Mercedes, Alpine unveil livery for 2021 Formula 1 season

Mercedes Hamilton Alpine livery
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Mercedes has unveiled the livery Lewis Hamilton will drive this season while trying to win an unprecedented eighth Formula 1 title as the rebranded Alpine team also presented its new Formula 1 car on Tuesday.

The Mercedes W12 car, presented Tuesday, retains the black introduced last year as part of the team’s campaign against racism and discrimination, and adds a touch of its more traditional silver.

Alpine Racing revealed a new livery of blue, white and red matching the colors of the French flag instead of last year’s yellow and black.

The 36-year-old Hamilton, who signed a one-year contract extension last month, is bidding to move one title clear of Michael Schumacher. Meanwhile, Mercedes will be chasing an eighth drivers’ and constructors’ double.

Since joining Mercedes for the 2013 season, Hamilton has won six world titles – moving him level with Schumacher with a record seven for his career.

A SEASON OF UNKNOWNS?: Lewis Hamilton says ‘yes’

Hamilton, who has won 74 races with Mercedes, said earning an eighth title “is the ultimate dream, but I don’t think it will be the deciding factor as to whether I stay or keep going.”

“I got into racing because I love racing and that has to be the core of what I do. If all you are going for is accolades and titles, I feel like I could lose my way,” Hamilton said. “It is whether I still have that smile when I put on that helmet and leave the garage and whether I still enjoy it.”

Hamilton will be teaming up with Valtteri Bottas for a fifth consecutive year.

The Renault Formula 1 team changed its name to Alpine at the end of last season and said the new colors are “synonymous to Alpine’s heritage and pedigree in motorsports.”

Alpine has a history in motorsports with the Renault-powered Alpine car winning the Le Mans 24 hours race in 1978.

The new A521 will be powered by a Renault engine and driven by Fernando Alonso and Esteban Ocon, who is French.

A two-time world champion with Renault, the 39-year-old Alonso is making his comeback in Formula 1 after retiring at the end of the 2018 season. The 39-year-old Spaniard has won 32 races, with 97 podium finishes. He won his titles in 2005 and 2006.

“I’ve been working hard to prepare myself for racing back in Formula One and the target is to attack from the beginning,” Alonso said.

Ocon starts his second year with the team.

F1 begins this month at the Bahrain Grand Prix.

As expected, FIA denies granting Colton Herta a Super License to race in F1

Colton Herta Super License
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The governing body for Formula One on Friday said IndyCar star Colton Herta will not be granted the Super License that the American needs to join the F1 grid next season.

“The FIA confirms that an enquiry was made via the appropriate channels that led to the FIA confirming that the driver Colton Herta does not have the required number of points to be granted an FIA Super Licence,” the FIA said in a statement.

The FIA decision was not a surprise.

Red Bull was interested in the 22-year-old Californian and considering giving Herta a seat at AlphaTauri, its junior team. AlphaTauri has already said that Pierre Gasly will return next season and Yuki Tsunoda received a contract extension earlier this week.

However, AlphaTauri has acknowledged it would release Gasly, who is apparently wanted at Alpine, but only if it had a compelling driver such as Herta to put in the car. F1 has not had an American on the grid since Alexander Rossi in 2015, but Herta did not particularly want the FIA to make an exception to the licensing system to get him a seat.

At issue is how the FIA rates IndyCar, a series it does not govern. The points it awards to IndyCar drivers rank somewhere between F2 and F3, the two junior feeder series into F1.

IndyCar drivers have criticized the system in defense of Herta and the intense, close racing of their own highly competitive series. Herta has won seven IndyCar races, is the youngest winner in series history and has four starts in the Indianapolis 500. He qualified on the front row in 2021 and finished a career-best eighth in 2020.

Rossi, who has spent the last four seasons as Herta’s teammate at Andretti Autosport, lashed out this week because “I’m so sick and tired of this back and forth” regarding the licensing.

“The whole premise of it was to keep people from buying their way into F1 and allowing talent to be the motivating factor,” Rossi wrote on social media. “That’s great. We all agree Colton has the talent and capability to be in F1. That’s also great and he should get that opportunity if it’s offered to him. Period.

“Motorsport still remains as the most high profile sport in the world where money can outweigh talent. What is disappointing and in my opinion, the fundamental problem, is that the sporting element so often took a backseat to the business side that here had to be a method put in place in order for certain teams to stop taking drivers solely based on their financial backing.”

Rossi added those decisions “whether out of greed or necessity, is what cost Colton the opportunity to make the decision for himself as to if he wanted to alter career paths and race in F1. Not points on a license.”

The system favors drivers who compete in FIA-sanctioned series. For example, Linus Lundqvist earned his Super License by winning the Indy Lights championship.

Lundqvist’s required points come via the 15 he earned for the Lights title, 10 points for finishing third in Lights last year and his 2020 victory in the FIA-governed Formula Regional Americas Championship, which earned him 18 points.

That gave the 23-year-old Swede a total of 43 points, three more than needed for the license.

Herta, meanwhile, ended the IndyCar season with 32 points. He can still earn a Super License by picking up one point for any free practice sessions he runs this year; McLaren holds his F1 rights and could put him in a car. Herta could also potentially run in an FIA-sanctioned winter series to pick up some points.

Michael Andretti, who has petitioned the FIA to expand its grid to add two cars for him to launch a team, said he never bothered to explore potential replacements for Herta on the IndyCar team because he was confident the Super License request would be rejected.

Andretti has been met by severe resistance from existing F1 teams and even F1 itself in his hope to add an 11th team. Andretti could still get on the grid by purchasing an existing team and he’d like to build his program around Herta, who is under contract in IndyCar to Andretti through 2023.