The Formula One season returns this weekend with the curtain raiser that is the Bahrain Grand Prix. The glitz and the glamour of the rolling roadshow returns to our screens, along with the new Drive to Survive series on Netflix, so what do we have to look forward to across the 23 races that make up the longest ever 2021 season?
We’ve put together the top four things to look forward to this season.
The new budget cap could bring a bit more competitiveness and equality to the sport this season. It is no coincidence that the two biggest spenders, Mercedes and Red Bull won every title in the last decade, so in an attempt to level the playing field a spending cap of around £114m per year, excluding driver salaries, has been brought in.
We are unlikely to suddenly see Williams leading from the front this season, but this is a big step towards making the line-up more competitive and less of a two-horse race. Other factors, such as less wind tunnel time for those that finished higher in the championship standings could also play a factor in a more competitive field across the next five years.
Sir Lewis Hamilton Targets Eighth Title
One of the finest British sportspeople of all time, Sir Lewis Hamilton will aim to win his fifth consecutive Formula One Driver’s Championship in 2021 and eighth title in total which would take him past Michael Schumacher’s seven. The German’s record seemed insurmountable yet now we are on the brink of history with our very own British driver.
But this could also be a farewell one way or another for Hamilton as the 36-year-old enters the final year of his current contract. His success at the top has been remarkable and could see him finish his career as the most successful F1 driver of all time, so let’s savour every moment before the great champion hangs up his racing gloves.
Biggest Ever Schedule
Who is up for the longest-ever Formula One season? With 23 weekends of racing ahead of us, stretching from late March until December, we are certainly not going to be short of amazing action this season. The season starts in Bahrain, Monaco’s famous street circuit is scheduled for May 23 while the British Grand Prix at Silverstone will take play on July 23, before the season concludes in Abu Dhabi on December 12.
An absolute marathon of a season will give us our winner before Christmas, but from next season we can expect a 24-race calendar, with a whole host of countries and circuits expressing an interest in hosting Formula One. The drivers will be tested like never before.
New Drivers and Familiar Faces
The start of a new Formula One season always brings new exciting drivers to our attention, in fact, only Mercedes have retained the same two drivers as 2020. Former world champion Sebastien Vettel will hope to reignite his career at Aston Martin alongside Lance Stroll while another world champion returns in Fernando Alonso, who joins Alpine after a few years of endurance racing.
British rising star Lando Norris and Daniel Ricciardo make up an exciting McLaren line-up which will surely catch the eye on the grid following the Australian’s move from Renault. Meanwhile, Ferrari will fancy their chances with Carlos Sainz joining Charles Leclerc, but the biggest named newcomer is Mick Schumacher at Haas, son of the great Michael - who will be looking to write his own page of history in the sport.
Amidst all the excitement of the beginning of another season, we must not forget those who won’t be here see it. In particular, the loss of commentating legend Murray Walker OBE, who we sadly lost earlier this month at the age of 97. His commentary lit up the sport for decades and his words provided the backdrop for some of the all-time greats.
Damon Hill’s world title, Ayrton Senna’s rivalry with Alain Prost and Michael Schumacher’s domination were all beautifully illustrated by a man who will be sorely missed.