F1 2021 testing Preview: what can we expect from the teams?
So, testing is just around the corner now, and despite the fact the cars are almost the same as last year, there will be plenty of eyes on how the teams get on.
There are only three days of testing this year, so it’s more important than ever for teams to hit the ground running. There are new aerodynamic regulations for this year, so the cars so teams will want to get to grips with the new parts for 2021.
Teams will not want to miss a single day of testing, because it could have huge repercussions for the upcoming season. So, what can you expect from the teams in testing this year? That’s what I’m here to answer.
The reigning champions will of course be hoping that their car is still the fastest on the grid, despite the new regulations.
Mercedes were very secretive with the development that they did on their barge boards and floor during their car launch, so eyes will be on what they came up to tackle the new regulations. This team have always come up with ingenious innovations to tackle any regulation change, and I’m hoping that this year will be no different.
Mercedes did report that they were having issues with their new engine. With reliability being key over the next three days, the last thing they need is any engine trouble. That also goes for the three other teams running Mercedes engines.
Mercedes will be hoping to do what they usually do during testing. Get as many laps done as possible. While they may not set the lap charts on fire, expect Mercedes to still have a very good package.
Red Bull Racing
There was nothing shockingly different between the RB16 and the new RB16B, but this doesn’t mean Red Bull are going to settle for second place.
Red Bull will be hoping to keep the reliability issues to a minimum, but the main focus will be on Sergio Perez.
While Perez has done some private testing with the RB15, this will be his first time in the RB16B. He’ll only have one and a half days of running to get to grips with a totally new car.
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Surely, he can’t do any worse than Gasly in his first test with the team!
The car is built around Max, which will make Perez’s job that bit harder, but as an experienced driver, I expect him to adapt well and hit the ground running.
Out of all the teams on the grid, the most pressure to get off to a good start is on McLaren. McLaren have changed the most on their chassis to accommodate the new Mercedes engine.
McLaren will be hoping to retain third in the championship, but they know it’s going to be a tough challenge.
Unlike Perez, Ricciardo has had some limited testing of the MCL35M in a shakedown test at Silverstone. So, while his experience may be limited, he does have some time in the new car. It will be interesting to see how Lando and Daniel compare right out the gate.
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McLaren were also very secretive with their barge boards and floor, so other teams will want to a snap of what they have done. There’s a lot of expectation on McLaren, time to see what they can do!
It may be a new name, but expectations will be high. They under-performed last year, given their car was basically a 2019 Mercedes, they still couldn’t escape the midfield.
This year is going to be a lot tougher with all their rivals looking to catch them.
Aston Martin’s big mystery is all about Sebastian Vettel and fans will be hoping that he puts his ‘spinny’ past behind him.
Aston will be hoping at the end of the three days that they look competitive in the midfield again so they can challenge for third in the championship.
Personally, I can’t wait to see the livery out on track. I know there have been a few images from their shakedown, but to see it in the sun of Bahrain will be a sight to see.
Just like Aston Martin, it may be a new name but it’s very much the same team.
Alpine will be hoping that they are more competitive this season. While two podiums may not seem so bad, they were very inconsistent.
This meant their attempt to battle for third was an uphill challenge. This year they are going to have to make sure that their car is a lot better.
With Ferrari potentially being a big contender this year, Alpine will have to wow us all with their car during testing.
This test will also be Fernando Alonso’ first time in the car. He has been doing some private testing in the 2019 Renault, but it will be a big adjustment for Fernando.
While two years may not seem like a long time, things move fast in Formula One and it can be difficult to readjust to the new Formula. All eyes will be on Fernando during his first outing.
This test is going to be huge for Ferrari. After a very dismal year, the only way is up for the team in Scarlett red.
Mattia Binotto has stressed that Ferrari have taken leap with their power unit as well as their aerodynamic efficiency. Straight line speed plagued them last season and if they can make good on their promises then we could see a very competitive car.
Bahrain is a perfect track for us to see just how good these changes are. I can’t imagine that Ferrari will be looking to set the timing screen alight, but if they can get some good, consistent running then it could set them up very nicely.
I have high hopes for Ferrari this year and with Carlos Sainz being a new addition to the team, it will be interesting to see how he compares to Charles Leclerc.
Like most drivers, Sainz has been doing some private testing at Fiorano, but we won’t get to see how he truly gets on until his run out.
It was a very good season for AlphaTauri last season, and I think we can just expect more of the same.
I don’t expect them to be at the same pace as the rest of the midfield, but I would expect them to be there or thereabouts.
Alpha Tauri are another team with a new driver in their car this season. Yuki Tsunoda is continuing his meteoric rise through the ranks and now finds himself in the top tier.
Tsunoda took part in the young drivers test at the end of last season as well as private testing in the AT02 at Imola.
There is no doubt that Tsunoda is quick, but he will need to adapt quicky if he is to survive the tough expectations of the Red Bull Junior programme.
There will also be eyes on Gasly gets to grip with this car as he was one of the standout drivers from 2020.
I don’t think many people expect much from Alfa Romeo this season. They have the same driver line-up as 2020 and with the regulations, we are not expecting a much different car.
Alfa Romeo did make some notable changes on their which was picked up when the car launched last month, but I highly doubt it is going to make the Alfa Romeo a competitive car.
Alfa Romeo did have to suffer with the awful Ferrari engine last season, so the team and fans will be glad to put the new one to the test.
Rather than looking forwards, Alfa Romeo will likely be looking over their shoulders during this test. It is an unknown at this point how the Williams or Haas will perform this season, and they will be big competition for the Italians.
All Alfa Romeo can do for now is make sure to get through all three days will no issues.
Haas have already said that they have given up on development of their 2021 car already. So, don’t expect it to be very quick.
Haas will be using this test mostly to get their drivers up to speed. While both Schumacher and M*****n have had experience in Formula one cars, they are yet to drive the new car.
The goal for both drivers will be to get as many miles driven as possible and pray that nothing goes wrong. Haas were hampered with crashes and spins last year. That could have been down to the two drivers they had in car, but it did them no favours.
Haas will be hoping that Schumacher and M*****n can keep the car on the track and out of the barriers.
Not expecting much from Haas, but they could surprise me.
Williams come into this year with new owners and a new livery, but the same drivers.
They will be hoping that this year will bring more fortune that the last few. Williams made significant strides in pace last year, and fans will be hoping that it will be the same again.
Alfa Romeo and Haas will be Williams’ biggest rivals this season. The first test this season for them is to see how close they can get to them in testing.
Next will be to get laps on the board and make sure they have no issues. While the Williams may not be very quick, it’s always been very reliable. Williams will be hoping the FW43B is no different.
Finally, it would make sense to have both drivers be in the car during testing, however that will not be the case. Test driver Roy Nissany will be in the car on the first day. Meaning Latifi and Russell will both get half a day less running than the other drivers.
So, it’s not long to go now until the 2021 Formula One season gets under way and I can’t wait. While I should stress that you should NOT read too much into testing, we will learn a lot about these cars over the next three days.
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