If you know nothing about Formula 1, or auto racing, let me break it down for you really quickly, so the rest of this post isn’t a foreign language.
Currently, there are 10 teams (constructors) in Formula 1: Mercedes, Ferrari, Red Bull Racing, McLaren, Renault, Racing Point, AlphaTauri, Alfa Romeo Racing, Haas, and Williams.
Each team has 2 cars, which means there are 20 cars on the starting grid.
During the year, they race at tracks all over the world – Australia, Canada, Monaco, Germany, Singapore, Italy, Japan, Bahrain, Abu Dhabi, and more. This year there were 17 races, last year there were 21, next year there will be 23.
The drivers who finish a race in the top 10, receive points – ranging from 25 to 1 – for themselves, and their team. Eventually, there is a drivers’ champion and a constructors’ champion.
The most important thing you should know, though, is that 7-8 teams start each race knowing their car isn’t good enough to win, barring copious amounts of chaos.
This sport is currently dominated by Mercedes, who have won both the drivers’ championship and the constructors’ championship every year since 2014.
Lewis Hamilton won 6 of those 7 drivers’ championships, including this year.
No one has really given Mercedes a challenge. Ferrari tried and always failed. Red Bull tried, but until this year, they were the younger sibling in that family of three. Now they are the middle child and Ferrari doesn’t even eat dinner at the same table.
So, that’s the basics. I highly recommend the Drive To Survive documentary series on Netflix if you’re dying to know more about Formula 1.
This season started in June because of you know what. As a result, F1 couldn’t go to a lot of countries they had originally planned. There was no Canada, USA, Australia, Japan, Monaco, China, Brazil, Mexico, Netherlands, Singapore, France, Vietnam, or Azerbaijan.
Azerbaijan is always a fun race. There is a castle on the side of the track! Or maybe it’s a palace. Whatever it is, if you combine a sand castle with Medieval Times, that’s the back drop.
The schedule changes allowed F1 to hold two races in Austria and Bahrain, respectively, while returning to Turkey for the first time since 2011, and Portugal for the first time this century.
Oh yeah, they also held three races at three different circuits in Italy. I like to assume that the drivers made friends with Nonnas in the area and were sent home with cheese wheels and fresh prosciutto, but because of “you know what”, that probably didn’t happen.
I implied at the beginning that this sport can be very predictable. However, this season had many moments of chaos mixed with a dash of, “Huh, well that’s new!”.
For instance, Ferrari was bad. As in, they were not good.
When Ferrari isn’t on top of the sport, they are the Official Opposition. Sorry to bring Canadian political terms into this, but my other analogies were messier.
They were not anyone’s opposition this year. They finished in 6th place out of 10 teams. Ever do really bad on a test at school and needed your parent to sign it, so the teacher knew that your parent knew how
dumb you were poorly you did?
Yeah, Ferrari needs to get their homework signed.
While they were in shambles, we were getting new faces on the podium! That was exciting.
We also got two first-time race winners in Pierre Gasly and Sergio Perez.
Pierre Gasly drives for AlphaTauri. AlphaTauri is basically the developmental system for Red Bull. No one ever expected that car to win a race, but they did! I won’t get into the shenanigans that lead to the victory
, mainly because I don’t remember them.
Selective memory is a heck of a thing.
Sergio Perez is with Racing Point and started 190 races before winning his first. That was a record. He is currently not signed by any team for next season, but I’ll get into that later.
It was a wild season. I haven’t even mentioned the driver who escaped from a burning car, yet.
Selfishly, I’m glad the season happened and it was there to provide entertainment for me and millions of people around the world. When people mention global sports, they rarely mention Formula 1.
Essentially, this sport is a travelling circus. I enjoy it.
In what has seemingly become a yearly tradition, I’m going to end this post by listing each driver and saying something about them.
MERCEDES – 573 Points
LEWIS HAMILTON (347 Points; 11 Wins)
He won his 7th Drivers’ Championship this year, tying Michael Schumacher’s record. He started The Hamilton Commission, which aims to improve representation of Black people in UK motorsport. That may end up being the most important thing he does in his career.
VALTERRI BOTTAS (223 Points; 2 Wins)
I feel like I say the same thing every year. He’s the only one who can challenge Hamilton because they have the same car and yet, the championship is never really in doubt.
RED BULL RACING – 319 POINTS
MAX VERSTAPPEN (214 Points; 1 Win)
You know how when your toothpaste is running out, but you’re able to squeeze out more toothpaste for another week or two? That is basically what Verstappen does. He gets every last ounce of speed out of his car.
ALEXANDER ALBON (105 Points)
It became an unsettling trend where Verstappen would be running in the Top 3 and Albon would be somewhere down the field, struggling to get past cars slower than his. There was a lot of, “If only Verstappen had a teammate at the top with him” talk this year. That must’ve been hard to block out.
MCLAREN – 202 POINTS
CAROLOS SAINZ (105 Points)
He’s moving over to Ferrari next year and I don’t know what to expect. Any other year, it would be an upgrade, but McLaren was the better car this year. Oh, what’s that? The “New Ferrari Engine” has entered the chat?
LANDO NORRIS (97 Points)
He got on the podium in the first race of the season, by finishing in 4th place. That’s because Hamilton – who finished 3rd – received a 5-second penalty and Norris pulled out the fastest lap of the race on the last lap, to get within 5 seconds of Hamilton. He pulled that last lap magic a few times early on. People called him, “Last Lap Lando”. Alliteration, kids.
RACING POINT – 195 POINTS
SERGIO PEREZ (125 Points; 1 Win)
It would be a shame if he went unsigned for next season. He’s better than over half the drivers on the grid. After the race on Sunday, I saw that the plan is for Red Bull to bring him in and move Albon into a Reserve Driver role. That would make things very interesting.
LANCE STROLL (75 Points)
Ah, the Canadian hero himself. I feel like his season could be summed up by just saying, “coulda, woulda, shoulda, didn’t”. He got on the podium twice this year, but there were many missed opportunities, for one reason or another.
RENAULT – 181 POINTS
DANIEL RICCIARDO (119 Points)
It’s been two years and I’m still not over him leaving Red Bull. He’s moving on to McLaren next year to be Norris’ teammate. That’s going to be a fun duo. They’re the type of people who would get kicked out of a movie theatre for being too loud and not even care because they’re still laughing in the lobby.
ESTEBAN OCON (62 Points)
He got on the podium for the first time this season, but I think I expected more from him. It was a tough battle among the midfield cars this year; he seemed to hover around 8th – 12th position a lot.
FERRARI – 131 POINTS
CHARLES LECLERC (98 Points)
Ferrari didn’t have a great car this year, but Leclerc’s car seemed to be consistently more drivable than Vettel’s. Why was that? Regardless, I hope Ferrari gets things sorted out because Leclerc is the real deal.
SEBASTIAN VETTEL (33 Points)
We’ve been firmly entrenched in the Hamilton-Vettel era for the last 10 years. At one point there was a “who will win their 5th championship first” storyline. Vettel is still at 4 and Hamilton just won his 7th. Next year, he’s moving over to Racing Point for a much needed fresh start.
ALPHATAURI – 107 POINTS
PIERRE GASLY (75 Points; 1 Win!!!)
He spent half of the 2019 season with the big club – Red Bull – before being sent back to AlphaTauri. Somehow, he’s had more success in this car. I’d like to see him get another shot with Red Bull in the future.
DANIIL KVYAT (32 Points)
It seems his time in F1 has run out, for now. He’s only 26. Kvyat is another driver who was handed the keys to a Red Bull at a young age (21) and it didn’t work out. Yuki Tsunoda appears to be the one moving up from Formula 2 to take his spot next year.
ALFA ROMEO RACING – 8 POINTS
KIMI RAIKKONEN (4 Points)
There will be no Kimi slander in these parts. He burst onto the scene in 2002. I’ll never forget it.
ANTONIO GIOVINAZZI (4 Points)
Look, the car isn’t good. However, it’s clear the people at Alfa Romeo – and by extension, Ferrari – see something in him, which is why he’s returning for his third season in 2021.
HAAS – 3 Points
ROMAIN GROSJEAN (2 Points)
His car was split in half when he crashed into, and through, a barricade in Bahrain. The car went up in flames. Miraculously, Grosjean escaped from the fire. I’ve seen the replay of the crash about 100 times and am still amazed at how he managed to walk away with only minor burns. Haas is moving on to two new drivers next year, so that might’ve been Grosjean’s final experience in an F1 car.
KEVIN MAGNUSSEN (1 Point)
In an interview after Sunday’s race, Magnussen expressed how happy he was that he got to live out a childhood dream of having a career in Formula 1. He had one podium finish, which came in his first race back in 2014 with McLaren. I feel bad that he never really got a shot with a top, or mid-level, team.
WILLIAMS – 0 POINTS
When Hamilton tested positive for COVID-19, Mercedes brought Russell over to drive for them in the second race held in Bahrain. Russell controlled most of the race at the front, but with 20 laps left, he had a tyre puncture and had to make a pit stop, thus robbing him of a race victory. He finished in 9th. His time will come with Mercedes.
Ah, the other Canadian on the grid. Being a rookie in Formula 1 is hard, especially in a Williams car that, although better than last year, is still nothing to write, text, or call home about. And when your teammate appears to be a prodigy, that just makes everything even harder. He did have three 11th place finishes, though! Russell only had one of those.
Honourable mentions to Nico Hulkenberg, Pietro Fittipaldi, and Jack Aitken for filling in when some drivers were unfit to compete.
Am I looking forward to the 2021 season? Of course! There will be new faces in new places, including the debut of Mick Schumacher.
However, I expect more of the same next year. Mercedes will dominate and everyone else will fight over the scraps.
The real year to look forward to is 2022, when the new car regulations are in place and the sport resets itself. At least, I’m calling it a reset. The cars are going to look different, which means it’s anyone’s game. Right?
That’s my hope.
We need more battles on the track and less predictability when it comes to the championship. It shouldn’t be so easy for one team to dominate.
Anyway, if you’ve made it this far, you get a sticker and a helium balloon. You may also select a small toy from the toy chest. Yes, I stole this idea from the dentist.
Thanks for reading! I appreciate it!