10 February: Aston Martin-Mercedes
Aston Martin had a troubled debut season, as the race-winning chassis that it inherited from Racing Point was nerfed by aero rules changes, so much so that it struggled to keep hold of the midfield teams’ coat-tails. There were some bright spots, though, most notably a fine first podium in Azerbaijan, thanks to Sebastian Vettel. The quadruple champion and his fast-growing fanbase will be hoping that Aston Martin can fulfil its promise of competitiveness (after all, its end goal is the title) to quell the questions hanging over his legacy. His team-mate will again be Lance Stroll (funny that), but his boss has changed, as Stroll senior has replaced long-serving Otmar Szafnauer with ex-BMW Sauber chief engineer Mike Krack.
11 February: McLaren-Mercedes
McLaren finally ended nine years of abject misery and then unfulfilled potential with victory at Monza, courtesy of a rejuvenated Daniel Riccardo. It should have celebrated a maiden win for British youngster Lando Norris, too, but for a misjudged strategy as the heavens opened above Sochi. And all this despite some serious financial trouble behind the scenes. Evidently much praise is due to Zak Brown and his team. Could even more be due this season? Along with fellow midfield maestros Alpine, Aston Martin, Ferrari, McLaren has been making some brave claims about 2022…
14 February: AlphaTauri-Red Bull
The Red Bull junior team – sorry, sibling team – proved that Pierre Gasly’s fantastic win at Monza in 2020 was no fluke, as it scored a string of points throughout the year and was at times the third fastest. You will struggle to find an F1 fan who doesn’t hope the plucky team that began life as Minardi can keep this up. Gasly’s demotion from Red Bull clearly lit a fire beneath him that has yet to dim, but Yuki Tsunoda will have to be faster and much more consistent if he is to avoid being labelled merely a marketing tool for Honda – and indeed to keep his seat.