The aftermath of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix led to a lot of goodbyes in the Formula 1 world. That’s not unusual at the end of a season, but this year there seemed to be more than we’ve seen in a while.
It was a dull race (as they often are in Abu Dhabi), and while lap-charting the race, I was able to make notes about all the goodbyes as the Formula 1 calls it a season. Here’s some of those we’ll miss seeing around the paddock in 2021:
OK, the Renault company is staying in the sport, but the Renault brand and the yellow liveries will be gone as the Enstone, U.K.-based team becomes Alpine F1 in 2021. This is exciting because Alpine has always been a brand associated with passion, and Renault never really has had that reputation.
“We will be racing with the Alpine brand next year,” Reanult’s CEO Luca de Meo said at Monza. “The car will be in the historical colors of French motor racing with blue, and the tricolore (red, white and blue of the French flag). We will be the Frenchies on the grid. It is a big change because Renault has been around in F1 for 43 years.
“The name will stay on the car, but only as the engine provider. The key thing is that Alpine will use F1 as a platform to market a brand we want to develop.”
Racing Point, which has no real value as a brand, but instead the sport will gain Aston Martin—a huge and exciting brand, and one that was sufficient to attract four-time F1 champion Sebastian Vettel.
“It’s a new adventure for me with a truly legendary car company,” Vettel said. “I have been impressed with the results the team has achieved this year and I believe the future looks even brighter. The energy and commitment of (team owner) Lawrence (Stroll) to the sport is inspiring, and I believe we can build something very special together. I still have so much love for Formula 1 and my only motivation is to race at the front of the grid. To do so with Aston Martin will be a huge privilege.”
Vettel’s move to Aston Martin triggered another departure, which is not right and is not fair. Perez won the Sakhir Grand Prix on Dec. 6 and finished fourth overall in the Formula 1 Drivers’ Standings, but he has no drive in 2021, at least for the moment.
There are suggestions that Red Bull might take Perez over Alex Albon, but no decision has yet been made. The problem is that the team boss Lawrence Stroll thinks his son should have a drive in F1. And so Perez got the axe.
“I think he most definitely proves every weekend that he deserves to be in a car next year and I hope he’s in that Red Bull,” Stroll said.
But blood is thicker than water. Perez has thus far been polite about the situation, but there is a hint of bitterness as well.
“I’m at peace with myself,” he said. “It’s just the way Formula 1 is, it can be really tough and not the best drivers are in Formula 1 unfortunately.”
The reality is that most of the F1 drivers are there because of their talent. Most of them, anyway.
Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen
We will lose Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussn as well in 2021. They have had their chances over a long period (nine-and-a-half seasons for Romain and six for Kevin) and while one can say that they are unlucky because they were not in the right cars at the right times, there is always a turnover of older drivers to make way for valuable newcomers. Haas newcomers Mick Schumacher and Nikita Mazepin have earned Super Licences and so are qualified to race in F1.
Dany Kvyat also looks likely to be dropped from the roster at AlphaTauri, his place expected to go to Yuki Tsonoda, who finished third in the Formula 2 standings this year. Kvyat is one of the drivers who may have suffered as a result of an association with Red Bull, but without the funding provided earlier in their careers, few of them would have made it as far as they did.
“Regardless of anyone’s decision, I’m deciding what I’m doing with my life, with my career,” Kvyat said. “We’ll see what it’s going to be. I still don’t know. For sure there is interest from other people. I received calls, and it’s good. It’s always very nice to have interesting options. I’m open to many things and I don’t have any particular preferences at the moment.”
Ferrari CEO Louis Camilleri
Another face we will not see again, at least not on a regular basis, is that of Ferrari CEO Louis Camilleri who surprised the Italian firm by announcing his immediate retirement just before the Abu Dhabi GP.
Camilleri cited personal reasons for his decision and it has since emerged that he has spent some time in hospital of late, suffering from COVID-19. Although the illness was not life-threatening it seems it was serious enough to require hospitalization. The company says that Camilleri is now recovering, but being 65 years old and having had a close call could mean that he has decided that he wants to lead a different kind of life in the future.
Given that he has also quit as chairman of Philip Morris International (Ferrari’s primary sponsor) it seems that it is not a problem specific to the Italian team.
“Ferrari has been a part of my life and serving as its chief executive has been a great privilege,” he said. “My admiration for the extraordinary men and women of Maranello and for the passion and dedication they apply to everything they do, knows no bounds.”
A nice comment, but one wonders if the new CEO will be as accepting of the current state of the company’s performance in F1.
Another, and likely the biggest departure, is that of Chase Carey, the chairman and CEO of Formula 1 since 2017.
Carey will depart at the end of the year and will be replaced by former Ferrari boss Stefano Domenicali. In F1 circles, it has always been clear that Carey was never a racing fan, but he is a good businessman and has worked wonders changing the mentality of F1. He has worked hard to get teams to work together off the track and to fight only on it, and he succeeded in getting a new Concorde Agreement pushed through without a major crisis.
Carey also gets credit for pushing F1 to complete almost a full season of 17 races in just 23 weeks, despite the pandemic. Carey will stay on as chairman of the F1 group, but it will be a much smaller role.
“I’m proud of the team that’s not only navigated through an immensely challenging 2020 but returned with added purpose and determination in the areas of sustainability, diversity and inclusion,” Carey said. “I’m confident that we’ve built the strong foundation for the business to grow over the long term.
“It’s been an adventure and I’ve enjoyed working with the teams, the FIA and all of our partners. I look forward to staying involved and supporting Stefano as he takes the wheel.”
Will Formula 1 miss Chase Carey? What about Sergio Perez (if he does, in fact, lose his ride at Racing Point)? Let us know what you’re going to miss from the 202o season in the comments section below.
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