Kicking off a year later than planned due to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, when Turkey dace Italy at 8pm it will kick-start Euro 2020 [Logo in the feature image above from UEFA.com] a month of summer football across Europe.
Yes, across Europe. During a pandemic where one confederation (COMNEBOL) have struggled to find even one host country and have had to settle on Brazil after both Argentina and Columbia withdrew from hosting. That doesn’t make sense and to be honest, I am not entirely sure it is wise having this tournament spread across 11 countries with all the travelling involved. That is just my opinion.read more
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
On the outskirts of Budapest, the Hungaroring hosted the third part of the opening triple-header to the much-changed 2020 F1 season. The rain has rarely had an impact on proceedings at the circuit at this time of year; given only two of the previous 35 Hungarian Grand Prix have been run in wet conditions.
Despite the possibility of rain most of the weekend, there was minimal running in the wet FP2 and while qualifying was dry, the threat of rain remained constant throughout the race. In the event, other than a tricky opening few laps on Intermediate tyres [shown above; Image from Reuters, Kamar], the track eventually dried up and we saw some good racing. Track records fell in both qualifying and the race, Red Bull showed some decent race pace on a disappointing weekend, Ferrari were expected to be stronger and the intrigue in the driver market keeps on coming.read more
For the first time in Formula One history, a circuit has held successive races in the dame season and the Red Bull Ring in the Styrian hills hosting the first-ever Styrian Grand Prix and it did not disappoint. We did not get a carbon copy of the previous weekend. Due to the weather Qualifying was in doubt so the second practice times could’ve been used to set the grid. The treacherously wet qualifying we did get was intense and mixed the grid up with a few drivers out of position setting up an intriguing race with multiple teammate squabbles which ended in tears for Ferrari.
While the ten F1 teams remained in Austria we did see some developments with the first regarding the addition of two more races to the already scheduled 8 and the surprise return of Fernando Alonso to the sport with Renault in 2021. I will pass comment on them later but first, for the reigning World Champion, racing at the Red Bull Ring in successive races represented a redemptive weekend.read more
Spa Francorchamps is a true racers circuit loved by both fans and drivers with challenging turns such as Eau Rouge and Blanchimont but it also marks the beginning of the second half of the F1 season. Traditionally, the teams bring engine updates and all the manufacturers did in 2019 which resulted in several grid penalties. There were a few driver announcements as the 2020 grid behind to take shape (two of these I have already commented on) but there was also a tragedy.
The F2 feature race ended with a horrific incident on the second lap involving Guiliano Alesi, Anthoine Hubert and Juan Manuel Correa I did not watch the incident live but the clips I have seen of it; horrific does not do it justice. I will not be describing the incident though as I don’t feel it proper to describe it here. However, while Alesi was passed fit by the medical team, Correa is still in intensive care but tragically, Huber succumbed to his injuries at the age of 22.read more
After four weeks of no F1 racing, the action returns with the traditional starter for the second half of the campaign. Situated in the Ardennes Forest, it’s the true racers circuit; Spa-Francorchamps. With nine races to go between this weekend and the end of the season in Abu Dhabi, there is still a lot that can be decided but there are also interesting developments worth discussing. The first of those is the big development at Red Bull during the summer recess…
Gasly dropped, Albon promoted
The big news of the summer was Red Bull’s decision to demote Pierre Gasly to Toro Rosso with Alexander Albon being promoted the other way to the Red Bull team. Gasly has not had the best of seasons at Red Bull and his future has been the subject of speculation leading into the four-week break. The decision though came as a surprise considering what Christian Horner told Sky Sports F1 at the Hungarian Grand Prix.read more
After a fantastic British Grad Prix at Silverstone, it was the turn of Hockenheim to host the German Grand Prix; round 11 and officially the halfway stage go the 2019 F1 Championship. Following on from the action-packed races of Austria and Britain, the 16 turn, 4.574 km circuit in the forest had a tough act to follow but delivered and then some through the weekend with many dramatic twists and turns.
It wasn’t just the race ether. There was the double heartache for Ferrari in Qualifying who first saw Sebastian Vettel not even register a lap in Q1 due to a turbo issue. Twelve months on from his season-defining error while in the lead at the same circuit, it looked like things could not get much worse for the four-time world champion. The setback was not his fault and it would be a heartless individual indeed not to have felt sorry for him; especially in front of his home crowd. That was compounded in Q3 as a similar fate befell Charles Leclerc. Given the blistering superior pace Ferrari had shown, it was cruel for Ferrari. Yes, it added to the spectacle of the race having the two Ferrari’s starting out of position; 10th and 20th respectively as just how fare could they go? However, it is not the first time they have been the quickest coming into Qualifying and the race for it to slip from their fingers like in Bahrain and Canada. It just isn’t coming together for them over the course of a full weekend.read more
In 2018, we have already had the euphoria and emotions of what turned out to be an amazing month of football in Russia. The domestic league seasons have started up again and now they have reached the first break in the season. That means the return of International football. Normally, European sides will begin their qualification campaign for the next major tournament but instead, they will be embarking on a new competition in the UEFA Nations League.
The Story behind the Nations League
The UEFA Nations League has its beginnings seven years ago, at the 2011 UEFA Strategy Meeting in Cyprus. This is when the discussions and consultations began regarding having a third major tournament to go alongside the European Championship (EUROs) and the World Cup. The discussions continued through meetings at the Top Executive Committee (TEP). It was not until March 2014, at the XXXVII UEFA Ordinary Congress in Astana, Turkey where the tournament was unanimously adopted.read more
I am now on the countdown to 100 of these posts. I never expected to still be doing this long enough to reach 100 but I have enjoyed doing this regardless of what anyone thinks. Needless to say, I will be marking that with a special post.Oh and for the record this is number 96.
The promised review of this doubleheader and including my driver ratings for during F1’s first ever tripleheader will be the next F1 post. Then, there will be none until the Belgian Grand Prix at the end of August as the team and drivers go for their summer break; hence no Grand Prix to comment on.
Away from the F1 posts and the next football post will be a review of the World Cup in Russia while there will be a preview of the upcoming Premier League season published before the opening weekend of the new season.
As for the sharing of my political opinions, there are a few in the pipeline so watch this space…
A week on from the rain impacting upon the race at Hockenheim, the rain impacted upon Qualifying at the Hungaroring. That meant there were surprises to be had in the Qualifying hour as whoever had the best tyre at the right time would do well. Daniel Ricciardo was one of those caught out by the conditions in Q2 as he failed to get into the top 10 while both Toro Rosso’s did with Pierre Gasly out-qualifying even Max Verstappen in Q3. However, it was Lewis Hamilton who mastered the tricky conditions to deliver pole position and lead a Mercedes one-two despite Ferrari being the pacesetters up to that point.
For the race, Ferrari split their strategies with Raikkonen starting on the ultra-soft tyre and Vettel on the soft tyre. That did not go to plan as Raikkonen did not pass ether Mercedes but instead found himself passed by his teammate around the outside of turn two. Elsewhere through the grid, Ricciardo did not have a great start and was down to 16th after contact with his front left tyre at turn 1 while Charles Leclerc’s race ended after contact of his own on the opening lap. Hamilton led away from Bottas.read more
As part of Formula One’s first ever tripleheader, I planned to do three posts similar to this; discussing the talking points from the Grand Prix weekends before producing a team by team review. The first of those was published and shared around while the latter two took more time as I balanced a couple of job applications. The posts on Austria and Britain were published and are available on the links.
The team by team review post was held back and became quite an overwhelming task. Unfortunately, that had to be shelved however my ratings of both the teams and drivers will be made available in a link in my next Review Post. With F1 having a doubleheader before the big summer break (Germany and Hungary), I aim to do the same format as I did for those three races and this time follow through with the team by team review post.
So without further ado, let's get into my discussion of the German Grand Prix.
The German Grand Prix was probably always going to throw up some entertaining racing with Daniel Ricciardo set to start at the back of the grid after taking a number of grid place penalties for engine component changes. That was added to even further when Lewis Hamilton’s Mercedes came to a halt in Q1. He would start 14th while the home favourite and Championship leader, Sebastian Vettel claimed a record-breaking pole position.
From the start, Vettel was in control of the race as he led from Valtteri Bottas, Kimi Raikkonen and Max Verstappen. Meanwhile, Hamilton began his charge through the field and had made 10 positions to 5th by lap 14. Ricciardo’s charge took a bit longer having started 19th on the grid but came to a premature end when his Red Bull pulled up on lap 27 running in 6th with an engine issue.read more