The halfway point of a 17 race season is here. The first 9 races were somewhat in the middle in terms of entertainment, but there still was a lot of great stuff to talk about. In this article, I will discuss some takeaways from the first 9 races.
For you fans out there who don't know too much about Formula 1, here's a video by F1/E Reviews about F1:
Just an FYI, the 8-race calendar in the video has been extended to a 17 race calendar. The other 8 races are in: Russia, Germany, Bahrain (2 races), Turkey, Portugal, Imola, Abu Dhabi
Here's the season so far: (parentheses is the race winner), this section will be updated race by race
Austrian Grand Prix (Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes)
Styrian Grand Prix (Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes)
Hungarian Grand Prix (Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes)
British Grand Prix (Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes)
70th Anniversary Grand Prix (Max Verstappen, Red Bull)
Spanish Grand Prix (Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes)
Belgian Grand Prix (Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes)
Italian Grand Prix (Pierre Gasly, AlphaTauri)
Tuscan Grand Prix (Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes)
Russian Grand Prix
Eifel Grand Prix
Portuguese Grand Prix
Emilia Romagna Grand Prix
Turkish Grand Prix
Bahrain Grand Prix
Sakhir Grand Prix
Abu Dhabi Grand Prix
Now for the takeaways:
Mercedes dominance Mercedes is once again dominating Formula 1, but this time more than ever. They are over 100 points in the lead of the second place constructor, Red Bull. Lewis Hamilton leads the drivers championship by over 50 points over teammate Valtteri Bottas, who leads Max Verstappen by 25 points. With the new rule changes being delayed to 2022, we can expect another dominant year for Mercedes in 2021.
The Ferrari F1 team has been in Formula 1 since its inaugural season in 1950, celebrating its 1000th race at the Tuscan Grand Prix. This season however, has been horrible for Ferrari. They currently sit 6th out of 10 constructors in the championship. Charles Leclerc is the only bright spot on the team, claiming 2 podiums that the car didn't deserve. Sebastian Vettel is set to join Aston Martin in 2021 and will be replaced by McLaren driver Carlos Sainz.
Both races in Italy this year were historic races, with Pierre Gasly's unexpected win at Monza and Ferrari's 1000th Grand Prix in Mugello, It's fair to say we had an awesome Italy slate in 2020. The Italian races aren't done yet though, as F1 will also return to Imola for the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix. At Monza, an early issue for Haas driver Kevin Magnussen closed the pit lane, then Lewis Hamilton pitted illegally, ruining his race, then Ferrari's Charles Leclerc crashing into the barriers at the Parabolica caused a red flag.
All this led to AlphaTauri's Pierre Gasly to win the race, his first ever Formula 1 victory.
At Mugello, a lap 1 crash ended Max Verstappen and Pierre Gasly's races, and on the safety car restart, a huge crash happened, ending Williams' Nicholas Latifi, McLaren's Carlos Sainz, Alfa Romeo's Antonio Giovinazzi, and Haas' Kevin Magnussen's races.
After the race was restarted, Hamilton gained the lead. Another red flag was brought out when Lance Stroll crashed into the barriers. After the restart, Lewis Hamilton kept his lead and won the race, with Bottas in 2nd and Alex Albon with his first career podium in 3rd.
Red Bull Looks Fine
Red Bull came into 2020 looking like the best challenger to Mercedes. Well, that hasn't exactly been correct, as we know now no team can challenge Mercedes in 2020. Max Verstappen is already an F1 star, with teammate Alex Albon getting a bit overshadowed by Max. There was some speculation that Pierre Gasly would be promoted to Red Bull and Albon would be demoted to AlphaTauri following Gasly's win, but all rumors were dismissed after Albon claimed his maiden podium at Mugello.
Racing Point, McLaren, Renault Battle for the Midfield
Racing Point came into 2020 with lofty expectations and a controversial car, an accused copy of the 2019 Mercedes. They sit in 4th place, with drivers Lance Stroll and Sergio Perez, who is set to be replaced by Sebastian Vettel in 2021. This team will rebrand to Aston Martin in 2021. McLaren currently sits in an impressive 3rd place, trailing Red Bull and Mercedes. Lando Norris scored a maiden podium at the Austrian Grand Prix. Carlos Sainz is set to leave for Ferrari in 2021, and McLaren is replacing him with Daniel Ricciardo for 2021. At Renault, they sit in 5th with Esteban Ocon and Daniel Ricciardo. Ricciardo is set to join McLaren, and he will be replaced by F1 Legend Fernando Alonso who will come out of retirement for 2021. Renault will rebrand as Alpine in 2021.
Williams Family steps away from F1
The historic and successful Williams team founded by Sir Frank Williams has been sold to an US company. the team only scored 1 point last season and is yet to score this season. They have gone through a very tough couple of years, and they decided to sell the team and step away. Former team principal Claire Williams' final Grand Prix was at Monza, and the cars finished 11th and 14th.
On track, the Williams team has had a couple of Q2 appearances (that will be explained in the F1 beginner's guide article in the future), but their race pace is still an issue. The team seems to be on the right track, with Acting Team Principal Simon Roberts leading the way.
AlphaTauri Somewhere in the Middle
AlphaTauri got a surprising win at the Italian Grand Prix, but the Red Bull owned sister team to Red Bull hasn't exactly had the greatest season. Gasly looks fine, and he'll likely keep his seat in 2021, but Daniil Kyvat hasn't jumped out to anyone, with a few points finishes and would rather drive slowly and steadily than risk it and try to pull of dazzling overtakes. Formula 2 Red Bull Junior Yuki Tsunoda looks like a favorite to replace Kvyat, but will need a top 3 finish in F2, which will be hard considering Ferrari Juniors Mick Schumacher, Callum Ilott, and Robert Schwartzman in the field.
Alfa Romeo, Haas, Looking at 2021 Driver lineup
Alfa Romeo and Haas are 2 Ferrari engined teams that could be looking at Ferrari Juniors Mick Schumacher, Callum Ilott, and Robert Schwartzman to join their lineup for 2021. At Haas, Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen and been teammates for surprising long, considering their off-track relationship. Sergio Perez remains a heavy option for a 2021 seat at Haas, with F1 free agents Stoffel Vandoorne and Nico Hulkenberg still in the mix, Haas might have a headache with their 2021 Lineup. Alfa Romeo's Antonio Giovinazzi hasn't been too flashy, with only 7 points finishes (top 10) out of 28 races raced. Kimi Raikkonen turns 41 this year and has the option to retire.
F1 Reverse Grid Race Proposal
After the Monza race, the idea of a reserve grid qualifying race was put back into play. This format would have the drivers with less points at the front and the drivers with more points in the back. If the format was tried at the Russian Grand Prix, Romain Grosjean would start 1st and Lewis Hamilton would start 20th.
What to look for in the final 8 races
-More Mercedes dominance
This one is obvious, no matter the track, Mercedes will likely dominate and win the Constructors' and Drivers' Championship
The battles between Racing Point, McLaren, Ferrari, AlphaTauri, and Renault have been interesting, and only Renault has not claimed a podium this season yet. Expect much more interesting races in the midfield to come.
-Record Quali times in Bahrain
For the 2nd race in Bahrain, the Sakhir Grand Prix, F1 will be using an outer track layout, which will likely produce 53 to 54 second lap times depending on how many DRS (Drag Reduction System) zones there are. The fastest quali lap in history is about 58 seconds, so the expectation is that that record will get shattered.
Imola, the place where F1 Legend Ayrton Senna suffered a fatal crash, will return to the F1 calendar. With the previous 2 Italian races being thrillers, fans can expect this one to be good as well.
The Emilia Romagna, Sakhir, Turkish, Portuguese, and Eifel Grands Prix are all one-off events scheduled due to the COVID-19 outbreak. these tracks won't return to the calendar in 2020, so I recommend watching these closely and intently.
There you have it. Stay tuned for the F1 Beginner's guide coming out soon! You can watch F1 on ESPN in the US, and Sky Sports in the UK. Hope you enjoy the rest of the races this year!