F1 has run quite successfully for close to 70 years now. But, over the years, as the sport entered the 21st century, the periodic change in regulations has rolled the dice further in the favor of teams that can exploit the regulations.
The last seven seasons, have seen Mercedes and in turn, Lewis Hamilton, dominate the Drivers’ as well as Constructors’ Championships. This has now led to a weary admission among fans before the season starts, that the German team and British driver are going to ease to both titles again.
F1 has transformed from a sport where anyone can beat anyone to one of tepid predictability. So, before a new season of any sport begins, there an element of optimism among fans of the sport. Like any good story, there will be multiple narratives or threads.
So, how should the 2021 season pan out for F1 to garner more interest?
Fans will be most excited for possible redemption arcs for former bed mates Ferrari and Sebastian Vettel. The Schumacher destiny with the sport will continue as Mick Schumacher enters the paddock. These are among a few of the more interesting scenarios which F1 will be hoping pan out.
Let’s have a look at five such things the fans are expecting, or rather hoping for, from the 2021 season.
This has to come at the top of the list whenever anything regarding improving interest in the sport comes about. Lewis Hamilton has won six out of the last seven World Titles. He’s not managed to win seven in seven as 2016 saw teammate Nico Rosberg go rogue and pip him to that championship.
Maybe the sport needs something like this to jolt waning interest. Valtteri Bottas has shown glimpses of pulling a Rosberg, but can he sustain that the whole season? That is the biggest question mark which should be answered. Maybe Bottas should take whatever opportunities he gets to be more selfish more regularly.
This could put Hamilton under pressure to perform and maybe entice a few mistakes out of him, much like the 2016 season.
Other than this, Max Verstappen is the more obvious choice to usurp Hamilton’s title. The Red Bull has looked super fast during the preseason testing. Contrasting this with how Mercedes have struggled to get much run time in that test makes the season-opener at Bahrain interesting.
To fulfill Verstappen’s destiny, Red Bull will have to do something they have struggled with in recent years; they will need to win the initial races of the season. If the Austrian team can do that, that could probably be enough to help Verstappen win.
Ferrari endured their worst season in a long time as they finished sixth in the Constructor’s Championship for 2020. The car suffered a stunning lack of performance from the 2019 season which led to claims that the Italian team did in fact field an illegal car in 2019.
Ferrari are the “Grand Old Team” of F1 and have been in the sport since the start. The Italian team are also very recognizable for the bright red liveries their cars sport.
A poor Ferrari makes for a poor imitation of the sporting spectacle. But, a strong Ferrari gives the sport a little more interest and eyeballs.
Now, Ferrari most likely can’t compete for the title in 2021. But a more tangible sign of their improvement would be if they finished third, ahead of a very tight and fast-improving midfield.
If they can pull this off, then, hopefully, with the introduction of the seismic regulations in 2022, they could be a great challenger.
Sebastian Vettel‘s career has been in the doldrums since he crashed out of the 2018 German Grand Prix. The German has struggled to compete at the top of the championship since then. His loss of confidence while donning the red overalls of Ferrari was on display for all to see.
In 2021, he has made the switch to Aston Martin, a team that are looking to punch above their weight. He enters a garage that could return him to the positive days of his Red Bull stint. But, for that, the team will need to improve massively on their 2020 season as well as their disappointing pre-season testing for 2021.
The early signs look worrying but hopefully, Aston Martin rectify their problems to help out Vettel. If they do this, Vettel could get himself a few race victories. Vettel standing at the top of the podium more often in 2021 could be a feel-good story of the season.
2021 will see the return of a Schumacher onto the track after nine years; Michael Schumacher‘s son Mick Schumacher will make his F1 debut this year on the back of a dominant F2 campaign.
However, his new team, Haas, is actively not looking to perform in 2021. This must be worrying for him, and combined with the politics in the team behind the scenes (Nikita Mazepin), makes for a troubling outlook in his debut campaign.
But, hopefully, Schumacher can give a good account of his talent and doesn’t have to rely on the poor car at his disposal. A Schumacher doing well could be what the sport needs to develop the fan base.
Williams doing better will have a twofold benefit for the sport. One, it could help draw back the old fans of the sport who watched Williams be competitive in every race. Moreover, it could also help F1 in it’s pitch to rope in independent teams in the future.
F1 will always be worried about the bottom line, and rightly so. So, the sport needs Williams to get into the points more often. While the early signs don’t look encouraging, a small nugget of hope remains; the team have said that the car would perform well at certain tracks and poor in others.
Maybe the team should look to maximise whatever potential they have suitable tracks. If they are able to do that, it could lead to more top 10 finishes. And that could be what the team needs to make it’s climb back to the top table.
These are the five storylines we’re hoping to see on the track this year.
Do you agree? Or do you think there is another interesting event we’ve missed? Let us know in the comments section.