The 2021 Formula 1 season started only a little more than a week ago with the Bahrain Grand Prix, though teams that likely won’t be vying for the title — everyone except Red Bull and Mercedes, that is — sure sound like they wish it was 2022 already.
That’s because next year there will be sweeping rules changes in Formula 1, rules changes that are meant to level the playing field and perhaps make the sport more interesting than just the usual Mercedes-led march.
The also-rans sound like they just can’t wait. They include Ferrari, whose team principal Mattia Binotto said the following this week:
“I would say that we are lacking in all the areas,” said Binotto, when asked what improvements he’d still like to see at his team. “I think we are still lacking on the engine, less than before certainly so the gap has closed and I think we are converging.
“Hopefully by next year, when we will again have a new power unit, we may catch up or have a benchmark for the others. I think on the aero as well – medium and high-speed downforce – I think it’s an entire package again. But now the differences are closer and closer. More important is I think we are working in the right direction with the right tools and that will make us stronger in the future.”
The also-rans also include Alpine, whose CEO Laurent Rossi said the following this week:
“What we want to do is carry on building on what we’ve done. We know we’ve more or less reached the end of this car anyway,” he said. “So [we will] extract as much as we can out of this car, use this to fine tune the operations’ organisation and in the meantime make sure we build the best ever car for the next regulation era.”
“So very confident that this new mayonnaise will taste good next year,” he joked. “We’re French, so we know a thing or two about mayonnaise.
I’m not sure what the mayonnaise thing is either.
Meanwhile, Honda, which supplies power units for Red Bull and Alphatauri, is going the other direction and leaving the sport entirely after 2021. Honda’s F1 director Masashi Yamamoto said this week it wasn’t the easiest call. Red Bull intends to soldier with its own sort-of Honda power unit.
“There will not be any Honda branding on the car or the engine, so it will be mixed feelings seeing the car that has a Honda power unit,” he added. “The heart of the car is a Honda however it’s not really a Honda!”
No one knows how 2022 will shake out, and we won’t have any idea until testing begins with the new cars, but even with Lewis Hamilton the favorite to again win the title this year, Max Verstappen gave us all a reason to tune in when he won pole at Bahrain. Maybe this year won’t be a final coronation for Hamilton after all.