Formula One grid in 2021: What we know so far

By AFP

With Carlos Sainz (picture) moving to Ferrari and Daniel Ricciardo heading for McLaren, AFP looks at how the grid in the 2021 Formula One world championship is shaping up.

Mercedes

— Six-time world champion Lewis Hamilton is under contract until the end of 2020 and has made no secret of his intention to stay with the sport’s top team as he targets Michael Schumacher’s record of seven titles. His teammate Valtteri Bottas is also signed up until the end of this year. However, the 30-year-old Finn is believed to be under pressure from highly-rated Williams driver George Russell, a product of the Mercedes young drivers scheme. Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff has said he wants to keep Hamilton and Bottas together. But he also admitted that he cannot “ignore” the fact that four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel has already announced he is leaving Ferrari at the end of this season.

Long-term deal: Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc (Pic: AFP)

Ferrari

— Monaco’s Charles Leclerc, just 22, has a deal with the Italian giants until 2024 and with Vettel on his way out, will expect to see the team built around him. In 2021, his new teammate will be Spain’s Carlos Sainz, three years his senior, who will leave McLaren.

Red Bull (Honda engine)

— Max Verstappen, 22, is on the books until 2023. Teammate Alexander Albon has a contract until the end of this season having been promoted from the Red Bull sister team. He needs to keep making an impression, especially with Vettel, a former Red Bull star, a free agent

Sensational comeback? Fernando Alonso (Pic: AFP)

Renault

— French driver Esteban Ocon has a deal until the end of 2021 with an option for 2022. But who will be the 22-year-old’s teammate after the departure of Ricciardo to McLaren? There is widespread speculation that 38-year-old Fernando Alonso, who won his two world titles with Renault in 2005 and 2006, could be poised for a sensational return to F1 having retired in 2018.

McLaren (Mercedes engine from 2021)

— 30-year-old Ricciardo has penned a “multi-year” deal with McLaren from 2021 where he will race alongside Britain’s Lando Norris, 10 years the Australian’s junior.

Racing Point (Mercedes engine; will become Aston Martin 2021)

— Mexican Sergio Perez is under contract until the end of 2022. Canadian teammate Lance Stroll should be hopeful of a longer deal as his father is one of the owners of the team as well as Aston Martin.

AlphaTauri (Honda engine; formerly Toro Rosso)

— Russian driver Daniil Kvyat’s deal expires at the end of 2020 as does the contract of teammate Pierre Gasly of France. Gasly was unceremoniously relegated by Red Bull to its sister team in 2019.

Man for Mercedes? Williams’ driver George Russell (Pic: AFP)

Alfa Romeo (Ferrari engine)

— Former world champion Kimi Raikkonen, 40, and Italian teammate Antonio Giovinazzi both have confirmed drives until the end of 2020.

Haas (Ferrari engine)

— Denmark’s Kevin Magnussen and Frenchman Romain Grosjean have deals until the end of this year. However, their futures are on the line following a string of disappointing results and clashes between the two on the track.

Williams (Mercedes engine)

— Russell’s deal runs to the end of 2021 but he has been heavily linked with a move to Mercedes. His teammate for 2020 is Canada’s Nicholas Latifi, who will be the only rookie on the grid when the season finally begins.

Free agents

— Apart from Vettel and Alonso, Germany’s Nico Hulkenberg is keen to return after a year’s absence. Hulkenberg has driven for Williams, Force India, Sauber and Renault but has never climbed on the podium. He said he “would not decline a good offer”.