Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Autodromo do Algarve, 2020

Which team will be the biggest threat to Mercedes in 2021?

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Out of last year’s 17 races, Mercedes walked away with 13 wins and 15 pole positions, not to mention their seventh consecutive pair of championship titles.

Will their opponents let them get away with it just as easily again in the 2021 F1 season? Who will be the biggest threat to the three-pointed star? Join in our first poll of the new year.

Red Bull

For

Max Verstappen, Red Bull, Yas Marina, 2020
Verstappen signed off 2020 with his second win
In Max Verstappen, Red Bull have arguably the best driver in Formula 1 right now, besides Hamilton. He won twice last year and, arguably more impressively, ended the season just nine points shy of the second Mercedes, despite having a far less competitive and reliable car.

Red Bull made clear progress throughout 2020 which bodes well for them in a season where teams can only make limited changes to their cars. The arrival of Sergio Perez alongside Verstappen gives them their most experienced driver line-up for years.

Against

The team’s performance over the second half of 2020 was flattered by how little development Mercedes were doing. They will lose engine supplier Honda at the end of the year, which can only be a distraction, and although the manufacturer has made all the right noises about giving their programme maximum commitment until they leave, it remains to be seen whether this will be borne out in reality.

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McLaren

For

Lando Norris, McLaren, Monza, 2020
McLaren often headed the midfield last year
McLaren have made strides in recent seasons and finished ‘best of the rest’ in 2020. They will benefit from switching to Mercedes’ class-leading power units this year, having previously used Renaults.

The arrival of Daniel Ricciardo means they have a proven race-winner in their line-up for the first time since 2018. And they’ve recently announced a significant increase in funding.

Against

McLaren arguably over-performed by taking third place last year, as their car was often not the third-quickest. Incorporating the new power unit will mean more compromises elsewhere. And while the new investment is welcome, it arrived after much of the development work on their 2021 car was completed. They have also lost Carlos Sainz Jnr, their top scorer of the past two seasons, to rivals Ferrari.

Aston Martin

For

The most improved team of last year, third-quickest in raw performance thanks to its clearly Mercedes-inspired RP20. The car represented a major change in design philosophy for the team, and having had a year to adjust to it will stand them in good stead for 2021, as they rebrand as Aston Martin.

They have also bolstered their driving strength with the addition of four-times world champion Sebastian Vettel.

Against

Big question marks remain over their driver line-up. Lance Stroll was conclusively out-performed by Perez in their two seasons as team mates and Vettel arrives following a dismal 2020 campaign. A lot rides on whether the driver Ferrari cut loose can rediscover his touch.

Alpine

For

Fernando Alonso, Renault, Yas Marina, 2020
Double champion Alonso is back at the renamed Renault team
In their fifth season since returning to F1 as a full constructor, Renault produced their most competitive showing yet in 2020, with three podium finishes. By the end of the season they were dependably competitive across a range of tracks, which bodes well for their first year under their new identity as Alpine.

Two-times champion Fernando Alonso has been lured back to the fold, and took advantage of every opportunity to drive the car last year, even appearing at the ‘young drivers’ test in their latest machine.

Against

Ricciardo led the team superbly last year but has been lost to McLaren, which is not just a blow to their driving strength but also an unambiguous sign that he wasn’t prepared to bet his future on the project. Their reliability was too often poor in 2020, as Esteban Ocon discovered to his cost.

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Ferrari

For

Charles Leclerc, Ferrari, Istanbul Park, 2020
Leclerc impressed despite Ferrari’s grim 2020 campaign
They may have just recorded their worst championship performance for four decades, but Ferrari’s awesome resources means their potential cannot be ignored. Charles Leclerc drove a superb season throughout 2020 and can be counted on to lead their charge while new signing Sainz – a judicious appointment – finds his feet.

Against

Ferrari were a long way from the pace last year, and not just because of their power unit. Big gains also need to be found from their chassis, the team’s pit stops were a weakness and their tactics at times baffling.

I say

Fernando Alonso, Renault, Yas Marina, 2020
Alonso and Alpine are my pick to shine in 2021
In raw performance terms, it’s hard to look past Red Bull, as they were much closer to Mercedes than any other team last year. But they have a habit of losing their way during the off-season, it remains to be seen whether they will successfully address that before the new year begins. Honda’s motivation to throw 100% at its last season is also questionable.

There are big changes going on elsewhere which could shake things up. If McLaren unlock an immediate net performance gain by plugging a Mercedes power unit in, they could be a significant threat. If a change of scene brings Vettel back to his best, his Mercedes-powered Aston Martin could be a regular sight at the sharp end. And while Ferrari have got their work cut out to return to respectability, an improved power unit could get them a long way back towards the front.

However the midfield team which impresses me most as a potential threat to Mercedes this year is Alpine. They may have suffered the disruption of losing Ricciardo, but in every other respect they have made clear and consistent gains. They’ve developed their infrastructure and the consequent improvements to their chassis and power unit were tangible. That plus the formidable force of Alonso back at the wheel makes for an intriguing combination.



You say

Which team do you think will be the biggest threat to Mercedes this year? Cast your vote below and have your say in the comments.

Which team will be the biggest threat to Mercedes in 2021?

  • Red Bull (75%)
  • McLaren (14%)
  • Aston Martin (4%)
  • Alpine (2%)
  • Ferrari (3%)
  • Another team (2%)

Total Voters: 225

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  • 68 comments on “Which team will be the biggest threat to Mercedes in 2021?”

    1. Redbull will be closest. But will they end Mercedes domination? No..

      1. I agree if Hamilton signs for 2021.

        Otherwise Mercedes might be fighting for 2nd with McLaren or Renault.

        1. Bottas has finished 2nd the last two years despite Mercedes clearly being team Lewis.

          1. despite Mercedes clearly being team Lewis.

            That must explain why Bottas finished behind Verstappen (much) more often than ahead of him.

            1. “ that must explain why Bottas finished behind Verstappen (much) more often than ahead of him”

              Amazing how that can be the case and yet it’s Bottas ahead in the points. I didn’t realise F1 was using a reverse points system.

              We’re analysing “team”, i.e. car-driver combination, not just driver.

      2. If red bull aren’t the closest then it’s highly conceivable that Mercedes will win every race. I cannot see any way in which mclaren or Renault will have improved enough to challenge for wins on merit. Ferrari also have too much ground to make up but I wouldn’t be surprised if they are solidly the third best team on pace.

        But it’s all pretty much blind conjecture anyway, as fun as that is.

        1. Agree, they are all too far behind, I was happy to see mclaren take 3rd last race, they deserved it, just as perez deserved 4th in the driver’s championship, but you can’t ignore the enormous gap they had even just in the last race, there’s an abyss between mercedes (and red bull) and the rest, an abyss I doubt anyone can recover. Ferrari’s best result would probably be beating the midfield, maybe something inbetween red bull and the midfield.

    2. The biggest (and only) threat to Mercedes is Mercedes.

      Of the four races they didn’t win in 2020, three of them were lost by their own blundering. Only in Abu Dhabi were they genuinely outpaced (and even that was to do with some mysterious power unit happenings that they’re reluctant to talk about). As the cars are largely the same as last year there is no reason to think this will change.

      1. Oh, but even in Abu Dhabi Mercedes was the undisputed fastest car.
        Mercedes recorded faster sector times in all three sectors…Lewis left at least 0.1 sec on the track, Bottas at least 0.2 sec….they just string it together. Considering Lewis is usually faster, there must be at least 0.3-0.4 sec left to improve…. the normal gap.

        Even when either Mercedes driver mess up in quali (being 0.5 sec off pole was still P2 for Bottas) or an off day at the track…missing yellow, red lights, taking a few penalties here and there… it all doesn’t really matter. Mercedes don’t need to go to the limits of the drivers… or the limit of the car

      2. @red-andy Couldn’t agree more. It’ll be a crushing win for Mercedes again next season, filled with lots of post race interviews after comfortable 15 second plus wins along the lines of “oh well we were actually really worried because we didn’t think we could actually win this weekend because team X were really fast and we were worried about component Y failing because we saw something in the data”.

        I’m hoping it won’t as a fan of the sport, there was a lot of good racing behind Mercedes and Red Bull last season, but I can’t see anything else happening to be honest.

        1. Dave (@davewillisporter)
          3rd January 2021, 14:24

          @geemac

          comfortable 15 second plus wins along the lines of “oh well we were actually really worried because we didn’t think we could actually win this weekend because team X were really fast and we were worried about component Y failing because we saw something in the data”.

          Makes me laugh when I read these takes. They are the most successful team in modern history because that is genuinely how they go about racing. It’s not BS spun up for the media. It’s their team philosophy. Never be complacent. Toto and James Allison have said it enough times in interviews. Believe them. It’s the reason they’re dominant!

          1. I believe they want to go racing @davewillisporter …but I wouldn’t hold it against them if they just said “yup, we were fastest today, we knew we would be because we’ve got all the best stuff and it said we would be, that’s why we won”. We’ve had 7 straight years of humble quotes…I’m just a bit over it!

      3. Red Andy my Word Stealer….

      4. Couldn’t agree more. The real battle is for the top of the midfield. As close as the midfield is, I think you need not only a great car and engine but two competitive drivers who can consistently score points. Red Bull have that now that Albon has been replaced. McLaren have that. Ferrari may have that depending on what they do with their engine in the off-season to overcome the weaknesses in their aero. I don’t think Alpine will have that. As dominant as Alonso is, we all know how he operates in a team. All the resources go to him and his goal is to dominate his teammate in every possible way. I don’t think Ocon will be able withstand that sort of environment and find himself out of the points more often than he is fighting for points.

    3. I think the Mclaren/Alpine fight will be close. I think McLaren has the overall better driver line-up but I reckon Alonso will make a big difference. It wouldn’t surprise me to see McLaren ahead in the constructors but Alonso ahead of both McLaren drivers in the driver standings. I’d be sceptical that either will truly challenge Mercedes though…

    4. There will be no threat to Mercedes this year.
      The question worth asking is: “Who will take third in the WCC?”

      1. I agree. There really should have been an option of ‘No threat whatsoever’ because that’s exactly what 2021 is going to be for Mercedes. Red bull will finish 2nd, but a fair amount behind the Mercs and a fair amount in front of the best of the rest.

    5. Renault will be using the same chassis for the 3rd season in a row.

      The chassis clearly has a weakness as they have only performed well at some circuits. They failed to score decent points in more than 50% of races, evenly spread across the season. They have only 2 tokens (enough for one change) to correct this

      They have lost their star driver, albeit for a 2x world champ, but one who hasn’t won it for more than 14 years none. Their line-up will be weaker next year. Ocon has failed to shine so far in his comeback too

      We wait to see if their new 2021 engine will be a match for Mercedes but history says it won’t

      Not sure where the necessary improvement is going to come from to find a second a lap in performance to challenge for wins

      1. @the-edge the biggest item that is left unresolved within this article is the following question – how are those teams listed in this article going to be impacted by the cost cap as it takes effect?

        We are currently basing a fair number of our projections for the future on what happened in the past, but both Red Bull and Ferrari are having to reallocate resources to meet the proposed cost cap, whilst Alpine, Aston Martin and McLaren are not (or at least not to the same degree).

        It is true that Renault are having to use a chassis design for longer than they likely would have hoped to and some of those handling characteristics are an issue, but the one advantage that they may have is their claim that they have been working to optimise the performance of their team at the level of the proposed cost cap. In theory, that should mean the cost cap has fairly little impact on their operations, whereas their rivals might be a bit more disrupted in that case.

        With regards to drivers, it’s true that how well Alonso can do is up in the air right now. With regards to Ocon, even if he did not sparkle immediately when he returned, it’s worth remembering that he hadn’t driven for over 13 months before his first test in 2020 and hadn’t raced competitively for over 18 months before the first race this season – to put in perspective, people were praising Hulkenberg for his performances as a substitute, but he’d been out of the sport for less than half the time that Ocon has (it was approximately 8 months between Hulkenberg’s last race in 2019 and his first appearance this year at Silverstone).

        For Ocon, 2020 was more of a case of simply trying to get back up to speed after a fairly significant period of disruption to his career and I would expect that 2021 should see him being more competitive simply because he’s recovered some of that lost ground.

        1. I doubt the new budget restrictions will affect the ‘21 cars. They are pretty much carry-over, they will be going into production as we speak, very little resources will be spent developing them from now as all focus will be on ‘22. The budget cap will certainly be an issue as you say there, not just interns of personnel & $, but also in terms of CFD/wind tunnel time permitted

          True, Ocon was out for a while & this is his first year back. But the Hulk stepped into a car he’d never driven before and spent an hour practising. Ocon had 6 test days before the season had even started.

          I’m sure Ocon will get better as time goes on & I’m sure Renault will improve, I just thinks others will improve too

          To be honest I expect the same as last year, no clear winner, tracks/conditions changing the order from race to race, and reliability/incidents having a big effect in deciding final championship places 3-7

        2. That’s what will be interesting to me: can Alonso be/get upto speed quickly,quicker than Ocon could.

          1. Good point. Considering Alonso has been out of F1 for nearly a decade. Those deck chair seasons in F2 with McLaren not withstanding.

        3. Most of the teams other than Red Bull were more or less 1s off Mercedes pace in 2020.
          I can’t see any of these teams wasting their whole reduced development budget for 2021 in order to gain maybe half of that gap (which will only put them in place for wins when Mercedes and Red Bull fail). That money will be much better spent preparing for 2022, where it should have multiple times the impact on lap time.

      2. @the-edge

        Renault will be using the same chassis for the 3rd season in a row

        So will Racing Point/Aston Martin.

    6. None of them will be a threat. Red Bull will compete with them occasionally but in terms of being a threat to either Championship, not a chance.

    7. I think it has to be Red Bull. They should have a better, more consistent no. 2 driver in Perez so they ought to provide more of a challenge I think. Still cannot see them getting anywhere near beating Merc though.

      Of the others the performance of McLaren I think will be the most interesting. So how will they fare with the Merc engine is the question. They could spring a bit of a surprise and be closer to Red Bull. Equally though they might take time to adapt so could fall away a little.

    8. I’m going to make a bold prediction. Mark my words it’s going to be Mclaren. My brain wants to say Red Bull but heart says Mclaren.

      1. +1
        Although I think they’ll do a big jump forwards, or the opposite.
        Incorporating the Merc power plant into their car is such a major change it could potentially relegate them to back markers.
        I do feel they have expended some decent energies in 2020 on making sure they have all the ducks lined up, so fingers crossed they take that step up to Merc.

    9. I don’t think Ferrari should be discounted. Their power unit was bad after the cheating fiasco and they struggled to improve it during the shortened year but they will have an improved one for 2021. Even with the bad car Charles (and once or twice Vettel) showed that they could compete on some race weekends. They are no longer starting with a crippled car based on an illegal version. I expect them to be on average better than Red bull.

      1. Agreed. I see leclerc and max being the regular threat to the mercs especially bottas this season. Would really really love to say Ricardo as well but still think he, vettel and alonso are not immune to taking time to get used to a new car. Halfway through the season i expect those three and checo to start gaining their footing. Its NOT gonna happen in the first half dozen races.

      2. On the other hand, Ferrari are known to have shifted resources to the new regulation package quite early.

        The shift in the regulations from 2021 to 2022 means they are now having to evolve their current car for longer than they were originally expecting they would have to, so there may have been some compromises between how many resources they will commit this year compared to what they want to commit to the new regulation package.

        Furthermore, there are some aspects of the 2021 regulations which might not necessarily benefit them. Given the indication the car had a comparatively unstable rear end, the cut in the floor area, which was intended to cut overall downforce levels, could well be exacerbating those issues given that change is also expected to shift the aerodynamic balance forwards (i.e. potentially increasing rear end instability).

        I suppose there is the question of how much they want to throw into their 2021 car – the power unit is worth developing, but there may be limited opportunities elsewhere and, with the resource caps kicking in, is it necessarily worth throwing resources at this year if it handicaps them for 2022?

    10. None over the season, but Red Bull still the closest on outright pace, comfortably ahead of the next-best in either Mclaren or Aston Martin.

    11. The biggest threat to Mercedes is the Mercedes team itself. No way any of the other teams can beat them if they keep doing what they did the past few years. Only when for some imexplainable reason Merc starts to be complacent will any other team have a chance to beat them.

    12. Rhetorical question as Red Bull is obviously a given, but such an exciting battle for 3rd again. If nothing else, this will make the season. Alonso at Alpine, Ricciardo at McLaren, Vettel at Aston Martin and Leclerc at Ferrari is a battle that’s going to be very fun to watch.

    13. I voted Red Bull but I don’t think anyone can challenge Mercedes in 2021, apart from themselves. The battle for 3rd is the closest one I think.

    14. Dave (@davewillisporter)
      3rd January 2021, 12:52

      So lots of things to consider. The first is that Mercedes were treating Abu Dhabi like a test session. They devoted more time than any other team to the 2021 tyre runs in practice, did not use DAS on Bottas’s car and ran a cooling configuration designed for the 21 car in the race so they could run it again in the “young” driver test. Their top driver was also below par.
      Redbull optimised their car that weekend better than at any other point showing that they really do understand it now. They have a reputation for excellent iterative design development (if not producing a great car straight out of the blocks) and are carrying over 60% of the design to next year, calling it the RB whatever B.
      Both Mercedes and Ferrari are going for new concepts and both cars will be as different as the tokens allow. Until they turn a wheel in testing we won’t know whether those concepts worked out but my money is on Mercedes to have produced a car that gains the intended downforce reduction back. Ferrari are 50 / 50!
      I would speculate that Redbull will be closer to Mercedes than they were at the start of 2020, Ferrari will be firmly in the race for third and McLaren, Racing Point and Alpine will all have improved at the same rate.
      End of season results. Mercedes first, Redbull second and pin the tail on the donkey for third. The midfield scrap is going to be epic!

      1. Dave (@davewillisporter)
        3rd January 2021, 12:56

        Oh, and from mid season onwards watch out for Yuki Tsunoda. I’ve got a feeling about that kid!

        1. @davewillisporter the rumours are that, with Mercedes focussing on their 2021 car quite early on this season, they were already matching the downforce figures of their 2020 car with their 2021 car before the season was out.

          Against that, there was the suggestion that Red Bull have also managed to match the downforce levels of their 2020 car with the 2021 car too, thus undoing the effect of the planned downforce cuts. That said, it was not clear when exactly Red Bull achieved that – the suggestion being that it might have taken a bit longer for them to do so than Mercedes, so Red Bull might be slightly behind in terms of development.

          The other question is going to be how the cost cap now starts to impact some of those teams, and how efficient they can be in developing their cars.

          1. Coventry Climax
            3rd January 2021, 19:03

            With one little annotation, @anon: Mercedes usually come up with something that really works the way predicted, while Red Bull usually finds out that it isn’t like their calculations said, and before they’ve solved the issue(s), the season is already lost. To Mercedes I’m afraid, can’t see any other team doing the magic.

    15. Biggest threat… what a joke of an article… RB posed no threat whatsoever in 2020, same will happen this year.

      1. what a joke of an article

        try to behave.. you do not have to agree but do not revert to social media hyperboles to make your point.

    16. I answered McLaren, because they have the most significant change.

      I fully expect the order at the end of the season to be:
      1. Mercedes
      2. RedBull
      3-6. McLaren, Aston Martin, Alpine and Ferrari in some order

      RedBull have the advantage of starting with the best 2020 car of the challengers, but it wasn’t as good as the Mercedes so will need development to beat them. I just can’t see this happening, especially in the engine department.

      The next four teams need to make a bigger improvement, and I don’t think Vettel or Alonso will make enough of a difference for Aston Martin and Alpine. Ferrari’s 2020 engine was terrible. If they know where the problems are they could have been working on improvements for 2021, but the rumours aren’t positive for them. McLaren had the fourth quickest car, and will definitely be getting an improved engine, the unknown is how much of an improvement it will make. That’s a bigger unknown than the other teams have, which is why I think they have the best chance of beating Mercedes, even though I think their most likely finish position is 3rd.

      1. Dave (@davewillisporter)
        3rd January 2021, 13:55

        @thelem agree with the order but in previous years we have heard Horner repeatedly state that they were losing a second to Mercedes on the straights. Didn’t hear that much this year if at all and Honda are throwing the kitchen sink at the 2021 PU in much the same way as Mercedes did in 2020 to beat the cheating reds! I expect the Honda will be there or thereabouts in 21 and Mercedes will have worked mostly on reliability as theirs was the least reliable PU in 2020 as hard as that is to fathom!
        Ferrari have been working flat out to completely re-concept their PU to make an ICE that’s fast without burning more fuel than they’re allowed. The 2020 ICE was designed to use more fuel than they were restricted to and thus was rubbish.
        Renault / Alpine are introducing a PU that has been years in the making and coincides with their targeted run for the top spot. Don’t expect that to be sluggish either.
        Regardless of the car aero developments, the PUs should be more evenly matched than ever.

        1. @davewillisporter The time lost on the straights has little to do with engine power. It’s just that Red bUll is a high rake = high downforce and high drag car. And then Verstappen specifically seems to like a lot of downforce since he’s almost always slower than Albon and the Alpha tauri’s on the straights.

          Of course it makes for good propaganda for Horner and Verstappen to simply point a the straights and speed difference.

    17. Dave (@davewillisporter)
      3rd January 2021, 13:41

      My end of season driver predictions. 1st Lewis, 2nd Max, 3rd Bottas, 4th Perez, 5th Ricciardo/Alonso.

      1. Dave (@davewillisporter)
        3rd January 2021, 13:41

        5th Ricciardo/Alonso/Leclerc

    18. I think it will be Red Bull, as Perez will be much better than Albon. Ferrari could also do well, as Leclerc had some great pace towards the end of the year and Sainz should be able to do a similar job, unlike Vettel.

      As for Mclaren – I think Ricciardo is a downgrade on Sainz, and won’t work as well with Norris. Plus with the other Red Bull less beatable, there’ll be fewer points on offer. Racing Point? Good car, very underwhelming drivers. Vettel is toast and it wouldn’t surprise me if he was out-performed by Stroll.

      Also, very much looking forward to seeing what Alonso can do for Alpine, although I suspect 2022 will be when that partnership really comes to fruition.

      1. I think that Vettel was deliberately sandbagging (due to being let off by ferrari) and thus will be the fastest of Aston martin lineup.

        1. Dave (@davewillisporter)
          4th January 2021, 17:43

          Anyone that thinks a driver would sandbag for a whole season just doesn’t understand drivers. They are ultra competitive. No chance they would deliberately underperform. You honestly think Seb let Charles beat him by choice? C’mon!

        2. I think Vettel has been sandbagging since 2014 just so that he can show up as the fastest Aston Martin driver.

    19. I voted Red Bull because of the teams listed even if they perform largely as they did this year they’ll still be 2nd but miles off 1st, while the others are continually underperforming. So they’re most likely.

      But realistically the answer to the question, ‘which F1 team will be the biggest threat to Mercedes’ is really nobody. I’d be enormously surprised if Mercedes don’t walk the 2021 championship as easily as they did 2020.

    20. Assuming the 2020 cars are to become the 2021 cars but for some fiddly bits, they are the same. I betcha last seasons strengths may not be the next seasons 2021 strengths. Somebody will twist it up a bit and the performance advantage may change where better cars find themselves on a more equal footing.
      Expect M and RB to remain the best of the better teams with AM, R and F to be better than the rest. Those places are unlikely to challenged by the rest. BUT, maybe a few of the bottom feeders may be much better than expected.
      I see 2021 as a much closer championship with several teams much closer to Mercedes. And that’s a real problem for Formula One. Being closer to the dominant team last year may in fact mean Mercedes are further along with the 22’ car already. Time invested into the next challenger now while running a slightly different 2020 car now in 2021.
      This pattern of dominance seems likely to continue as M is already building a second car for 22’ NOW but racing a real ass kicker already fine tuned 2020 challenger. Even with that moral crushing lesson, F1 should be more competitive in 21’

    21. On paper it seems that Red Bull is the team best prepared to beat Mercedes and the fact that they now have a driver like Pérez greatly enhances their chances.
      I think he will be one of the candidates to fight for the championship
      On the other hand, Aston Martin is emerging as a major contender, for no other reason than having one of the best drivers of his generation in its ranks.
      Vettel will impose its quality on a car that has proven to be very good.
      McLaren may have a good season but I don’t think I can fight directly with Mercedes. Obviously having a driver of the quality of Ricciardo will be a great incentive.
      Alpíne will be a total fiasco. It has two drivers overrated by the press and a car in development that is still far from the lead.
      Despite the two excellent drivers that Ferrari will have, I don’t think this year can fight for the lead. Yes possibly for the podium from time to time..

      1. Ahaha, alonso overrated but not vettel? Wow! If anything alonso always performed at the level of the car, unlike vettel. Even if vettel was performing like when he was at red bull at aston martin, no one can do miracles against mercedes in cars like that, not him, nor alonso, nor verstappen etc. Verstappen might have a chance if red bull gets a bit closer.

    22. No one. Let’s see in 2022.

    23. Mercedes themselves will be their biggest competitors this upcoming season. They tend to lose a race only by their own doing.
      I would love to see Red Bull ond others consistently challenge them all year long. But all that Mercedes lost was DAS and a little downforce. But everyone else has to not just deal with the lost downforce, but also have to find a lot of time. And unless some of the cars are a huge step forward and as far as engines go Honda and Renault bring substantial improvements and for McLaren the Mercedes engine shows to be the missing piece, I do not see any chance that anyone else but Mercedes are winning about every race. And that would be another year of torture.

      I hope we have a season like 2010 or 2012 where we had a bunch of different winners and the title race goes down to the last race involving different teams (not just a intra mercedes battle).
      One can only dream.

    24. The real answer is themselves. We saw in several races this year where they threw away the win due to careless mistakes.
      This was supposed to be a perfect season with the exception of 70th and AD perhaps but they made several big comedy errors in all the races they lost.

    25. McLaren. I have been watching the Netflix series and I think Red Bull will lose points with intra-team issues similar to when they had RIC.

      1. @jimfromus

        Other than one race at Baku where Verstappen and Ricciardo took each other out.. and maybe another tangle in Hungary where Ricciardo suffered damage, I can’t really remember a lot of points being lost when Max and Dan were together. They were quite a formidable pairing.. the strongest on the grid from 2016 to 2018. Red Bull were taking more wins off Mercedes from 2016 to 2018 than they were post 2018.

      2. Indeed Checo will not be RB’s Bottas, he is a real racer and wants to win. And so is Max. That could give some tensions indeed.

    26. This time around there are some tricky variations. IF any amongst Ricciardo, Vettel and Alonso gets a decent car at hands, Red Bull’s plan of taking on Mercedes 2 on 2 will go sour. Then, I have to acknowledge Ferrari will debut a new engine which could very well take them back to 2nd place. None of them should bother Mercedes much in the long run, though.

    27. The short answer is : No One

      Mercedes will walk 2021.

      If anything, I suspect Formula 1.5 may get closer to Red Bull, as opposed to them getting closer to Merc. I expect Max and Checo to nab a win or two here and there, basically, if Mercs are off colour for some reason, RB will be on hand to capitalise. This assumes that Checo gets the car working to his liking of course.

      I think the Formula 1.5 battle is going to be very very tasty. Mclaren, Alpine, Aston and Ferrari are all in with a shout of winning the title, its going to be a great. Considering how close everything will be, the winner of F1.5 will need to be very consistent, which also may lead him to being ahead of the second Red Bull, in a best case scenario.

    28. Unless the Mercs stumble it’s going to be a best of the rest situation.
      I think McLaren are being underestimated taking into account the new ICE the fact that they seem very happy with the way it’s fitted into the existing chassis and the arrival of one of the best drivers on the grid. I would expect RB to be up towards the front but they need to start well. I give a wild card to Leclerc to be in the mix for podiums as well. Aston Martin are difficult to pick as they can’t just copy & paste like last year. But they have proven in the past to be clever with limited resources, so that will be interesting.

    29. It is a close call. As the season starts, I think Red Bull will have an advantage. There are only two variables. Can Perez deliver what is expected of him? How much the new Honda engine can deliver?
      But McLaren will be up to the pace soon enough. They will be the team to watch out in the second half.

    30. Unless the engines are effectively homologated at the end of 2021 this will be the last hurrah for Red Bull.

      No-one will challenge Mercedes since there’s been no real change in regulations.

      Russell showed within minutes of hopping into the ill-fitting car he could be on Bottas’s pace and 48 hours later in the race was consistently quicker throughout, so there will be no challenge from Bottas once again.

    31. Who’s ready for Valteri Bottas v5.0?
      What odds would you give Valteri to beat Hamilton in 2021?
      Put another way, how much cash are you willing to put on the table today, if you get £1.0 million at the end of a 2021 with Valteri as WDC?

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