The 2021 FIA Formula One World Championship is a motor racing championship for Formula One cars which is the 72nd running of the Formula One World Championship.[a] It is recognised by the Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA), the governing body of international motorsport, as the highest class of competition for open-wheel racing cars. The championship is being contested over twenty-three Grands Prix, which will be held around the world. Drivers and teams are scheduled to compete for the titles of World Drivers' Champion and World Constructors' Champion respectively.
The following constructors and drivers are currently under contract to compete in the 2021 World Championship. All teams are competing with tyres supplied by Pirelli. Each team is required to enter at least two drivers, one for each of the two mandatory cars.
|Entrant||Constructor||Chassis||Power unit||Race drivers|
|Alfa Romeo Racing Orlen||C41||Ferrari 065/6||7
| Kimi Räikkönen
|Scuderia AlphaTauri Honda||AlphaTauri-Honda||AT02||Honda RA621H||10
| Pierre Gasly
|Alpine F1 Team||Alpine-Renault||A521||Renault E-Tech 20B||14
| Fernando Alonso
|Aston Martin Cognizant F1 Team||Aston Martin-Mercedes||AMR21||Mercedes-AMG F1 M12||5
| Sebastian Vettel
|Scuderia Ferrari Mission Winnow[b]||Ferrari||SF21||Ferrari 065/6||16
| Charles Leclerc
Carlos Sainz Jr.
|Uralkali Haas F1 Team||Haas-Ferrari||VF-21||Ferrari 065/6||9
| Nikita Mazepin[c]
|McLaren F1 Team||McLaren-Mercedes||MCL35M||Mercedes-AMG F1 M12||3
| Daniel Ricciardo
|Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team||Mercedes||F1 W12||Mercedes-AMG F1 M12||44
| Lewis Hamilton
|Red Bull Racing Honda||Red Bull Racing-Honda||RB16B||Honda RA621H||11
| Sergio Pérez
|Williams Racing||Williams-Mercedes||FW43B||Mercedes-AMG F1 M12||6
| Nicholas Latifi
Across the season, three drivers drove as a test or third driver in free practice sessions. Callum Ilott and Robert Kubica drove for Alfa Romeo Racing at the Portuguese and Spanish Grands Prix respectively, while Roy Nissany drove for Williams at two Grands Prix.
McLaren announced that they would change from using Renault power units to ones built by Mercedes, resuming the McLaren-Mercedes partnership that ran between 1995 and 2014. Racing Point became known as Aston Martin. The name change was brought about by the team's part owner Lawrence Stroll investing in the Aston Martin marque. Renault became known as Alpine, taking on the name of Renault's sportscar brand.
Four-time World Drivers' Champion Sebastian Vettel left Ferrari at the end of the 2020 Championship after racing with the team for six seasons. Vettel's seat was taken by Carlos Sainz Jr., who left McLaren. Daniel Ricciardo moved from Renault to McLaren, where he replaced Sainz. Ricciardo was replaced by double World Champion Fernando Alonso, who drove in Alpine's first season, having last raced in 2018 for McLaren.
Vettel moved to Aston Martin, where he replaced Sergio Pérez. Pérez, who had previously signed a contract to drive for Aston Martin's predecessor, Racing Point, until 2022, moved to Red Bull Racing where he replaced Alex Albon. Albon is Red Bull Racing's reserve and test driver for the 2021 season. Pérez became the first driver since Mark Webber in 2007 to join the team without being previously a Red Bull Junior Team member.
Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen, who had raced for Haas since 2016 and 2017 respectively, left the team at the end of 2020. 2020 Formula 2 Champion Mick Schumacher, the son of seven-time World Champion Michael Schumacher, took one of the seats at the team while the other was filled by Nikita Mazepin, who finished fifth in the Formula 2 Championship.
Yuki Tsunoda, who finished third in 2020 Formula 2 Championship, graduated to Formula One with Scuderia AlphaTauri, replacing Daniil Kvyat, who moved to Alpine as their reserve driver. Tsunoda became the first Japanese Formula One driver since Kamui Kobayashi in 2014.
The 2021 calendar consists of twenty-three events, subject to the reinstatement of the suspended São Paulo Grand Prix contract, the replacement of the cancelled Singapore Grand Prix, and permissive COVID-19 regulations set by local governments and the Formula One Group.
|Round||Grand Prix||Circuit||Race date|
|1||Bahrain Grand Prix||Bahrain International Circuit, Sakhir||28 March|
|3||Portuguese Grand Prix||Algarve International Circuit, Portimão||2 May|
|4||Spanish Grand Prix||Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, Montmeló||9 May|
|5||Monaco Grand Prix||Circuit de Monaco, Monte Carlo||23 May|
|6||Azerbaijan Grand Prix||Baku City Circuit, Baku||6 June|
|7||French Grand Prix||Circuit Paul Ricard, Le Castellet||[d]|
|8||Styrian Grand Prix||Red Bull Ring, Spielberg||27 June|
|9||Austrian Grand Prix||4 July|
|10||British Grand Prix||Silverstone Circuit, Silverstone||18 July|
|11||Hungarian Grand Prix||Hungaroring, Mogyoród||1 August|
|12||Belgian Grand Prix||Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps, Stavelot||29 August|
|13||Dutch Grand Prix||Circuit Zandvoort, Zandvoort|
|14||Italian Grand Prix||Monza Circuit, Monza|
|15||Russian Grand Prix||Sochi Autodrom, Sochi|
|17||Japanese Grand Prix||Suzuka International Racing Course, Suzuka||10 October|
|18||Circuit of the Americas, Austin, Texas||24 October|
|19||Mexico City Grand Prix||31 October|
|20||São Paulo Grand Prix[e]||Interlagos Circuit, São Paulo||[f]|
|21||Australian Grand Prix||Albert Park Circuit, Melbourne||[g]|
|22||Jeddah Street Circuit, Jeddah||[h]|
|23||Abu Dhabi Grand Prix||Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi||[i]|
The following rounds were planned, but were either postponed or cancelled in response to the COVID-19 pandemic:
|Grand Prix||Circuit||Original date||Status|
|Shanghai International Circuit, Shanghai||11 April||Postponed|
|Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, Montréal||13 June||Cancelled|
|Istanbul Park, Tuzla||Postponed|
|Marina Bay Street Circuit, Singapore||3 October||Cancelled|
Liberty Media, the sport's commercial rights holders, announced that there would be scope for the 2021 calendar to expand beyond the planned twenty-two races of the 2020 calendar. The sporting regulations were amended to allow for a maximum of twenty-five Grands Prix per year.
Further changes to the calendar are planned following the disruption to the 2020 championship brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic:
Liberty Media was also reported to have come to an agreement in principle with race organisers to host a second race in the United States. Plans to hold the race at a circuit in Miami Gardens were unveiled. A second proposal to move the Brazilian Grand Prix from São Paulo to a new circuit in Rio de Janeiro was also suspended.
The original calendar that was approved by the FIA World Motor Sport Council included the Chinese Grand Prix, which was due to take place on 11 April. However, the event was postponed due to travel restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Emilia Romagna Grand Prix at the Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari in Imola, which was originally intended to be a one-off Grand Prix in 2020, was retained in its place. Additionally, the Australian Grand Prix, which had been due to take place on 21 March as the inaugural Grand Prix of the championship, was postponed to 21 November because of the pandemic. The dates for the São Paulo, Saudi Arabian and Abu Dhabi Grands Prix were changed to accommodate this. On 28 April 2021, the Canadian Grand Prix was cancelled for a second consecutive year because of the COVID-19 pandemic and was replaced by the Turkish Grand Prix, which was originally intended to make a one-off return in 2020. On 14 May 2021, the Turkish Grand Prix was postponed due to travel restrictions from Turkey imposed by the British government. As a result, the French Grand Prix was moved forward a week and the Styrian Grand Prix, which was originally intended to be a one-off race in 2020, was added to the calendar in its place. On 4 June 2021, the Singapore Grand Prix was cancelled due to ongoing safety and logistic concerns brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic. Formula One are considering several options to replace the Singapore Grand Prix.
The 2021 championship was due to introduce significant changes to the regulations, including the sport's governance, car designs and the sporting rules but these were delayed in March 2020 in response to the disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. These rule changes will instead be introduced in 2022.
The championship introduced a budget cap, with teams limited to spending a maximum of $145 million per year.[k] Teams were required to use more commercially available materials and to submit their annual expenditure. Some teams argued to further reduce the budget cap to $100 million, citing concerns that the long-term financial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic threatens the future of as many as four teams. Formula One managing director Ross Brawn stated that the sport's intention is to reduce the budget cap further in the coming years.
The value of the budget cap is set for twenty-one races; each additional race increases the budget cap by $1 million, and vice versa: each race removed from the scheduled twenty-one race calendar deducts the budget cap by $1 million. However, the budget cap does not include marketing budget, driver's salary and the salaries of the team's top three executives. There are also additional restrictions dictating how prize money can be spent. The cap only applies to expenditure related to car performance, which will remain in place until 2026. In the event that a team breaks the financial regulations, the team can be penalised. It was originally planned a range of punishments for exceeding their annual budget which include being deducted championship points, having reduced testing time, a race ban, or--for the most severe cases--disqualification from the championship. However, Toto Wolff later revealed that the intended sporting penalties such as points deductions and reduced testing for budget cap breaches will not be handed out having been voted down by three teams including Red Bull and Ferrari.
Teams are limited in what components can be modified for the 2021 season, with this requirement introduced to ease financial pressures on teams brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic. The teams were allowed to apply for special dispensation to make changes, most notably in the case of McLaren, who were given permission to modify their car to accommodate the switch from Renault to Mercedes engines. This prompted the FIA to introduce a token system whereby teams were given a series of tokens which could be exchanged for the introduction of specific component upgrades.
Some aerodynamic rule changes were enacted by the FIA. The floor of the cars were 'clipped' in order to reduce downforce for 2021. In 2020 the floor was permitted to run in a straight line from an area adjacent to the cockpit back to a point ahead of the rear tyre. However, from 2021 that point ahead of the tyre was moved 100 millimetres (3.9 in) inboard, making the floor edge a diagonal line when viewed from above. This change is expected to reduce downforce levels by 5%. Further, some slots on the edge of the floor were removed, brake duct winglets were narrowed by 40 millimetres (1.6 in) and diffuser fences were narrowed by 50 millimetres (2.0 in). These three changes have reduced downforce levels by a further 5%, meaning the 2021 regulations have seen a total 10% reduction in downforce. However, the teams increased downforce by 4-5% over the winter, so the overall downforce reduction was approximately 5%.
The "dual-axis steering" (DAS) system developed by Mercedes in 2020 was banned starting from 2021. The DAS system allowed the driver to adjust the toe of the front wheels to optimise mechanical grip by pulling or pushing on the steering wheel.
The FIA will introduce newly revised wing load tests mid-season at the French Grand Prix to clamp down on potentially excessively flexing rear wings. This comes after Lewis Hamilton and his Mercedes team had claimed, at the Spanish Grand Prix, that the rear wing of the Red Bull RB16B flexed significantly at high speed and load, allowing greater top speeds. Under Formula One regulations wings must be immobile and rigidly attached to the bodywork.
Teams are required to allow a driver who has competed in fewer than two Grands Prix to replace one of their race drivers in a Friday practice session over the course of the season. Whilst these rules are intended to give a chance to more non-Formula One drivers to test a Formula One car, the wording of this rule means that teams satisfy the requirement if one of their regular drivers is in their rookie season.
Following Mercedes's tyre error during the 2020 Sakhir Grand Prix, where George Russell was given front tyres allocated to Valtteri Bottas during a pit stop, the FIA has adjusted the rules on tyre usage; drivers using mixed compound sets or using sets allocated to another driver on their cars will be permitted to complete two laps before the driver must pit to correct the error before facing a penalty. Under the previous rules, drivers could be disqualified as soon as such error had occurred.
The race time limit for red-flagged races will also be reduced from 4 hours to 3 hours.
For the 2021 season, the schedule of a race weekend has been revised. Under the pre-existing regulations a race weekend spanned four days with the Thursday before the race being reserved for media and promotional events and scrutineering; however, under the new regulations all of Thursday's events were moved to the Friday morning, with the times between activities on that day being reduced. Cars are now under parc fermé conditions following the end of free practice three instead of qualifying, further restricting teams and drivers making major changes to setups ahead of the race. The length of the two Friday practice sessions has been cut from 90 minutes (as had been the case since the 2007 season) to 60 minutes.
The 2021 W Series for female drivers has been added to the list of support racing series alongside Formula 2, Formula 3 and Porsche Supercup. The 2021 W Series season will start at the Red Bull Ring where it will be a support event for the Styrian Grand Prix in late June. It will end in Mexico City in late October, at the Mexico City Grand Prix. Formula 2 and Formula 3 will support Formula One on alternate weekends, rather than the same ones as a cost saving measure.
There will be a trial of sprint races at the British Grand Prix and at two other Grands Prix yet to be selected. Qualifying for these sprint races would take place on Friday afternoon in place of the normal second practice session and the races will be run over the least number of laps to exceed 100 km (62 mi), approximately one third of a normal race distance. The result of the sprint race will determine the starting grid for the main race. Three points will be awarded to the winner of the sprint race, two points to the runner-up and one point to the third-placed finisher. If the trial is successful it is proposed that sprint races will be introduced across a wider number of events for the 2022 season. The British Grand Prix timetable for 16-18 July revealed that there would be no running for Formula One cars until 14:30 local time on Friday with the normal Qualifying starting at 18:00. Normally, the second Practice Session would have been at around 14:00, with no running in the evening. A second practice session is due to start at 12:00 on Saturday, before the Sprint Qualifying at 16:30. The main race is due to start at 15:00 on Sunday. At events with Sprint Qualifying the parc ferme will be brought forward to Friday after normal Qualifying which will see drivers only allowed to use the softest avaliable tyre with the usual requirement for the top 10 to start on the tyres they used for their best lap in Q2 removed for events including Sprint Qualifying in their schedule. There is also no requirement to make a pit stop during Sprint Qualifying. All 20 drivers at events where Sprint Qualifying takes place will be given free tyre choice ahead of Sunday's Grand Prix. Teams will be given a $500,000 overall grant by the FIA to cover the cost of the scheduled three sprint races.
Winter testing switched from the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya in Montmeló to the Bahrain International Circuit in Sakhir, with three days of running beginning on 12 March. Formula One declined an offer from Bahrain to provide COVID-19 vaccines for all personnel attending pre-season testing and the season's opening Grand Prix. However, several teams and drivers opted to accept the Bahrain government's offer.
Max Verstappen took pole position on the opening round in Bahrain. On the formation lap, Sergio Pérez stalled at the last turn and was relegated to start in the pit lane, leaving his 11th place spot vacant. On the first lap, Nikita Mazepin spun at turn 3, crashing into the barrier and calling out the safety car. AlphaTauri's Pierre Gasly collided with Daniel Ricciardo's McLaren the lap after the safety car ended, while Mick Schumacher spun off behind the pack. Lewis Hamilton got past Verstappen on lap 40, but on lap 53 Verstappen tried to get past Hamilton at turn 4. He eventually gave the place back because he exceeded track limits. Hamilton won from Verstappen, and Valtteri Bottas completed the podium. Lando Norris came 4th and Pérez, after starting from last, recovered to 5th.
At the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, Hamilton took pole from Pérez and Verstappen. Verstappen went into the lead at turn 1 on lap 1, after it started raining on race day. Mazepin and Nicholas Latifi crashed at the exit of turn 13, while moments later Schumacher lost his front wing at the pit exit. Hamilton made a mistake at turn 7 on lap 31, but was able to rejoin. The moment he did, his teammate Bottas and George Russell had a crash at over 320 km/h (200 mph) on the start-finish straight, bringing out the red flag. Norris overtook Charles Leclerc for third immediately after the race restarted. Verstappen won the race, and Hamilton recovered to 2nd after his mistake, with Norris rounding out the podium.
Bottas took pole at the Portuguese Grand Prix. He kept his lead from Hamilton and Verstappen. On lap 2, Kimi Räikkönen made contact with his teammate, Antonio Giovinazzi, and was forced into retirement, while Giovinazzi could continue. Hamilton eventually overtook Bottas and won from Verstappen and Bottas. Pérez and Norris came 4th and 5th, respectively. Verstappen took the fastest lap on the last lap but was soon deleted, meaning Bottas had gotten the fastest lap point.
Hamilton took his 100th pole position in Spain. On lap 1, Verstappen overtook him at the first turn. 5 laps later, Yuki Tsunoda pulled over at the reprofiled Turn 10, marking his first Formula One retirement. Hamilton took the lead after Verstappen pitted on lap 23, but Verstappen took it back on lap 28. However, a slow stop and a decision to stay out until lap 59 let Hamilton in the lead until the checkered flag, Verstappen ending up 2nd. Bottas ended up 3rd from Leclerc and Pérez.
Leclerc took pole at the Monaco Grand Prix despite crashing in the final minutes. The crash caused a driveshaft failure, meaning he was unable to start. Verstappen started at the front and led from Bottas and Carlos Sainz Jr. On lap 30, Bottas was forced into retirement after his front-left tyre would not come off during a routine pitstop. Verstappen took the victory, as well as the championship lead for the first time in his career; Red Bull came away from this race with a one point lead in the constructors' championship. Behind Verstappen, Sainz took his first podium for Ferrari, and Norris took his second podium of the season in third place.
Leclerc took pole again in Azerbaijan, this time being able to start the race. He led for 1 lap before Lewis Hamilton got past on lap 2 at turn 1. Hamilton was held up in his pitstop to allow Gasly to pass him in the pitlane, handing Verstappen the net race lead. On lap 30, Lance Stroll crashed out due to a tyre failure and brought out the safety car. With Verstappen comfortably leading with six laps to go, he suffered a tyre failure, causing him to crash on the pit straight, bringing out the safety car and then the red flag on laps 46 and 48 respectively. The race was restarted with 2 laps of racing left. Hamilton went up the inside of Pérez at the restart, but forgot to adjust his brake bias and missed the corner. Pérez won for the 2nd time in his career and took his first win for Red Bull. Sebastian Vettel took Aston Martin's first podium in Formula One, while Gasly took his 3rd career podium.
In France, Verstappen got his second pole of the season, only to go wide at turn 1 and lose the lead to Hamilton in the first lap. After regaining first with an undercut in his first pit stop, Verstappen found himself under heavy pressure from both Mercedes drivers. Verstappen relinquished his lead to pit a second time, one of two drivers to do so, returning to the track 18 seconds behind Hamilton. The speed advantage allowed him to make up the lost time, overtaking Bottas on lap 44 and Hamilton on the penultimate lap, for his third win of the year and his thirteenth win overall. Hamilton, now 12 points behind in the drivers' championship, did secure second, and with an overtake on lap 49 Pérez managed to take third place, pushing Bottas to fourth. It was the first race of the season where the race winner also took pole position and the fastest lap, and the first race of the season with no retirements. Red Bull extended their lead over Mercedes in the Constructors' championship to 37 points after the race.
|Round||Grand Prix||Pole position||Fastest lap||Winning driver||Winning constructor||Report|
|1||Bahrain Grand Prix||Max Verstappen||Valtteri Bottas||Lewis Hamilton||Mercedes||Report|
|2||Emilia Romagna Grand Prix||Lewis Hamilton||Lewis Hamilton||Max Verstappen||Red Bull Racing-Honda||Report|
|3||Portuguese Grand Prix||Valtteri Bottas||Valtteri Bottas||Lewis Hamilton||Mercedes||Report|
|4||Spanish Grand Prix||Lewis Hamilton||Max Verstappen||Lewis Hamilton||Mercedes||Report|
|5||Monaco Grand Prix||Charles Leclerc[l]||Lewis Hamilton||Max Verstappen||Red Bull Racing-Honda||Report|
|6||Azerbaijan Grand Prix||Charles Leclerc||Max Verstappen||Sergio Pérez||Red Bull Racing-Honda||Report|
|7||French Grand Prix||Max Verstappen||Max Verstappen||Max Verstappen||Red Bull Racing-Honda||Report|
|8||Styrian Grand Prix||Report|
|9||Austrian Grand Prix||Report|
|10||British Grand Prix||Report|
|11||Hungarian Grand Prix||Report|
|12||Belgian Grand Prix||Report|
|13||Dutch Grand Prix||Report|
|14||Italian Grand Prix||Report|
|15||Russian Grand Prix||Report|
|17||Japanese Grand Prix||Report|
|18||United States Grand Prix||Report|
|19||Mexico City Grand Prix||Report|
|20||São Paulo Grand Prix||Report|
|21||Australian Grand Prix||Report|
|22||Saudi Arabian Grand Prix||Report|
|23||Abu Dhabi Grand Prix||Report|
Points are awarded to the top ten classified drivers and the driver who set the fastest lap during the main race, and the top three of the sprint race. The driver with the fastest lap has to be within the top 10 to receive the point. In the case of a tie on points a countback system is used where the driver with the best results is ranked higher, if the best result is identical then the next best result is considered. The points are awarded for every race using the following system: