Formula 1 has confirmed that the Miami Grand Prix will join the championship calendar for next year’s season.
The new street circuit will be centred around the Hard Rock Stadium, home of the Miami Dolphins. It will be a 5.41km track with 19 corners, 3 straights and the possibility of 3 DRS zones to promote overtaking.
F1 has also said it plans for the Miami Grand Prix to have a positive local impact, via a programme to support local businesses as well as a STEM education programme through F1 in Schools. An allotment of discounted tickets will also be available for Miami Gardens residents.
F1 CEO Stefano Domenicali said: “We are thrilled to announce that Formula 1 will be racing in Miami beginning in 2022. The US is a key growth market for us, and we are greatly encouraged by our growing reach in the US.
“We will be working closely with the team from Hard Rock Stadium and the FIA to ensure the circuit delivers sensational racing but also leaves a positive and lasting contribution for the people in the local community. We are looking forward to bringing the greatest racing spectacle on the planet to Miami for the first time in our sport’s history.”
Miami will be the 11th US circuit F1 has raced at, after Riverside, Sebring, Watkins Glen, Long Beach, Caesar’s Palace, Detroit, Dallas, Phoenix, Indianapolis and the Circuit of the Americas.
Along with the US Grand Prix at COTA, 2022 will also mark the first time the US has hosted two F1 Grands Prix since the Detroit and Dallas Grands Prix in 1983.
Valtteri Bottas ended the second day of pre-season testing in Bahrain with the fastest time, despite more mechanical problems afflicting Mercedes and their customer Aston Martin.
Bottas set his pacesetting lap of a 1:30.289s late in the afternoon session, on a run on the softest C5 tyres. However, Bottas lost a considerable amount of running earlier in the session due to an issue with his car’s floor, which compounded the gearbox problems that held him back yesterday.
Similar Mercedes gearbox issues stopped Sebastian Vettel from getting any meaningful running with Aston Martin. The German managed just six laps in the morning session before his car began a lengthy spell on jacks in the garage. Vettel did return to the track before the end of the session, but only recorded four more laps before handing over to Lance Stroll for the afternoon.
Lewis Hamilton also had a troubled day of testing for Mercedes. The defending champion drove in the morning but spun into the gravel towards the end of the session and brought out the red flag. He ended the day 15th fastest, only ahead of Vettel.
Not all the Mercedes-powered teams had problems today, however, with McLaren continuing the strong pace displayed yesterday. Daniel Ricciardo was one of the early pacesetters and topped the morning session, while Lando Norris was quickest for a while in the afternoon before ultimately ending the day fourth behind Bottas, Pierre Gasly and Stroll.
Alpine also had a solid day with Fernando Alonso at the wheel of the A521. The Spaniard was second-quickest behind Ricciardo in the morning session, and logged a total of 128 laps by the end of the day. He also completed a comprehensive run plan that included testing three different floor configurations and two different engine covers.
Following Esteban Ocon’s 129 laps from day one, Alpine are now leading the way in terms of combined mileage heading into the final day of testing. Meanwhile, all four Mercedes-powered teams have the fewest total laps, with Williams on 215 followed by McLaren (195), Aston Martin (177) and Mercedes themselves (162).
However, Nicholas Latifi did record the most laps of any driver on day two, with 132 for Williams.
Mark Thompson, Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool
Image courtesy of Red Bull content pool
Formula One is to debut sprint races at Silverstone and two other weekends in 2021. Reported to fill the vacant spots are the Italian, Canadian or Brazilian Grand Prix. The go ahead for sprint races comes after the consensus that teams support the concept, more meetings are to follow to finalise the decision expected in the coming week.
Regarding the format of the weekend, the sprint race will replace qualifying on the Saturday with finishing positions setting the grid for Sunday’s Grand Prix. So, Friday will have qualifying to set the grid for the sprint race. There will also be two practice sessions, one before qualifying and one before the sprint race.
There have been many attempts to change the weekend format in recent years including the notorious ‘elimination qualifying’ in 2016 under Bernie Ecclestone. Sprint races have emerged next in line for rigorous testing, after amassing a great deal of attention in recent weeks. The principles are to increase the likelihood of closer and unpredictable racing in Sunday’s Grand Prix whilst spreading the excitement and engagement across the entire weekend for fans.
The 2021 season is already regarded as an ‘interim’ for the extensive regulation changes to come in 2022. But for Sprint races to join the already rogue season comparatively to recent years with shuffled driver line-ups, new teams, cost caps and token system; there is already much optimism for this to be a thrilling and likely unpredictable season.
Raising the argument that sprint races would mitigate the DNA of the sport is almost an uninformed remark, as Formula One has evolved exponentially since the inaugural championship race in 1950. Change has been a constant, otherwise the sport wouldn’t be what is loved today. But what hasn’t changed all that much is the dominance, like the partnerships of Michael Schumacher and Ferrari or currently Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes, and as such many factors have been engineered into the sport to prevent it but haven’t succeeded.
Sprint races, however, will raise many questions about whether it is worth it and the implications that might follow. For instance, whether it would count as a win or a pole position? Will it detract from the main race? What happens if a sprint race decides the championship? Thus leading to potential debates and disputes on the significance of records and unravelling more comparisons. However, Formula One often centres around comparison as speed, wins and all out success rate often lands drivers in the better teams.
Financially, there are implications that raise concerns. Teams, especially those who consistently start in the midfield, will be more susceptible to damage over the season. The complete change in tactics for teams, as well as the development plans of their cars for better performance behind others, will also be an interesting follow in the run-up to the first race.
This will, of course, be a financial benefit for organisers, as it will attract more fans to buy weekend tickets and tune in throughout the weekend. The weekend is already full of support races, the most notable addition to this year is the W Series and, as always, Formula 2. With this in mind, are sprint races needed to gain a more tangible excitement across the race weekends, or will we already have that with support races? And should there be more encouragement to watch those races as well? What happens to those who work on the Friday as well and enjoy watching qualifying live?
All in all, it will certainly amass greater discussion and controversy leading up to the weekends that it will be tested on, whether it’s beneficial or not? Whether it would actually change anything? With all the questions that have collated on the topic, there is only one way to understand, namely to encourage and test the idea.
Here we go, four more hours but I can’t see much changing except for the odd driver and the weather.
Daniel Ricciardo still on top of the timing sheets as we start with Gasly and Verstappen close behind in the standings
This session can be described in one word, dusty! They can’t push the cars and are having to short shift and are actually off the throttle at some points on the track.
Coming up to the three hour remaining mark and very little has changed, we’re waiting on the first appearance of the seven time World Drivers Champion Lewis Hamilton
Will they refer to him as Sir Lewis?
First sight of Carlos Sainz in his new Ferrari, it’s a big year for the young Spaniard.
Three hours and two minutes and the World Champion joins the track for the first time and looks straight on it power sliding his way around the track. Times are still down on Ricardos best set earlier today in the morning session, laps are around four to five seconds slower.
Verstappen goes fastest on a 1:31.4O on the hard tyre After completing 80 laps.
Drivers seem to be finding some grip now as Max remains out gaining valuable data for the team.
Tsunoda has impressed on his first outing in the AlphaTauri it’s a little odd seeing the number 22 and not having Jenson Button driving behind the wheel.
With 1 hour 37 minutes left on the clock Lewis and the Mercedes seem to be getting into their stride with a lap still a full 1.5 seconds behind the pace set by Verstappen.
The first day of testing is always an exciting event for Formula 1 fans but this year with Covid still affecting global sports we kick of in Bahrain instead of what has become the usual annual pilgrimage to Barcelona.
What’s different? Well the big difference other than location is this year we have just three days of testing instead of the usual six.
It’s an early 7am start for us in Europe, first things first as Haas officially launch their 2020 challenger.
Flo fizz and aero rakes at the ready and off we go, for the first four hour session.
First shock of the day, Mercedes has a gearbox issues and Valtteri Bottas has missed over 100km plus of valuable testing time. With sands storms threatening every valuable minute needs to be taken advantage of.
The first couple of hours, how we’ve missed the sounds of Formula 1.
Early form Daniel Ricciardo is setting the pace in his McLaren Mercedes with Max Verstappen Red Bull Honda just behind and Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri with the third fastest time.
The Ferrari in the hands of Charles Leclerc in fourth seems to have made up some of the lost time from last years challenger.
Into the second half of the morning stint and Gasly is now on top of the timing sheets with a 1:32.5
Ricardo straight back out onto track and posts an even faster lap taking three tenths of Gaslys time. Still no sign of Bottas in his Mercedes.
It’s fantastic to see that Micks Schumacher’s three letter code is MSC and not SCH A nice nod to his dad who of course was MSC as he raced alongside his brother Ralf Schumacher.
With just 90 minutes remaining there’s still no sign of the Mercedes and Bottas
On the plus side the new liveries look resplendent in the sunshine. Personal opinion but the Alpine, Aston Martin and dare I say Haas are my favourites.
Roy Nissany driving the Williams has a green light on the back of his car indicating that he’s not got his super license points, I had to fact check this with my colleagues at Crow Towers. James Matthews pointed out that L plates wouldn’t stay attached to a F1 car at speed! He’s here all week.
Bottas is finally out in his Mercedes and is running almost five seconds off the pace with a large Aero rack on the back of the car.
The top three with under 30 minutes to go are Daniel Ricardo Pierre Gasly and Max Verstappen.
Ten minutes to go and Charles Leclerc has stopped at turn four with what sounds like an engine miss fire, bringing out the red flag. After initially impressing the Ferrari isn’t looking on top of things, early days though.
The final piece of the Formula One car reveal puzzle has now been put in place, with Scuderia Ferrari revealing their challenger, the beautiful SF21.Broadcasting from Museo Ferrari, Mattia Binotto the Team Principal of Ferrari presented the single seater using hologram technology, instead of the usual Ferrari fanfare, no doubt due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
As with all the 2021 cars, there was a partial freeze on development, with the SF21 being described as “born out of last year’s car” with revised aerodynamics and a new power unit (which will bring music to the ears of Tifosi everywhere). Ferrari have had a torrid time in recent years and are seeking a season in which they can provide a title challenge again. Power unit 065/6, as it has been named, has been worked on extensively with Ferrari’s technical partners with an efficiency in areas such as recovery of exhaust fumes being targeted. Ferrari have also made major changes to their aerodynamics, spurred on by regulation changes which has seen them focus on increasing aerodynamic charge and reducing drag. The new front wing and nose have added to the aerodynamic efficiencies that Ferrari have worked on for the 2021 season. The technical changes are arguably overshadowed however by the stunning new livery.
The standout features of the sleek livery are the burgundy coloured rear which is a nod to the very first Ferrari racing car, most recently seem at the Mugello Grand Prix in 2020, and bright green on the engine cover featuring the logo of title sponsor Mission Winnow. The deeper red effect is certainly eye-catching and will bring a smile to the hearts of the loyal fans of this iconic brand.
Ferrari and certainly the F1 world need a better 2021 and one can only hope that the optimism of the launch will be rewarded on track as Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz take to the track
Technical specifications Ferrari SF21
Power unit 065/6 Capacity 1600 cc Max RPM 15,000 Supercharging Single turbo Fuel flow 100 kg/hr max Configuration V6 90° Bore 80 mm Stroke 53 mm Valves 4 per cylinder Injection 500 bar – direct
ERS System Configuration Hybrid energy recovery system via electrical Motor Generator Units Battery pack Lithium-Ion batteries of minimum 20 kg weight Battery pack max energy storage 4 MJ MGU-K max power 120 kW (161 hp) Max MGU-K RPM 50,000 Max MGU-H RPM 125,000
Alpine has unveiled its new contender for the 2021 season, the A521. The first car built by the newly rebranded team at Enstone.
Although a new name to F1, Alpine have been a part of motorsport since the 1950’s. After being bought out by Renault in 1973 they have developed a reputation as Renault’s ‘high performance’ brand. The Alpine name was used for Renault’s rallying and endurance endeavours, resulting in an Alpine-Renault World Rally Championship in 1973, and the 1978 Le Mans 24 Hours.
Alpine ceased production in 1995 but was revived in 2017, before the decision last year to elevate their long-forgotten brand to the pinnacle of motorsport.
During a virtual launch, the car was unveiled in a striking blue, white and red livery.
On the new livery, Laurent Rossi, Alpine CEO stressed the symbolism of French and British collaboration:
“This car identifies the Alpine identity. It’s livery conveys it’s values. The blue, white and red is a reference to both the French flag and Union Jack. Representing the soul of this multicultural team that merges flamboyant skills under one banner.”
At first glance, the A521 looks to have the trademark 2021 shrunken sidepods and more complex outboard vanes to the bargeboards – all because of the new floor and diffuser setup created by changes in the aerodynamic rules. The rear wing looks subtly different too with more complex endplates.
“We had to adapt, we had to innovate, but that’s what we do best.” said Marcin Budkowski, speaking on the new technical changes.
“This year’s car is an evolution of last years contender. […] we’ve worked and tried to improve every area that was left free to develop.”
“But also the FIA, to spice things up a bit, have changed the aerodynamic regulations that means we have lost a lot of performance which we’ve tried to recover.”
“Interestingly, they are in an area that normally doesn’t behave in the same way on track than our tool and simulations tell us. So it’s going to be very important to get the best collaboration between people at the factory and on track to develop the car aerodynamically and allow us to realise our ambitious development programme for the first few races.”
In addition, Renault will have a new and improved power unit, looking to maintain and improve it’s impressive position as one of F1’s most powerful units in terms of straight line speed.
On the team’s power unit, Laurent Rossi stated: “The delay in the technical (engine) regulations means we will be using an evolutions of our RE20A unit. There are a few developments with the power train and we have worked specifically for optimum performance and reliability.”
The team finished fifth in the constructors championship in 2021, with three podiums to there name, their first in almost a decade of racing.
With returning two-time champion Fernando Alonso and Esteban Ocon, they will be hoping to have similar success with what will be a formidable line-up with a mix of youth and proven championship winning pedigree.
“The team at Enstone are highly experienced and motivated” said Racing Director, Davide Brivio. “I’m very lucky to have two very excellent drivers.”
“The dynamic between Fernando and Esteban is going to be an interesting one, they can definitely benefit from each other. “
The Alpine A521 will make its first extended on-track appearance at the start of pre-season testing in Bahrain, which takes place from 12-14 March.
Mercedes has unveiled its new W12, the car with which it hopes to win an eighth consecutive pair of F1 titles in the hands of Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas.
The Mercedes AMG F1 W12 keeps the black base livery introduced last year as part of the team’s anti-racism commitments, fading to silver on the engine cover. It also features much more prominent AMG branding across the car as per Mercedes’ plans to foreground its high-performance division within its F1 marketing.
The most visible changes to the design that’s carried over from 2020 are towards the rear, which is more tightly packaged around the engine. The front of the car is largely the same, which bucks the trend of the front-end development seen in the launches so far, but that could still change before testing next week.
Mercedes technical director James Allison called the W12 “an old friend in many ways”. However, he admitted that the launch spec of the car was missing some aero developments to the floor, which the team wanted to keep hidden from its rivals before testing.
Allison also said that AMG High Performance Powertrains have added more power to the engine for 2021. Beneath the chassis, the W12 features further improvements to the suspension and cooling systems.
Although the W12 is the clear title favourite for 2021, Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff greeted the new challenger with his trademark scepticism. “Every year we reset our focus,” he said. “The scoreboard goes to zero and there’s always more performance to be found.
“It’s very natural to get used to success, and therefore not fight as hard for it. But this team has not shown any of that. I see the same fire, hunger and passion now as I did the first time I walked through the doors in 2013.”
McLaren have become the first F1 team to unveil their 2021 challenger in a launch held at their factory in Woking.
Externally, the MCL35M is quite similar to its 2020 predecessor, featuring the same orange and blue livery. The most notable difference is around the power unit with tighter bodywork and a narrower floor.
Speaking of the launch in a press release, CEO Zak Brown said, “After a challenging but rewarding 2020, we have firmly hit the reset button for this season as we continue on our path towards the front of the grid. This will be an even tougher season but we’re ready to meet the challenge. I want to pay tribute to Formula 1 and the FIA and our fellow teams in continuing to work hard for the benefit of our sport as we strive to bring exciting racing to fans around the world.”
McLaren’s driver line-up has partially changed for 2021. Lando Norris is staying on for a third season, while Daniel Ricciardo is now driving alongside him. He replaces Carlos Sainz, who has moved to Ferrari for this year.
Team Principal Andreas Seidl said, “Together, Lando and Daniel comprise one of the most competitive driver line-ups in the sport. With these two behind the wheel of the MCL35M, we know we’ll have a team that gives total commitment in the pursuit of on-track performance as we head into the 2021 season.”
After using a Renault power unit from 2018 to 2020, the 2021 McLaren features a Mercedes power unit. McLaren previously worked with Mercedes between 1995 and 2014, a partnership that yielded three drivers’ championships and one constructors’ championships.
Speaking of the partnership, Technical Director James Key said, “One of the key elements of the MCL35M design is the integration of the Mercedes-AMG power unit, which has taken a considerable effort from the team in Woking, as well as our colleagues at Mercedes. Despite our limited scope for installation in a homologated car, the team has done a fantastic job of optimising our design work.”
The MCL35M will run for the first time at Silverstone tomorrow as part of a filming day.
During last year’s extended off-season, F1 put on a set of Virtual Grand Prix races to sustain our appetite for racing whilst we couldn’t do that in real life. It ran between the weekend of what would have been the Bahrain Grand Prix to the weekend when the Canadian Grand Prix would have taken place, before F1 returned to real racing three weeks afterward.
The races were entertaining and there was hope we could see the Virtual Grand Prix return during the winter off-season. Well, now it’s back!
Starting at the end of this month, a run of three consecutive weeks will see more drivers, other notable sporting athletes and celebrities compete on the F1 game. The first race will take place on January 31st on the Red Bull Ring, the second on February 7th on Silverstone and the last round on February 14th on Interlagos.
Unlike the 2020 events which all ran as standalone races, all three events will keep a points tally and have a champion at the end of it. Had points been counted last year, Williams driver George Russell would have been the unofficial winner with four wins in the last four races, but this time a champion will officially be crowned.
For the three-race championship, the format has been given a little shake-up. Before the official race, the drivers of the F1 Esports series will take to the virtual track in a five-lap sprint which will essentially be a qualification race to determine the grid.
In support of last year’s Virtual Grand Prix events, the F1 Esports drivers such as eventual 2020 champion Jarno Opmeer, his predecessors David Tonizza and Brendon Leigh among the many other talented racers would compete in a Pro Exhibition race. Now they’ll be playing a much more direct part in the event itself, perhaps enticing more people to seek out the F1 Esports series when it returns for its fifth season later this year.
After the grid is determined, the usual crowd will take over and compete in a 50% distance race. All ten teams will battle for points and will nominate a charity for F1 to send a donation to after the three-race season ends, with all the drivers playing a part in getting the best possible result and earning their selected charity some money.
So who will compete? F1 says to keep your eyes on their social media channels for driver announcements in the upcoming weeks. Expect a fair amount of celebrities and other sporting athletes to compete alongside drivers both in F1 and from other categories.
13 of the 23 drivers from last season competed in at least one race in the first run of Virtual Grand Prix races: Lando Norris, Nicholas Latifi, Charles Leclerc, George Russell, Alexander Albon, Antonio Giovinazzi, Carlos Sainz, Pierre Gasly, Esteban Ocon, Valtteri Bottas, Sergio Pérez and even the super subs Pietro Fittipaldi and Nico Hülkenberg.
Expect that a few of these will take part. Despite being some of the first to commit to them, Norris and Leclerc are both currently recovering from COVID-19 and Norris has even stated he would be taking a step back from any committed sim racing events in the off-season.
Other notable drivers who competed include former drivers like Jenson Button, Anthony Davidson, Johnny Herbert and Stoffel Vandoorne, DTM driver Phillip Eng, F2 driver and Renault junior Guanyu Zhou, and many Ferrari Driver Academy members like Robert Shwartzman, Callum Ilott, Gianluca Petecof and Arthur Leclerc. BTCC driver Nicolas Hamilton even did a couple of races with his brother’s former team McLaren.
Many guest drivers from outside of motorsport drove during the first leg of Virtual Grand Prix races—some with more success than others—such as surfer Kai Lenny (pictured in the feature image above driving for Red Bull). Some standout performances from top athletes in other sports include Real Madrid goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois and professional golfer Ian Poulter, who both also competed in many of Veloce Esports’ Not The GP races.
Some other popular additions to the grid would include YouTubers such as Jimmy Broadbent who did a few races with Racing Point, and also Tiametmarduk who competed in the last two Virtual GP events for McLaren after becoming their Esports team’s brand ambassador.
Ultimately, the Virtual Grand Prix races were an immense success even if they could have been conducted better. But with the lack of time to plan in advance and how the F1 schedule was changing all the time, we got the best we could. Now though, this three-race mini championship promises to provide us with some immense entertainment as we prepare for the 2021 F1 season.
Keep an eye out on F1’s social media channels to find out who will represent the 10 teams and expect to be able to watch the three events in the three successive weeks beginning on January 31st on F1’s official YouTube, Twitch and Facebook pages.