Who will end Lewis Hamilton's reign?
Verstappen? Leclerc? Russell? Who will be Formula One's next world champion?
Lewis Hamilton has dominated Formula One the past 7 years and has broken the record books. The Brit looks unbeatable as he looks set to sign up to Mercedes for 2021. Here is a list of the favorites to succeed the 7x F1 World Champion ahead of the new 2021 season.
Verstappen is probably everyone's favorite to surpass Lewis Hamilton as the next world champion, and for a good reason. Verstappen has dominated his recent teammates and put in some outstanding performances in his Red Bull.
However, the Red Bull youngster is currently close to beating the record for the most successful driver without a world championship. A record Verstappen will not want to hold.
So can Verstappen win the title any time soon? Well yes. But he needs the car to be able to do it. With Red Bull and Honda putting all their efforts into 2021, and Verstappen looking strong at the end of 2020, can the Dutchman finally do it this season?
There is no doubt that Leclerc can perform at a high level. In 2019, he achieved the most pole positions and won two races whilst under huge pressure from Lewis Hamilton, despite being in only his second season in F1.
Although, as seen in 2020, when he drove into his teammate at the Styrian Grand Prix and crashed at Monza, Leclerc is still mistake prone. But he is still very young so is bound to make mistakes this early on in his career, just like Lewis Hamilton and Michael Schumacher who were no stranger to controversary in their early days.
Therefore, Leclerc clearly has the talent and speed to challenge Lewis Hamilton, but he will not be able to do it in 2021, with Ferrari carrying over a similar car from 2020 into 2021. However, with the new regulations for 2022, Leclerc will be more experienced and ready than ever to challenge the Brit with a (hopefully) more competitive Ferrari.
After Russell's exceptional stand in performance at the Sakhir Grand Prix for Mercedes. The Brit has been hotly tipped to be the successor to Lewis Hamilton if he were to leave the sport.
The Williams driver put in an outstanding performance and nearly beat his new temporary teammate Valtteri Bottas to pole position. There was no faults to Russell's performance in Sakhir, he got an amazing start, took the lead, dominated the race, and pulled a sensational overtake on Valtteri Bottas.
However, Russell's opportunity to be world champion will only come when he is promoted to Mercedes full time, but will this be in 2022 or even further down the line? It all depends on if Bottas or Hamilton leave the team any time soon. Toto Wolff certainly has a tough decision on his hands.
Ricciardo has had an interesting career path that has fluctuated in recent times. There is no doubt that he is quick and talented enough to win a title. However, he has never had the material to challenge Mercedes despite winning races at Red Bull.
After a somewhat disappointing stint at Renault, the Aussie has moved to McLaren for 2021. But the Woking based outfit are not close to winning championships at the moment despite there upwards trajectory. Although, with a new Mercedes engine in the back of the McLaren for 2021, and new regulations for 2022, can the Aussie finally catch a break?
Valtteri Bottas has been Lewis Hamilton's teammate for 4 years now and has been unable to mount a title challenge in that time. Despite, Bottas showing true pace and the talent to compete with Hamilton at times, the Finn is inconsistent, unlucky and allows Hamilton to beat him each year.
Bottas may be secretly hoping that Hamilton will retire soon, so that he can get out of the champions shadow and finally win a title himself. However, with Russell matching Bottas as a stand in driver, it is hard to see Valtteri winning a championship unfortunately.
A surprise? Vettel? Alonso? Sainz? Norris?
Formula One is unpredictable, and anything can happen. If Aston Martin or Alpine were to continue their trajectory and nail the 2022 regulations, then their drivers could be title challengers. Could Vettel and Alonso win another one with their experience and knowledge? Or could Carlos Sainz prove a surprise and beat Charles Leclerc at Ferrari? Or could Lando Norris or Sergio Perez pull a surprise out the bag?
Nothing lasts forever, and Lewis Hamilton's domination will end at some point. But for now, all we know is that the future of Formula One is exciting with such talented drivers and teams all gunning to take the crown. Who do you think will be up next?