With the new Formula 1 season about to begin, we take a look at the chances of Red Bull, AlphaTauri and Williams, and the marks they will make on the track this year.
Red Bull – Mercedes’ main challengers
Will this year be their year? Red Bull have been sat firmly in the shadow of rivals Mercedes for seven years now, having watched Lewis Hamilton claim title after title.
Their last win was way back in 2013 with Sebastian Vettel, with young gun Max Verstappen promising much but ultimately unable to deliver on the biggest stages.
Verstappen, brought in from junior team Toro Rosso in 2016, has finished 3rd in the drivers table in each of the last two seasons, behind Hamilton and his Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas in each.
The big question around Red Bull is their car: is it actually capable of launching a serious title challenge?
Alongside Verstappen this year is 31-year-old Sergio Perez. Perez won a Grand Prix for the first time in the penultimate race of the 2020 season, claiming his place at the summit of the podium after 190 Grand Prix.
Undoubtedly a talented driver, Perez was essentially forced out of Racing Point at the end of last year in favour of Sebastian Vettel.
This is arguably the first time in his career that Checo will be driving a truly top-tier car. He’s definitely one to keep an eye on this season.
The key question with Red Bull is whether they can finally usurp Mercedes. Hamilton and Bottas are formidable as ever, though, so that will be no easy task.
AlphaTauri – Set to cause an upset?
Red Bull’s slightly uglier sister, AlphaTauri is a team with a point to prove. Nobody grows up wanting to drive for them, but they do provide a solid stepping stone to the bright green pastures of Red Bull.
Last season the team finished in a respectable 7th place, picking up an Italian GP win in the process.
Pierre Gasly is in the team for the second year running, having been dropped by Red Bull in 2019.
Gasly would have hoped to return to the main team with the dropping of Alex Albon, only for Perez to get the nod over him.
If Gasly is to have even a remote hope of returning to the main team, he’ll need to have a big season in navy and white and show some more substance to his high potential.
Japanese rookie Yuki Tsunoda will partner Gasly this season, replacing Russian favourite Daniil Kvyat.
The 20-year-old is very highly rated from his time in Formula 2, having finished in 3rd place in the 2020 Championship.
Applying pressure to both will be Alex Albon, who will be hoping for a second chance to prove himself at this level after being dropped by Red Bull, and is waiting in the wings.
Williams – The Fallen Giant
Once upon a time, Williams were the juggernauts of F1. Between 1980 and 1997, the team won seven championships, with the likes of Alain Prost and Damon Hill behind the wheel.
Nowadays, the team is in the depths of the rankings, with getting points on the board a rarity.
The shining light of this team is without doubt George Russell. Russell entered the F1 mainstream for the Sakhir GP when he was drafted in by Mercedes to replace Lewis Hamilton.
Were it not for a messed-up tire change, he likely would have claimed his first win as a driver.
Russell is touted as one of the ‘next big things’ in F1, and, to his credit, his frequently outperforms opponents in a car that lacks the same quality.
If he can land a couple of top-10 finishes for Williams this season, then his stock will not have been harmed at all.
Driving alongside Russell is Canadian hopeful Nicholas Latifi. A late bloomer by F1 standards, Latifi was only promoted from F2 at the start of the last campaign and is yet to really make a mark on the circuit.
Latifi will hope to get at least one point on the board for his team at some stage, having narrowly missed out by finishing 11th on two previous occasions.
The team will be entering their first season without a big Williams name leading the company, after Claire Williams – daughter of founder Sir Frank – resigned in September 2020.
Perhaps this break with the past will help the team reach new heights, but the reality is that Williams will struggle to make any real impact on F1 this time around.
You can check out all of SWL’s Formula 1 coverage here.
Featured image credit: wallpaperuse.com