F1 2020 - The Story So Far17 Jul
Image © instagram @carlossainz55
The F1 season finally arrived 2 weeks ago following the Coronavirus lockdown. It certainly brought with it plenty of talking points, fast-paced action and even more questions going into the Hungarian Grand Prix. With the sport's first ever double-header, many predicted a simple duplication from one race to the next, but that’s certainly not what we got. Let’s look back at exactly what happened as we edge closer to the next race weekend.
The first honour of the season went in the way of Valtteri Bottas and Mercedes, ahead of Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc and an impressive Lando Norris, following Hamilton’s five-second penalty for contact with Alex Albon.
In a survival-of-the-fittest style encounter, it was Mercedes who enjoyed a comfortable performance advantage throughout the first half of the race. Bottas and Hamilton were impressive early on, despite a grid penalty for the reigning champion for infringing yellow flags during qualifying. But mid-race, their day began to unravel, firstly with the now infamous ‘Valterri, it’s James’ over the radio telling both silver arrows to be cautious of kerbs, an instruction that was to cost them valuable seconds per lap. Following this, Hamilton's error in pitching Albon into a spin saw Lewis receive a five-second penalty that dropped him from 2nd to 4th place.
The impact of the collision saw Albon’s brief podium chances ruined as he ended up retiring from the race a few laps later - topping off a bad day for Red Bull with Verstappen being one of the first to retire from the race with a mechanical issue. It was a difficult day for Ferrari as well, with Vettel eventually finishing 10th after a collision with the man who will soon be replacing him, and Leclerc admitting that a second-place podium was a ‘huge surprise’.
The drive of the weekend though would go to the 20-year old Lando Norris, grabbing his first podium finish in a truly nail-biting final lap, in which he set the fastest lap of the race to steal the podium from Lewis Hamilton by just 0.1secs. A truly incredible way to secure his first podium, it would top off one of the best weekends for the resurgent McLaren, giving fans a hope that they could be getting back to their best.
A week later, Formula 1’s first ever Styrian GP saw less on-track action, with Mercedes claiming a 1-2, and Hamilton controlling the race from start to finish. This win puts him within 6 of Schumacher - a record that he will surely have his sights on achieving this year.
Podium places went to Bottas (2nd) and Red Bull’s Verstappen (3rd), but it was the Ferrari pair who made the headlines – with the pair colliding on Lap 1. Leclerc lost control in the run up to turn 3, hitting Vettel on the inside and swiping off his rear wing. The contact forced both cars into retirement and makes it the second time the pair have collided resulting in a double DNF in just 4 races. Leclerc accepted the blame for the crash, but it is yet another race where Ferrari’s troubles continue.
P4 went to Albon, although the Thai driver just managed to survive contact with Perez in an almost identical copy to last week’s contact with Hamilton. Lando Norris continued his fine form, claiming his ‘best ever F1 race’ with another late surge through the field to claim P5 in another incredible last lap battle between himself, the Racing Point duo and Renault’s Daniel Ricciardo. Lando was once again showing the race speed of the McLarens as they look to assert themselves as the top of the mid-field. They left Austria second in the constructors championship, with the team scoring more in the opening two races than the entirety of their 2015 and 2017 seasons.
The teams pack up and move to Hungary for Race 3 of the 2020 season this weekend. A circuit that rewards cars with strong downforce with Hamilton looking to repeat last year’s feat, but with Red Bull’s Max Verstappen also favouring his chances at the track.
With two further circuits announced last week, in the form of Sochi and Mugello – a first for the Formula 1 paddock who have not raced here before – the 2020 season is shaping up to be as climactic as ever, and we can’t wait to see who will be crowned champion at the end!