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Formula 1 2021 headed for 'reset'? The big Sky F1 Testing preview as Mercedes vs Red Bull assessed

Sky Sports F1 experts Martin Brundle, Ted Kravitz and Karun Chandhok join Rachel Brookes to discuss all the major talking points ahead of pre-season testing; Watch testing live on Sky F1 this weekend, starting on Friday

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F1's back from Friday - but what are the big stories in the sport heading into pre-season testing? Martin Brundle, Rachel Brookes, Karun Chandhok and Ted Kravitz discuss the big topics after car launches

Formula 1 2021 should be more competitive - with Red Bull in the mix - and there may even be a pecking order "reset", says Martin Brundle on Sky Sports F1's big preview ahead of this weekend's pre-season testing.

The new season officially gets up and running on March 28 but testing, reduced to three days and all live on Sky Sports F1 from Friday, will be more crucial than ever this year and Brundle, Ted Kravitz, Karun Chandhok and Rachel Brookes have discussed all the major '21 talking points in advance.

Those include...

  • Mercedes and Lewis Hamilton's quest for an eighth title and whether a rejuvenated, yet secretive, Red Bull can stop them
  • Can Sebastian Vettel rediscover his form as Aston Martin return to F1?
  • Are Ferrari, only sixth last season, going to fight their way back towards the front?

But Brundle also wonders whether the tweaked regulations means the grid, which has a fresh look for 2021 with new drivers, team names and colours, can close up - something we may get a hint of once testing begins.

'Tighter' F1 2021 could deliver 'reset'

Sky Sports F1's Martin Brundle

"I like a lot of liveries. Mercedes I always think really ace it, while the Aston Martin also looks good. Now I want to see them out on track and how they are performing. As ever, it's all about the stopwatch and not the colour scheme, but it's nice to see some new sponsors coming into Formula 1 as well.

"Generally, I sense we're expecting a tighter season.

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Lewis Hamilton speaks for the first time about his single-season contract extension at Mercedes and his dual goals for the 2021 season

"The regulations are also hauling back the top teams in terms of the amount of money they can spend, the resource they have and the amount of time they have in the wind tunnel. Ferrari, for example, have 12.5 per cent more time in the wind tunnel than Mercedes because they finished sixth in the world championship last year.

"So, the pack is really going to be closed up in the next year or two, starting with 2021. Yes, it's a carry-over and a holding pattern because the new-style cars have been delayed to 2022, but there's excitement and a general expectation that, with the new Pirelli tyres that are heavier and slower as well, perhaps there will be a reset."

Red Bull: Karun, Ted and Martin deliver verdict

Sky Sports F1's Karun Chandhok

"Are Red Bull going to pick up where they left off in Abu Dhabi? Max was frankly dominant, it was a brilliant win and Red Bull were coming on strong.

"They've got a new gearbox for 2021 which they've kept very secret. In fact, everything they've unveiled from their launch was of an old car - so they've been super secretive, more so than normal. There's something there with the rear end and this new gearbox they've got so I'm waiting to see whether that pays dividends."

Image: Red Bull have only released two digital images of their 2021 car so far

Sky Sports F1's Ted Kravitz

"I think Karun's right that Red Bull have got some things which they're not telling anyone about.

"What I'm more interested about with the Red Bull is how Honda are doing with this new engine. They've brought forward all the good stuff they were planning for 2022 to this year's engine because Honda, of course, are not going to be around in 2022. This is their swansong season. They've got some good stuff on the engine, and let's see what that does.

"That will really dictate the battle, I think. We know the Red Bull chassis is good, they won the last race in Abu Dhabi, and they'll be there or thereabouts - it just depends on the engine."

Martin Brundle

"I think Red Bull are actually going to be very strong. That performance they put in at Abu Dhabi and how they have developed the car over the winter, if they hit the ground running and deliver their potential straight away - which they haven't often done, it must be said - I think Red Bull will be incredibly fast.

Vettel's big move, Aston's return generates interest

Karun Chandhok

"Are we going to see the pre-Hockenheim 2018 Seb Vettel or are we going to see the one that's struggled over the past two and a half years?"

Ted Kravitz

"I'm looking forward to Sebastian Vettel in the Aston Martin.

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Watch the first Aston Martin F1 car in 61 years to take to the track, with Vettel making his debut for the team at Silverstone

"I think we're going to see quite a few podiums for Sebastian Vettel, because the thing Aston Martin have been saying is we will change the car. Inherently it's already a car which is a little bit more towards Sebastian's pretty unique driving style, but we used to change the car a lot to suit Checo Perez's driving style and we can change it to suit Sebastian Vettel's driving style.

"I think that's the last piece of the puzzle. I think Sebastian has renewed and refreshed over the winter, he understands what happened at Ferrari and I think he might even win a race."

Ferrari target recovery | McLaren target Ricciardo, Merc engine push

Karun Chandhok

"I think one of the biggest questions going into this year is are Ferrari going to come back?

"We saw at any circuit that was power sensitive, with long straights, they massively suffered - often getting knocked out in Q1 in Sebastian Vettel's case.

"Obviously Carlos Sainz coming in, there's a big change, a new energy about it, and he's really pumped. But I think everyone's waiting to see when we get to Bahrain, will Ferrari be back up to speed in terms of their straight-line speed?

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Sky F1's Karun Chandhok asks the key questions to Charles Leclerc, Carlos Sainz and Mattia Binotto as Ferrari bid to turn around their fortunes this year

"I'm also really fascinated by the McLaren, Daniel Ricciardo story. It's a really interesting dynamic there.

"Lando Norris has had two strong seasons coming in as a rookie, this is an opportunity for him to go up against a driver that we know, who has won races and is really at the top of his game.

"And McLaren now obviously have the Mercedes engine."

F1 Testing live on Sky Sports F1

New-look cars. New driver and team combinations. And just three days of track testing to get up to speed before the new Formula 1 season begins.

There's never been a pre-season testing schedule quite like this - and you can watch it all live on Sky Sports F1 from next Friday as Formula 1 2021 gets fully up and running with three days of action in Bahrain.

With coverage starting early morning on March 12 and running through the weekend, Sky F1 will be the place to be to watch the eight hours of live track action from each day - plus a nightly Round-up show and Ted's Testing Notebook.

Sky F1's Martin Brundle, David Croft, Ted Kravitz, Rachel Brookes and Karun Chandhok will be out in Bahrain to help tell the story of each day's track running and all the big stories of pre-season.

Coverage on the Friday, Saturday and Sunday features:

  • Live coverage of morning & afternoon track sessions
  • Nightly wrap show rounding up the day's key moments & interviews
  • Ted's Testing Notebook

In addition to the Sky F1 channel, subscribers can also watch the live action on their mobile by logging in with their Sky iD on the Sky Sports App.

The Sky Sports website and app will be the place for the live digital blog with updates, timesheets and free-to-view video clips of key incidents and interviews.

You can also follow the latest updates via the Sky F1 social channels.

The new 23-race F1 season begins back in Bahrain on March 26-28, with every race live on Sky Sports F1 - the only place to see the whole season live.


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