Is Russell a future F1 champion, then?
JP “He can be. What impresses me about him is he clearly has pace, but also his mindset is really strong. He had one weekend in a Mercedes, and it wasn’t only that he outfought Valtteri Bottas in Bottas’s car; it was also the way he thought about working through the weekend, and how he got straight to business with Hamilton’s crew and dialling in the car how he wanted it.”
JN “For me, Russell is undoubtedly a future champion – but will he actually win the title? Verstappen is a future champion too, but will he ever be in a championship-winning car, despite being one of the best drivers out there?”
JP “And at the same time, Leclerc is a future champion. He’s so quick. We saw that in 2019, when he had the tools; yes, he made a few mistakes, but it was his first year at Ferrari. If he gets a sniff of a title, he can be there. This young generation is full of possible champions, which is very exciting.”
JN “Yes, I think this is one of the strongest eras of racing drivers for a while, actually. If the field were closer, it would be like the 1980s period of having the absolute greats of Ayrton Senna, Nelson Piquet, Alain Prost and Nigel Mansell all racing each other at the front.”
JP “You would be hard pushed to ever find a year in F1 history when there were so many teams headlined by an outstanding driver. The talent on the grid right now is probably at an all-time high.”
Why should we sit and watch the 2021 F1 season?
JN “Listen to it, don’t watch it! This season is going to lay out a lot of the plots that we’re going to see play out over the next few years. It’s the prequel to some great F1 racing when the new rules come in. Yes, Mercedes will be at the front and it will probably be Hamilton winning the title, but the amount we’re going to learn will be astonishing. There are so many huge stories, if not necessarily the competition for the title.”
JP “Yes, it’s that. There has never been a better F1 grid for talent, and if everyone can at least close up to Mercedes and Red Bull, we’re going to have some cracking races, hopefully with Alonso dicing it with the big boys again. You will have a brilliant midfield battle, and hopefully sometimes they can get in among it at the sharp end.