The Editor: Moving on to a brighter 2021

“Historic racing is back with a glittering line-up this year”

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This year has been… unusual.  But rather than dwell on it, let’s focus on what we have to look forward to in 2021 and beyond.

Dakar or bust

The Dakar Rally is never dull and this year’s is set to be as spectacular as ever. All eyes will be on Sébastien Loeb this month, the nine-time WRC champion who has never won in his previous attempts at the Dakar. You get the sense that this may be his final chance to win, and possibly his final chance to end a glorious career on a high note.

British champions defending their titles.

Elfyn Evans just missed out on a world title last year, but Britain will have several world champs defending their crowns in 2021. From Callum Bradshaw, the FIA World Karting OK champion, to Phil Hanson who took the LMP2 drivers’ title in WEC for United Autosports, and Mike Conway who shared the drivers’ championship along with his Toyota team-mates in the LMP1 category. I don’t think I’ve missed anyone…

What Lewis did next…

Seven-time world champion, and by the time you read this likely knight of the realm and BBC Sports Personality of the Year (or I’ll eat my laptop), Lewis Hamilton is no ordinary sportsman. Extravagantly gifted but also in possession of an iron will and unbreakable self-discipline and focus, he seems destined to do more than ‘simply’ race F1 cars. His stand on race and diversity in 2020 ruffled feathers but may be just the start of his politicisation. A broader critique of human rights and the environment may yet come to define him as much as his on-track heroics. In doing so he may offer F1 a route to relevance and ensure its survival. In the meantime, and pending confirmation that he will remain with Mercedes, we can look forward to 23 more exhibitions of sublime speed, poise and craft from Stevenage’s finest.

Old ‘uns are the best

Historic racing was hit hard by the pandemic, with most major events cancelled last year amid restrictions on spectators and the difficulties of bringing cars together. But it is back with a glittering line-up. First is the Monaco Historic Grand Prix: the biennial event was postponed in 2020 but confirmed for April. Two months later comes the French Historic Grand Prix  featuring a grid of 70 F1 cars and 300 historics contesting 21 races at Paul Ricard. The Le Mans Classic is in July, and Goodwood has confirmed the Members’ Meeting, Festival of Speed and Revival.

Old-fashioned thrills

You know change is afoot when even the British Touring Car Championship goes hybrid. This year’s championship will be the last running purely petrol-powered cars and as such the champion will hold a special place in the annals of history as the final winner of ‘traditional’ BTCC, before cars become (mildly) electrically assisted next season. Confirmed entries are sparse at time of press, but expect a full field to be headed by reigning champion Ash Sutton – most likely returning in the Laser Tools Infinti he took to its maiden title last season – with Colin Turkington in hot pursuit in a Team BMW UK 330i M Sport. Add in Dan Cammish and the return of Jason Plato and there’s a lot of good racing to look forward to.

Creating a buzz

Whisper it, but 2021 could be the year electric racing gets, erm, exciting. Granted, the recent exodus of manufacturers from Formula E looks ominous, but 2021 is the first year that the series boasts world championship status – and will feature a London ePrix. Potentially more interesting is Extreme E. Featuring teams run by Lewis Hamilton, Nico Rosberg and IndyCar’s Chip Ganassi and Andretti Autosport, the series could be a revelation. We’ll find out in March…

A marathon 23 race F1 season

No sooner has a unique F1 season finished than we look forward to the next. Who doesn’t want to see how Leclerc and Sainz fare at Ferrari, or whether Alonso’s return is fantastic or foolhardy? Will Racing Point’s transformation to Aston Martin with a four-time champion driver let it challenge for top honours? Will Verstappen close the gap on Hamilton? And who won’t feel a frisson to see an M Schumacher on the grid in Australia?

We will of course cover all these events, just as we always have done. In the meantime, thank you for your support during 2020 – a real year to forget – and roll on 2021. And from everyone at Motor Sport a very Happy New Year to all our readers.

Joe Dunn, editor
Follow Joe on Twitter @joedunn90

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