This is part two of three articles highlighting the battles between teammates on the grid for the 2021 season. You can read the first one here!
In this part, it is the midfield teams from last season, Ferrari, Alpine and Aston Martin. Two new names and all three teams will be debuting a new driver to there set up.
Charles Le Clerc vs Carols Sainz jr
In a very tough year for the Prancing Horse, one that saw the worst Constructors finish for them since their 10th place in 1980. With not too many changes for the new season, it may seem that another tough year of Ferrari is about to commence. However, they have one driver in Charles Le Clerc who is one of the fastest drivers on the grid and another embarking on his first year for the sport’s most successful constructor.
Even having to drive the ‘Un-reliant Robin’ in 2020, the young Monagas achieved three podiums as well as a further trio of fourth place finishes. The sourness that surrounded the team last year will not have completely nullified, but with a contract ‘til 2025, progress and development towards 2022 will be the main aim.
Carlos Sainz jr is the new man at the Marinello team replacing four-time World Champion Sebastian Vettel. Despite only having two podiums in his F1 career so far at Brazil 2019 and Monza 2020, the Spaniard has come on leaps and bounds since his move to McLaren in 2019. He may not have the full package as of yet, but if his personal progress carries on to 2021 and beyond, we may be seeing another race winner.
Carlos is a quick driver, however, a combination of comfortability at the team and almost unrivalled speed on track, it will be a brave man to bet against Le Clerc being the ‘number one’ driver for Ferrari.
Esteban Ocon vs Ferando Alonso
A new name and a new driver as Renault turns to Alpine whilst Fernando Alonso is reunited with the team that he won his two World Championships with at the start of the millennium. The progress made on track from the start of 2019 to now is promising for the French team, however I can only see the appointment of Alonso as a step backwards, whilst also undermining the Renault Drivers Academy. Out of the sport of two years after his tumultuous last few seasons at McLaren it is going to take a while for the man to settle and achieve results.
Teammate Esteban Ocon grew in confidence to the back of 2020 achieving his first podium at Sakhir. He himself said after a year out of the sport between his time at Racing Point and Renault, that it was hard to get back to speed straight away, and although no one can tell you that Alonso was not a fast driver, you must wonder how much pace has been lost.
I have only recently learnt about Esteban Ocon’s upbringing and to say that has given me a new liking to the driver is an understatement. Since the announcement of Alonso to the team I have thought that the Frenchman will comfortably beat the man on the other side of the garage.
Lance Stroll vs Sebastian Vettel
British Racing Green is back on the track with a name synonymous with high-quality cars, Aston Martin. Lawrence Stroll has made changes to the team as the Racing Point era has ended and a four-time World Champion has come in. Sebastian Vettel, who had a disastrous final year at Ferrari has replaced Sergio Perez, the man who gave the constructor their best finish in the drivers standing as well as their first win.
I feel sorry for Lance Stroll as he is deemed only as a pay driver when he is much more than that. Money helps but having a billionaire parent did not give him his first pole position in Turkey, where if it were not for poor team tactics, a win would have been almost certain, or two podiums last year. He is quick and his race craft is excellent, he needs to improve his qualifying performances as that aspect is what is currently holding him back. He is still only 22 years old and is always improving. Under the wing of his new teammate, we may see an even better version of the Canadian.
Sebastian Vettel has joint Aston Martin with hopes to erase any memory of last season, and although the car he was driving was as quick as my Gran’s Vauxhall Astra, he did not cover himself in glory. His spins on track have been embarrassing and was comprehensively beaten by teammate Charles Le Clerc last season (for a few reasons.) Personally however, I do not believe that he will be as quick as the fresh-faced Stroll, who is ever improving whilst becoming very familiar in his surroundings.
The final part of this series will be the top three from the the constructors last season, Mercedes, Red Bull and McLaren.