Lewis Hamilton predicts 2021 will be a Formula 1 season of unknowns

Hamilton Formula 1 unknowns
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The decision by Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes to sign only a single-year contract last month was surprising, but there are a lot more unknowns to be discovered in the 2021 Formula 1 season according to the seven-time champion.

Citing a bout with COVID-19 that impacted both Hamilton and Mercedes’ team principal Toto Wolff late last year, the decision was partially credited to the lateness with which they broached the contract.

But there was more that factored into the decision. Not least was the fact that Hamilton has already achieved most of what he set out to accomplish in his career.

Another factor may be the uncertainty of what will happen in Formula 1 in 2021 and beyond as Hamilton and the rest of the sport faces a series of unknowns.

“Firstly, I’m kind of in a fortunate position where I’ve achieved most of the stuff that I’ve wanted to achieve up to this point,” Hamilton said at Autosport.com. “So there’s no real need necessity to plan too far ahead in the future.

“I think we live in quite an unusual period of time in life, and I just wanted one year. Then we can talk about if we do more, and keep adding it if we have to.”

With his 92nd Formula 1 victory last year in the Portuguese Grand Prix, Hamilton ascended to the top of the all-time wins list. He went on to win the next three races and closed the season with 95. The 100-win mark is well within reach for a driver who has scored 10 or more victories in six of the last seven seasons and nine the year he did not score double digits.

Hamilton wrapped up his seventh Formula 1 title in Round 14 of 17 in the Turkish Grand Prix to tie Michael Schumacher for the most World Championships. Six of these titles came in the past seven seasons, including the last four consecutive. If he is able to win again in 2021, there is really no other mountain to climb.

As part of his one-year contract, Hamilton and Mercedes jointly launched a charity to foster inclusion and diversity in all forms of motorsports. Hamilton expects that goal will take up increasing amounts of time.

But another factor in his decision to sign for only a single season is that Hamilton does not know what racing in Formula 1 will be like in 2021 and beyond.

Hamilton predicted that Formula 1 would have a slower car this season in a tweet.

“I don’t know if the fans know but we’ve had a downforce adjustment that’s been made for this year, which does mean the car won’t be as fast – at least at the get-go.” Hamilton said.

Will that provide closer, more competitive racing?

“Who knows? I don’t know really why they’ve done that except to bring the cars closer,” Hamilton continued. “And we have tires that are not as fast as previous years. It adds a new element to the mix. The tires: We don’t know how they will perform – what the limitations are.

“And looking at these other teams, you’ve got a stronger setting I think that you’ll see at Red Bull. Ferrari has a really great new, fresh setting and then you’ve got Sebastian (Vettel) taking over with his great experience and expertise and they are ramping up. They nearly won at Turkey last year.”

‘Nearly won’ was a generous statement. Vettel finished third within three-tenths of a runner-up Sergio Perez in the race that sealed Hamilton’s championship. Vettel’s teammate Charles Leclerc finished fourth.

But Hamilton won that event by more than 30 seconds over the field.

Winner Josef Newgarden earns $3.666 million from a record Indy 500 purse of $17 million


INDIANAPOLIS — The first Indy 500 victory for Josef Newgarden also was the richest in race history from a record 2023 purse of just more than $17 million.

The two-time NTT IndyCar Series champion, who continued his celebration Monday morning at Indianapolis Motor Speedway earned $3.666 million for winning the 107th running of the Greatest Spectacle in Racing.

The purse and winner’s share both are the largest in the history of the Indianapolis 500.

It’s the second consecutive year that the Indy 500 purse set a record after the 2022 Indy 500 became the first to crack the $16 million mark (nearly doubling the 2021 purse that offered a purse of $8,854,565 after a crowd limited to 135,000 because of the COVID-19 pandemic).

The average payout for IndyCar drivers was $500,600 (exceeding last year’s average of $485,000).

Indianapolis Motor Speedway owner Roger Penske, whose team also fields Newgarden’s No. 2 Dallara-Chevrolet, had made raising purses a priority since buying the track in 2020. But Penske but was unable to post big money purses until the race returned to full capacity grandstands last year.

The largest Indy 500 purse before this year was $14.4 million for the 2008 Indy 500 won by Scott Dixon (whose share was $2,988,065). Ericsson’s haul made him the second Indy 500 winner to top $3 million (2009 winner Helio Castroneves won $3,048,005.

Runner-up Marcus Ericsson won $1.043 million after falling short by 0.0974 seconds in the fourth-closest finish in Indy 500 history.

The 107th Indy 500 drew a crowd of at least 330,000 that was the largest since the sellout for the 100th running in 2016, and the second-largest in more than two decades, according to track officials.

“This is the greatest race in the world, and it was an especially monumental Month of May featuring packed grandstands and intense on-track action,” Penske Entertainment president and CEO Mark Miles said in a release. “Now, we have the best end card possible for the 107th Running of the Indianapolis 500: a record-breaking purse for the history books.”

Benjamin Pedersen was named the Indy 500 rookie of the year, earning a $50,000 bonus.

The race’s purse is determined through contingency and special awards from IMS and IndyCar. The awards were presented Monday night in the annual Indy 500 Victory Celebration at the JW Marriott in downtown Indianapolis.

The payouts for the 107th Indy 500:

1. Josef Newgarden, $3,666,000
2. Marcus Ericsson, $1,043,000
3. Santino Ferrucci, $481,800
4. Alex Palou, $801,500
5. Alexander Rossi, $574,000
6. Scott Dixon, $582,000
7. Takuma Sato, $217,300
8. Conor Daly, $512,000
9. Colton Herta, $506,500
10. Rinus VeeKay, $556,500
11. Ryan Hunter‐Reay, $145,500
12. Callum Ilott, $495,500
13. Devlin DeFrancesco, $482,000
14. Scott McLaughlin, $485,000
15. Helio Castroneves, $481,500
16. Tony Kanaan, $105,000
17. Marco Andretti, $102,000
18. Jack Harvey, $472,000
19. Christian Lundgaard, $467,500
20. Ed Carpenter, $102,000
21. Benjamin Pedersen (R), $215,300
22. Graham Rahal, $565,500*
23. Will Power, $488,000
24. Pato O’Ward, $516,500
25. Simon Pagenaud, $465,500
26. Agustín Canapino (R), $156,300
27. Felix Rosenqvist, $278,300
28. Kyle Kirkwood, $465,500
29. David Malukas, $462,000
30. Romain Grosjean, $462,000
31. Sting Ray Robb (R), $463,000
32. RC Enerson (R), $103,000
33.  Katherine Legge, $102,000

*–Broken down between two teams, $460,000 Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing, $105,500 Dreyer & Reinbold Racing/Cusick Motorsports