That was an incredible season of F1. Incredible that it even got going during the Coronavirus pandemic, let alone getting to the finale in Abu Dhabi. It is testament to the FIA, Liberty media, F1, the circuit organisers, the teams and drivers that we even had a season of F1 in the first place after the Australian Grand Prix started but never went ahead after two McLaren team members tested positive for the virus and the first 8 races were cancelled.
The season eventually got underway in July, 217 days after the 2019 season finale; the third longest gap between seasons in F1 history as the 70th anniversary season started. It was historic as Michael Schumacher’s win record (91), podium (155) were beaten and his seven World Championship were equalled by Lewis Hamilton [Feature image above from formula1.com]. read more
After a 14 year absence since the last time it hosted a Grand Prix, Imola returned to F1 for 2020 with a difference. Not only was it returning with a new title named after the Emilia Romagna region of Italy (having hosted the Italian Grand Prix in 1980 and the San Marino Grand Prix 1981-2006), it was also a shortened format with only one practice session before Qualifying and the race. It was different for the teams and drivers to rise to.
It was a first for a circuit that despite its absence is steeped in history; a fact marked by the drivers paying their respects at the Ayrton Senna memorial and some of the drivers wearing tribute helmets. Imola saw more history made after what was admittedly a lacklustre race when overtaking proved difficult due to the narrow layout of the circuit and a DRS zone that was perhaps 100m too short. The only real excitement came at the start and in the final 6 laps after the Safety car was called upon but it saw Mercedes make history by clinching an unprecedented 7th successive Constructors Championship [Pictured celebrating in the feature image; above image from RaceFans.net].read more
For the second time in this crazy 2020 season, F1 raced at a circuit that had never before hosted a Grand Prix. Portimao on the Algarve hosted the first Portuguese Grand Prix for the first time since 1996. That was hosted at Estoril and while Portimao hosted a pre-season test in 2009, only half of the field had driven around the circuit in any type car before. It was a fresh challenge and one that I think the drivers enjoyed as Lando Norris commented in practice, ‘I’m going side to side, left to right, like a rollercoaster’.
With its fluctuating elevations and frequent changes of direction made the Algarve circuit look spectacular. There was the loose drain panel issue which forced Qualifying to be delayed by half an hour and the relatively new track surface meant it was difficult for the drivers to find grip but once they had got through the graining phase, the Medium tyres were the tyres to be on in the race despite the initial promise of the Soft tyre in the opening laps as a slight shower of rain fell. It was a crazy start and race. With a powerful wind close to the sea, I think this is something the drivers would experience when F1 does eventually return to Zandvoort but it would be nice to see F1 return to the Algarve.read more
The British Grand Prix has been run at Silverstone for 33 years and it never fails to deliver a dramatic race weekend. We saw a dramatic late return to F1 for Nico Hulkenberg after Sergio Perez tested positive for coronavirus just coming into the weekend. On the track, there were plenty of spins, the lap record kept tumbling in Qualifying but the ultimate talking point after the Grand Prix was the tyres after a host of tyre deflations. That is where this review will begin.
Tyre manufacturer Pirelli has a mixed relationship with Silverstone and that revealed itself again in the final stages. Daniil Kvyat had already crashed out earlier in the race to bring out the second Safety car after a rear right tyre deflation before Valtteri Bottas suffered a similar deflation on the front left. Carlos Sainz too suffered a suffer deflation and the race leader, Lewis Hamilton, on the final lap. Hamilton managed to get it to the finish line, I don’t know how he did it. This is not the first time though. 2017 saw the Ferrari’s of Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel suffer late deflations in quick succession while in 2013, no less than six drivers suffered tyre blowouts.read more
Last weekend saw history in Formula One. On his 200th Grand Prix, Lewis Hamilton equalled the 68 career pole position record set by Michael Schumacher with an incredible performance and setting the new track record for Spa-Francorchamps along the way. In the race, Hamilton was equally supreme in keeping the Ferrari of Sebastian Vettel behind as the four-time World Champion was never more than 2 seconds behind him throughout. Championships the frustrations of Fernando Alonso and Max Verstappen was evident in the early stages. The latter suffered his 6th mechanical DNF of the season as his car simply lost power. The former, felt the sinking feeling of a lack of power in his Honda engine as car after car found their way past him with the Spaniard telling his team to leave him alone at one stage. The Force India drivers were the major talking point. They had already banged wheels on the slope down to Eau Rouge on the opening lap when the collided again on lap 29. Sergio Perez tried to block his teammate getting past but succeeded in picking up a rear right tyre puncture and front wing damage for his Esteban Ocon. The contact and resulting debris brought out the Safety Car which became the defining moment of the race.
From the restart, Hamilton did well to defend from Vettel who picked up a tow after climbing Eau Rouge and almost had the move done. However, the Mercedes man held the inside line very well indeed. Kevin Magnussen squandered a points scoring position by locking up under braking at the restart and running wide. Daniel Ricciardo meanwhile, was the big winner. The Red Bull looked comfortable for 5th before hand. At the restart, he drove daringly to pass both Kimi Raikkonen and Valtteri Bottas along the straight up to Las Combes and took 3rd place. He managed to hold on for the podium; Renault. Lewis Hamilton took the chequered flag to win on his 200th Grand Prix start. He became only the fourth driver to do so after Michael Schumacher (2004 European Grand Prix), Jenson Button (2011 Hungarian Grand Prix) and Nico Rosberg (2016 Singapore Grand Prix).read more
F1 certainly came back with a bang! The Belgian Grand Prix at Spa-Francorchamps last weekend had controversy, turn 1 chaos, safety cars a red flag and much more as the weekend delivered a worth spectacle. The only thing that was missing was the unpredictable weather of Spa but then again; maybe raining at one part of the circuit and bone dry at the other is too predictable for Spa as last weekend the track temperatures were unusually hot.
Nico Rosberg won the incident filled race from pole position uninterrupted from start to finish despite the chaos ensuing behind him. He did all he could do last weekend to hurt his team mates Championship lead. However, the chaos and mayhem bringing out the safety car twice helped Lewis hamilton to score a podium finish having started 21st after serving a 55 place grid penalty for new engine parts which most people in F1 knew were coming at some point. The result meant Hamilton retained his Championship lead albeit having been reduced to 9 points. While Max Verstappen was accused of dangerous driving and causing mayhem; team mate Daniel Ricciardo went about his work quietly to finish 2nd for the second in time in as many races. Nico Hulkenberg and Sergio Perez finished 4th and 5th to give Force India 4th in the constructors Championship; leapfrogging Williams who caused some controversy of their own having used team orders to ensure Valtteri Bottas finished ahead of veteran Felipe Massa. Fernando Alonso finished an incredible 7th to help McLaren take 6th place in the Constructors from Torro Rosso having started the race plum last. Meanwhile, Kevin Magnusson suffered the most notable incident having lost control of his Renault at the top of Eau Rouge bringing doubts over his participation this weekend.read more