Author: Drew Heaslip Reading time: 5m
If nothing else, Nikita Mazepin will at least be famous for being the first F1 driver to have got himself into hot water and nearly lost his job before his first race.
By now it is common knowledge who Mazepin is, why he is in trouble, his history of trouble and of course who his dad is. However, if you have missed some of the details then here is a quick rundown. If you are all up to date though then feel free to skip ahead a bit.
Nikita is the son of Dmitry Mazepin, a Russian businessman who is the core shareholder and chairman of the Uralchem Integrated Chemicals Company. Dmitry has effectively bought his son a seat at Haas for the 2021 season owing to the financial trouble that Haas have found themselves in. Haas had to let go of their long term drivers Kevin Magnussen and Romain Grosjean to try and save money and have opted to take on Nikita and Mick Schumacher (son of the legendary Michael Schumacher) who can bring more money to the team. Both drivers have just graduated from F2 with the latter having won the F2 drivers championship in 2020.
Author: Drew Heaslip Read time: 9m
Pierre Gasly has had a rollercoaster of a time in his thus far three season F1 career. He rose, he fell and he rose again in such a short period of time but don’t call it a comeback because he never really went away and he certainly never gave up the fight!
Gasly arrived at Torro Rosso (now Alpha Tauri) in 2017, replacing Daniil Kvyat for a number of races that season. He then stepped up to become a full time driver for the team in 2018 after Kvyat was dropped from the Red Bull programme. He quickly bagged his first points in F1 that year with a 4th place finish at the Bahrain Grand Prix going on to bank four more points finishes that season and finishing in 15th place. Without the greatest of machinery at his disposal it was a respectable finishing position and he was comfortably ahead of his team-mate Brendon Hartley. People took notice, most notably Helmut Marko and Christian Horner over at Red Bull who’s driver programme he was a part of with Torro Rosso being the Red Bull junior team.
Author: Drew Heaslip Read time: 13m
Being Lewis Hamilton’s team-mate must surely be one of the hardest and most highly pressurised jobs in motorsport. Add to that the expectations placed upon you when you are in one of the most coveted seats on the Formula 1 grid... Mercedes. This is just the place where Valtteri Bottas finds himself going into the 2021 season having been with the Brackley based team since the 2017 campaign. Valtteri replaced the outgoing Nico Rosberg (a man who could tell you exactly how tough it is to be Hamilton’s team-mate) who retired from F1 on the back of a world championship victory in his final year. Yes, Rosberg bested the seemingly unstoppable force that is Lewis Hamilton... but what is it going to take for Bottas to do the same?
Lawrence, how exciting is it to see Aston Martin returning to the Formula One grid?
“Very. Formula One is a hugely powerful platform that will play a key part in the overall Aston Martin strategy as we seek to take the company forward. It is a truly global sport with a huge audience that we believe can help reignite the brand and further increase its desirability all over the world. We have already begun to see the results of our hard work with the exciting announcement of Cognizant as title partner, which will play a key role in our digital transformation. Motorsport has always been an important part of the Aston Martin story, right from its early days, and we’re all proud to be adding to that legacy. The return of Aston Martin to Formula One after more than 60 years away is also a landmark moment in the history of the sport. This is the arena where many of the world’s biggest and best automotive manufacturers have competed and had success, so it’s a hugely exciting challenge for everyone involved as we aim to get this iconic British sports car brand amongst those names.”
How important is it for Aston Martin to be represented in Formula One?
“Plain and simple, it’s where Aston Martin should be. This is a brand that has already had huge success in top-level international motorsport such as the Le Mans 24 Hours – and now we have an opportunity to write a new page in the history books. That’s a hugely exciting prospect for anyone who is a lover of the Aston Martin brand, for fans of Formula One and the sport itself.”
Aston Martin is a company undergoing rapid evolution. So, where does Formula One sit in the overall structure?
“It’s the centrepiece of our marketing strategy and a key component of the business. The Aston Martin Cognizant Formula One™ Team will bring a new attitude and energy with it, expanding our appeal beyond the existing core and casual Formula One fans. Whether it’s results on the racetrack, expanding our presence in emerging platforms like Esports, or delivering exciting new activations, we want to make people sit up and take notice. The arrival of Cognizant is the first exciting step in our drive forward. Formula One is also the perfect shop window for Aston Martin as a brand and the amazing cars we produce. There has been plenty of talk about road relevance in Formula One in recent seasons, and we will see genuine trickle-down of technology and innovation from the track to the road. We will demonstrate those links between Formula One and the road cars, especially with our mid-engine range that will be launched in the future.”
Aston Martin is a well-established and historic brand. So, what will it bring to Formula One?
“Everyone knows what Aston Martin stands for – but the Formula One team will allow us to take the essence of the brand to new places, building on the strong foundations laid by the previous iterations of the team. We want to talk to new and wider audiences, engaging them not just with the team but with Formula One itself. We’re taking an organisation filled with experienced, passionate racers and combining that with an aspirational lifestyle brand. The aim is to appeal to the next generation of fans as well as the hardcore followers, bringing new ideas, energy and attitudes in the process. That journey begins now on our way to the exciting moment of launching the first Aston Martin to race at a Grand Prix weekend in more than six decades.”
You’ve mentioned Formula One fans quite a lot. So, what can they expect from this new era?
“I want them to know that we want to bring them right into the heart of this team and our journey. That might sound like a platitude, but I can assure you it’s a serious ambition that has been the focal point of a huge amount of work over the past 12 months. We are investing in everything we do – especially in areas such as social media to tell this wonderful story. We want this to be a team for everyone – reaching out beyond the sport but remembering the dedicated fans that have brought us to where we are today. To achieve that we’ll need to think outside of the box – and I’m hoping everybody will see us doing just that with a fresh and modern identity for the Aston Martin Cognizant Formula One™ Team.”
Photo Credit Mercedes
We went into the start of this year with rumours that the Australian Grand Prix may not happen due to COVID restrictions. Now those rumours are proving True as not only the Australian Grand Prix but the Chinese GP have both now been officially postponed.
The Delayed start will see Bahrain become the 1st race of the 2021 season kicking off on the 26-28th March.
The Australian GP now will take place between 19-21 November and a race at Imola, Italy, is scheduled in for the 16 - 18 April which will become the 2nd race of the season.
"We are pleased to confirm that the number of races planned for the season remains unchanged," F1 president Stefano Domenicali said.
"The global pandemic has not yet allowed life to return to normal, but we showed in 2020 that we can race safely as the first international sport to return and we have the experience and plans in place to deliver on our season."
There is no mention of when the Chinese GP will be rescheduled for but talks are on going. The Third race of the season, which should have been the Vietnamese Grand Prix, is yet to be announced but there are speculations that Portimao could make a return in its place.
Brazil, Saudi Arabia and Abu Dhabi dates have been moved to accommodate the change for the New Australian GP.
Brazil moves forward one week to 7 November, while the other two have been pushed back a week to 5 and 12 December respectively.
"It is great news that we have already been able to agree a rescheduled date for the Australian Grand Prix in November and are continuing to work with our Chinese colleagues to find a solution to race there in 2021 if something changes," Domenicali added.
"Obviously, the virus situation remains fluid, but we have the experience from last season with all our partners and promoters to adapt accordingly and safely in 2021."
New F1 Calendar:
28 March - Bahrain (Sakhir)
18 April - Italy (Imola)
2 May - TBC
9 May - Spain (Barcelona)
23 May - Monaco (Monaco)
6 June - Azerbaijan (Baku)
13 June - Canada (Montreal)
27 June - France (Le Castellet)
4 July - Austria (Spielberg)
18 July - Great Britain (Silverstone)
1 August - Hungary (Budapest)
29 August - Belgium (Spa)
5 September - Netherlands (Zandvoort)
12 September - Italy (Monza)
26 September - Russia (Sochi)
3 October - Singapore (Singapore)
10 October - Japan (Suzuka)
24 October - USA (Austin)
31 October - Mexico (Mexico City)
7 November - Brazil (Sao Paulo)
21 November - Australia (Melbourne)
5 December - Saudi Arabia (Jeddah)
12 December - Abu Dhabi (Yas Island)
Renault have announced that F1 Team Principle Cyril Abiteboul is leaving the company ahead of the teams relaunch as Alpine this year.
Abiteboul is being replaced by Laurent Rossi, the Director if Strategy and Business Development of Group Renault, who will now become the CEO of Alpine moving forward.
“I would like to thank the Groupe Renault for having trusted me for many years, particularly with the relaunch and reconstruction of the team since 2016,” said Abiteboul.
“The solid foundations of the racing team and the entities in France and England built over these years, the strategic evolution of the sport towards a more economically sustainable model, and more recently the Alpine project which provides a renewed sense of meaning and dynamism, all point to a very fine trajectory.
“I would like to thank Luca de Meo for involving me in the construction of the Alpine Business Unit and I wish the new structure every success.”
De Meo added: “I would like to warmly thank Cyril for his tireless involvement, which notably led the Renault F1 Team from the penultimate place in 2016 to the podiums last season.
“His remarkable work in F1 since 2007 allows us to look to the future, with a strong team and the new Alpine F1 Team identity to conquer the podiums this year.”
Renault finished 5th in the Constructors Championship last year, but with Daniel Ricciardo having left for McLaren, the team have replaced him with Fernando Alonzo in the hope that the World Champion will be able to secure them a higher position.
News from Maranello stated that the long awaited Finale to the FIA Girls on Track- Rising Stars programme, is due to conclude by the end of this week. The candidate will be selected for the Ferrari Driver Academy (FDA) after them leaving the camp on Friday.
The FIA Girls on Track – Rising Stars program was postponed back in November due to one of the Drivers testing positive for COVID-19. Ferrari made the following statement on 11/11/20:
"Given that one participant tested positive and was not able to take any further part in the selection process, in the interests of fairness the FIA Women in Motorsport Commission and Ferrari Driver Academy have agreed to postpone the final session. A new date will be announced in due course."
Now its full steam ahead for the Four Finalists as they do their utmost to secure a place in the FDA.15 year old Julia Ayoub and 14 year old Antonella Bassani, both from Brazil, Doriane Pin, 16 from France and Dutch Maya Weug, also 16, are the Four that will be taking place in this Finale. They have returned to Maranello, after being chosen by the FIA Experts at the end of a four part process which mainly took part at the Paul Ricard Circuit, France.
"The girls will be evaluated over a few days in Maranello, where they will get a taste of what it is to be part of the Academy. This programme involves physical and mental aptitude tests, simulator sessions, media activities and a series of lessons relating to sporting regulations and behaviour on track. The most eagerly anticipated and important part of the selection process takes place on Thursday and Friday, with the girls driving at the Fiorano track in a Formula 4 car fitted with the same Pirelli tyres used in the Italian championship."
The four drivers will leave the Ferrari Camp on Friday afternoon, and following this, a commission of engineers will meet to analyse all on and off track data, with one aim, to select the candidate who is most deserving of a place within the Ferrari Acadamy.
McLaren Racing and VELO, a nicotine pouch brand, have today launched the VELO ESERIES as part of its ongoing global partnership with BAT (British American Tobacco).
It marks the expansion for VELO into Esports, where they look to engage with adult audiences with "Exciting content, driving global brand awareness".
It wll be presented by none other than Rory Reid, ex Top Gear Presenter. The Four part VELO ESERIES will see top celeb's go head to head against internet sensations. Launching this weekend sees Super star Craig David and the Internet Legend Alexandra Hirschi, otherwise known as Supercar Blondie, for their first series.
The VELO ESERIES will bring VELO’s passion to drive global brand awareness and connect fans across Motorsport, music and entertainment. VELO will be reaching out to its adult nicotine consumers in new and exciting ways, giving them the opportunity to get involved and race against celeb's with a chance to win exclusive prizes, including VELO-branded racing overalls, gloves and games consoles.
Mark Waller, Chief Commercial Officer, McLaren Racing, said:
“McLaren and VELO share a similar passion for putting fans at the heart of engaging experiences. It’s great to kick-off the New Year while we wait for the new Formula 1 season to get underway with this exciting new eracing initiative. Fan engagement continues to be more important than ever during these times so it’s great to work with our partners to develop fantastic experiences like this.”
Paul Lageweg, BAT’s New Categories Director, said:
“VELO is all about creating exciting experiences for our adult nicotine consumers, encouraging them to find their edge, and we are bringing this to life with our new VELO ESERIES programme. The popularity of adult gaming has continued to grow, so we’re excited about tapping into this trend, adding an exciting and entertaining twist with some famous faces. It’s important that we always look for new and creative, digital-first ways to use our global partnerships to connect with our consumers and delight audiences around the world.”
Craig David, DJ, singer songwriter and producer, said:
“Hanging out at McLaren’s HQ was an incredible experience where they properly put me through my paces with F1 training and simulator practice - hopefully I’ll have some major skills going into the virtual race. A huge thank you to all the team there and at VELO for allowing me to be part of this eracing series!”
Alexandra Hirschi, Supercar Blondie, said:
“I absolutely loved racing against music legend Craig David. That’s what I love about cars, it brings people together who would otherwise never meet. VELO and McLaren have brought back a real enjoyment for esports!”
VELO ESERIES 1 launches this weekend, with further episodes set to air over the coming months, concluding at the end of April. All content will be available on VELO’s social channels, including the livestream of each virtual race on VELO's YouTube channel. The Craig David and Supercar Blondie race for series 1 is set to take place at 1PM (GMT) on Saturday 6 February.
The VELO brand is a leading nicotine pouch brand and is part of a portfolio of new category products that BAT offers adult nicotine consumers as alternatives to traditional tobacco products. The company has been Principal Partner of McLaren Racing since early 2019, a partnership which is focused on helping to accelerate its transformation with these new products it offers.
Mercedes AMG Petronas have confirmed that they will be continuing their Technical Partnership with Williams moving forward.
"We are pleased to confirm that we have expanded our technical collaboration with Williams Racing to include the supply of certain transferable components from 2022"
Mercedes have been supplying the team with their power units since the Hybrid era began in 2014. From 2022 the team will not only be supplying Williams with the Power Unit but also Gearboxes and other Hydrolic related components
Historically Williams has built their own gearboxes and hydraulics in house, but with the increased partnership with Mercedes this will allow them to implement a " More Efficient design and Manufacturing process in-house in the long term". Williams will continue to manufacture Chassis parts internally.
Here's what both Team Principles had to say on the matter.
Toto Wolff, CEO and Team Principal of the Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team, said: "We are pleased to expand our technical cooperation with Williams through this new agreement. For Williams, it makes sense to acquire the integrated powertrain after running our power units since 2014 and for our team, it makes sense in terms of economies of scale to supply another team under the new rules. This is a project we have been discussing with Williams for some time and I am glad we have been able to bring this extension to fruition."
Simon Roberts, Team Principal, Williams Racing, commented: "I'm pleased to see our great relationship with Mercedes extend beyond the supply of engines. Williams is an independent team, but Formula One is always evolving, and as a team we must be agile to react to the current climate in order to put the team in the best position to be competitive on track. This long-term agreement with Mercedes is a positive step and forms part of our strategic objectives for the future whilst we will still retain our design and manufacturing capabilities in-house."
Formula 1 driver Alexander Albon and Liam Lawson will be racing in the DTM with backing from Red Bull. Albon, who now is the reserve Diver for Red Bull, will be participating in selected DTM races whenever his Formula 1 duties as a test, replacement and simulator driver allow. It is unknown yet who Albon will be alternating with as the announcement will be made at a later stage, as will the team and sports car brand.
In the second Red Bull cockpit,18-year-old New Zealander Liam Lawson will be driving, meaning that a talent from the ranks of the Red Bull Junior Team will be racing in the DTM that will be held with powerful GT sports cars for the first time in the new season. Lawson grew up close to the race track of Pukekohe where he started off in karting at the age of seven.In 2016 he won the New Zealand Formula Ford 1600 championship title with 14 wins from 15 races, becoming the youngest champion in history of the Formula Ford category. He was runner-up in Formula 4 twice, in Australia in 2017 and in the German ADAC Formula 4 championship in 2018. In 2019, he won his domestic Toyota Racing Series and became runner-up in the series in 2020. He was also runner-up in the 2019 Euroformula Open.
Helmut Marko said:
“The DTM with a high-class field and GT3 sports cars is an interesting platform and a real challenge, both for successful race drivers like Alex Albon as for our Red Bull junior driver Liam Lawson,”
“Formula 1 drivers like Alex Albon, DTM stars like three-time champion René Rast, GT professionals and young talents like Liam Lawson - that is a high-class driver mix the way I would like it for the 2021 DTM season. It is also a perfect fit that ex-Formula 1 World Champion Jenson Button has already submitted an entry for the DTM with his team, Alex Albon is a young, ambitious driver and an outstanding gain for the DTM.” Just at the end of last year, Berger had defined his personal goal for the 2021 DTM in an interview with the DTM.com web portal: “My big goal is 20 cars with at least five brands, strong drivers and a battle for the title that goes down to the wire, the final race.” The DTM participation of Alex Albon is yet another important step in this direction.