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What to expect from 2021 F1 launches

What to expect from 2021 F1 launches

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What to expect from 2021 F1 launches

What to expect from 2021 F1 launches

Formula 1 launch season is here but things will look slightly different from past years with Covid restrictions and social distancing still in place, so what can you expect from the ceremonies?

Teams up and down the pit lane often launch their cars in very different ways. Some choose to, quite literally, pull the covers off in a simple reveal outside the garage ahead of pre-season testing while others host elaborate ceremonies.

This year, presentations will largely take place behind closed doors although will likely be available online for fans of the teams to view but don't expect any of the fanfare to be lost.

Happy families

On launch day every year, it is difficult to imagine that some of the relationships being presented as a happy family will deteriorate, but deteriorate they will as is the nature in competition.

Only three teams have retained driver pairings from 2020 - Mercedes, Alfa Romeo and Williams - with four drivers moving teams in an elaborate circle, three rookies joining the grid and on returning former-champion.

The smiles will be on show on each team's respective launch day, but when the visor goes down and the lights go out, any fractures will quickly show.

Muted Expectations

Self-confidence is a wonderful thing and teams will often come out punching on launch day, declaring its latest machinery to be an improvement on the previous year and building expectations for a stronger year than last time around.

However, this year the cars remain largely unchanged from last, and with Ferrari underperforming in 2020, something that McLaren, Racing Point and Renault all capitalised on, it is difficult to foresee many teams aiming for a significant step up.

This being said...

Ferrari high hopes

Ferrari, and its customer teams Alfa Romeo and Haas, struggled for straight-line pace last year. This ultimately saw Ferrari finish the year seventh, its worst result since 1980, and the latter two teams finish above only Williams.

It is expected that Ferrari will bring a significantly improved power unit to the track this time around but, with rivals Mercedes, Honda and Alpine also continuing to push development, whether the Scuderia can find the gains needed to close the gap is yet to be seen.

The devil is in the detail

As said, the carryover of parts from last year is massive, especially when considering the larger parts including the front and rear wings and the suspension.

Normally at least one team, last year it was Racing Point, will surprise the paddock with a radically new design but this is not possible this year due to the token system introduced.

A new part here or there may be obvious, but you will need a keen eye to spot the majority of the changes.

New teams, new paint jobs!

While the devil may be in the detail in the aerodynamics and bodywork, seeing the new livery for the first time is often the most exciting thing for fans on launch day.

This year, in particular, will be interesting as Renault and Racing Point have rebranded to Alpine and Aston Martin respectively. New names, new colours.

Alpine has already revealed a black 'temporary winter livery', the final design expected to be predominantly blue, and Aston Martin is using British racing green across its social media channels.

Of all the launches, these two rank among those most eagerly awaited.

A focus on 2022

The changes originally planned for this year

The 2021 season may not yet have begun, but teams are all already focussed on the massive rule changes set to be introduced in 2022. For some, including Haas and Alfa Romeo, the coming year has been spoken of as somewhat of a formality with the opportunity of next year viewed as something akin to a golden ticket to better things.

This does not mean teams will not be pushing this year, but Haas, in particular, have made clear there will be no upgrades made to this year's car - the budget better spent on maximising the team's 2022 pace.

However, with millions of dollars of prize-money at stake in the midfield and at the front and the risk versus reward of switching focus entirely to 2022 early, it would be a surprise if teams didn't begin posturing for next year even at this very early stage.

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