2021 Formula One Team List: Who Gets Left On The Sideline?
Every year during the F1 season when the championships seem about wrapped up (let’s face it, nobody’s catching Lewis and Mercedes), attention turns to next year and, in particular, who is driving for whom on the Formula One team list. Let’s break down what we know about F1 2021 teams and drivers so far, starting with the straightforward teams:
Bottas has a confirmed contract for 2021 with the Silver Arrows. Hamilton, however, hasn’t signed just yet (though is apparently in negotiation). He had a look at Ferrari (everyone always looks at Ferrari) but he’d be a fool to not re-sign being so close to breaking Schumacher’s record 7 titles. By the time you read this, he may have signed, confirming the Mercedes lineup on the Formula One team list.
Charles LeClerc remains with Ferrari, joined by Carlos Sainz, who undoubtedly has already looked for an escape clause in his new contract.
Lando Norris continues with the Woking-based team and is joined by Daniel Ricciardo, having decided at precisely the wrong time to leave Renault. Renault has just gotten its feet under itself with the car and is performing well. While McLaren is ahead of Renault in the Constructor’s title in 2020 among the Formula One team list, McLaren will switch to Mercedes power in 2021. There is no guarantee they continue on their current form with the switch to a different power train.
George Russell and Nicholas Latifi remain with Williams for the 2021 Formula One team list. I think it’s a shame that Russell couldn’t find a spot further up the grid. Hopefully though, with new team owners and additional financial backing, Williams can find some pace and regularly threaten for championship points.
Things get exciting as we turn to Renault, as Fernando Alonso makes his return to the Formula One team list. He will join the team where he won his two championships. He’ll partner with Esteban Ocon, who will continue with the Enstone-based team. With his last full season in F1 being 2018, will he be rusty? I doubt it. Ocon will have his hands full trying to keep up with the double world champion, and it seems Alonso is finally stepping into a team at the right time given Renault’s current performance.
Equally interesting is four-time champion Sebastian Vettel moving to the Silverstone-based team, which will be branded Aston Martin from 2021. He will be paired with Lance Stroll. Will being on a new team relight the fire in Seb? I surely hope so. He looks hopelessly deflated at the Scuderia. Stroll is also maturing into a good driver. His qualifying needs improvement, however his race pace is quite good and improved.
From here we start getting into some more thought-provoking situations when it comes to F1 2021 teams and drivers.
Both Kimi Räikkönen and Antonio Giovinazzi will remain with Alfa for the 2021 Formula One team list. Things were touch and go for Giovinazzi and he fully admitted that his seat was not up to him, given that Ferrari is rumored to have control over one of the Ferrari-aligned team’s seat choices. F2 rising star Mick Schumacher is angling for an entry into F1 and the Scuderia was rumored to be eyeing Antonio’s seat as his entry point.
We know Max Verstappen is in contract through 2023, so he’s not going anywhere. The question surrounds Alex Albon’s future. Red Bull have voiced support for him, but with frequent on-track scraps with Pierre Gasly (and Gasly with a race win under his belt) Albon is on uncertain ground. Fortunately for Albon, Gasly will remain where he is (see below) but that means there are a couple of very experienced drivers without drives next season who are likely gunning for Albon’s chair - Sergio Perez and Nico Hulkenberg. If I were Albon, I’d be more worried about not being in F1 at all versus getting bumped down to the junior team.
The team formerly known as Toro Rosso on the Formula One team list has some decisions to make. They did just confirm that Gasly will continue for the team into 2021. While I think he is ready to move back up to Red Bull, you cannot argue that Pierre hasn’t been driving the wheels off the AlphaTauri. He’s found consistency and apparently the team environment makes him very comfortable. So why spoil it now?
Daniil Kvyat, however, is another matter. Being only a few points ahead of Nico Hulkenberg — who has only three races this season due to standing in for stricken drivers — is not a good look. Who from the Red Bull junior program they would give the seat to, however, is a bit of a question mark. Japanese F2 driver Yuki Tsunoda is being lined up as a possible replacement.
Which finally brings us to…
The team has decided to part ways with both Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen. This was the right thing to do as both drivers have had issues over the past few seasons. That’s not to say that the car has been without fault, however. So, who do they turn to for driving duties? It is heavily rumored that Mick Schumacher will make his F1 debut with Haas, moving up from Formula 2. Of course, Sergio Perez and Nico Hulkenberg who are proven drivers and without a seat for 2021 are options, but the front runner is Nikita Mazepin as he brings significant financial backing which the team needs desperately to get out of their development funk.
So, there you have it as things stand at the moment. Who will pair with Verstappen? Will we see the name Schumacher grace Formula 1 once again? I’m sure we will know very soon.
About the Author:
Jared Nichols has been a Formula 1 fan for a decade and a car nut his entire life. He is the host of the F1 Explained (https://f1explained.com) podcast where he and special guests make Formula 1 accessible to all. Subscribe wherever you listen to podcasts.