Hamilton edges thrilling curtain-raiser against Verstappen: 2021 Bahrain Grand Prix Review

Formula One in 2021 is here! Starting off two weeks later than originally planned in the dessert with the traditional Sakhir International Circuit layout for the Bahrain Grand Prix hosting the season opener for only the third time. The opening race can be crucial for setting the tone for the season ahead with the driver winning the opening race going on to be crowned World Champion 34 times. That said, that has not happened since Nico Rosberg in 2016. However, this was one of the best season-opening races in recent years and if the Bahrain Grand Prix is only the first of many such races we will see in 2021, it is sure to be a scorcher!

For the first time in the hybrid era, it looks like we may have a sustained challenge to the all-conquering Mercedes and Lewis Hamilton [Pictured above; image from formula1.com]. Red Bull looked very strong in the three-day pre-season testing that was undertaken in Bahrain while Mercedes looked to be a bit on the backfoot. That appeared to be the case when it came to the first weekend with Max Verstappen looked mighty! Red Bull were aiming to win their first season-opening race since 2013 and with Honda power in their cars, could it have been Honda’s first since Ayrton Senna in 1991. Verstappen put them on the right track with an epic pole position lap going almost four-tenths quicker than the Mercedes of Hamilton with these two titanic drivers qualifying on the front row together for only the first time! read more

F1 2021 Season Preview

It is two weeks later than originally planned, but the 2021 Formula One season gets underway this weekend. Australia is not the season-opening race, it is the Bahrain International Circuit in Sakhir [Where the drivers line up on the start/finish straight above; feature image from formula1/.com] hosting the curtain-raiser for only the third time and the first time since 2010.

When the Coronavirus pandemic hit, it did not look like we would get an F1 season at all last year. It is a testament to the powers that be in F1, Liberty Media, the teams, the drivers, the media crews and the circuits that came up to the plate that we had an F1 season last year. Starting off in Austria with a double bill in July, we got 17 races to form a championship as Lewis Hamilton surpassed Michael Schumacher’s once thought unsurmountable 91 race wins on his way to matching his 7 world titles. As a spectacle, the races were not always as exciting as what we had become accustomed to in 2019 but under the circumstances, it was just great to have some F1 to watch. read more

The belated F1 2020 Season Review

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

Goodbyes aplenty as Verstappen wins the season finale, Hamilton returns and McLaren take 3rd in the Constructors: 2020 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix Review

Incredibly, 23 weeks on from F1 getting its first race of 2020 underway in Austria, Abu Dhabi hosted the final curtain call of a hectic 17 race schedule [The winner Max Verstappen is featured above; image from formula1.com]. The twilight of Yas Marina was always going to be an emotional race for the likes of Sebastian Vettel, Carlos Sainz and Daniel Ricciardo leaving Ferrari, McLaren and Renault respectively. It could also have been the last F1 race in a 10-year career for Sergio Perez, but also potentially the last race for Red Bull drivers Alex Albon and Daniil Kvyat with neither driver having a drive. It was certainly the last race of Kevin Magnussen’s 7 season F1 career as he will be racing sports cars in 2021.

Yes Marina Circuit map [Image from formula1.com].

Surprisingly, overtaking is difficult around the Yas Marina Circuit. It has a layout you would have thought invites overtaking but it is extremely difficult on this circuit and 2020 was no exception. It was, therefore, a bit of a lacklustre, anti-climatic way to end the season after the chaotic race that proceeded it a week before in Sakhir. A lot of that was perhaps due to the Safety Car being deployed on lap 9 and all but three cars (Ricciardo, Vettel and Leclerc) pitting then and attempting to not stop again until the chequered flag. read more

Russell shines but Mercedes capitulate as Sergio Perez stole the show: Sakhir Grand Prix Review

For the fourth and final time in 2020, a country held back to back races with Bahrain hosting the penultimate round. Using the outer layout of the Bahrain International Circuit with its much shorter lap distance of 2.2 miles; the shortest in F1 since 1983 Long Beach and the first sub-one-minute laps since 1974. I wasn’t sure how this layout would work but after the dramatic and crazy race it delivered, I am beginning to wonder if F1 could race on it more often!

The outer layout used for the Sakhir GP. [Image from formula1.com].

At 87 laps long, it was the most laps in any race this year. There was also intrigue surrounding driver changes prompted by Romain Grosjean’s horrific incident the previous weekend and Lewis Hamilton’s positive Coronavirus test. With Kimi Raikkonen the oldest on the grid by far it gave a glimpse into what the younger drivers can achieve with George Russell swapping Williams to Mercedes to cover the world champion and did a splendid job. Jack Aitken covered Russell at Williams while Pietro Fittipaldi replaced Grosjean a Haas. It produced opening lap drama, Safety Cars, some fantastic overtaking moves and a new race winner! [Pictured above in the featured image; image from formula1.com]. read more

Hamilton comfortably wins again after absolutely horrific Grosjean incident: 2020 Bahrain Grand Prix Review

Both the Drivers and the Constructors Championships have been decided in the favour of Lewis Hamilton [Pictured above; feature image from fEssentiallySports] and Mercedes for an unprecedented 7th time as they arrived in Bahrain for the start of the final three-race leg to bring the 2020 season to a close. So, you may have been forgiven for thinking there was nothing else to fight for this season. Wrong. For both drivers and teams, there are still Championship positions to fight for, race seats for 2021 to try and win as well as just pride for those likely to be leaving the sport.

Bahrain International Circuit layout. [Image from formula1.com].

However, the enduring image of the 2020 Bahrain Grand Prix will be the image of Romain Grosjean and his horrific opening lap incident [something I didn’t think appropriate for the featured image above]. read more

Hamilton matches Schumi’s Seven World Championships in stellar style: 2020 Turkish Grand Prix Review

Returning to Istanbul Park for the first time since 2011, I was looking forward to seeing the high downforce 2020 cars taking on the notorious turn 8 flat out. Track resurfacing completed only 10 days before the cars took to the circuit meant the stunning circuit was slippery meaning grip was difficult to find as cars spun. It was described as like an ice rink and that was even before the rain hit Qualifying and the race.

Istanbul Park circuit map. [Image from formula1.com].

In fairness, could we see races like that more often, please? So, much happened lap to lap with spins and the drivers really having to battle their cars in the conditions that really reward experience as well as separating the best from the rest. There was a surprise pole-sitter in lance Stroll; the first Canadian to take pole position since Jacques Villeneuve. The race seemed to be going his way but in the second half of the race, with no rain falling and the track not dry enough for Intermediates, managing the tyres and its temperatures became crucial. Instead, despite being 25s adrift in the early stages, Lewis Hamilton [Pictured celebrating above; image from Autoweek] finished 30s clear as he took the chequered flag to take his record-equalling 7th Drivers Championship title in some style! read more

Mercedes secure historic seventh straight Constructors Crown as Hamilton wins at Imola: Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix Review

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.

Imola circuit map. [Image from formula1.com]

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

Hamilton rewrites the history books with record-breaking 92nd win: 2020 Portuguese Grand Prix Review!

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’.

Portimao Circuit map. [Image from formula1.com].

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

Schumi’s 91 equalled by Hamilton at the Nurburgring, Ricciardo gets his Podium and Kimi also makes history: 2020 Eifel Grand Prix Review

It has hosted the German Grand Prix, the European Grand Prix, the Luxembourg Grand Prix and now the Nurburgring in the Eifel hills of Germany has held the Eifel Grand Prix. The legendary circuit was not on the 2020 schedule until the pandemic hit but it produced a great, historic race. Racing there in the summer can offer unpredictable weather at the best of times but in October it was a unique challenge in the autumn temperatures but also with a lack of running. Rain and fog meant there was no Friday practice running so the drivers and teams had only one session before Qualifying to practice set-up, race simulations and qualifying runs; effectively a pre-runner for Imola.

Nurburgring Circuit Map. [Image from formula1.com].

If Imola produces anything like the Nurburgring it will be a very good race indeed. The first visit since 2013 saw a late super-sub appearance from Nico Huldenberg who replaced the unwell Lance Stroll at Racing Point. Race day temperatures of 9 degrees Celcius meant tyre management was a huge issue for the drivers with frequent lock-ups but it was engine failures that helped define the race. It helped pave the way for Daniel Ricciardo to reach a podium for the first time since 2018; Kimi Raikkonen made history by starting his record 323rd Grand Prix but it was Lewis Hamilton [Pictured above; Image from Eurosport] who took the chequered flag for the record-equalling 91st time! read more