F1 2021 Season Spoiler Filled Race Talk

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*** As with last season's thread, we'll be talking freely about races without spoiler tags, so please beware if you watch races on a delay! ***


How to watch in the US:

- ESPN carries races live both on their various broadcast channels, but also on their various apps as long as you’ve got a TV provider login with the appropriate access to ESPN.

- F1TV is an official streaming service that offers two tiers. The “Pro” tier lets you stream races live for about $80 a year, but you can get on demand streams of all races for a much more reasonable $26 a year if you don’t fancy waking up at 5 AM or something for like 2/3rds of the races. There are also month to month subscriptions available, and there might be promos available as we approach the start of the season.

- The official F1 YouTube channel doesn't offer full replays, but they do have great highlights packages for every practice, qualifying, and race session throughout the year, as well as great interview an analysis coverage throughout race weekends, and a variety of other miscellaneous interesting video clips in between.


Can I get a concise overview of where the sport stands at the start of the season?


When and where are the races?

I mean, who could really say?

For now, this is what the tentative schedule looks like.

Update 1: Portugal has been (tentatively) confirmed! I still expect a few of these might not actually happen, particularly some of the earlier street races (Monaco, Baku) but time will tell.

Update 2: Clearly, Portugal was more than tentative -- we'll be there this week. Sounds like Monaco and Baku are going ahead, but Canada has dropped out for the year, replaced by Turkey.

IMAGE(https://i.imgur.com/AxnQVjx.jpg)


Who are the teams?
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The official F1 channel has now posted all of their quick "intro to the team" videos, which are a great way to get to know (or remind yourself of) the teams as of the start of the season. Here they are, in reverse constructor's championship order from last season:

Additionally, here's the full lineup of teams, drivers, and liveries as of the week before winter testing in convenient infographic form.

Generally these things are pretty well locked in at this point, but you never know. Last year, for example, Williams had a last minute livery change after losing the sponsor whose colors they were using. This year, don't be surprised if there's some level of dust up over the Haas livery, since there is currently a world wide sporting ban on the use of the Russian flag as punishment for recent doping violations. At the moment, Haas claims this livery has been approved by the FIA, but the World Anti-Doping Agency is currently investigating whether it is in violation of the ban.

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And for those who might be curious, here's a quick infographic showing how team names and drivers changed from last season.

IMAGE(https://i.imgur.com/amr68CO.png)


Who is a giant pile of human garbage that I shouldn't root for under any circumstances?

Nikita Mazepin

And with apologies to poor Mick Schumacher, probably best to write off Haas in general for making the compromises they did in taking Mazepin on as a driver.


Other Useful Links:

GWJ F1 Fantasy League: https://fantasy.formula1.com/league/...
The invite code to join is: bc10216117

Official Site
Drive to Survive, Netflix's excellent documentary series about the sport, an EXCELLENT way to introduced yourself to the sport. You'll learn all about the sport in general, meet the current drivers, and get a full recap of the 2018, 2019, and (once the third season is available at the end of February or start of March) 2020 seasons of the sport.
Shift-F1, a podcast about F1 hosted by video game media personalities Drew Scanlon (Cloth Map, formerly of Giant Bomb), Danny O’Dwyer (No Clip), and Rob Zacny (Waypoint).
Fantasy Formula 1
F1 Reddits: Formula 1 , Formula 1.5 , Formula 1 Posters, Inspector Seb

FINAL EDIT: And that's it! I'll make updates to the post if there are any big changes worth noting, but for now it's time for the first race weekend of the year!

How confident are we of the calendar?

EverythingsTentative wrote:

How confident are we of the calendar?

Not at all.

As I mentioned above, there's already a strong chance that the first three races will be Bahrain, Bahrain (the Sakhir GP layout), and then Imola.

Also, Monaco, Baku, and Canada are all very iffy. Monaco seems to be talking a big game about making it happen regardless, but I wouldn't put money on it.

All told, I don't think it will be quite as chaotic and set of the pants as 2020 was, but I would be legitimately shocked if the the Bahrain thing was the only thing that changed about that schedule by the end of the year.

Oh, I've also made a new F1 Fantasy league for us:

https://fantasy.formula1.com/league/...
The invite code to join is: bc10216117

Not that I ended up paying attention to it last year, but why not?

Good news, everybody!

https://www.autosport.com/f1/news/15...

Looks like Portugal's lockdown is working well, so Portimau is likely back on the menu. Not that the Sakhir GP circuit wouldn't have been fun, but I am absolutely thrilled that this might be the case. Even with the silliness caused by the circuit having been resurfaced too recently it was one of the most fun and exciting races to watch last year, and I can't wait to see how it goes with the surface properly broken in.

Alonso hit by a car while out cycling...

Car launches are about two thirds of the way done now, with today giving us (probably) the last of the big, exciting livery changes. (I suppose Williams or Haas could deliver a surprise, but I'm not expecting much.)

IMAGE(https://i.redd.it/yd9azye1buk61.jpg)

So far so good though! That Alpine look is spectacular, and Aston Martin found a way to keep the BWT pink from ruining that spectacular British racing green. Meanwhile the small adjustments within the existing designs at Alfa Romeo and Alpha Tauri feel like solid improvements, even if a bit subtle.

That said, McClaren and Mercedes are a bit more of a mixed bag. I think the McClaren looked a bit better with the geometric designs in the fade up the engine cover, but it was such a good look to begin with that even with that loss it's still a great looking car. As for the Merc, I love that they've stuck with the black livery concept, and I think the more solid, defined, and vibrant colors look great. However, the change from the classy splash of Mercedes stars on the engine cover to the AMG logos does not work for me at all. I get that they want to promote the brand more heavily this year, and in a vacuum it's a strong bit of graphic design, but it pales in comparison to the design idea it's replacing and is a let down when the rest of the look is so much stronger.

Oh, and I guess Red Bull moved some sponsor logos around or something. Cool.

EDIT: Welp, guess Haas DID go for a big change:

IMAGE(https://i.imgur.com/QM1zbGS.jpg)

From a design sense, not too bad. From a "symbolizing corrosive Russian influence damaging American institutions" sense, maybe a bit on the nose?

EDIT 2:

Well, here's the Williams:

IMAGE(https://i.imgur.com/M2gz5U3.jpg)

I mean, it's not upsetting, but it's absolutely a downgrade from last year. Maybe it will look better on track?

Two days until testing begins!

Oh, and, Ferrari has finally launched their livery. In as much as it's possible to have a Ferarri livery that is either good or bad rather than just, you know, red, I think it's kind of bad. It's a hodgepodge of decent ideas executed very poorly.

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Good idea: Add some green highlights to make the car feel like the Italian flag.

Bad implementation: Choose a hideous and inexplicable shade of green, and only use it for the gross hide in plain sight tobacco advertising Mission Winnow decal.

Good idea: Find a tasteful way to use the classic Ferrari maroon shade that looked so good on that one-off tribute livery last year, in addition to the modern Ferrari red.

Bad implementation: Whatever the hell that half ass gradient is. I guess someone spent about five minutes at making it sort of highlight the curves of the car, and maybe it would look passable if it wasn't for that hideous neon green logo just sitting there looking stupid. The green spoils any aesthetic appeal the gradient might bring, and the gradient ruins the already failed attempt at communicating the Italian national colors.

Worse still, you totally could have made a livery that achieved both those goals in harmony. For example, use the maroon as a stripe/highlight along the base of the car, perhaps rising up the engine cover near the tail in a way that left more room for a logo done up in (proper) green with a white border/drop shadow to breath and stand out strong against the bright, modern Ferrari red.


Also, for what it's worth I've updated the original post with a new version of the Reddit car spotting infographic now that all the liveries have been launched.

And day 1 of testing is done.

IMAGE(https://i.imgur.com/SOBJ4wZ.png)
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Red Bull and McLaren had great first days, and the combo of speed and reliability shown by McLaren is especially good to see given the question marks raised by their engine change.

Mercedes, on the other had, had no end to trouble, with unexpected gearbox issues tanking Bottas' running time, and Hamilton never managing to find any comfort driving the car throughout his session. Still, it's only the first day, and it's only testing so one would be wise to not read too much into it -- but I'm sure there's a lot of excitement down at Red Bull today.

zeroKFE wrote:

Mercedes, on the other had, had no end to trouble, with unexpected gearbox issues tanking Bottas' running time, and Hamilton never managing to find any comfort driving the car throughout his session. Still, it's only the first day, and it's only testing so one would be wise to not read too much into it -- but I'm sure there's a lot of excitement down at Red Bull today.

Normal service resumed then?

Heh, yeah.

Even more so at the end of the third day of testing. Red Bull (and Alpha Tauri for that matter) continued to look strong all weekend, while Mercedes continued to struggle to figure things out and put together a solid run of tests.

As such, expect so even more than usual for people to be going to into the first race saying "this is the year!" about Red Bull, and expect Mercedes to come out much closer to the expected form than the troubled one seen at testing.

That said...

They did look really, really rough. Also, there is a bit of a pattern starting to form that high rake car concepts seem to be dealing with the rule changes aimed at reducing downforce provided by the area of the floor near the rear wheels. So, you know, maybe this is the year.

My hope is the restricted development has helped Red Bull. Normally they get stronger through the season and then start the next season with a new car that they have to learn. This year they have only be allowed to change such a small amount of that they should have less to learn.

I expect the Mercedes to get so much better by the first race and Lewis is still Lewis, so even if the car isn’t dominant he’s still going to get wins.

Most interesting test in a while in terms of the championship.

Really glad to see Alonso looking punchy too. The Alpine looks like a good midfield car and hopefully Alonso will collect the most points from it, but definitely get the impression Alonso is here for next year’s rule change.

I have no strong impression about Ferrari. They seemed fine. Do people think they are in striking distance of the top 2?

I have no strong impression about Ferrari. They seemed fine. Do people think they are in striking distance of the top 2?

Yeah, maybe? Alfa Romeo was out there stretching their legs in a way that seemed to indicate they've made good progress on the engine front, and Sainz turned in a solid hot lap or two on day three, so I expect they've at least recovered to the point where they should be fighting at the top of the midfield rather than the bottom.

IMAGE(https://i.imgur.com/xDnihj3.jpg)

As for more than that, I don't know? I think there's just far too much opportunity for things to change from testing and/or for important players to have not been showing everything they had.


On the topic of people who DID show what they have though, how about Yuki Tsunoda, eh?

Apparently even on day two the team was still snuggling to get his pedals within reach, yet on day three he's out there having a hot lap shootout with Verstappen. Yes, he was running a slightly softer tire, but he was also theoretically in the inferior car and damn if he wasn't out there giving Max a run for his money. That kid is fast as hell, and if he doesn't go big places it'll be a damn shame.

The new season of Drive to Survive was pretty solid. As ever they are a bit heavy handed on the music queues and there are definitely some amazing stories they either missed or barely touched on (a bit more forgivable this year since in addition to having a limited number of episodes to work with they also had their production capabilities severely limited by COVID restrictions), but they continue to do a great job of communicating the drama, intrigue, and excitement of the sport with the stories they do tell, as well giving some surprisingly candid insight into who the drivers and team bosses are as people.

That said, I would love for there to be a bit more room in the show for amazing on track moments that didn't tie in with the off track stories they are trying to tell. Part of that I'm sure has to do with the Netflix crew maybe just not being present at some of races where amazing things happened on track, such as Mugello, Turkey, and Portimao, but I mean, there must be some way to show Hamilton winning Silverstone on three wheels, right?


Also, completely unrelated but very important:

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So do we think Merc is sandbagging it?

Very pleased to see Russell doing well though.

Prederick wrote:

So do we think Merc is sandbagging it?

Yes and no.

Yes, in that they have no real need to show their true pace in testing, and they might being a bit more vocal than they need to be about seeing Red Bull as ahead of them at the moment.

No, in that they had genuine issues at testing, and even outside of the reliability stuff they never really seemed to have dialed in the balance and got the car to the unbelievable level of comfort and drivability it's had the last few years right from the start.

I do think there's more than smoke to the idea being batted around in the press and on the internet that the aero regulation changes designed to slow the cars down a bit by removing downforce from the rear of the floor might have a more deleterious effect on handling for low rake cars (Mercedes and a number of others) than high rake ones (Red Bull and Alpha Tauri). It completely fits with what we saw in testing across the field, and makes a lot of sense even with a layman's understanding of aerodynamics. Also, there are solid reports that Honda delivered a very strong engine upgrade this year -- they may be leaving the sport (sort of), but they seem intent to go out on a high if at all possible.

So yeah, I think at least early in the season chances are good that Red Bull might be giving Mercedes a harder fight than they have in years. But, I don't expect it to be like Ferrari last year -- Mercedes is still Mercedes, so still look forward to a lot of HAM BOT VER podiums (and hopefully PER), just maybe a bit more mixed up than usual.

Okay, the original post is finally complete and ready for the start of the season.

That said, here's one more video that might be of interest that I didn't include:

While I don't think there's much chance of me having time to watch full F2 races, this might be the year I start paying at least a bit more attention to highlights and replays.

And while we're on the topic of F1 support series, in case folks missed it the W Series will also officially be tagging along with the big show this year rather than being disconnected as it was in 2019 (W Series only had a e-sports competition in 2020 due to COVID restrictions).

While they haven't posted any 2021 season intro videos yet, they did post full race replays on https://www.youtube.com/c/WSeriesOfficial/videos in 2019. Not sure if that will continue now that they're more under the official F1 umbrella, but it's worth subscribing to the channel just in case.

And until they do have a season primer video available, here's a nice highlights package from 2019:

EDIT: Damnit, maybe I should add this to the original post as well.

Best joke I've heard about the season so far:

Crofty, at the start of the Jeddah Grand Prix wrote:

IT'S RIGHTS OUT AND MONEY FLOWS... I MEAN AWAY WE GO

Don't read too much into it -- it's the first practice, most drivers were just breaking in the car, it was a day session rather than a night session like qualifying and the race will be, etc -- but, it's still the first official session of the season.

IMAGE(https://i.redd.it/4up9gjrsadp61.jpg)

FP2 is underway now, in the most representative conditions we'll see in practice for quali and the race.

That Merc definitely has more rake on it than it did at testing -- and it definitely looks more comfortable and planted on the track.

EDIT:

Yup, now HAM-BOT-VER, with Hamilton about .5 seconds up on Verstappen all on medium tires.

EDIT 2:

Quali sims on soft tires now -- Verstappen currently on top, then Norris, Hamilton, Sainz, Bottas, Ricciardo, Tsunoda, Stroll, all within roughly a second.

We'll see how it stands at the end of the session, but I think we're going to have a legit race between the teams at least at the start of the season.

EDIT 3: Final standings for the day:

IMAGE(https://i.redd.it/8ghafu2lbep61.png)

Less than a second between P1 and P15!

A million points for the "That's my barrier" joke.

Oooh should be a tasty one. Max top, Mercedes 2-3, Ferrari looking competent again and McLaren looking quite good!

Here's hoping for a good, exciting season with some real surprises throughout.

IMAGE(https://i.redd.it/jd8cjzt7jlp61.jpg)

Yeah, I cannot wait for tomorrow's race -- things look very promising both for the weekend and the season in general.


In other news, you may have seen that all around sh*tbag Mazepin ruined laps for Sainz, Ocon, and most crucially Vettel with his second spin of the session. What you might not have seen is that just a few corners before he had rudely and aggressively cut the line to get ahead of them for his hot lap, with literally no reason to do so except perhaps with the hope of saving his ego and getting his time a little closer to Schumacher.

Not that anyone anywhere needed any more reason to despise the guy, but seriously, what an utter waste of oxygen (not to mention an F1 seat).

EDIT: Onboards of the incident, with team radio.

I am currently swinging wildly between “the hype is real, we might have a competition for the championship” and “oh no, it is going to be a Red Bull dominate season.”

I've been saying it for at least 4 years now. As long as the Merc's don't breeze away with both championships then it's a win.

Get in there Lewis.

zeroKFE wrote:

In other news, you may have seen that all around sh*tbag Mazepin ruined laps for Sainz, Ocon, and most crucially Vettel with his second spin of the session. What you might not have seen is that just a few corners before he had rudely and aggressively cut the line to get ahead of them for his hot lap, with literally no reason to do so except perhaps with the hope of saving his ego and getting his time a little closer to Schumacher.

Not that anyone anywhere needed any more reason to despise the guy, but seriously, what an utter waste of oxygen (not to mention an F1 seat).

EDIT: Onboards of the incident, with team radio.

Quite an auspicious start for him.

Is there any way to watch seasons of F1 without spending tons of money on cable? I seem to recall that it's really difficult. Honestly, if there was a recap kinda thing that sums races up in 30 minutes or so, I would be super into that.

Been watching that Netflix thing, and wouldn't mind following seasons as they progress. Always been a little fascinated with Formula 1.

Yes!

Typing on my phone so pardon the brief response, but check the top of the original post for details on the F1.tv service — if you don’t need to watch live, it’s only $26 for a year access to video on demand race streams.

The F1 YouTube channel also puts up race highlights (usually 7-8 minutes). I also enjoy listening to the Shift+F1 podcast which also breaks down the races each week.

Oh, nice! Thanks ya'll! I may have to do that.