The 2021 Formula One (F1) Championship began on March 28 with the Bahrain Grand Prix, which saw seven-time World Drivers’ Champion and Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton take the checkered flag. With that in mind, here are some storylines and predictions as the season gets underway.
Can anyone stop Hamilton?
The first question that pops into mind is whether anyone will be able to stop Hamilton from winning his eighth championship. He is the most gifted driver in the competition and has the major advantage of driving one of the best, if not the best, car in the competition.
One contender is Max Verstappen of Red Bull Racing. Verstappen narrowly missed winning the Bahrain Grand Prix by 0.7 seconds, despite having the faster car. Mistakes played a role, with Verstappen oversteering on lap 53 of the race, which prevented further challenges against Hamilton. While the expectation exists for Hamilton to become the champion, Verstappen will not make it a cakewalk.
Familiar drivers, new teams
Within the so-called ‘midfield,’ numerous drivers changed teams before the 2021 season. Changes included Daniel Ricciardo, who signed for McLaren; Carlos Sainz, who joined Ferrari; and Sebastian Vettel, who joined Aston Martin. For drivers such as Vettel, a new team presents a chance for him to show why he was once the best F1 driver on the planet.
However, driving with an inferior car for Aston Martin will likely place greater pressure on Vettel to find success. Nevertheless, the middle-of-the-pack for constructors and drivers is shaping up to be an entertaining battle going forward.
Canadians in the competition
There are two Canadians participating this season, with Lance Stroll driving for Aston Martin and Nicholas Latifi driving for Williams Racing. Stroll will be looking to build off of a solid 2020 season, which saw him tie for 10th place, winning one pole position at the Turkish Grand Prix and having two podium finishes at the Italian Grand Prix and Sakhir Grand Prix, while his team finished fourth in the Constructors Championship.
For this season, Stroll believes that he can finish in the top five and that his team can finish in the top three for constructors. Certainly, one can hope that Stroll will string together strong performances and podium finishes this season.
Latifi, on the other hand, is coming off a 21st-placed rookie season while driving with Williams. Latifi said that his goals for this season are to improve his qualifying for races, as he believes it will make his race days much easier. It is probably best to temper expectations for Latifi this season.
With a full season on the menu following a COVID-19-riddled 2020 season, F1 is on track to serve up many more exciting races to come.