OPINION: Formula 1 Rookie Takeaways

Breanna breaks down the performances of the latest F1 rookies after their inaugural Formula 1 race and lets us know what to expect for Imola and the season ahead.

Written by Breanna Hammond

April 14, 2021

The first race in the 2021 Formula One season took place in Bahrain two weekends ago. We saw an old champ’s return, an intense upfront battle, and the start of 3 drivers’ careers. Haas’ new lineup consisted of two brand new drivers, Mick Schumacher and Nikita Mazepin, while AlphaTauri brought up Japanese Formula 2 driver Yuki Tsunoda. Here we will evaluate their first race performance and what’s to come for their futures.


Nikita Mazepin

Haas driver Nikita Mazepin had the most lackluster of the three performances, completing a staggering three corners in the race for a grand total of 25 seconds. Mazepin actually managed to complete more formation laps in his F1 career than racing laps when he spun out and hit the barrier at turn 4. The car was then deemed unable to continue the race, and the Haas retired.

Mazepin originally was slated to start the grid at 20th, but after a five-place penalty to Aston Martin’s Sebastian Vettel for failing to yield to the yellow flags, he was moved up to 19th. The penalty to Vettel is partially Mazepin’s fault as he spun multiple times in qualifying. The incident, in particular, happened right in front of Vettel and Alpine’s Esteban Ocon, who were both unable to make it to Q2 due to the spin.

Mazepin’s performance has only added to his intense social media hatred being dubbed ‘MazeSpin’ and was absolutely shredded by almost everyone near a cellular device. My expectations for Mazepin are very low; I expect many DNFs this season as well as scoring zero points. Haas will be at the bottom of the barrel for the season, but what else could you expect from them.


Mick Schumacher

On Haas’ bright side, Mick Schumacher had a great race despite driving the 175 million dollar equivalent to a farm tractor. Schumacher managed to finish 16th after starting 18th on the grid; however, the four places behind him were all DNFs. Schumacher spun several times during the race, yet his performance was promising for what’s to come.

Mick Schumacher with Prema teammate Robert Shwartzman (Photo via Creative Commons)

Son of the seven-time World Driver’s Champion Michael Schumacher, Mick Schumacher won the F2 championship under Prema Racing last year. That championship led him to an F1 seat in 2021, but unfortunately, his first season is unlikely to go well. Haas has already stated that they are focusing 99% of their efforts on the 2022 car and that this season is more for “damage control.” 

On Haas’ bright side, Mick Schumacher had a great race despite driving the 175 million dollar equivalent to a farm tractor.

I do feel for Mick, as I’m sure he would want to be racing at a top level, but for now, we’re all going to have and wait to see as the season plays out.

Yuki Tsunoda

Yuki Tsunoda was one of the night’s shining stars with a rookie performance that showed promise for the future. Tsunoda, driving for AlphaTauri alongside Pierre Gasly, carried himself to points last weekend with ease. Starting 13th on the grid, Tsunoda managed to pull both bold and aggressive moves, which landed him at 9th once the checkered flag waved, securing the team two points. Not only did he overtake former world champion Fernando Alonso, but he also finished ahead of his teammate in his first-ever F1 race.

Yuki Tsunoda at the Macau GP in 2019 (Photo via Creative Commons)

The race wasn’t the only area where Tsunoda shined; during qualifying, he managed to set one of the fastest times ahead of Red Bulls’ Max Verstappen and Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton. The big question for Tsunoda lies in what’s ahead. Does he have the pace to challenge Gasly for the number one spot at AlphaTauri? Many would think so after his first race performance, and even I’d have to agree. The storyline at AlphaTauri will be fascinating this year as I’m sure those two will be battling all season long.


The potentials for all three of these drivers will pan out as the 2021 season continues. Who will shock everyone? Who will disappoint? And what will we be saying at the end of the year? Let me know your thoughts, and don’t forget to tune in on April 18th for the second race of the 2021 Formula One season at Emilia Romagna Grand Prix.


Breanna’s earliest memories of motorsports come from Kyle Busch and his M&M car. Currently, Breanna studies journalism at UNLV, where she one day plans to become a sports journalist/broadcaster in motorsports. Outside of school, you can usually find Breanna crocheting a new blanket or baking cookies.

Related Articles

Raising Mental Health Awareness Beyond Formula 1

Raising Mental Health Awareness Beyond Formula 1

To raise mental health awareness, Formula 1 teams are partnering with charities like Mind. Founded in 1946, Mind emphasizes community-based mental health support despite controversies. Their collaboration extends to engaging fans and hosting events, supported by advocates like Lewis Hamilton, and promoting destigmatization through open conversations and support.

Stay Up to Date With The Latest News & Updates

Interested in Writing for ATRL?

Contact us now! Fill out the form below and wait for an email from us to get started.

Join Our Newsletter

Subscribe to updates when we post a new article! 




Follow Us

Follow us on Twitter @ATRacingLine

Instagram coming soon.