A Record Eight for Lewis Hamilton or First for Max Verstappen?

Lewis Hamilton can win a report eighth Formula One world championship whereas his Mercedes workforce have fun an unprecedented eighth successive title double within the longest ever season, pandemic allowing.

Alternatively, the deliberate 23-race championship might mark the tip of an period with Red Bull’s Max Verstappen main a generational altering of the guard.

It could even be ‘farewell Sir Lewis’, with the newly-knighted Briton — set additionally to change into the primary driver to win 100 races — extending his contract solely to the tip of 2021.

“I chose to have a one-year deal so that I could see how the year goes,” he mentioned.

The season additionally sees a Schumacher lining up on the beginning grid for the primary time since Michael’s departure on the finish of 2012 and Saudi Arabia making its debut with an evening race in Jeddah.

Red Bull’s automobile was fast, steady and dependable in pre-season testing, with Verstappen quickest, whereas Hamilton and teammate Valtteri Bottas have been unsettled by the skittish dealing with of the Mercedes.

Mercedes say Honda-powered Red Bull have the sting on efficiency however Red Bull, who’ve introduced within the skilled Mexican Sergio Perez alongside Verstappen, say Mercedes are very a lot the favourites.

Either manner, the stage is about for the closest-fought battle but between the king and the teenager who would seize his throne.

The March 28 season-opening race in Bahrain will present some readability, with testing notoriously unreliable as an indicator of kind, however the title battle seems to be set to stay between final 12 months’s prime two groups.

“They’ve had some really good running, both drivers have been looking quite strong. They are going to be a different machine or animal this year with a really good, strong line-up and a really good car,” mentioned Hamilton of Red Bull.

“You can imagine they are going to be right there in the first race and it’s going to be a great long battle with them through the year.”

The grid will function 4 world champions, with the return of two-time titleholder Fernando Alonso, now 39, to the workforce that was once Renault and can now be racing beneath Alpine branding and with new management.

Four-times champion Sebastian Vettel has moved from Ferrari to Aston Martin, competing as a constructor for the primary time since 1960 after Racing Point modified their title, and 41-year-old Kimi Raikkonen races on at Alfa Romeo.

McLaren are the one workforce to have modified engine provider, switching from Renault to Mercedes, and so they even have Australian Daniel Ricciardo changing Carlos Sainz, who has joined Ferrari.

The Italian workforce endured their worst season in 40 years in 2020, failing to win a race and ending sixth general, however a extra highly effective engine ought to assist them struggle extra for podiums not less than.

Three rookies make their debuts, with Mick Schumacher attracting a lot of the eye because the Formula Two champion follows the trail of his Ferrari nice father.

The German is joined at Haas by Russian Nikita Mazepin, whose billionaire father has offered the workforce’s title sponsorship,

Japan can even have a driver on the grid for the primary time since 2014, with Yuki Tsunoda becoming a member of AlphaTauri.

Crowds might return, not less than for the later grands prix, after most of 2020 was spent racing behind closed doorways as a result of pandemic, and experimental Saturday ‘sprint qualifying’ races are set to function with factors awarded.

The form of the season might nonetheless change, nonetheless, with uncertainty over whether or not all the 23 races will occur. Australia, the standard opener, has already moved to November.

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