My 2021 F1 Predictions: The Drivers Championship (10th to 1st)
If you missed part one, where I went through my predictions for the 2021 Drivers Championship from 20th to 10th place, check it out here.
10. Carlos Sainz Jr. – (Ferrari)
The 26-year old Ferrari driver is starting his sixth season in F1 this year. Last season in his McLaren, Sainz finished two places higher than Leclerc. Moving to a worse car may seem like a strange move, but I’m sure he’s hoping for an improved Ferrari car in 2022. That year brings major rule changes that will undoubtedly shake up the grid. Ferrari, with its deep pockets and loyal sponsors, has no excuses if they fail to produce a competitive car again.
9. Lando Norris – (McLaren)
Norris placed ninth in the Drivers Championship last year, three placed behind his former teammate Sainz. Having an experienced driver like Ricciardo as his teammate this season will serve as a good benchmark for Norris’s skill on track.
8. Charles Leclerc – (Ferrari)
The Monegasque driver is an extremely skilled driver and one who’s used to outperforming his car. I think his 2021 season will be spent trying to make the best out of a midfield-ranking car. I believe he’ll outscore Sainz due to his abilities and added experience with the car and team.
7. Fernando Alonso – (Alpine)
Here’s a fact: If Alonso had scored just eleven more points in his career, he’d be a five-time world champion instead of a two-time champion. While Alonso has had two seasons out of F1, he’s still been racing. He’s raced in the 24 Hours of Daytona, the Indianapolis 500, and the Dakar Rally since. He’s also regarded as one of the best F1 drivers of all time. I recently watched the 2014 Hungarian Grand Prix, where Alonso came in second place despite being on thirty-one lap old soft tyres. It made me realize that if anyone can make a successful comeback to the sport, it’s Alonso.
6. Sebastian Vettel – (Aston Martin)
One bad season doesn’t make you a bad driver, and I think this rings true for Vettel. Vettel has won the championship four times, and just two seasons ago, he was fighting Hamilton for a fifth title. While Vettel was outscored by former-teammate Leclerc last year, he seems reinvigorated to begin racing at the new Aston Martin team.
5. Daniel Ricciardo – (McLaren)
Whether you call him “The Honey Badger”, “Danny Ric”, or “Dan Dare”, the Australian is both a fan-favourite and an accomplished driver. McLaren placed third in the Constructors Championship last season, and with the addition of a Mercedes engine, I can only see the team improving. Ricciardo now has the opportunity to consistently fight for podiums. This will probably be his last chance in a top-performing car, and so his prospects of winning a championship will never be better.
4. Sergio Perez – (Red Bull Racing)
Wow, only two and a half months ago, he didn’t have a drive for this season. Now he’s a driver for the second-best team. Perez will be a good asset to the Red Bull team, helping Verstappen at the front of the pack, something he hasn’t had for quite some time. This will aid Red Bull’s racing strategies and their fight against Mercedes.
3. Valtteri Bottas – (Mercedes)
Bottas placed second in the Drivers Championship last year, however, his lead on Verstappen has been slowly shrinking for years. Last season, the difference between them was a mere nine points. He was also one-hundred and twenty-four points behind his teammate, Lewis Hamilton. Not a great season for the Finnish driver. If he doesn’t have a better season next year, he might not be driving with the team in 2022. His fate hangs onto whether Hamilton stays with the team, and if he wants Bottas as his teammate. Bottas is a good wingman for Hamilton, so I reckon it’s likely that if Hamilton stays, Bottas does too.
2. Max Verstappen – (Red Bull Racing)
It’s been a strong season for Verstappen, closing the gap to the Mercedes cars. The 2020 season ended on a high note for Verstappen, by winning the last race of the season in Abu Dhabi. However, fans shouldn’t get too excited, as Red Bull has had several end of season successes, only to be beaten by Mercedes the next year. In fact, Verstappen has won one of the last three races of the season for the past four years in a row. I believe that in 2021, he’ll start to battle Hamilton in races, a welcome sight for fans of the sport.
Now. Onto first place.
Who am I kidding? You know who it is. It’s…..
1. Lewis Hamilton – (Mercedes)
The British driver has been in a league of own for the last seven years. While it’s great to see him succeed, I hope 2021 will be a less dominant season. For both Mercedes and Hamilton. I do think he’ll seize that eighth world title, beating Schumacher’s record of seven. The real question is; will it be his last year in the sport? I hope not. I’d like to see him partnered with Russell, a rising talent in the sport. As a fan, it would be interesting to see their talent compared in a competitive car.
Originally published on: March 6 2021
Cover Image Credit: Peter Fox/Getty Images