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
No two races are ever the same, even if they are held at the same circuit and for the second time in 2020, Silverstone showed just that. F1 celebrated its 70th birthday this year and the second race around the Northamptonshire track marked the occasion; fittingly the location of the first-ever F1 Grand Prix in 1950 won by Farina. It was a race those present 70 years ago and fans around the world could be proud of.
After the late tyre failure of last weekend, tyres were always going to be a topic of conversation especially with tyre supplier Pirelli bringing a step softer in their compounds to this second race. Could they do it more often? That meant a two-stop race was the way forward for most with only three drivers a making it to the chequered flag stopping once; it makes it a more interesting race even though no driver started on the soft tyre for the first time since Pirelli became tyre supplier in 2011. We saw action up and down the grid, some spins too as Lewis Hamilton matched Michael Schumacher’s all-time podium record; 155. However, the Mercedes dominant start to 2020 came to an end and could we be seeing the start of a title challenge?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
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
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
The British Grand Prix at Silverstone this year was a special one. It was my first time ever attending a Grand Prix and I thoroughly enjoyed every moment. It surprised me though, just how much of a party/carnival atmosphere it was there but with an estimated attendance of 345,000 through the weekend, it shows just why the British Grand Prix is such an important part of F1 but also the British sporting calendar. I will put an additional post up about that but I will use this post to talk about the action on the circuit.
Coming off the back of an exciting Austrian Grand Prix, practice in Silverstone left people guessing who would be the team to beat with a red Bull, Mercedes and Ferrari topping a session each. Interestingly though, Mercedes had a 1-2 in second practice while the Scuderia had a 1-2 in final practice meaning Qualifying was poised to be intense. It was but right at the front as only 0.006s separated Valtteri Bottas as he denied home favourite Lewis Hamilton pole position. That was the shortest margin for pole in 9 years.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
It was the final part of Formula One’s first ever triple header and after all the energy put into travelling approximately 2,500km to drive these races, the action and adrenaline did not let off as the British Grand Prix did not disappoint.
Lewis Hamilton qualified on pole after a sensational effort in Q3 but that was undone at the start as wheelspin meant Sebastian Vettel and Hamilton’s teammate, Valtteri Bottas stole a march on him at turn 1. Vettel led away as Sergio Perez was forced wide and across the circuit in front of the Williams coming from the pitlane start. At turn three, the other Ferrari of Kimi Raikkonen locked up into Hamilton, spinning his Mercedes. It was a chaotic but nightmare start for the Mercedes man.read more