By Oscar Maya Belchi
Madrid, Mar 24 (EFE).- Formula One is set to begin a record 23-race season with Sunday’s Bahrain Grand Prix, as Briton Lewis Hamilton hopes for an eighth world title to break German legend Michael Schumacher’s tally of seven.
Hamilton’s number one rival should be his teammate Valtteri Bottas given that he has access to the same Mercedes resources; however, the Finn has not lived up to the challenge in four seasons, in which he has claimed just nine victories
This 2021 season might be Bottas’ last chance to beat Hamilton as a Mercedes driver. He is widely rumored to be replaced next year by Williams F1 driver George Russell.
Hamilton’s contract renewal with Mercedes this year took longer than expected, despite having the opportunity of becoming the greatest F1 driver in the history if he surpasses the record set by Schumacher, whose son will be debuting for Haas in the 2021 F1 season.
The seven-time world champion, who endured a difficult pre-season testing in Bahrain, eventually signed a one-year contract extension for this season, saying there is no need “to plan too far ahead in the future.”
Meanwhile, Red bull’s adviser Helmut Marko made it clear he is eying the 2021 world title after Max Verstappen produced a strong performance and posted the fastest times at the Sakhir circuit in pre-season testing.
The Belgian-Dutch driver wow F1 fans each season but has lacked a competitive car to challenge Hamilton.
Then comes McLaren, which made a switch from Renault to Mercedes engines, further increasing its progress especially after it finished third in the F1 Constructors’ World Championship last year.
After a difficult six-year stint with Ferrari, four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel is aiming to bounce back with Aston Martin (formerly Racing Point), with two-time champion Fernando Alonso rejoining Renault’s rebranded Alpine team.