Formula 1

2021 Formula 1 Silly Season Synopsis – Update No. 6

The Formula 1 Silly Season became a little clearer over the past couple of weeks, courtesy of Haas F1 team.

The American team confirmed both of their drivers for 2020, with promoting Mick Schumacher and Nikita Mazepin. The move was not a surprise, virtue of boss Guenther Steiner stating they would aim for a more youthful line-up. It also does not seem to be changing much in the landscape, as the others previously discussed are still in play.

Current Formula 1 Grid

  • Mercedes – Valterri Bottas, TBD
  • Ferrari – Charles Leclerc, Carlos Sainz
  • Red Bull – Max Verstappen, TBD
  • McLaren – Daniel Riccardo, Lando Norris
  • Alpine (formally Renault) – Esteban Ocon, Fernando Alonso
  • Aston Martin (formally Racing Point) – Sebastian Vettel
  • Williams – George Russell, Nikolas Latifi
  • Alpha Tauri – Pierre Gasly, TBD
  • Alfa Romeo – Kimi Raikkonen, Antonio Giovinazzi
  • Haas F1 Team – Mick Schumacher, Nikita Mazepin

So what happens from here on with the final three rides?

Lewis Hamilton’s signing with Mercedes is simply a formality in the eyes of most experts, based on the success and the fact he wants to chase after goals within the series for years to come. However, those discussions were put on hold by Toto Wolff due to the COVID-19 diagnosis and focus on the championships.

“The timeline is being pushed back until he recovers,” said Wolff. “We know that we need to get it done – pretty well aware both of us – but the priority now is of him getting back on his feet and being [Covid] negative. Then we will meet or Zoom in order to put pen to paper.”

With the Brit healed and returning to action at Abu Dhabi, could an announcement be right around the corner? You’d think, and that was emphasized with Wolff stating George Russell’s performance last race would not directly affect the future outcome for Hamilton or Bottas.

“No. We know what we have with Lewis and he knows what he has with the team. Such a situation would never be utilized as some kind of bargaining power, neither by him nor by us. Could go both directions,” Wolff said. “I respect very much who he is and how he drives, his records, and whatever happens this weekend or next has no influence on our talks.”

Sergio Perez made a lasting impression with his victory, perhaps making him hungrier himself, and it comes at an opportune time with Red Bull Racing set to make a decision on their future soon.

“[Red Bull] will make the decision at some point after the weekend,” said Perez. “I don’t know when that will decision will be, but there is not a lot of hurry anymore… We waited so long but now, one week or two weeks more to know a decision – it doesn’t change as much. I’m in big peace with myself. I’m not fully in control of my future at the moment, and it’s something that bothers you. Any human being in this position will struggle a bit, but given it’s not in my hands, given the victory came… I feel that I’ve made the most of my opportunities.

“If I have a seat for next year, it’s great. But if not, I’m willing to come back in ’22. I believe that I’m at the peak of my career and the best years are ahead of me, so even missing a year next year, I’m determined enough to come back for ’22. If I have to take a year out, I’ll do it, but I’m more determined than ever to come back.”

Red Bull Racing boss Christian Horner repeated those sentiments in “no decisions will be made until after the final race.” Part of it has to do with their primary focus in having Alex Albon keep the seat – as it has been expressed from day one, with Perez only listed as the back-up plan should they feel necessary.

“Obviously I would have wanted it to go better,” Albon said. “I can definitely see there are areas I could have improved on or where I could have done something differently. It hasn’t been the smoothest year for me, but as a person, I’ve developed a lot. I’ve become a lot stronger as a person. It feels like things are on the up. I just want that momentum to continue. It feels like it’s starting.”

If Albon was to miss out, the opportunity to land with AlphaTauri does not seem fesible per Horner in saying, “I don’t believe he forms part of [AlphaTauri team boss] Franz’s [Tost] plans for next year, so it’s very much a Red Bull seat or a year on the bench.”

AlphaTauri looks to be down to deciding between a pair of drivers for their seat – current competitor Daniil Kvyat and F2 racer Yuki Tsunoda.

“I don’t know why it takes so long for some sort of news to come out,” Kvyat said ahead of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. “We’ve had some preliminary chat, I would say, but I think… soon you will find out anyway, and it’s better this question is addressed to Helmut [Marko].”

Everything seems to point towards the lather, with even Kvyat saying his “chances are slim” in returning previously. However, Tsunoda may not have enough points to earn his license – therefore forcing their hand.

“We have a plan B of course, and there’s absolutely no doubt that in Melbourne [next season], AlphaTauri will have two cars on the starting grid with two very competitive drivers,” Tost said.

If Tsunoda was to land the seat, it does not mean Kvyat is out of the picture entirely, with him willing to accept a reserve role.

“My manager Nicolas Todt, he’s talking a lot about considering many options; we are in touch all the time,” he said. “I am open to many things and of course I would consider this as well. First, I want to finish the season and then I will start taking decisions. In case I wouldn’t have a seat for 2021, I want to do my best to come back to Formula 1 in 2022.”

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