Lewis Hamilton is looking forward to a good battle with Red Bull in 2021 following their dominant display in Abu Dhabi.
Mercedes were expected to finish the 2020 campaign in style by scoring a seventh successive win at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, but those hopes took a big blow after Max Verstappen claimed pole for Red Bull.
Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas had expected at least “identical” race pace to Red Bull, but as it turned out the Austrian outfit had things well under control as Verstappen led every lap on his way to victory.
On the last few laps Alex Albon was also keeping Hamilton honest for the final spot on the podium.
And with the development freeze for 2021 meaning chassis changes will be limited, Hamilton is expecting a strong fight from Red Bull in what will be a record 23-race season.
“We’ve obviously got a fight on our hands next year,” Hamilton told reporters after the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
“Without a doubt, these guys are going to be strong, as this car [Verstappen] is driving now is next year’s car pretty much, and the same for us.
“I’m excited for that challenge, and that battle that we hopefully will get.”
— Aston Martin Red Bull Racing (@redbullracing) December 14, 2020
Red Bull do have a habit of starting a season slow, but like Hamilton, Red Bull principal Christian Horner has hope that his team can pick up where they left off in 2021 under the frozen regulations, and their progress can be followed via the live score centre’s dotted around the net, if you can’t watch any races live.
“I certainly hope so, because it’s not a start from scratch again,” Horner told Autosport.com.
“Obviously a large percentage of the car does carry over, so where we start in Barcelona [testing] in a couple of months’ time, is going to be pretty much where we finish here with the relevant upgrades on it.
“It’s the first time in F1’s history [that this has happened], and it is why we called the new car, 16B, as opposed to 17, because there’s so much of it that is carry over.
“Probably about 60% of the car is carry over.”
In 2020 Mercedes collected the Drivers’ and Constructors’ Championships for a seventh season in a row, while Valtteri Bottas ended the campaign P2 in the Drivers’ Championship to make it truly a year of dominance for the Brackley outfit.
Red Bull were able to comfortably secure P2 in the Constructors’ Championship, though the gap to Mercedes was a resounding 254 points.