Once again it's been an exciting few weeks in the world of Formula 1 - not least with developments in this current season, but also even as far as 12 months' time, as you'll soon discover in our latest roundup of all the action on and off the track…
After the debacle surrounding track rule clarity that saw his technical lead over Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes at the Bahrain GP last month being deducted, things were much more clear cut for Max Verstappen and Red Bull at last weekend's Emilia Romagna Grand Prix in Italy.
Not even torrential rain that threw many - if not all - drivers competing off course at one time or another during the race last Sunday could stop the Belgian racer roaring to his first win of the 2021 season, finishing with a lap time of 2:02:34 - a whole 22 seconds quicker than Hamilton, who finished in second place.
It's now the fourth GP win of Verstappen's F1 career, to add to his two victories he achieved in 2019 and his win at the historic 70th anniversary British GP at Silverstone last year. Still, the rivalry between the two drivers continues to gather pace, even at this early stage of the season, especially given they banged wheels on the opening chicane last Sunday.
Speaking to the BBC for their Chequered Flag podcast, commentator and motorsport journalist Jolyon Palmer has said it's only a matter of time before one or both drivers is involved in a crash on track as the stakes get even higher.
Speaking of Hamilton in particular, who is looking to retain his World Championship title again from last year, Palmer said "I think Lewis knows this is the title battle of his career. He had them in 2007 and 2008… [but] ... he's not had a challenger as good as Verstappen, maybe since Fernando Alonso in the same team … This is a challenger more fierce than Felipe Massa ever was in 2008."
We're only two races into the current 2021 Championships, and already thoughts are turning to the next season. Because in 2022, Formula 1, like Will Smith before them, will be going to Miami. After several years of negotiations and development, a 10 year deal has been struck for the races to come to the Florida city from next year.
It’s part of Liberty Media, F1's owners plans to grow the series further. They have been on the lookout for a US destination to add to the current circuit roster since 2017, with over 36 different circuit layouts trialled and modelled across the famous 'Sunshine State'. The confirmed track - approximately 3.36 miles long - will be situated at the Hard Rock stadium, which is the home of the Miami NFL Dolphins American Football team.
It will be the second of two US based F1 circuits, the other of course being in Austin, Texas. And whilst a date for the first race there has not been confirmed for definite, F1 chief Stefano Domenicali has said that it is likely to take place sometime between April and June next year. Further pressed, he has also hinted that it will be kept separate from the Austin GP in order to "keep the right space for both".
Miami's city council bosses finally signed off the proposed plans last week, after the original plan - which had a proposed bridge over the city's bay - was initially rejected. The new and approved plan means that F1 races will be able to go ahead with a series of measures designed to reduce the impact on the environment and the local population.
Well it's no secret that Aston Martin's return to F1 this season has got off to a bit of dodgy start. For the last two races, Sebastian Vettel has finished in last place - this despite his teammate Lance Stroll improving their qualifying position from 10th at Bahrain to 8th at the Emilia Romagna GP last Sunday.
Worse still, due to a collision with Esteban Ocon racing for Alpine on the 45th lap, a ten second penalty saw him being deducted from fourteenth place back down to fifteenth. Admittedly, it's still early days in the season, but there is no question that Team Aston Martin have got to radically improve in the coming months to even stand a chance of finishing the season near the top end.
One bright bit of news from their camp however, is that Nico Hulkenberg has joined them as their reserve and development driver for this season. He proved to be quite a reliable sub driver for them in 2020 in their last season as Team Racing Point, standing in for both Stroll and Sergio Perez when they tested positive for COVID-19.
He subsequently took them to seventh place at the 70th anniversary British GP, and eighth at the Eifel GP last year. Speaking on his signing, Hulkenberg said "Obviously, I'm hoping that Sebastian and Lance enjoy uninterrupted seasons this year, but the team knows it can rely on me to step in and do an excellent job, and I'm fully prepared to take on that challenge. It will also be interesting to help develop the team through the season, and I’m really looking forward to pulling great lap-times out of my arm sleeve."
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