F1 ins and outs with 12 driver changes for new season including Fernando Alonso's shock return and Alex Albon axe

IT is just 103 days since the final race of the 2020 season in Abu Dhabi, but over the winter there have been plenty of changes.

A total of 12 drivers have moved to F1, or left, or changed teams, that's over half of the grid.

With the new season under way this weekend – we run down all the changes…

IN

MICK SCHUMACHER

The return of the the most famous surname in F1 history, Mick, the son of seven-time world champion Michael Schumacher, has been selected by the Haas F1 team.

Schumacher junior won the Formula 2 title last season and has made no secret of his dreams to follow his father into F1.

The 22-year-old is backed by the Ferrari Driver Academy and has effectively been loaned to Haas, who are Ferrari's customer and they use the Italian team's engines.

Schumacher will be eager to impress on the big stage but says he is comfortable and proud to bring the family name back to F1.

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FERNANDO ALONSO

The two-time world champion makes his return to F1 after a two-year break.

The Spaniard says he has unfinished business in the sport after a frustrating time in the wilderness.

He failed in his attempt to win the Indy 500 and complete the 'triple crown' and the lure of F1 got to the 39-year-old.

There is not a question that his skill warranted more than his two titles, but he faces a tough ask in getting a third with Alpine – the rebranded Renault team.

Alonso had his success with Renault in 2005 and 2006, can he turn Alpine into world-beaters too?

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SERGIO PEREZ

The final driver to complete the line up on the grid for 2021, the Mexican has joined Red Bull. It promises to be a major coup by the Milton Keynes based team – and could prove to be a career-defining move for Perez.

He has now been in F1 for 10 years, has plenty of experience with Sauber, McLaren, Force India and Racing Point and could keep Max Verstappen on his toes.

CARLOS SAINZ

The Spaniard caught the eye at McLaren in 2019 with a third-placed finish in Brazil. He went one better in 2020 in Monza, when he finished second in the Italian GP.

A coincidence? The 26-year-old has now joined Ferrari to partner Charles Leclerc, 23,  giving Ferrari their youngest driver line up in 50 years.

DANIEL RICCIARDO

The Aussie has joined McLaren as a replacement for Sainz. With seven-wins under his belt, Ricciardo is looking to move on from his frustrating time at Renault, where he was plagued by reliability issues. He will partner Brit Lando Norris at McLaren.

SEBASTIAN VETTEL

Completing the swap, the four time world champion has replaced Perez at Racing Point – now Aston Martin.

Vettel had a shocking year in 2020, finishing down in 13th place in the drivers' championship.

At 33, Vettel still has plenty of years left in him and Aston are hoping they can help him rediscover the form that won him four crowns at Red Bull.

NIKITA MAZEPIN

The controversial Russian driver will partner Schumacher at Haas, as the American team go for a rookie pairing.

He finished fifth in the F2 championship last season but almost lost his seat for a social media post where he groped a woman's breast. His dad is a billionaire, who sponsors the team.

YUKI TSONODA

The first F1 driver to be born in the 2000s, the Japanese ace has joined Red Bull's B-team AlphaTauri. He impressed during preseason testing and can learn a lot from his teammate, and Italian GP winner, Pierre Gasly.

OUT

ROMAIN GROSJEAN

The Frenchman was already out before his fiery smash in the Sakhir GP. He has since recovered and will spend this season racing in IndyCar.

KEVIN MAGNUSSEN

The Dans also left the Haas team and will race in the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship in the US and the World Endurance Championship for Peugeot.

DANIIL KYVAT

The Russian has again found himself out of the Red Bull stable. This time he has joined the Alpine team as a reserve driver.

ALEX ALBON

Another driver to feel the axe at Red Bull. The London-born Thai racer has been demoted to reserve and test driver for the team.


 

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