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
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
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.
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
After a two week break after the chaos of Mugello, F1 returned to action for the 10th round of 7 races in 2020 with the Russian Grand Prix from the Sochi Autodrom. There had been no driver announcements in the lead up to Sochi but an announcement from the top of F1 with Chase Carey stepping aside from his F1 chairman role. Ex-Ferrari team boss Stefano Domenicalli replaces him for 2021 and personally, I think he’ll do well in the role and miss his presence in the sport after leaving the Scuderia in 2014. Curiously, we now have three ex-Ferrari bosses at the helm of F1 again: Franz Todt at the FIA, Ross Brawn and now Domenicalli.
The teams brought updates to Russia but the circuit proved difficult to master with various drivers having lap times deleted in Qualifying at turn 2. The stewards directed that if a car ran wide they had to go through the bollards to the left of the circuit in order to not gain an advantage. That was a huge talking point of the weekend as four drivers were summoned and later acquitted post-Qualifying. It was responsible for one driver crashing out on the opening lap, a virtual safety car was needed after Romain Grosjean went through them and Daniel Ricciardo picked up a five-second penalty for failing to abide by it. The stewards clearly had a busy weekend but at the podium, for the 6th time in 10 races this year it was Lewis Hamilton, Max Verstappen and Valtteri Bottas sharing the podium but not in the order we have come to expect this year. Could this be a turning point in the championship?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
Well, hello there! Welcome to my new trial of writing on F1 Grand Prix weekends. I have decided on splitting my writing into two pieces after considering feedback that some of my pieces are too long and almost a length of a dissertation. This is a trial layout so any feedback would be great appreciated and please feel free to comment.
It is the final race before the F1 drivers go on their 4-week summer break and usually marks the half-time period of the season as the teams also close down their factories for two weeks. The FIA sporting regulations insist on every team doing this at some stage during the season in order to prevent any team gaining an unfair advantage in terms of time worked on the cars. Although in terms of race laps completed the halfway point of the season was lap 35 in Hungary this is the half way point for the drivers where they can take their extended break. However, before then, they must navigate the Hockenheimering (I will from here on in be using the much shorter ‘Hockenheim’ when referring to this site) for the German Grand Prix.read more
The eight round of the 2016 F1 World Championship took place last weekend with the Grand Prix of Europe. This time, the Grand Prix was held in the capital of Azerbaijan: Baku. The Grand Prix of Europe first took its place in the official F1 Championship in 1983 and since then with the inclusion of Baku has been hosted at 6 different circuits. The first three venues of were Donnington Park (where Ayrton Senna memorably won in 1993), Brands Hatch in Britain and Jerez in Spain. After that, 1999-2007 saw the race held annually at the Nurburgring in Germany perhaps due to
the successes of Michael Schumacher; indeed his 6 victories in this event is the record. It was Fernando Alonso’s championship successes of 2005 and 2006 that saw the Grand Prix move from Germany to the Valencia Street circuit which held races from the 2008 season until 2012. It seems fitting that the last victor of a European Grand Prix was Fernando Alonso, driving in his home country for Ferrari in 2012.
Last time out in Canada, Lewis Hamilton won the 70 lap Grand Prix from pole but faced a huge battle with the two-stopping Sebastien Vettel (a strategy which proved costly) who had beaten both Mercedes cars into
turn one despite starting third. In the struggle to turn 1, Hamilton forced his team mate Nico Rosberg off the track and with a mountain to climb. Despite being in 10th place by the end of the first sector of the race, Rosberg fought back to finish 5th even with a huge spin on the penultimate lap. Elsewhere, Valtteri Bottas secured his first podium finish of the season for Williams while Max Verstappen made amends for his Monaco horror show to bring an underpowered Red Bull home in 4th. The rest of my thoughts on this weekend can be found here. The race left the Championship standings as thus…
After the F1 roadshow left Montreal and travelled 5,500 miles within a week, they were welcomed by the Baku Street Circuit which organisers claimed to be the fastest street circuit! The circuit itself was designed by circuit designer Hermann Tilke; making this his 8th circuit on the F1 calendar after Sepang, the A1 Ring, Bahrain, Shanghai, Sochi, The Circuit of the Americas and Sochi. Just like his last circuit; Tilke had little space to work with designing a track around as well as being briefed to design a circuit that would showcase the best features of Baku and also produce a spectacle. What he delivered is certainly interesting with its tight,read more