F1 is a different sport to what it was when the ball dropped in Time Square on January first 2010. Giants have fallen, legends have passed, and rookies have risen. And so, as we brace for the ball drop in Time Square- which will, this time, send us into the 2020s, here are the biggest stories and takeaways from the last decade. (in as close to chronological order as is practical)
Schumacher returns with new team Mercedes
The first big headline of the new decade was the return of F1's biggest name- Michael Schumacher. The German returned to the F1 circus alongside the new team of Mercedes, who had bought out Brawn GP- the previous championship winner. The pairing, however, never truly found success. Albeit, there were some near misses, like Monaco in 2012.
Red Bull & Vettel win it all
Along with a digit occupying the tens place of the year number, the 2010s bought a new dominating force in the form of Red Bull Racing and Sebastian Vettel. The new team, with Adrian Newey leading their aerodynamics, won in 2010, and continued their reign of success until 2013. (I will not be listing every year they won in an effort to keep things fresh, so I've clubbed their success in here even though chronologically it makes little sense.)
2012 is a thriller!
With new Pirelli tires, racing was unpredictable and thrilling, which culminated in a four-way title fight in Abu Dhabi that year. However, as you are well aware, Red Bull and Vettel were atop the standings once again.
Hamilton moves to Mercedes for 2013 season
In a move that sent shockwaves through the paddock, Lewis Hamilton moved to the then-struggling team of Mercedes for the 2013 season. The silver arrows improved that year to second place, but were still a long way off Red Bull. That is, until the tables turned the next year, when F1 was flipped upside down. (Yes that's foreshadowing)
Formula One goes hybrid
Gone were the 2.4 liter V8 engines which F1 cars had sported in years prior, and in were the new 1.6 liter turbo-hybrid units, which sported two battery units, called the MGU-H and MGU-K. This promised to lure more manufacturers into the sport, and propel F1 into the 21st century.
Mercedes slay the rest in new hybrid-era
In 2014, Mercedes were the team to beat, as they brought Lewis Hamilton to his second world title using their superior power unit. And, their reign didn't end there. They've won every single championship since then, including 2019, when they won their sixth.
Vettel moves to Ferrari
After a mediocre 2014 with Red Bull, Sebastian Vettel moved to Ferrari in 2015 with hopes of resurrecting the Italian marque. His attempts at winning the title in the past decade have faltered, however 2020 provides yet another opportunity.
Jules Bianchi passed away
One of several tragedies this decade, the death of Jules Bianchi shook F1 to its core, opening the eyes of the sport, and prompting more action regarding the safety of the racing, thus shaping F1 as it is now. (I do recognize the passing of Antoine Hubert was equally significant, however as that was a Formula 2 incident rather than one in Formula One, it will not be on this list.)
Mclaren-honda begins... and then fails
Mclaren-honda car 2015
After many years apart, Mclaren and Honda remarried in 2015, and the results were unfruitful. Reliability and politics got in the way of their relationship, and they were unable to succeed as a pairing. 2016 and 2017 saw yet more failures, and ultimately the situation boiled over, and the relationship ended in 2018.
Max Verstappen gets Red Bull seat in second season
After a season with Toro Rosso in 2015, Max Verstappen was promoted to Red Bull to fill the shoes of Daniil Kvyat, who was shown the door after poor results. The Dutchman proceeded to win his first race with the anglo-Austrian team in Spain, showing Formula One what he was made of, and cementing him as a future champion.
Rosberg disrupts Hamilton's run
In 2016, Nico Rosberg managed to give Lewis Hamilton a run for his money, and he ultimately beat him at the final round in Abu Dhabi. He remains the only driver to have done so since the 2013 season, and directly after the win, the German pilot retired.
F1 brings in faster cars in 2017, but more dirty air to boot
With wider stances and bigger wings, F1's 2017 regulations brought in the sport's fastest ever cars, as well as the return of the shark fin. However, alongside these appealing traits came the dirty air problem, which had been an issue in prior seasons, but never to this extent. These troubles sparked a fight against dirty air- one which rages on still.
The confusing Toro Rosso driver shuffle
Throughout 2017, a storm was brewing within Red Bull's driver program, and this came to a head at the Malaysian GP that year, when Pierre Gasly stepped up to replace Kvyat, who was fired. However, a few races post that, when Carlos Sainz had moved to Renault and Gasly was unable to compete, Kvyat had to return, alongside new recruit Brendon Hartley, who had been fired previously and then rehired. It was only after that, once Gasly could commit to F1 full-time, when the team calmed down and retained Gasly and Hartley for the remainder of 2017, and the entirety of 2018, ditching Kvyat once and for all... until 2019 at least.
F1 brings in Halo
After over one year of tests, F1 finally settled on the halo as the cockpit protection system at the end of 2017. It was a controversial addition initially, however after two seasons with the apparatus, and several incidents in which it proved its worth, much of the talk surrounding the halo has calmed down.
Ricciardo heads to Renault
Renault F1 twitter
Perhaps the biggest surprise of 2018 was Daniel Ricciardo's shocking switch to the mid-field team of Renault. The move left people particularly flabbergasted due to the fact that the Aussie was ditching the far-superior team of Red Bull (superior in terms of performance, at least). The move shook up the driver market severely, and left Red Bull driver-less.
New aerodynamic rules for 2019
In a bid to partially resolve the dirty air issue which had plagued 2018 and 2017, Formula One introduced new technical regulations for 2019. This included simplified font wings, simplified brake ducts, and enlarged rear wings to compensate for this, as well as increase the effectiveness of DRS to further promote overtaking.
Mclaren bounce back (sorta)
After many farcical years in the turbo-hybrid era, McLaren managed to bounce back in a way for 2019. Their new management and driver line-up even managed a podium in Brazil, as well as fourth in the constructor's champiosnhip, as they beat out Renault.
F1 reveals brand new regulations
While they will only be enforced after the 2020 season, Formula One announced their immense set of changes for the 2021 year in October. It's predicted that the modifications -of which there are many- will together account for dirty air decreases of up to 35%. The cars, however, have yet to be developed, so these numbers will inevitably change as teams find loopholes which could create more dirty air. Off-track changes are in order as well, with cost caps and other elements being added in an effort to tighten the grid.
The decade -which ends in four hours (for EST)- has seen many things change in Formula One. Some for the better, and some for the worse. All we can do is hope the next ten years will be equally exciting.