Red Bull fastest, Alpine disappoints

With the first Grand Prix of 2021 behind us, it’s time to look at the ranking in Formula 1. At the front and back of the field, it seems clear where each team stands, but the midfield is more exciting than ever.

Winter test not so crazy after all

After the winter test GPblog made a ranking based on the information we got from the winter test. A winter test is never fully representative ahead of the first Grand Prix of the season, but in Bahrain, it became clear that many of the conclusions from the winter test were correct.

At the front of the field, Mercedes and Red Bull Racing are in a class of their own, just like in 2020. Red Bull Racing seems to have the best car though, judging by the fact that Max Verstappen was able to take pole by four-tenths of a second and topped the timesheet in every session. The difference with Mercedes, however, is small. Mercedes seem to be losing most of their time at the exit of the corners. 

At the back of the grid, the order is also clear. Haas has the worst car on the grid and with two ‘rookies’ they are not the drivers who will be there on experience when there is a chaotic race for points. That opportunity may be there for Williams, with George Russell the team’s clear leader.

The battle for the midfield

Between Mercedes and Williams, there is one very large group, and that is the midfield. The group seems to consist of six teams this year. Alfa Romeo was doing well during the winter test, but they didn’t expect to start so strongly. With P11 and P12, Kimi Raikkonen and Antonio Giovinazzi are very close to the points.

The midfield seems to be divided into two groups at the moment. The first group consists of McLaren, Ferrari and AlphaTauri. The second group consists of Aston Martin, Alpine and Alfa Romeo. At the front, it’s McLaren and Ferrari who are calling the shots. AlphaTauri was very strong on Saturday, but after a mistake by Pierre Gasly we didn’t see how good the team really is on Sunday. Yuki Tsunoda drove to a fine ninth place as a ‘rookie’, but the Japanese driver didn’t get anywhere near Ferrari and McLaren.

Aston Martin and Alpine are disappointed

Aston Martin and Alpine received the biggest blow. A name change has not helped either team to improve performance. Where Racing Point might have had the third car in the rankings in 2020, that has now dropped way down. With doubts always hanging around Lance Stroll‘s performance and Sebastian Vettel‘s lousy opening to the season, you have to wonder to what extent these drivers are getting the most out of the car?

For Alpine, it’s a tough sell. Cyril Abiteboul assumed that Daniel Ricciardo would regret his move to McLaren, but looking at the ranking in Bahrain, that is certainly not the case. Where Renault should have been in contention for the world title this season according to plan, the team is sinking further and further back into the midfield.

Alpine and Aston Martin also have to worry about Alfa Romeo, which unlike Haas has made good use of Ferrari’s improved engine. While Haas still lags behind, Alfa Romeo has closed the gap to the midfield and with two solid drivers like Giovinazzi and Raikkonen the team could surprise in 2021.

1. Red Bull Racing

2. Mercedes

3. McLaren

4. Ferrari

5. AlphaTauri

6. Aston Martin

7. Alpine

8. Alfa Romeo

9. Williams

10. Haas

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