The 2020 season saw a quite intense midfield battle, with many memorable moments, from multi-car battles to Pierre Gasly and Carlos Sainz's tight fight in Monza, resulting in a photo finish win for the French driver, his first ever in F1 and the first one for the former Scuderia Toro Rosso since Vettel’s in 2008.
But will we get to see a close midfield in the upcoming season as well?
AlphaTauri technical chief Jody Egginton certainly expects so, although he isn’t sure of the finishing order in the constructor championship, as he told autosport.com .
"I wasn't even prepared to tell anyone the order last winter, to be honest! We know our targets, we think if we achieve them, we'll be in the mix. The target is to get in the top five. If we can make the same step we made this year to last year, I think that's what we've got to do.”
The main focus of each team will undoubtedly be recovering downforce, limited mainly by the regulation changes on the rearward floor.
As the homologated component system introduced last year in an attempt to contain costs and safeguard the sport in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, will carry over into the 2021 season. Teams are issued two development tokens to introduce component changes, but there is still room for upgrades in some areas, including most of the aerodynamic department.
McLaren has no choice but to spend both of its tokens on integrating the switch to a Mercedes power unit.
According to Egginton we can only wait and see if it will turn out to be a worthwhile change of supplier for the Woking team, as "they've got to get that power unit to fit. I'm sure there's compromise and reward in there for them, so what that will do for them in detail, I don't know."
The technical director also shared his thoughts on whether the partial development freeze will have a particularly huge impact on the 2021 standings, arguing that
"At the end of the day, aerodynamics are still not heavily controlled by tokens," hence he doesn’t “think the tokens are a differentiator on aerodynamic concept, and it's aero that's still king. Everyone will use their tokens for something, but I don't think that's the key differentiator to decide the order."