Do you agree with these F1 Creator predictions for the future?
Find out more about this list of F1 Creators’ predictions for 2021 and beyond, let us know if you agree and of course feel free to share your own.
Isaac Bareham’s Predictions:
1). Verstappen will move to Mercedes
Current Red Bull driver and Mercedes’ sole challenger Max Verstappen is not a man who likes to waste his own time, so it did not come as a shock when, following Honda’s announcement of their intentions to pull out of Formula 1 after 2021, rumors started spreading about the Dutchman’s future movements - specifically, the move up to Mercedes.
In his early stages, Verstappen made quite a few enemies on track and gained a reputation among fans for being reckless, immature and over eager. In recent years however, he has made a mammoth impression on Formula 1, earning himself a cult-like following and constantly being hailed as a future World Champion.
Those hopes were inflamed by Honda’s promise to deliver a Championship-challenging power unit by 2022, but now that the Japanese engine supplier has elected to withdraw from the sport altogether, Verstappen may already be scouting for a new seat.
Though many fans and supporters believe that the possibility of Verstappen piloting a Silver Arrow is just tabloid news, there may be some credibility to it. Given that the Flying Dutchman has an exit clause in his contract for the end of 2021, which coincides with a possible vacancy at Mercedes, it could be Verstappen’s next strategic move.
There is one more obstacle in Verstappen’s path to Mercedes aside from Lewis Hamilton however, and it’s another Brit. Mercedes junior driver George Russell has been the F1 community’s favorite for a Hamilton replacement from the very beginning of his F1 career with Williams.
Despite his points-scoring record - or rather the lack thereof - Russell has proven himself as a team leader, dedicated worker and, most notably, the 2018 Formula 2 Championship winner. Undeniable talent from a thrilling up-and-comer and arguably another future World Champion, but now that Max Verstappen will likely be considering a new team, Mercedes would certainly favor him over Russell.
Not only does Verstappen have age and experience on his side, but he is also a proven race winner and pole sitter, considered by many to be the quickest driver on the grid based on pure ability. With all these factors taken into consideration, it looks as though Russell will be pushed aside to make room for Verstappen.
2). Red Bull will return to Renault
Continuing with the Red Bull theme, it is time to look more in depth at Honda’s withdrawal from Formula 1, and the knockon effects it will have on not just Red Bull, but also on their B-team AlphaTauri as well.
Honda’s provided reason for exiting the sport is to aid in their goal of becoming fully carbon-neutral by 2050; a mission which is unlikely to be accomplished considering Formula 1’s high-octane fuel consumption and ‘use-and-abuse’ mentality towards tyres. So what are Red Bull’s options for power units from 2022 onwards, and which suppliers could make a surprise return?
In light of the breaking news surrounding the Honda ordeal, Toyota has been mentioned frequently as a possible returning engine supplier. However, their severance of ties with F1 back in 2009 due to what many onlookers assumed was a mere lack of representative success, will not put Toyota at the front of Red Bull’s mind.
Seemingly left with no one else to turn to, Red Bull may have to seriously consider joining forces with Renault once again - a decision which could be the catalyst for Verstappen exercising his exit clause.
Why is Renault one of the only current engine suppliers Red Bull can use? Simply because they supply the least number of teams with their power units. In fact, the only two Renault-powered cars on the grid are that of their own works-team cars. Ferrari is Red Bull’s only other option, but with their engines being the source of the Scuderia’s trials and tribulations this year - along with customers Alfa Romeo and HAAS - Red Bull will be keen to maintain a wide berth.
Honda truly pulled the rug out from under Red Bull, subsequently meaning that the team is being backed into a sinister yellow and black corner. They will also be painfully aware that signing with Renault again will likely cost them their number one driver; unfortunately, it would not seem as though they have any other choice.
3). Schumacher, Illot and Tsunoda will race in 2021
2019 saw the graduation of three rising stars from Formula 2 to Formula 1, in the shape of George Russell, Lando Norris and Alex Albon, and 2021 could see the graduation of three more.
The moment F1 fans have been awaiting for a multitude of years has finally arrived; Formula 2 Championship leader Mick Schumacher is starting to wedge his foot in the door of Formula 1, already being suggested as an Alfa Romeo driver in 2021.
In fact, young Schumacher was supposed to participate in FP1 with the Italian team at the Nürburgring for the Eifel Grand Prix, but was forced to miss out as the session was cancelled due to dangerous weather conditions. Despite the lack of on-track data from Schumacher however, his outstanding Formula 2 performance and Formula 1 heritage will likely accelerate his rise to Formula 1, predictably with Alfa Romeo.
As Mick Shumacher’s main Formula 2 rival and the second place driver in the Championship, Callum Illot is another thrilling prospect for Formula 1 next year. The British driver was also due to accompany Schumacher in FP1 at the Nürburgring with HAAS, but also had to sit the session out due to the unsafe conditions of the track.
Just like his Championship-lading rival however, Illot’s lack of on-track data will have no effect on his chances of a Formula 1 seat, as his success in the tier below makes him hot property. If HAAS are interested in a revised 2021 driver lineup, they will certainly look towards Callum Illot to accomplish the desired restructure of the team.
The final of the three F2 drivers who has been constantly mentioned as a Formula 1 candidate is of course Yuki Tsunoda. The Red Bull junior driver, currently racing for Carlin Motorsports, sits just behind Schumacher and Illot in the Championship, challenging both drivers ahead from third place.
The Japanese driver has made an enormous imprint on Formula 2, to the extent that his name has been thrown into the mix for a Red Bull contract. Those who believe the Milton Keynes-based team is looking to replace Alex Albon - of which there are many - frequently overlook Tsunoda, and assume that Albon and Pierre Gasly would be swapped once again.
In reality however, Red Bull would likely be more keen on reaching into their pool of junior drivers to replace Albon, if they were considering doing so, to promote new and promising talent in Formula 1. Though Albon is by no means failing at Red Bull, his lack of consistency is making Tsunoda more and more appealing to Christian Horner and Helmut Marko.
4). Alonso’s return to Formula 1 will be incredibly successful
Photo credit: McLaren
Despite his age and previous number of years in Formula 1, Fernando Alonso clearly still has an itch for Formula 1. Set to rejoin Renault in 2021 (as it becomes Alpine Racing), the Spaniard will be under much scrutiny and pressure to deliver, given his legendary history in the sport.
The big question is, will Alonso be up to snuff when he returns? Upon first glance, you could be forgiven for immediately thinking that he will not, but take a second look.
With Formula 1’s major regulation changes for 2022 fast approaching, many teams will be looking for loopholes, or simply taking advantage of the level playing field that the FIA is trying to create through these changes. Amongst these teams is Renault, who are the reason that Fernando Alonso’s reunion with F1 will be smoother and more successful than some might have assumed.
Kiran Ganesh’s Predictions:
1). Esteban Ocon will never win a Grand Prix
Yes, he is talented but I think he’s going to be a midfielder his entire career. He will either have bad luck or just fluff up when he has good luck. And that Mercedes seat is never coming. That’s already Russell’s.
2). The Indian Grand Prix will be back before 2030
This is more of a hope than a prediction really, but yeah. Motorsport is really picking up in India and if Daruvala enters F1, it will just shoot up. That might bring the chance of a Grand Prix coming back. Go Jehan!
3). We will have the best ever Championship battle in about 7-8 years time
2012 was a great year because it had so many drivers in the prime age range of 26-32, all competing in the top teams. With drivers now like Verstappen, Leclerc, Russell, Norris, Gasly and many others, they will surely have a year-long multi-team Championship battle in a few years. Great racing to come!
Jesse B’s Predictions:
1). Hamilon and Bottas for 2021, Russell and Bottas for 2022
Russell’s Williams contract ends in 2022 and then I reckon he’ll be drafted up to the “big leagues". 2022 may therefore see Hamilton leave F1 allowing Russell to step up and fill his place. I won’t say number one or number 2 driver because I think Mercedes might look for a 2016 Nico Rosberg “surprise” champ.
So possibly leaving it open so Bottas gets a WDC before potentially stepping back. It’s a new set of technical specs so the playing field is going to be a lot more even than it has been for much of the Turbo-Hybrid era so far, meaning Mercedes might gamble a lot more. If Bottas gets his WDC I can see him potentially following the Kimi route and going to Williams to act as their Robert Kubica, helping the team with development and using his extensive years in the F1 scene.
2). Max Verstappen moves to McLaren
They also have a Mercedes grunt for 2021, in an unchanged car from this year, and a chassis that seems more nailed down than the Jordan/Force India/Racing Point/Aston Martin cars. Could Mercedes‘ biggest problem for the next year or two be one of its customer companies? Especially with two drivers who’ll take risks and SEND IT, with a chassis that can really handle it; just look at how nailed the front ends on the McLarens were in Quali at the ‘Ring.
That coupled with Mercedes power? Possibly a winning combination. Lando will be looking to renew come 2022, so do McLaren keep him or whisper nice words into Max Verstappen’s ear with promises of the Mercedes power unit he needs for a WDC, and a chassis that is probably second best on the grid? I wouldn’t be surprised if we see Max and Danny back together but now wrapped in Papaya orange race suits.
3). AlphaTauri’s fresh start
Both Gasly and Kvyat have shown some excellent skills this year, and capitalised in some tricky races last year, so AlphaTauri will be looking to keep them on board for as long as possible. Gasly seems to be a bit more forward-thinking than Daniil, and will likely make moves to another team to make a run for the WDC, maybe 2022 alongside Alonso at Alpine? They’d love having a French driver in a French car, same as with Ocon.
Photo credit: AlphaTauri
So 2022 could be a clean slate for AlphaTauri with them sourcing from their driver academy and F2/F3 talent pools. Jüri Vips and Yuki Tsunoda strike me as the best choices for the AlphaTauri seats, with Daniil stepping back from F1. He’s not the full enough package to make a WDC challenge and faces too much competition. If there were more teams he could easily stay on the grid but new drivers are coming through with a lot more gusto!
4). Mick Schumacher and Robert Schwartzman at Alfa Romeo
OK, hear me out. Schumacher for the name and for the attention. Robert for the fact that this guy has proven he can win races and Championships. I’d like to pick Callum Illot for this, but he doesn’t have the same face value record book that Robert does or the flash name of Mick. But why a new slate? Well, Kimi hasn’t made it out of Q1 this year I don’t think, and Antonio just doesn’t seem to be vibing with the car. Maybe it’s a car issue, maybe it’s a "him" issue, so I can see him being dropped.
This is the second year in a row we’ve seen him drop it at Spa in much the same vein. He just might not be cut out for F1. With Kimi, as much as I love him, it’s fairly disheartening to see him relegated to just driving around at the back of the grid with George Russell nipping at his heels in the wheelie bin that is a Williams. A fresh start for Alfa Romeo and some chassis tweaks to add some competitive nature to the car, now that Ferrari has remembered a bit how to make engines (see Charles in German GP this weekend with his new bolt-ons).
So a fresh start with some fresh eager drivers would go well. Maybe they’ll keep Kimi for a year to get him to teach a rookie the ropes, and then drop him for another rookie and have a non-binary pair of “just two drivers, not a number 1 and number 2 driver”.
5). The leftovers
There are some big names in the lower leagues I’ve missed off, and one of those is Jack Aitken. I’d take a punt on him filling a seat that is vacated when an older tutoring driver retires. The same goes for Nick de Vries if they can pry him away from Formula E, Nobuhara Matsushita, Luca Ghiotto, Sérgio Sette Câmara, Guanyu Zhou (move to Alpine assuming Ocon moves to Mercedes in 2022/23 and races alongside Gasly if Alonso retires).
Photo credit: Jake Archibald
The list goes on and the possibilities are endless. But that’s what I’d take a punt on happening for the next two years. Beyond that? It’s anyone’s game. By 2023 we’ll see evolutions of the 2022 tech-specs, with the once levelled playing field beginning to show who’s had their eye on the ball and who was caught napping. Add in the target of being carbon neutral by 2030 - seeing changes to the calendar, cars and where the sport races - makes the future of F1, F2 and F3 anyone’s game.
Joe McCormick’s Predictions:
1). Hamilton will stay put for 2022
Unlike Jesse’s opinion, I don’t believe Hamilton will be going anywhere for the 2022 season. We have heard many times form the Briton that he feels like he is performing better than he ever has, and he has also expressed his interest in the new specifications for the 2022 season.
I believe Hamilton will stay put, and if Russell were to join Mercedes, he would be replacing Bottas if the Finn is unable to compete with the other teams for the Championship that year. While Lewis is certainly getting older, it seems that his spark to continue winning is still there, and I reckon he has at least another Championhip in him...
2). Championship contenders
The 2022 regulations are rapidly approaching and I believe that the new budget caps that have been put into place by the FIA are going to go a very long way for the sport. Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull currently spend a ridiculous amount of money on the develpoment of their car, while others are forced to spend a lot less.
Williams are a great example of this - there was one year where they didn’t produce a car strong enough to perform at the front (or even in the midfield); but their poor results caused them to lose a lot of prize money, thus causing them to keep developing slower cars. ‘The money situation in Formula 1 certainly needed revising‘, and I certainly believe this budget cap is definitely going to bring the likes of McLaren and Aston Martin into the World Championship fight in 2021 or 2022.
3). Don’t forget about Daniel Ricciardo
While everyone currently has their eyes on drivers such as Verstappen, Russell, Leclerc, Norris, Albon and Schumacher, I believe some of the more experienced drivers such as Daniel Ricciardo still have a chance at winning the World Championship.
Photo credit: Renault
We know Daniel has the ability to win races - his overtaking is phenominal - but I believe a lot of people have written him off after a couple of bad seasons with Renault. The potential for Ricciardo is still there, and I think he will win at least one Championship before retiring from the sport.
Robert Percy’s Predictions:
1). Sebastian Vettel will win at least one more Championship before he retires
Sebastian Vettel’s luck has really been down in the dumps as of late. His stint at Ferrari was so underwhelming that even the German himself described it as a “failure” to Tom Clarkson in his appearance on the ‘Beyond The Grid‘ podcast. It’s a situation that’s absolutely not deserving of a four-time World Champion like Vettel. His move to Aston Martin next year, however, does have a lot of promise behind it.
As controversial as the RP20 is, it’s a seriously quick car that has managed to earn consistent points finishes for Perez, Stroll and Hulkenberg, as well as helping Stroll get to the second podium of his Formula 1 career. With a little bit more development and the car being in the hands of a driver as great as Vettel, we could definitely see some more podiums and maybe even a surprise win for the newly-rebranded Aston Martin team in 2021.
It’s 2022 and beyond though where things could get very interesting. The new regulations could really shake up the grid in terms of which teams have the best cars and, with Vettel’s invaluable experience from his time at Red Bull and Ferrari as well as his 53 race wins (at the time of writing) and multiple World Championships, Aston Martin could really gain an upper hand in car development. Couple that to their engine deal with Mercedes looking set to continue, the team formerly known as Force India could develop a car good enough to lead the German to Championship gold once again.
I genuinely, genuinely believe that Sebastian Vettel will become at least a 5-time world champion before he leaves F1 for good. He is still in his early 30s, meaning that he has at least half a decade or more left in the sport and, as 2018 showed, he still has the ability to hang with the nigh-unbeatable Mercedes duo of Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas.
If Aston Martin gives Vettel a proper chance in some serious machinery, he will show us all that the on-track dominance that he demonstrated so well in the early 2010s with Red Bull is still there.
2). Lewis Hamilton will take a sabbatical after the 2021 season
Yes, Lewis Hamilton is the GOAT. He is breaking almost all the records right now and it’s fully deserved. Yes, he does have the best car, there is no doubt about that - but so did Michael Schumacher in the early 2000s and Alain Prost in 1993 and you can’t say that neither of them wouldn’t have won without their exceptional driving skills.
Here’s the thing about Lewis though; he’s 35. Whilst he may be in the absolute prime of his career right now, he doesn’t really have long left in Formula 1 judging by the age that drivers typically leave the sport. Combined with his mounting interests in things outside of Formula 1 such as his collaboration with Tommy Hilfiger, his activism, his Extreme E team and his ever-increasing hints about launching fully into a career in music, the Formula 1 environment may not be the best place for him to be focusing the majority of his efforts.
Add to that the changing regulations in 2022 that could affect Mercedes’ place as being the best team on the grid, and it absolutely makes sense that Hamilton might want to take a step away from F1 at the end of the 2021 season.
Hamilton won’t have anything to lose by stepping away in 2021. In all likelihood, he could very well get his 8 championships by the end of the 2021 season, making him legitimately the most successful driver in the history of the sport. When you’ve reached the top of the mountain, where else are you going to go to find a new challenge? I don’t think he will retire fully though.
I think he will do what Fernando Alonso did in 2018 and just take a sabbatical from the sport for a couple of years. What team he could go to upon his F1 return is a matter of pure speculation, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he signs a very lucrative deal with Williams, Aston Martin or even Ferrari for one last hurrah in his late 30s-early 40s.
What would he do away from F1? I could see him doing a lot of cool stuff. In terms of racing, it would only make sense for him to try and go for the fabled Triple Crown by entering the Indy 500 and the 24 Hours of LeMans. Maybe we could see him pop up in the Dakar Rally or Formula E too? I could also see him fully committing to his music career, something that he’s been working on in the background for several years now.
Whatever he’ll do, he’ll do it with the professionalism and dedication that has made him such a special talent in racing over the years and I can’t wait to see what he’ll get stuck into should he take a sabbatical from the sport that has made him a household name.
3). Nico Hulkenberg will return to F1 - as a reserve driver for Aston Martin
Nico Hulkenberg’s Formula 1 career can be summed up in a single word: unlucky. Whilst he has shown some fantastic driving prowess both in F1 and endurance racing (he is a LeMans winner, don’t forget!), he always seems to get the short straw. He is still yet to stand upon the podium in F1 and his career as a full-time F1 driver was cut undeservedly short after Renault decided to axe him for the woefully underperforming Esteban Ocon.
Photo credit: Racing Point
Following his impressive performances as a stand-in for Racing Point’s Sergio Perez at Silverstone and Lance Stroll at the Nürburgring, there have been calls for the Hulk to return to F1; rightly so, as his performances in both races were superb!
However, I do have doubts about Hulk ever getting a full-time F1 seat again. Teams are constantly pushing the younger generation into seats and you can’t blame them for doing so. The allure of potential newcomers like Mick Schumacher, Callum Ilott, Robert Shwartzman and Yuki Tsunoda is far too much to ignore (especially Schumacher considering who his father and uncle were), and teams who need an injection of fresh blood are more likely to take a chance on one of those younger drivers than bring in somebody like Hulkenberg.
That’s why I’m thinking that the Hulk’s return to F1 will be in a role basically the same as the one he’s already been doing this year: a reserve driver for the newly-rebranded Aston Martin team for 2021 and beyond.
Yes, it’s not a full-time seat. What it does do though is secure somewhat of a future for Hulkenberg in F1, whilst enabling him to potentially compete in other motorsports such as Formula E, endurance racing, GT racing, Extreme E or some other form of rallying/rallycross.
His years of experience in F1 will be a massive help for car development with Aston Martin in a similar way to how it’ll be with Sebastian Vettel and, of course, should Vettel or Stroll be forced to take time away from the track for whatever reason… Hulk will be able to come back and deliver more fantastic drives!
4). The Nürburgring will become a regular part of the F1 season again
Everyone was incredibly pleased when the news was announced that the Nürburgring Grand Prix circuit would return to the Formula 1 calendar as part of the rescheduled season. It’s a beloved track and for good reason. It’s an old-school pre-Tilkedromes circuit that never fails to produce great racing, not to mention that it’s one of the most iconic locations on earth when it comes to motorsport.
The first F1 race at the ‘Ring for 7 years was universally thought of as a great race too, full of action without as much of the calamity that we saw at Mugello. It’s for these reasons that I feel like the Nürburgring will make a return to the F1 calendar as the German Grand Prix.
Let’s be honest here. The fact that there was no German Grand Prix scheduled on the F1 season this year - until things had to be re-arranged due to COVID-19 - was a very odd decision. Sebastian Vettel, one of the most successful drivers on the current grid and one of the biggest household names associated with modern F1, is German.
Michael Schumacher, still technically the most successful driver in the history of the sport as the holder of 7 World Championships titles, is German. Mick Schumacher, one of the hottest properties in the junior Formula series, races under a German licence because of his father’s nationality. Germany has become an important country in the world of Formula 1. So why omit a race in Germany from the calendar? It all seems a bit stupid to me.
F1 has to see the error of its ways and not only bring back the German Grand Prix, but also have it on the Nürburgring Grand Prix circuit. That’s something I seriously think will be done within the next few years. I can’t see as much of a case for bringing a track like Mugello back unless it works better with the 2022 cars, but there is a very strong case for bringing the Nürburgring back year after year. Come on F1, give it another go!
Thiemo Albers-Daly’s Predictions:
1). At least two female F1 drivers on the grid within the next four years
We’ve got some great up and coming talent in drivers like Jamie Chadwick, Tatiana Calderon, Sophia Florsch and Beitske Visser, and they’re all breaking great ground at the moment, which means Formula 1 is the natural next step. I think these four will be the ones to watch and will make F1 history.
Photo credit: Williams
2). George Russell wins a World Championship with Williams
Williams are in a slump right now which means it’s perfect timing for a comeback. They’re steadily improving and I believe the new regulations in 2022 will benefit them and help them close the gap. George Russell is then the logical choice for the driver to win their next World Championship.
3). Mick Schumacher and Lewis Hamilton become teammates
I don’t know which team they’ll be in, but having those two iconic names side by side is something everyone wants to see, which is why I think it will happen. Maybe a passing of the torch season for them.
4). F1 will go back to using V8 engines after 2026
After 2026, F1 will need to decide between technological innovation and entertainment, so I think with all the progress the teams - and the world - will make by then, they’ll opt to go back to V8 engines and allow a plethora of engine suppliers to return/debut in F1.
Tell us your predictions below
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