And while it didn’t go exactly as we all thought back in January 2020, there was still plenty to celebrate and debate, and plenty of moments that gave all fans what they want – entertainment. There were familiar constants – Hamilton and Mercedes – and heart-warming surprises – Sergio Perez winning in Sakhir – as well as lots of reasons to be hopeful for the future of the sport.
But what does 2021 have in store? We know it’s likely that Hamilton and Mercedes will continue to dominate across the longest season in F1 history, but there are many more unknowns. Still, all fans will have certain things they’d like to see in 2021, and we present four of most fervent hopes below:
A Proper Race for the Title
In 2020, it was fine to sit back and watch Lewis Hamilton cement his place among the greatest F1 drivers of all time. But, once again, the lack of a challenge for the F1 World Championship will have left some fans feeling somewhat deflated. F1 is able to shrug off the dominance of Hamilton – and Mercedes – to an extent, with fans often focusing on a race by race competition. However, we haven’t seen a Championship won by fewer than 40 points since 2016, and it would be brilliant to see at least one other driver in with a chance by the time we reach the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix in December 2021.
McLaren Continues to Build
The mainstream media naturally covered Hamilton’s inexorable charge to the title and endless list of record-breaking accolades as the season’s main story. But there were many other topics that piqued the interest of avid F1 fans. For some, the most notable narrative was the continued revival of McLaren. Yes, McLaren‘s performances weakened a bit in the middle of the season – the Russian Grand Prix was a particular disappointment – but the constructor seems to be heading in the right direction (It has increased its points total every season since 2017). McLaren will be hard pushed to finish ahead of Ferrari again, and bookmakers have priced in both Alpine (formerly Renault) and Aston Martin (formerly Racing Point) to finish ahead of McLaren in 2021. But this is a team that wants more, and don’t be surprised to see Daniel Ricciardo and Lando Norris deliver it.
Some Magic in the Netherlands
Once one of the mainstays of the F1 season, there hasn’t been a Dutch Grand Prix for 35 years. But – a year later than planned – the Zandvoort track will host F1 action again in September 2021. As you might expect, the circuit has seen some changes since it last hosted a Grand Prix in 1985 – that was the scene of Nikki Lauda’s last ever win in F1 – but it still retains the charm and prestige of a historic venue. Jim Clark, Alain Prost, Jackie Stewart and Juan Manuel Fangio have all triumphed at Zandvoort – who will add their name to that list in 2021?
Most observers agree that F1 did a good job of salvaging a season full of disruption and unprecedented issues. However, the absence of fans at the circuits across the globe always puts a dampener at things. Sure, some Grand Prix races had reduced capacity, and some even were half full, but we all want to see places like Monza and Silverstone packed to the rafters with fans. It might be a bit too much to ask to see a full house at Albert Park Melbourne when the season starts in mid-March, but certainly later in the year, it’s possible that we get fans back as Formula One returns to normal.