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Where the names of the 2021 Formula 1 cars come from

Most of the 2021 F1 launches have now taken place. From the Red Bull RB16B to the Haas VF21, and from the Mercedes W12 to the Alfa Romeo C41. But where do these car names come from? Some speak for themselves, whilst others are a little less obvious.

Some names are more creative than others, but all chassis names for Formula 1 cars do have an underlying meaning. We take a look at the 2021 chassis names and explain!

Williams FW43B

The F and W in the name of the Williams car stand for Frank Williams, the founding father of the current Williams team. Last year, the racing stable said goodbye to the Williams family after more than 40 years. The first FW chassis used by the current Williams team was the FW06 in 1978. In the years before that, owner Frank Williams had already built other cars with FW names as part of some other adventures. That is why the FW01 was not started with the birth of the current Williams team. 43 years after the FW06 from 1978, we have arrived at the FW43B. Over the years, not every chassis was simply assigned the next number. Many chassis names were given the letter B and sometimes even a C and D version was introduced. This year an extra letter has also been added. Because the cars in 2021 are largely the same as in 2020, the racing stable have chosen to add a B to the name FW43. However, the colour scheme has changed spectacularly.

Haas VF-21

When the Haas team entered Formula 1 in 2016, they did so with the Haas VF-16. The meaning of the number can be quickly deduced: it matches the year. However, the VF doesn't quite speak for itself. In addition to being a racing team, Haas is also a company that develops computer-controlled machine tools (CNC machines). It is one of the largest companies in the world involved in this. Haas's first CNC machine was called the VF-1, which is why the American racing stable still name their cars after it.

Alfa Romeo C41

The Alfa Romeo name has been on the car that is actually developed by Sauber Motorsport since 2018. Founded by Peter Sauber and present in the sport since 1993, the Formula 1 team have been using a C in the chassis name for years. The first Formula 1 car was the C12; the first 11 chassis developed by Sauber came out in other racing classes. We have now arrived at the C41. The name of the previous chassis was the C39, which immediately makes you wonder where the C40 has gone. We will not see the C40 until 2022, because that car would originally have been introduced in 2021. Because the rule changes have been postponed for a year and work on the chassis had already started, it was decided to call the new chassis for 2021 the C41 and not to swap the names. And that C? Where does it come from, we hear you ask. It stands for Christine, the name of the founder Peter Sauber's wife. Romantic, right?

AlphaTauri AT02

There is not much creativity in the chassis names of the two Red Bull teams. But as long as it's fast, right? The AT02 is AlphaTauri's second car. So it doesn't take long to figure out what those letters and numbers stand for.

Ferrari SF21

Some years Ferrari are a bit more creative with the name for their chassis than other years. 2021 was one of those years in which the name of the chassis was not considered for long. SF stands for Scuderia Ferrari, 21 for the year. Behind the scenes, however, the car has been given the project name Ferrari 673, whilst last year's car was the Ferrari 671. The name Ferrari 672 was already given to the car that was initially developed for this year, but has been pushed forward a year due to the coronavirus situation, just as with Alfa Romeo. The new Ferrari car is the only livery and car that we have not yet seen this year.

Alpine A521

The first Formula 1 car from Alpine, Renault's sporty sister brand, is named after the Alpine A500. That was a racing car that was developed in 1975 to test a Renault engine, with which Renault eventually made their debut in Formula 1 in 1977. The 21 in the A521 is, you may have guessed it, for the year 2021.

Aston Martin AMR21

The Aston Martin car is beautiful, but the name is nothing special. The AMR21 is named after Aston Martin Racing, combined with the two digits of the current year.

McLaren MCL35M

In 1966 McLaren competed in their first official Formula 1 races with the M2A. Since team owner Bruce also gave the chassis of other non-F1 cars the same kind of name, we already arrived at the M30 in 1980. However, the chassis name was changed in 1981 after McLaren merged with Ron Dennis's Project 4 organisation. The 1981 car was called the MP4, followed by the MP4 / 2 up to the MP4 / 31 in 2016. MP4 stands for McLaren Project 4. When Dennis was removed from his management role at McLaren in 2016, the chassis name changed again. McLaren switched to MCL, which stands for McLaren. They do continue to count, so we have now arrived at the MCL35M. The M was added this year and refers to the Mercedes engine in the back.

Red Bull RB16B

At Red Bull they are and were not exactly innovative in coming up with a creative chassis name. As long as the car is fast, or so people will have thought. The RB1 saw the light of day in 2005, during Red Bull's first Formula 1 season. Each successive year, the Austrian team have added +1 to the chassis name. For example, in 2020 they arrived at the RB16 and because the development was partly frozen this year, the team of Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez added a B, just as Williams chose.

Mercedes W12

Unlike some other teams, Mercedes saw enough reason to rename their 2021 chassis. Presenting the W12, the successor to the Mercedes W11. Like Red Bull, Mercedes started out with number 1 when they returned to the sport in 2010, although the team did put a 0 before it. With the W01, Mercedes began their renewed and to date very successful Formula 1 adventure. This year they will be driving for the 12th season since their return and the 2021 car of Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas is therefore called the W12. And that W for the 12? What is it based on? On the German word 'Wagen', which of course means 'car'. So, car 12.