Dutchman burst onto the scene with an incredible win at Spain in 2016, becoming the youngest ever driver to win a grand prix aged 18 years and 228 days and has never looked back since.
The Dutchman has finished third in the Drivers Championship behind both Hamilton and Bottas and will be looking to at the very least beat the Finn this season. In previous seasons Red Bull had become frustrated by their Renault power unit before switching to Honda at the end of the 2018 season and have shown signs of progress to the extent where they recently purchased the Japanese company's engine technology from 2022 to 2024 following the proposed engine freeze.
Verstappen has previously shown us that he has got what it takes to take the game to Mercedes, especially in his stunning victory at Silverstone last year and his incredible Schumacher-esque drives at the Red Bull Ring in Austria and at the German GP at Hockenheim in 2019.
F1 Tips - Verstappen
MAX VERSTAPPEN TO WIN THE DRIVERS CHAMPIONSHIP 2021 @ 10/3
British pair looking to build on last season
As for the other Brits looking to make a name for themself, many have tipped Williams’ driver Russell as a potential Hamilton or Bottas replacement, should either leave Mercedes. Russell finished 18th in the Drivers' Championship, so will be looking to impress further by moving up in the rankings this coming season.
Lando Norris makes up half of an exciting McLaren team that now features Daniel Ricciardo, who joins following two years at Renault. Norris finished in ninth last season, picking up just one podium finish, something that the 21-year-old will be looking to build on.
Ferrari looking to comeback from last season’s disappointment
Last campaign was disappointing for Ferrari, as they finished sixth in the Constructors Championship. Their lack of horsepower hindered them on the straights, demoting them from potential F1 title winners to midfield mediocrity, falling well below expectations that many hold for Ferrari.
However, a revamped engine, including a new power unit could see Formula 1’s most successful team elevate themselves back into the mix for third place, with Mercedes and Red Bull the heavy favourites to finish in the top two spots. Ferrari will hope to be in the category just below, with the likes of McLaren and Aston Martin.
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