Formula 1’s transfer market opened before racing even began this year but it’s only now — nine months later — that we know the full 2021 F1 driver line-up.
There have been surprises, disappointments and nail-biting decisions, not to mention the constant bubble of rumour, but the announcement of Lewis Hamilton’s one-year contract with Mercedes means that the final piece of the jigsaw is in place.
It was clear that next year would bring a significant reshuffle on the grid when Ferrari announced in May that Sebastian Vettel would leave at the end of the season. Carlos Sainz was announced as his replacement, which triggered Daniel Ricciardo’s deal to move to McLaren and then Fernando Alonso’s return to Renault — which will be rebadged Alpine next year.
Also being rebranded is Racing Point, which will be Aston Martin next year, and is also Vettel’s new team; the displaced Sergio Perez finally finding a berth at Red Bull after a stellar season, in place of Alex Albon.
Haas has replaced Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen with fresh F2 talent in the form of Mick Schumacher and Nikita Mazepin — despite the Russian facing disciplinary action just days after signing. Yuki Tsunoda replaces Daniil Kvyat at AlphaTauri.
See the full 2021 line-up below. Click on any team for more information or scroll down for full details on the entire grid
2021 F1 driver and team line-up
|Red Bull||Max Verstappen|
|Aston Martin (Racing Point)||Sebastian Vettel|
|Alpine (Renault)||Fernando Alonso|
|Alfa Romeo||Kimi Räikkönen|
With just over a month to go before preseason testing, Mercedes finally confirmed that Lewis Hamilton would remain with the team in 2021 — but only on a year-long contract.
At the beginning of last season, a new deal was presented as a formality but doubts crept in as the season went on. Following his victory at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, Hamilton said: “I don’t even know if I’m going to be here next year.”
However, after sealing a seventh championship in Istanbul, Hamilton said that he wanted to remain Formula 1 with Mercedes where he could continue championing diversity and sustainability. “I feel like we have a lot of work to do here,” he said.
His new contract includes a pledge to launch a foundation dedicated to diversity and inclusion in motor sport.
Team principal Toto Wolff has also committed his future to Mercedes, so the winning duo head into the ninth year of their collaboration.
Negotiations were wrapped up much earlier on the other side of the garage where Valtteri Bottas signed a one-year deal for 2021 several months ago.
George Russell’s strong stand-in performance at the Sakhir Grand Prix prompted suggestions that Mercedes could change its plans but Wolff moved to quell speculation in Abu Dhabi by confirming that Bottas would be driving for the team next year.
As for 2022, he’s under pressure. Ahead of the Sakhir race, Wolff said: “If George does well it’s an indication that one day he’s going to be in a good car and hopefully race for victories and World Championships – but that is far away. He knows that,” said Wolff.
Ferrari: Charles Leclerc & Carlos Sainz
Carlos Sainz has been announced as Sebastian Vettel’s replacement after the four-time champion said that he would be leaving the team.
Sainz is expected to be the team’s number two driver but, after an impressive season with McLaren last year, is unlikely to be intimidated by the formidable competition on the other side of the garage.
His second F1 podium at the Italian Grand Prix was just the latest bit of proof that the Spaniard has finally hit his stride in F1, and Leclerc will have a more than capable team-mate alongside him next season.
The Monégasque driver has signed a five-year deal until the 2024 F1 season, and is seen as the team’s number one.
Leclerc impressed in just his second year in F1, taking on and beating team-mate Sebastian Vettel in the drivers’ championship and scoring three wins to the German’s one, and has been the quicker of the two so far this season.
Red Bull: Max Verstappen & Sergio Perez
Max Verstappen signed a three-year contract extension to stay with the team until the 2023 season, ending speculation that he would be courted by Mercedes this year.
But the identity of his team-mate provided more than enough gossip.
Red Bull has a reputation for ruthlessly axing drivers that it doesn’t think are performing to the right standard — most recently when Alex Albion replaced Pierre Gasly in the middle of the 2019 season — but it has been uncharacteristically supportive of the Anglo-Thai driver this year, despite his pace, which has fallen well short of Verstappen’s.
Albon was given until the end of the season to prove himself but, despite a stronger performance in Abu Dhabi, it proved impossible to overlook the availability of Sergio Perez who will race alongside Verstappen in 2021.
It follows the Mexican’s storming end to the season, during which he won the Sakhir Grand Prix, charging from the back of the grid.
Albon will remain with Red Bull as reserve driver.
McLaren: Daniel Ricciardo and Lando Norris
Daniel Ricciardo and Lando Norris have been confirmed as McLaren’s drivers for 2021, following the departure of Carlos Sainz to Ferrari.
McLaren wasn’t looking to break up its young and promising partnership, but few resist the call of Ferrari.
Ricciardo’s arrival reverses his decision of two years ago, when he turned down McLaren in favour of Renault. With Mercedes engines next year and an improving chassis. Could he return to winning ways in 2021? And how will he compare to Norris, who made the podium in this year’s opening race in Austria?
“Signing Daniel is another step forward in our long-term plan and will bring an exciting new dimension to the team, alongside Lando,” said Zak Brown, the team principal. “This is good news for our team, partners and of course our fans.
“I also want to pay tribute to Carlos for the excellent job he has been doing for McLaren in helping our performance recovery plan. He is a real team player and we wish him well for his future beyond McLaren.”
Alpine (Renault): Esteban Ocon & Fernando Alonso
The two-time Formula 1 champion is back. Confirmed for the previously vacant seat alongside Esteban Ocon, Fernando Alonso said he was returning to the team that had given him “my fondest memories in Formula 1”.
The Spaniard had long been linked with a Renault comeback, even before Daniel Ricciardo’s departure was confirmed in response to Sainz’s jump to Ferrari.
The re-signing of Alonso to Enstone is a big statement of intent by Cyril Abiteboul, but can the team he won his first title with give him another, well over a decade on from its glory days?
“His experience and determination will enable us to get the best out of each other to take the team towards the excellence that modern Formula 1 demands,” says team principal Cyril Abiteboul.
Renault will become known as the Alpine F1 Team from 2021 onward, following a number of changes across the Renault Group divisions, and will be running a blue livery next year.
Racing Point (Aston Martin): Sebastian Vettel & Lance Stroll
After months of speculation, Aston Martin’s future line-up received a major boost with the signing of Sebastian Vettel for the 2021 season in place of Sergio Perez.
The Mexican’s seven-year association with the Silverstone-based team currently under the name of Racing Point will come to an end following the conclusion of the 2020 season, and a four-time champion will take his place.
Rumours had been rampant from the weeks following Ferrari’s news that Carlos Sainz was replacing Vettel, but confirmation ahead of Ferrari’s 1000th F1 grand prix celebration at Mugello will no doubt have made Vettel’s news all the sweeter for him.
In the announcement, Vettel’s deal was said to take him beyond the 2021 season so the German is set to race under the new regulations that will be introduced in 2022.
Alongside him will remain Lance Stroll who has scored the only podium for Racing Point in a season that the team appears more competitive than ever.
AlphaTauri: Pierre Gasly & Yuki Tsunoda
Pierre Gasly will remain with the AlphaTauri team for the 2021 Formula 1 season, and F2 driver Yuki Tsunoda will partner him, replacing Daniil Kvyat.
Tsunoda was all but confirmed as the second driver after winning the Sakhir feature race, guaranteeing himself a top-four championship place – eventually finishing third – which comes with enough superlicence points for him to race in F1.
Gasly has been the star performer of the Red Bull driver stable outside of Max Verstappen; his victory at the Italian Grand Prix was well-earned and hugely popular.
Daniil Kvyat’s third stint with the team is over, with the Russian admitting after the season-ending race in Abu Dhabi that he was keen for a break away from Formula 1.
Enter Tsunoda, who has been proving himself in F2 all year. AlphaTauri team principal Franz Tost said that the team’s interest was purely down to his performance and not due to engine supplier Honda’s interest in having a Japanese driver for its last year in F1.
Tsunoda will become the first Japanese driver in Formula 1 since Kamui Kobayashi in 2014.
Alfa Romeo: Kimi Räikkönen & Antonio Giovinazzi
Both Kimi Räikkönen and Antonio Giovinazzi have been confirmed as staying with Alfa Romeo for what will be their third year together as team-mates.
Räikkönen had been expected to sign another one-year deal to extend his F1 stay a little longer but Giovinazzi’s future was in doubt. However, he saw off the challenge of Ferrari’s junior drivers and they have found slots elsewhere at Haas and, in Callum Ilott’s case, as Ferrari test driver.
Haas: Nikta Mazepin & Mick Schumacher
What will Netflix do now? The exchanges between team principal Guenther Steiner and his drivers Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen were a highlight of the Drive to Survive F1 documentary, but the show will be over at the end of the year: both drivers will be leaving the team.
In their place are two F2 drivers. Nikita Mazepin will take one seat in a multi-year deal, fuelling suggestions that his father, Dmitry is set to buy the team outright.
The Russian driver made an immediate impact when, nine days after signing, the Haas team denounced an “abhorrent” video of him inappropriately touching a young woman was posted on his Instagram account. After a torrent of calls for him to be removed the team reaffirmed his position for 2021and said: “This matter has now been dealt with internally”.
Alongside him will be the current Formula 2 championship leader Mick Schumacher, a Ferrari Academy Driver whose appointment has been smoothed by Haas’s Ferrari engine deal.
Schumacher had been linked to Alfa Romeo until the team announced that it would keep this year’s line-up. The son of the seven-time world champion has come on leaps and bounds in his second F2 year. to head both of his Ferrari Driver Academy rivals in Callum Ilott and Robert Shwartzman, who led for the first half of the season.
Williams: George Russell & Nicholas Latifi
Williams’ acting team principal, Simon Roberts moved to quell speculation that the team was considering changing its 2021 line-up after his comments at the pre-Portuguese GP press conference suggested George Russell and Nicholas Latifi’s futures might not be as secure as first thought.
Ahead of the Emilia Romagna GP, Roberts confirmed in the press conference alongside both of his drivers that they would be lining up on the grid for Williams in 2021, despite the rumour mill continuing to swirl.
“I probably caused a bit of confusion last week,” said Roberts.
“I’m sorry about that. We didn’t really want to comment on the driver position. As George said, Claire [Williams] made the announcement earlier this year.
“Nothing’s changed and this is our driver line-up for this year and next year. We’re very happy with them and we look forward to continuing to work with them.”
Sergio Perez was the driver most linked with Russell’s seat, with the Mexican offering significant funding through sponsors may have appealed to the team’s new owners, Dorilton Capital.
Russell said that the rumours had emerged from Perez’s camp ahead of the late-season Red Bull announcement.