Portimão shifted to June; Spa-Francorchamps set to host FIA WEC season-opener
The opening round of the 2021 FIA World Endurance Championship, which was due to be held in Portimão (Portugal) in early April, has been postponed until June.
Spa-Francorchamps will now host the Prologue, as well as the WEC season-opener.
The decision, approved at today’s FIA World Motor Sport Council meeting, has been made following the uncertainty surrounding the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic including travel restrictions from different Governments in various countries, meaning travel to and from Portugal is heavily compromised. Furthermore, it is hoped that the new date for Portimão will increase the possibility of fans being able to attend the race.
Aston Martin launches new car in return to F1 after 61 years
SILVERSTONE, England (AP) – The Aston Martin team presented its new Formula One car on Wednesday, revealing a slick livery of British racing green as it returns to the series for the first time since 1960.
Aston Martin left after failing to score any points that year and returns to the grid with high hopes after signing four-time F1 champion Sebastian Vettel. He has won 53 F1 races but endured a dismal final year with Ferrari in 2020 during which he secured just one podium finish.
“I love the history of motor racing and Aston Martin is one of the great names of the past, so it is fun to be part of their return,” Vettel said at the team’s online launch on Wednesday. “I have not driven the car yet, obviously, but I think it looks great. I am really looking forward to getting it out on the track.”
He will race alongside Canadian driver Lance Stroll, whose father Lawrence Stroll owns the team after completing a nearly $1 billion takeover last April.
The Silverstone-based team was then rebranded from Racing Point to Aston Martin, and Sergio Perez – who drove consistently well and won one race last season – was replaced by the 33-year-old Vettel.
It will be Vettel’s fourth F1 team after starting with Toro Rosso before winning four straight titles with Red Bull from 2010-13 and then joining Ferrari. He fell short of delivering the title the Italian manufacturer so craves, finishing runner-up behind Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton despite leading the championship at the halfway stage in 2017 and ’18.
“Even though I have raced for four Formula One teams and for many years, starting a new season with a new team still gives me a sense of excitement,” the veteran German driver said. “As a driver, I have always kept my eye on the competition and this team has consistently impressed me with what they have been able to do without the biggest of budgets. So, when (they) approached me last year, and explained what their ambitions were, I was immediately very motivated to join the team.”
When the 22-year-old Stroll and Vettel take to the grid in the AMR21 car at the season-opening GP in Bahrain on March 28, it will be the first time Aston Martin will have been on the grid since Roy Salvadori and Maurice Trintignant lined up for the 1960 British GP.
“Aston Martin returning to Formula One after an absence of 61 years will have a powerful effect on the sport, the media and the fans, commanding global attention,” Lawrence Stroll said. “We now have the pieces in place, the people and the partners, to make real progress. I firmly believe we have the perfect blend of experience and youth in Sebastian and Lance.”
They will get to grips with the car at preseason testing in Bahrain from March 12-14.
Not WEC but interesting enough in my view. I have stopped following F1 a few years back. Maybe this could change if Alpine is successful.
Ce mercredi, l’équipe française a levé le voile sur la voiture qui disputera la saison 2021 avec à son volant le tandem Fernando Alonso-Esteban Ocon.
La litanie des présentations en vue de la saison qui débutera le 28 mars prochain au Bahreïn s’est poursuivie ce mardi en Formule 1. Ainsi, quelques heures seulement après que Mercedes a dévoilé les courbes de sa nouvelle Flèche d’argent, ce fut au tour d’Alpine de révéler les couleurs de sa toute première Formule 1. Des couleurs évidemment différentes puisque, pour marquer le passage de Renault à Alpine, le traditionnel jaune de la marque au Losange a laissé la place à une dominante bleue, même si, identité française oblige, du blanc et du rouge apparaissent ici ou là. D’un point de vue du châssis, avec le gel de la réglementation en vigueur cette année, inutile de chercher de grandes différences entre la Renault RS 20 et cette Alpine A521.
This Wednesday, the French team lifted the veil on the car that will compete in the 2021 season with the Fernando Alonso-Esteban Ocon tandem at the wheel.
The litany of presentations in view of the season which will start next March 28 in Bahrain continued this Tuesday in Formula 1. Just a few hours after Mercedes unveiled the curves of its new Silver Arrow, it was Alpine’s turn to reveal the colours of its very first Formula 1. Colours obviously different since, to mark the passage of Renault to Alpine, the traditional yellow of the brand at the Losange gave way to a dominant blue, even if, French identity obliges, white and red appear here and there. From the point of view of the chassis, with the freezing of the regulations in force this year, there is no need to look for big differences between the Renault RS 20 and this Alpine A521.
After a promising rookie campaign in the ELMS last year, the all-female trio that makes up the Richard Mille Racing Team will step up to the world stage for 2021. Confirmed to drive the ORECA 07 Gibson LMP2 car will be Beitske Visser (Netherlands), Sophia Flörsch (Germany) and Tatiana Calderón (Colombia).
✑ 24/01: Due to the uncertainties linked to the health crisis, the ticket office for the 24 Hours of Le Mans Auto will not reopen before the beginning of April. The ACO will come back to us by the end of March with more information.
✑ 23/01: There are this year no cars from Aston Martin in the GTE-Pro category.
✑ It has just been announced that Round 1 of this season, the 8 Hours of Portimão, will take place from 2-4 April 2021. Due to the rapid evolution of coronavirus, as well as various changing directives from Governments in different countries including travel restrictions, the WEC did not want to take any unnecessary risks. With freight due to be sent to the USA imminently, a decision needed to be made early to help teams prepare for the 2021 season. With this in mind and the majority of the championship’s teams being based in Europe, after consulting IMSA, Sebring International Raceway and the FIA, a decision was made to hold the first race of the year on the continent. Located in the south of Portugal, the Algarve International Circuit will also host the Prologue, the WEC’s official pre-season test from 30-31 March.
🔶 WEC Entry list
As expected, the 2021 competitors have been announced a few days ago. As planned, the LMP1 category no longer exists and has been replaced by the long awaited, at least in my case, Hypercars.
The arrival of the Hypercar category, represented this season by Toyota and Glickenhaus, joined by Alpine, heralds a bright future for endurance racing.
Peugeot Sport’s participation will begin in 2022, with Porsche and Audi confirmed for 2023.
The Alpine car is in fact a LMP1NH (Not Hybrid) and is a kind of partnership with the Swiss Rebellion team which left the WEC championship at the end of the 2020 season. The car is developed on the basis of an Oreca chassis with a Gibson engine, the formula which was used by the cars of the afore mentioned Rebellion team.
🔶 Races schedule (Provisional)
▫️ Pre-season testing in Sebring – 13th & 14th March
▫️ Pre-season testing in Portimão – 13th & 14th March (replaces Sebring)
▫️ 1.000 Miles of Sebring – 19th March
▫️ 8 Hours of Portimão – 4th April (replaces Sebring)
▫️ 6 Hours of Spa Francorchamps – 1st May
▫️ 24 Hours of Le Mans – 12th & 13th June
▫️ 6 Hours of Monza – 18th July
▫️ 6 Hours of Fuji – 26th Septembre
▫️ 6 Hours of Bahrain – 20th Novembre
🔶 Le Mans 24H
The complete list of participants will be made available later in the year
🔶 Bits & Pieces
▫️ For the first time in WEC history, two 100% female crews will participate in the entire championship: Richard Mille Racing Team (LMP2) and Iron Lynx (LMGTE Am). The six women entered set the record for female drivers in an FIA World Championship.
▫️ It should be noted that the presence in WEC also guarantees all competitors an invitation to the 24 Hours of Le Mans for next June. Among the more anecdotal changes, it should be recalled that the choice of numbers is no longer imposed by the organisers. Each team can now choose the one of its choice, but also the possibility of styling it, while respecting the colour code specific to each of the four WEC categories.
Toyota officially presented yesterday the new Hypercar which will take part, with the same crews as last season on the LMP1 cars, in the World Championship and the Le Mans 24 Hours. The new Hypercar regulation is something I have been eagerly waiting for.