Witnessing one of the most impressive athletes ever, getting in a year before the huge 2022 rule change, and more
By Yuri Coghe
Formula One is a household sports brand across the globe. The most recent numbers reveal 1.9 billion total viewers across TV and digital platforms in 2019.
Not only is F1 huge, but it’s also exciting, with all the speed, risk, talent and ever-evolving narratives it entails.
Here are six reasons to start watching F1 in 2021 to inspire you to follow the next season of motorsport’s highest series.
1 – Sir Lewis Hamilton
Anyone who has been following sports in the last decade can take pride in the fact that they have watched some of the best athletes in history.
Names like Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi, LeBron James, Serena Williams, Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Usain Bolt and Michael Phelps easily come to mind.
There’s a current driver in Formula One that is right up with anyone on that list.
England’s Lewis Hamilton celebrated his 7th driver’s world championship in 2020, tying Michael Schumacher’s record. Last season he also passed the German for most wins ever, and now sits on 95 victories.
Off the race track, Hamilton – the only Black driver in F1 history – was one of the most active and vocal athletes to speak against anti-Black racism in 2020, and has finished the year receiving a knighthood in the UK’s New Year’s Honours List.
He seems as hungry as ever and is very much still at the top of his game. However, having celebrated his 36th birthday recently on January 7th and therefore getting closer to his grand finale, fans worldwide can’t take any opportunity to see his masterclass performances for granted.
Watching the Briton continue to extend his legacy as arguably the most skilled and definitely the most successful driver in history is a strong enough reason to tune into F1 races in 2021.
2 – Fernando Alonso is back!
But don’t worry, we’ll give you some more. How about the return of one of the most highly rated and controversial drivers ever? Two-time world champion Fernando Alonso is back after temporarily retiring from F1 in 2018.
The Spaniard took Formula One by storm with back-to-back titles with Renault in 2005 and 2006, ending Schumacher’s streak of five championships in a row to become the youngest ever Formula 1 World Champion at the age of 24 – a record beaten by a 23-year-old Sebastian Vettel in 2010.
Despite enduring two disappointing stints with McLaren and one with Ferrari and never clinching a third driver’s championship, his driving skills were never in question.
Alonso is great for entertaining values as well, providing provoking headlines almost daily with his brutally-honest, me-against-the-world attitude that more often than not saw him create animosities.
Aged 39 and coming off two seasons out of Formula One, it’s unlikely he will finally conquer his third glory more than 15 years after his first one.
However, judging by Renault’s three podiums last season, it’s not a longshot to say he can get at least one of his own in 2021 for Alpine (the same team, rebranded).
That alone would be something to see, and a first win since a home victory in 2013 would be a season highlight.
3 – Lots of young and promising talent
Following drivers who have already made history is great, but so is watching future stars in the making.
With six seasons under his belt, 23-year-old Max Verstappen isn’t exactly a newcomer, but let’s start with him.
The Dutchman already has 10 wins to his name in years in which Red Bull Racing had to settle with the second-best car in the grid – at best.
His consistent display of talent has led many to believe he’ll dominate F1 once Hamilton is ready to call it quits. The only problem for him is the number of young and promising drivers in F1 these days.
Ferrari’s “chosen one”, Charles Leclerc from Monaco has been looking just as good and displays more control of his personality.
That can pay dividends when you’re racing in 300 km/h and every split-second decision can be the difference between winning a race – or the championship – or not.
McLaren’s Lando Norris and Williams’ George Russel, both from England and 21 and 22 years old respectively, are definitely not far behind the aforementioned duo.
The latter got his maiden podium last season, and the former almost won a race in 2020 when replacing a COVID-19 hit Hamilton in December’s Sakhir GP.
The oldest of the bunch at 25 years old, 2020 Italian Grand Prix winner Pierre Gasly has shown a great deal of talent and mental strength.
The Frenchman was able to bounce back from being relegated from Red Bull Racing to its junior team Toro Rosso – since then rebranded to Alpha Tauri – in 2019.
If all of that wasn’t enough, Honda-backed Japanese Yuki Tsunoda and Ferrari-backed 2020 F2 champion Mick Schumacher, son of the legendary Michael, are rookies to keep an eye on in 2021.
4 – Canada is everywhere
In 2021, Canadian drivers Lance Stroll and Nicholas Latifi will race in their fifth and second seasons, respectively. That’s 10% of the current grid. The percentage also works for the teams, as Aston Martin Cognizant Formula One™ Team is Canadian-owned.
It doesn’t stop there. The Canadian Grand Prix is scheduled to come back on June 24, after pandemic concerns cancelled its 2020 edition. The race has been on the championship annually since 1967, with only three other exceptions other than last year (1975, 1987 and 2009).
With Canada at the forefront of Formula One, this should be an exciting time for local fans.
5 – Last driver’s transfer market was insane
Only three out of the 10 F1 teams kept their 2020 driver duo for next season, and there is much to talk about here.
Four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel was on top of the world when he left Red Bull for Ferrari back in 2014.
Even though he now ranks third for most wins with the most iconic team in Formula One, the German considered their time together as a failure due to the lack of a championship.
Now moving to Aston Martin, a new team/rebranding of Racing Point, and driving a Mercedes-powered car for the first time in his career, Vettel has the fresh start he seemed to be in need of for a while.
Mexican Sergio Pérez, who became a race winner last season after years of consistently putting up solid performances in the middle of the grid, is joining Red Bull and will get his second chance with a big team.
Back in 2013, his 23-year-old version didn’t impress a declining McLaren team, who trusted the former Ferrari academy driver with the difficult task of replacing Mercedes-bound Hamilton.
Eight years later, the challenge is still big: sharing the Red Bull garage with Verstappen, who recently said one of his missions for the season is to “destroy” his new teammate.
The reward is also huge: potentially improving on his 10 podiums and one win so far in F1.
The exciting storylines don’t stop there. Red Bull academy products Daniel Ricciardo and Carlos Sainz Jr. are also on the move, joining McLaren and Ferrari, respectively.
Can the Australian, frequently referred to as one of the best drivers on the grid, lead McLaren back to the top?
What about the Spaniard? Will he make a big enough stand at Ferrari so that he doesn’t end up as only the “second driver”?
More reasons you should tune into the 2021 F1 season.
6 – There’s a huge shift aligned for 2022, so get on the bandwagon a year before!
The biggest criticism F1 receives is the lack of realistic opportunities most teams have to win races or even make it to the podium. Even though 13 out of the 20 drivers had at least one top-three finish in 2020, one can’t say that argument is not fair.
They have a plan to deal with it though, and even if it was delayed one year due to COVID-19 severely impacting teams’ financial resources, it’s going to happen in 2022.
Leaving the technical details out, here’s what you need to know: creating a Formula One car will become cheaper. This means that smaller teams will likely have better machinery to compete and challenge their bigger counterparts.
A budget cap will be introduced to help with that. So will a token system that will see the slowest cars being more tweaked and improved by the team’s engineers and mechanics than the ones who are performing better.
With the current level of talent splattered across the grid, it is likely fans will get to see different teams with a chance to win races and even the championship, unlike the hybrid era that saw Mercedes claim all the drivers’ and constructors’ trophies in the last seven years.
The cars will change a lot too, and all the teams will be starting from scratch.
That means the power ranking can change instantly, and every driver mentioned in this article could get the chance to win the championship as soon as next year.
When all of that happens, chances are F1 will be talked about more and more every year that goes by, and you don’t want to be late for that, do you?
If after all these reasons watching the 2021 Formula One season sounds like a great idea to you, the Bahrain Grand Prix set for the March 28st weekend is the season opener. Enjoy!