The Formula One calendar kicks off this Sunday in Bahrain and is set to be one of the most exciting seasons in recent history. With Fernando Alonso returning, we have every World Champion since 2005 on the grid barring one-off winners Button and Rosberg. There are plenty of intricate sub-plots as well that make this season fascinating including how drivers such as Ricciardo, Sainz, Perez and Vettel will fare in their new colours and whether Max Verstappen can finally make a surmountable challenge to Lewis Hamilton’s throne.
We are going to keep you updated with all the in-depth analysis of the season here on Man’s Life and today our sports writers predict what they think might happen on the grid in 2021.
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With how many races to go will Hamilton win the championship?
Shivaan: Lewis normally likes to finish it in either Mexico or the USA. This year is going to be the longest calendar ever with 23 races but I would probably think he will have it wrapped up by race 20 in Brazil.
Suhail: Max will threaten but Mercedes consistency will take them to the title at the penultimate race weekend.
Shashank: It will be a tougher gig this time around for Lewis with a faster Red Bull car but I think he will get the job done with 2-3 races to go.
Will Red Bull seriously challenge Mercedes this year?
Shivaan: Based on winter testing I believe that Red Bull will put up a better fight this year and be the biggest threat to Mercedes since Ferrari in 2017. In Perez, Red Bull also have a 2nd driver who can match Max at the front of the grid which will definitely help strategy-wise.
Suhail: Yes. A few early wins + Perez who could help split Mercs and with race strategy actually being executed the way Christian Horner would want it.
Shashank: Yes. With Perez joining the team in place of Albon, Red Bull could gather some more points in races.
Which constructor will finish third?
Shivaan: My money is on McLaren. They finished third last season and since then have replaced their Renault engine with a Mercedes one and have also got in one of the Top 5 drivers on the grid in my opinion which makes them my favourites ahead of Ferrari and Aston Martin.
Suhail: McLaren / Alpine.
Shashank: Aston Martin – Finishing fourth as Racing Point last season, they could go one better this year with the help of a four-time world champion in the form of Sebastian Vettel.
Which former champion will have a better comeback year Vettel or Alonso?
Shivaan: This is an easy one for me, Vettel. I firmly believe Vettel’s poor form last year did not reflect reality and the entire season felt like a prolonged awkward divorce for him. Vettel will be in a faster car than Alonso this season and will definitely be back amongst the podiums while Alonso might struggle after two years out of the sport.
Suhail: Alonso will drive the pants off the Alpine but hopefully he’ll have the reliability too. Alonso to be more impressive but Vettel to potentially score more points.
Shashank: The Racing Point car was rapid last season and if the things were to continue with Aston Martin, we could be seeing vintage Vettel this season.
Which of Sainz, Perez or Ricciardo will have the best season with their new team?
Shivaan: There is no doubt that Perez will be the best partner to Max since Ricciardo but I expect Max to deal with him comfortably and the same goes for Charles and Sainz. Conversely, I think Daniel will get the wood over Lando as he settles into McLaren and will show everyone why he deserves to be in a race-winning car.
Suhail: Perez on points – Ricciardo on overall impressions by the end of the season. Expect podiums from him and McLaren.
Shashank: Perez was the fastest of the three drivers last season with Racing Point. This season, he would be behind the wheels of a Red Bull which could really make the difference to take him past Sainz and Ricciardo.
Rookie of the year?
Shivaan: Schumacher and Mazepin are going to be fighting it out for 19th this season so it’s safe to say this one will go to Alpha Tauri’s new driver Yuki Tsunoda.
Suhail: Yuki Tsunoda – he’s got that X-Factor and the Alpha Tauri looks really impressive in pre-season Testing.
Shashank: Yuki Tsunoda – It took this man 4 seasons to get promoted from F4 to F1. In his final year in F2, he had seven podium finishes.
Surprise of the season?
Shivaan: Lance Stroll to keep on improving this year, fancy him to be in amongst the pack especially in qualifying and he could even pull of a surprise pole or two.
Suhail: Nikita Mazepin might be the surprise package by going toe to toe with Mick Schumacher. Expect a couple of really ballsy drives from Mazepin who’s got raw pace and is quite fearless but can be reckless too from what we’ve seen in Formula 2.
Shashank: Mick Schumacher – He could be the driver that could revive the Haas F1 team.
Will Lewis Hamilton retire at the end of the season?
Shivaan: I have a hunch that this is his last year in Formula One. It just seems fishy that the contract extension took so long and it was only a 1-year deal. Lewis has so many interests outside the sport and can peacefully retire as an 8-time world champion at the end of the season and firmly stake his claim as the greatest to ever do it.
Suhail: It’s quite literally a Million Dollar (more than a few million) question. If he wins the title, possibly – if not he might push for another season but Mercedes now have options with George Russell and also Max Verstappen’s contract coming to an end soon at Red Bull Racing.
Shashank: If he wins the championship then yes, this could be his final year in the sport.
[Image Credit: Formula 1]