The end of March marked the start of the Formula 1 2021 season and it was a fantastic race weekend with crashes, drama and of course, some fantastic racing for fans.
In recent years Netflix has produced a series called Drive to Survive which takes a look behind the scenes during an F1 season. While that series is great and comes highly recommended, it pales in comparison to the live races.
However, F1 might not be as attractive to folks given the sport’s move into a hybrid era. This term is used to describe the engines used in the cars. These days F1 engines are hybrid V6 engines and don’t quite hit the same notes that the V8 engines did, but there are still many reasons why you should consider sitting down once every so often to watch an F1 race.
Aero changes mean closer races
The reason the Bahrain Grand Prix was such a thriller was because for the first time in what seems like years, the Silver Arrows weren’t up front increasing a sizeable gap between them and the best of the rest.
No, Dutch national Max Verstappen made seven time world champion Sir Lewis Hamilton work for his first victory in 2021 and we don’t think it will be the last time.
This year several new rules are in place that affect the aerodynamics of a car. The floor boards, for instance, must be solid and can’t contain slots to increase downforce. Rear brake duct winglets have been shortened and diffuser fences have been cut down. All of these rules have the effect of lessening the amount of downforce acting on a vehicle which sounds bad but it’s actually a good thing.
Combined with changes to the front wing which were implemented in 2020, chasing a car is now a far easier thing to do and can in fact give the chasing car a bit of an edge. As we saw in Bahrain, this means the pack is closer together for more of the race leading to a far more exciting event.
There has always been a line separating teams and that line is green and littered with dollar signs. Teams like Mercedes-AMG Petronas and Scuderia Ferrari have enjoyed a long stint at the top of the charts (maybe not Ferrari so much) and as such have enjoyed sizeable winnings which have been turned into fodder for research and development.
That has changed with the introduction of a cost cap set at $145 million.
This means that a team like Ferrari is only able to spend as much as a team such as Alfa Romeo.
While every team may not spend up to that cap, it stops the bigger teams from gaining an even bigger lead for years on end.
We hope that this leads to more consistent improvements throughout the season and we see more instances of the middle of the pack reaching the podium.
Okay we’ve looked at the technical details – let’s dive into the racing itself.
Formula 2 fans (and you should watch Formula 2 as well) will recognise the introduction of Sprint Races in Formula 1 though the reason for its existence is very different.
On Friday’s drivers will compete in a qualifying session where they will earn their place on the grid for a Sprint race on Saturday. Then on Saturday the race which will be 30 minutes long according to Sky Sports, will decide the grid for Sunday’s Grand Prix. There will be reduced points on offer.
The idea here, according to F1 chief Ross Brawn is to make race weekends a bit more engaging for fans and we have to say, this is a great idea.
F2 and Formula E are incredibly engaging and we hope that this extra race brings that to Formula 1. Sprint races will only feature at three race weekends throughout 2021.
The new and old generation together
There are many F1 champions on the grid in 2021 including Sebastian Vettel, Fernando Alonso and Kimi Raikkonen. While the seeing the likes of Alonso back on track is fantastic, there are a few newbies worth keeping an eye on.
AlphaTauri has brought on Formula 2 heavyweight Yuki Tsunoda. This fiery Japanese driver has spunk, a determination to win and his team radio is fantastic to listen to. Seriously, keep an eye on Tsunoda, if he’s even half as aggressive in F1 as he was in F2, then 2021 is going to be a banger of a season.
Mick Schumacher has been signed to Haas and while we’re not especially pleased with the team’s decisions for drivers this year, we’re keen to see what Schumacher can do.
We could talk about Schumacher’s team mate, but we don’t have anything nice to say about him.
Racing all year
Barring any major cancellations due to the ongoing pandemic this year is set to feature the most races in an F1 season at 23.
This includes races in the Netherlands at Zandvoort (which was cancelled last year) and a street race in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. The decision to host a race in Saudi Arabia received understandable push back from fans but it appears to be going ahead regardless of what fans say.
There is a bit of gap between now and the next Grand Prix – Emilia Romagna Grand Prix at Imola – but from there you’ll find a packed calendar running until the 12th December.
Races we absolutely recommend watching are:
- Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, Imola – 16th to 18th April
- Monaco Grand Prix, Monte Carlo – 20th to 23rd May
- Azerbaijan Grand Prix, Baku City Circuit – 4th to 6th June
- Canadian Grand Prix, Circuit Gilles Villeneuve – 11th to 13th June
- British Grand Prix, Silverstone – 16th to 18th July
- Belgian Grand Prix, Spa-Francorchamps – 27 to 29th August
- Singapore Grand Prix, Marina Bay Street Circuit – 1st to 3rd October
If you’re wondering how to watch, F1 TV Pro is available in South Africa for $5.99 per month. That membership fee will grant you access to practice sessions, qualifying, and an archive of content which includes documentaries, interviews and of course old races.
The Formula 1 2021 season has kicked off with a bang and if that’s the tone being set for the year, it’s going to be a cracker of a season.