With the 2021 season starting tomorrow, F1 fans around the globe will making their predictions about who will come out on top and who is gonna flop. This season could be a spicy one and we could actually see a proper title fight between two teams, with the midfield battle looking even closer than last year. With that in mind, here are three predictions from me that you could say are quite bold:
Sergio Perez will be world champion
Yes, I know I have
gone very bold for my first prediction but hear me out; this could turn out to
be a crazy true prediction. It would be wise of you to think that Lewis
Hamilton will once again walk away with his 8th title and the season
will be wrapped up by something like the 18th race at Austin.
However, Mercedes and particularly Hamilton had a difficult test in pre-season
testing, with Hamilton making some uncharacteristic mistakes. The slight change
in regulations for this year means that a section of the floor has been taken
away, which was used by teams to generate a lot of downforce. This one change
will mean that the cars will have 10% less downforce compared to last year’s
editions, and seemingly this is affecting cars that run a ‘low-rake’ more. What
this means, is that the floor of the car is more horizontal and parallel to the
ground; compared to ‘high-rake’ cars where the floor is at more of an angle,
angling away from the ground at the back of the car. Take a look at side
profiles of the Mercedes and AlphaTauri cars to see a real difference in the
angle of the floors.
Mercedes have notoriously run low-rake cars and this has been the key to their success in the past. Now, with some elements of the floor taken away, it seems like Mercedes could finally be vulnerable this year. The team that will challenge them is of course Red Bull, who looked seriously strong in testing. They had one of the best testing weekends and their car looks blisteringly fast, with Verstappen setting the overall fastest time. Yes, okay, I know you can’t read too much into testing times, but the car did still look reliable and fast.
Now I know what you’re thinking: “Harry you’re crazy. Are you seriously suggesting that Perez will be faster than Verstappen this year?” And my answer is no, Perez will not be faster than Verstappen, but I do believe that on most weekends he will be just as quick as Verstappen and his excellent tyre management will lead him to some important wins. Verstappen is known for his aggressive driving and this led to a few retirements in 2020, for example when he crashed out on the first lap in Sakhir. I believe also that this style of driving led to more retirements, with Verstappen potentially damaging his engine power more with his style of racing. Throughout the 2020 season, Verstappen had 5 DNFs which was almost 30% of all races last year; this is compared to Perez who only had 2 DNFs last year, in a Racing Point that wasn’t particularly reliable.
I think in 2021, Verstappen will have more DNFs than his teammate and that will massively hamper his championship chances; he could have easily got 2nd in 2020 if he hadn’t suffered his 5 DNFs. Perez on the other hand will have a consistent season, constantly getting podiums with his smoother style of driving and gaining key important wins when the opportunities arise. I think it will be a close season, but Perez will be the victor over Hamilton, with Verstappen close behind in third. As for Bottas, who knows; maybe Bottas 4.0 will finally challenge at the top (this will almost definitely not happen).
AlphaTauri will be the 4th best team on the grid
This prediction is a little less gutsy than Sergio Perez champion and one that is much more likely to come true. AlphaTauri have a seriously strong driver line this year, including the electrifying rookie Yuki Tsunoda and one of last season’s stand out drivers- Pierre Gasly. Much like their sister team Red Bull, AlphaTauri’s car design is high-rake and this year they’re using Red Bull’s chassis from 2020, (something you are permitted to change if it’s an upgrade, idk why) which was known to be pretty fast in the corners. Honda as well have seemingly gone ‘f**k it’ and brought a huge upgrade forward to their engine for their last season in Formula 1.
This car looked seriously quick in testing and this engine upgrade from Honda will provide the real difference. McLaren look strong and will clinch 3rd place, but I think AlphaTauri will be locked in a battle for 4th with a much-improved Ferrari and Alpha will come out on top. This could come down to better performances from AlphaTauri or reliability/strategic issues from Ferrari, but one way or another AlphaTauri will succeed and gain that coveted 4th place. That will be an impressive performance from a sister team with a much smaller budget than many of the other teams around them. Also, it’s a worthy reward for those white rim tyres; they are absolutely stunning *chef’s kiss*.
Aston Martin will have a poor season and finish 7th
The hype train surrounding Aston Martin has been absolutely huge ever since they announced they were returning to F1. And it’s understandable to see why; Aston Martin are a prestigious name in racing and it’s good to see another strong British brand back in F1. However, they had a disastrous pre-season test where they only completed 314 laps, which was the second lowest and the car suffered from a range of reliability issues. Poor Vettel moved to get away from the struggles at Ferrari and had by far the worst pre-season test, purely because he wasn’t able to get much running in the car.
This was surprising.
This year’s car was effectively an evolution of last season’s and the RP20 was
effectively the ‘Pink Mercedes’. However, Aston Martin have seemingly been able
to change other parts of their car this year as a part of ‘their upgrades’, and
as their car was ‘almost’ a carbon copy of the 2019 Mercedes, they also run a
low-rake car. It’s crazy how one small rule change can seemingly make such a
huge difference in the performance of certain cars, but I suppose that’s just
how the sport works.
With so many strong midfield teams, you just cannot afford to lose any time and even a few tenths can make a difference. I’m not saying Aston Martin will be slow, and I think they will have some good races, but they will be the slowest of the midfield teams and be a bit of a disappointment to the many excited Aston Martin fans around the globe.
All these predictions could be absolutely rubbish, and at the end of the race on Sunday we could be back to the classic HAM BOT VER. Something inside me thinks this season will be a little different though; I have a lot of faith.