The F1 drivers’ market in 2021 is finalised. With Sergio Perez joining Red Bull and Yuki Tusnoda announced to partner Pierre Gasly at AlphaTauri, the only remaining space was the second Mercedes seat, but Lewis Hamilton's new contract has been confirmed.
Updated: F1 2021 drivers and teams
This year’s silly seasons seemed to go on for longer than normal. It started earlier than ever when Sebastien Vettel semi-shocked the world by announcing his departure from Ferrari before a wheel had even been turned. That lead to a quick seat shuffle for Carlos Sainz Jr. and Daniel Ricciardo, but a complete, confirmed grid took a while to materialise .
Here is how the teams line up for 2021.
2021 F1 drivers and teams
7. Kimi Räikkönen
99. Antonion Giovinazzi
10. Pierre Gasly
22. Yuki Tsunoda
31. Esteban Ocon
14. Fernando Alonso
5. Sebastien Vettel
18. Lance Stroll
16. Charles Leclerc
55. Carlos Sainz Jr.
9. Nikita Mazepin
47. Mick Schumacher
3. Daniel Ricciardo
4. Lando Norris
77. Valtteri Bottas
44. Lewis Hamilton
Red Bull Racing-Honda
33. Max Verstappen
11. Sergio Perez
6. Nicholas Latifi
63. George Russell
Update: Lewis Hamilton signs one-year Mercedes deal
Updated 12:30 Monday 8th February 2021. The Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 team has confirmed that Lewis Hamilton has been officially signed for the 2021 Formula 1 season. This follows weeks of delays and speculation over the seven-time champion’s trajectory this year.
Lewis first joined the team in 2013 and has since taken six F1 titles at the wheel of a Silver Arrow, with his first coming while he was at McLaren in 2008. Hamilton will now be gunning for his eighth world championship which, if he wins, will make him the most successful F1 driver in history in terms of titles. He is at present tied with Michael Schumacher’s seven title triumphs.
“We’re very happy to keep the most successful F1 driver of the current era in the most successful F1 team of the current era,” commented Markus Schäfer, Member of the Board of Management of Daimler AG.
“Lewis is not only an incredibly talented driver; he also works very hard for his achievements and is extremely hungry. He shares his passion for performance with the entire team which is why this collaboration has become so successful.”
Along with his signing, Mercedes and Hamilton have also announced a new joint charitable foundation committed to promoting greater diversity in motorsport.
“As a company, we share this sense of responsibility and are proud to launch a new, joint foundation to improve diversity in Formula 1. Opening the series to under-represented groups will be important for the sport’s development in the future and we’re determined to make an impact.”
Update: Red Bull signs Sergio Perez
Updated 14:30 Friday 18th December 2020. Red Bull Racing today announced that Mexican Sergio Perez will replace Alex Albon as Max Verstappen's team-mate for 2021. The announcement signals an incredible end to an increidble year for Perez, who was dropped from his drive at Racing Point to make way for the incoming Sebastian Vettel in the middle of the season. Perez followed up the news that he had lost his place with an extraordinary second half of the 2020 season, which included a brilliant podium at Turkey in shocking conditions and then his first ever Formula 1 victory at the bonkers Sakhir Grand Prix – a race in which he had been in last place after the first lap.
Albon will drop down to be the team's reserve driver for 2021, with no places left at junior team AlphaTauri following the team's signing of Honda protégé Yuki Tsunoda. It ends a turbulant two years in F1 for Albon, who joined the then Torro Rosso team despite having originally signed up to race in Formula E in 2019 with Nissan. He then stepped up to the main Red Bull team after just half a season to replace Pierre Gasly. A tricky season in 2020 has seen Albon clinch his first two F1 podiums, but also struggle to match superstar team-mate Verstappen, which Gasly, the driver he replaces, took an incredible first F1 victory at the Italian Grand Prix.
The news leaves just a single place left on the 2021 grid, although with the announcement that Toto Wolff will remain at Mercedes for three more years, an announcement on Lewis Hamilton returning to the team with which he has won six F1 titles seems like a meer formality.
Alfa Romeo – Kimi Räikkönen, Antonio Giovinazzi
The team which is Sauber underneath the major Alfa Romeo sponsorship will stick with the same driver line-up for the third year in a row. Kimi Räikkönen might be into his 40s now, but it would seem his will to race in F1 is still as bright as ever, as demonstrated by his battling performances toward the head of the field at times in 2020 when a tyre advantage has assisted the Finn. Antonio Giovinazzi was perhaps a surprise returnee for 2021, but the Ferrari protégé has matched his more illustrious team-mate’s point score in 2020. Perhaps damned by the incredible performance of his predecessor (one Charles Leclerc) Giovinazzi has been quietly consistent through his two years in F1 so far.
AlphaTauri – Pierre Gasly, Yuki Tsunoda
The first open seat on our list. Frenchman Pierre Gasly is confirmed for the Italian/Austrian team for 2021, after clinching the former Minardi outfit’s second ever win at Monza after issues for Lewis Hamilton and a brilliant drive from Gasly. The second seat at the Red Bull junior team remains unfiled though. Current driver, Russian Daniil Kvyatt, looks unlikely to retain his place in F1 after six years, despite a decent season, highlighted by a fourth-place finish at Imola. Instead it would seem that Honda youngster, and one of the rookie stars of F2 in 2020, Yuki Tsunoda will step up into F1. Tsunoda finished third in Formula 2 in 2020 after an impressive first season which saw him clinch three victories.
Update: 9:10am December 16th – Yuki Tsunoda has been confirmed as joining Pierre Gasly at AlphaTauri for the 2021 season, replacing Daniil Kvyat.
Alpine – Fernando Alonso, Esteban Ocon
Renault becomes Alpine in 2021, as part of a company-wide overhaul of its sporting brief (Alpine switching from standalone sportscar brand to sporty sub-brand to replace Renault Sport), and also loses Australian star Daniel Ricciardo, who brought the Franco-British outfit two podiums in 2020, and Cyril Abiteboul the tricky prospect of a first ever tattoo in return. Team-mate and forgotten Mercedes junior Esteban Ocon remains for a second season, his third full F1 season, and will be joined by a new young star – 39-year-old double-champion Fernando Alonso. Alonso returns to the team with which he won his two titles after a two year break from F1 chasing Le Mans, Dakar and Indy 500 victories. It will be interesting to see how the Spaniard returns to and F1 cockpit after the layoff, will he be raring to return and lead the team or will it be more like Michael Schumacher’s low-key second F1 career?
Aston Martin – Sebastian Vettel, Lance Stroll
Racing Point, which used to be Force India, which used to be Spyker, which used to be Midland, which used to be Jordan, becomes an Aston Martin works team in 2021, marking the company’s return to F1 for the first time in 60 years. This was a banner year for the team based right next to Silverstone, with first Lance Stroll recording the team’s first pole since Giancarlo Fisichela in 2009 and then Sergio Perez taking its first win since Brazil 2003 at the end of a barmy Sakhir Grand Prix. Naturally both shall be retained to drive the Mercedes-clone RP20 for a second season? No. Stroll – a talented driver no doubt but also the son of the team’s owner and Aston Martin shareholder Lawrence – will remain, but Perez finds himself out of a drive just a week after finally taking his first F1 win. Instead in comes four-time champion Sebastian Vettel. On the face of it making a step forward (Ferrari are sixth in the championship as I write this and Racing Point third), Vettel arrives as a refugee from a relationship that went sour and will be looking to reclaim some of his former lustre – the 53-time race winner only stood on the podium once in 2020.
Ferrari – Charles Leclerc, Carlos Sainz
It’s looking like a tricky transition year for Ferrari. With cars carried over to 2021 the lacklustre Ferrari SF1000 shows little sign of moving up the grid. Charles Leclerc stepped up into the role of lead driver with aplomb in 2020, dragging the sluggish Ferrari to the podium twice and only failing to cross the line in the points six times. He will be joined by a bullish Carlos Sainz Jr. fresh from two years as the defacto team leader at McLaren. The affable Spaniard has shone in his time at McLaren, forming a formidable partnership with young Brit Lando Norris and coming close to taking his first victory when he couldn’t quite hunt down Pierre Gasly at Monza. The son of a triple WRC champ, Sainz must be wondering if he has made the right decision as Ferrari languish behind McLaren in 2020, but the lure of Ferrari was just too strong.
Haas – Mick Schumacher, Nikita Mazepin
We won’t go into recent event surrounding one of Haas’s new signings for 2020 for many reasons, but it’s safe to say that all eyes will be on the only American team in F1 in 2021. Long-standing drivers Kevin Magnussen and Romain Grosjean both depart the team – Magnussen to IMSA and Grosjean to an uncertain future. It will be an interesting transition for the team, as Grosjean had been a Haas F1 driver for its entire history, leaving a slightly insecure Renault seat to join in 2016. Magnussen followed in 2017 and they have been together ever since. Jumping into their shoes are new F2 champion Mick Schumacher (son of a certain seven-time champion whose name isn’t Hamilton) and Russian Nikita Mazepin. Again we won’t go into Mazepin’s recent actions off the track, but if he does race for Haas he will be on his best behaviour. Schumacher on the other hand arrives with the weight of his name on his back, but seems to have coped with it well through his career so far, really coming into his own in F2 to fight off the challenge of fellow Ferrari junior Callum Ilott to take the title. It will be interesting to see how he copes in F1, and the atmosphere at Haas has hardly seemed like the calmest to step into over the last few years.
McLaren – Lando Norris, Daniel Ricciardo
While Lando Norris will be sad to see his good friend Carlos Sainz Jr. depart, he will be delighted to see a man who has seemed like his big brother at times join. When not on track Daniel Ricciardo and Norris have gained reputations as light-hearted kids looking to have some fun. Ricciardo famously caused Norris to cry laughing in a press conference last year, so it seems hopeful that the good atmosphere that McLaren boss Andreas Siedl (mastermind of Porsche’s mighty 919 programme) has fostered will remain. Whether McLaren can build on two seasons of progress will be seen, but in signing Ricciardo they have a race-winner in the team with a proven track record at pushing teams up the grid. Ricciardo’s switch to Renault may not have yielded the returns he hoped, but he has no doubt managed to push the team forward up the grid. McLaren will hope he can have the same effect in Woking.
Mercedes – Valtteri Bottas
The situation at Mercedes is technically not secured. Valtteri Bottas has a contract for 2021, but newly-minted record breaker Lewis Hamilton does not. But the word from both camps would seem to be that an agreement between Mercedes and Hamilton is a formality. Indeed why would they not? For Mercedes Hamilton has been the integral driving force behind seven consecutive championship doubles and for Hamilton Mercedes have propelled him into position as, statistically, the greatest F1 driver of all time. Sure recent outings by another young Brit in the Mercedes have thrown a curveball into the mix, but, Instagram bios aside, it would seem that there is no real speculation that George Russell will be racing a Mercedes chassis in 2021.
Red Bull – Max Verstappen, Sergio Perez
Racing. Nine-time race winner Max Verstappen, the defacto and obvious team focus since Daniel Ricciardo left (and some would say long before) is signed on to a contract for 2021, and will be joined by Racing Point refugee Sergio Perez after 2020 team-mate Alex Albon’s was relegated to reserve driver. From nearly clinching his first podium at the very first race (until Lewis Hamilton’s front left wheel came into play) to a mid-season where he has struggled to get close to team-mate Verstappen, via taking that first podium at Mugello, Albon’s first full season at the main Red Bull team was difficult. With Verstappen only off the podium six times in 2020 and Albon only on it twice Red Bull took the decision to pounce on Perez, who had an extraordinary second half of the 2020 season.
Williams – George Russell, Nicholas Latifi
The team propping up the grid for the last two seasons has made strides forward in 2020. George Russell has consistently earned himself the tag of “Mr Saturday” by regularly dragging the FW43 into Q2 and a one-off outing for Mercedes at Sakhir – subbing for the ill Lewis Hamilton – left everyone in no doubt of the 22-year-old’s talent. Russell is very unlikely to step up to a full Mercedes drive in 2021, with 2022 looking increasingly likely, and is contracted to remain at Williams. Alongside him team-mate Nicholas Latifi – runner-up in the F2 championship in 2019 – will remain, on a long-term contract. Latifi has been unable to match his team-mate in 2020, but will be hoping to convert three 11th place finishes into his first points in F1 with a bit more luck in 2021.
Images courtesy of Motorsport Images.
- Formula 1
- F1 2021
- Kimi Raikkonen
- Antonio Giovinazzi
- Mick Schumacher
- Pierre Gasly
- Fernando Alonso
- Esteban Ocon
- Sebastian Vettel
- Lance Stroll
- Charles Leclerc
- Nikita Mazepin
- Lando Norris
- Daniel Ricciardo
- Valtteri Bottas
- Max Verstappen
- George Russell
- Nicholas Latifi
- Alfa Romeo
- Red Bull
- Aston Martin
- Yuki Tsunoda
- Lewis Hamilton
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