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How top drivers could shake up F1 2021's driver market
F1's 2021 rules shake-up is intended to do exactly that - shuffle the order. For three drivers at the front right now, making a call on where they start the new era in the competitive order will be based on blind faith as much as it is on next year's results.
While teams should finally have clarity about Formula 1's 2021 rules later this month, and can therefore get on in haste in preparing their cars, the competitive uncertainty the new era brings opens up a fascinating dynamic for the championship's top drivers.
When rules are stable and performance does not swing much from one season to the next, there is a fairly straightforward magnetic attraction between the top drivers and the top seats.
OPINION: Going up against the dominant force of Mercedes and Lewis Hamilton was always going to demand the best from Red Bull and Max Verstappen. But after making a couple more errors during the Portuguese Grand Prix, the Dutch driver showed there's a small gap he still needs to close in the 2021 Formula 1 title fight.
Red Bull's Portuguese Grand Prix fortunes were decidedly second best to Mercedes', but the result skews the potential that the team had at Portimao. With a new set of updates, the team looks good going forward into the rest of 2021's spicy F1 competition
Just as he did in 2020, Lewis Hamilton had to come from behind to win the 2021 Portuguese Grand Prix. Only this time there were two rivals he had to pass, among the several challenges he had to overcome, on his way to securing a 97th grand prix victory
Lewis Hamilton topped the crucial FP2 session on Friday as F1 returned to Portugal, but his Mercedes team cannot be sure it has the edge on its Red Bull rivals. As cool temperatures and wind combine with the still-slippery surface to present drivers with quandaries over set-up and tyre warmup, there's still everything to play for come qualifying.
As a highly-rated Mercedes junior, George Russell is naturally billed as Lewis Hamilton's heir apparent where Britain's next Formula 1 champion is concerned. But he may face competition for that accolade from Lando Norris, fresh from a confidence-boosting run to third at Imola whose rise is being accelerated by his McLaren team’s revival
The news this week that F1 has green-lit 'sprint qualifying' races that will determine the grid for three grands prix in 2021 was met with a blend of excitement and scepticism. But before those in both camps can be vilified, F1 must first work out what its criteria is for success - and what will justify making them a more permanent fixture
A rapid ascent through the junior categories meant Yuki Tsunoda's arrival in Formula 1 was always going to be much-hyped. It's not been smooth sailing for Red Bull's latest protege so far, but his confidence has never wavered - something he'll need to rely on to continue his progress into the driver he believes he can be.
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