Reviewing the 2020 F1 Season

An+F1+season+unlike+any+other+saw+a+familiar+champion+as+Lewis+Hamilton+%28above%29+continues+to+challenge+the+record+books.+%28Courtesy+of+Twitter%29

An F1 season unlike any other saw a familiar champion as Lewis Hamilton (above) continues to challenge the record books. (Courtesy of Twitter)

Michael Hernandez, Assistant Sports Editor

Since we are finally out of 2020, I thought it would be fitting to review the F1 2020 season, one of the longest and shortest in history. Every F1 fan was excited because there were going to be 22 races on the calendar, the longest season yet. It was also the 70th season of F1. However, minutes before the first practice in Australia in March, the race was called off after McLaren withdrew due to positive COVID-19 tests.

The F1 season was effectively postponed with no one knowing if and where any races would occur in the year. After several months, we finally had a revised 17 race calendar which would start on July 4 and end on Dec. 13. This would be the heaviest schedule in terms of demand, with multiple triple headers, making the logistics and travel plans close to impossible with COVID-19 restrictions.  

Even before the season resumed, there were some driver transfers that shocked fans. Four-time champion Sebastian Vettel left Ferrari and later in the season announced that he was joining Racing Point which was renamed to Aston Martin Racing. Carlos Sainz announced that he was leaving McLaren and taking Vettel’s seat in Ferrari. A couple of days after, Renault’s Daniel Ricciardo announced that he was joining McLaren. The final factor was the return of two-time champion Fernando Alonso to Renault. 

After the driver market news, the season opener was in Austria where we saw a surprise podium on the last lap by McLaren’s Lando Norris, the first of his career. The following race was again in Austria, where Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton won his first race of the season.  It was clear that the battle for the drivers title would be between Hamilton and his teammate Valteri Bottas, who won the first race.

In the fourth race, the British Grand Prix, one of the Racing Point drivers, Sergio Perez, tested positive for COVID-19, which resulted in Nico Hulkenberg replacing him for the following two races. Both Mercedes drivers had tire punctures on the race’s final two laps. Bottas had the puncture first, with Hamilton getting his on the last lap and finishing on three tires while shielding Red Bull’s Max Verstappen.

 In the following race, the 70th Anniversary Grand Prix, Verstappen achieved the first non-Mercedes win of the year. Hamilton won the following two races in standard fashion, gaining a massive point advantage over his teammate.

Then F1 went to Italy for the first time in the season at Monza. Here we saw Pierre Gasly take the maiden win of his career, closely followed by McLaren’s Carlos Sainz in second with his best finish ever. The following race in Tuscany included a massive crash after a safety car restart which resulted in Verstappen’s teammate Alex Albon achieving his first career podium. 

The next race of importance was in Germany, where McLaren’s Daniel Ricciardo achieved the first podium for the team since 2011. Hamilton won that race, putting him level to the record of F1 wins. He broke the record in the next race in Portugal. Throughout the season, Hamilton increased his lead over Bottas so he had a chance to win the championship in Turkey. Hamilton did just that and equaled the record for the most championships with seven. Both of these records were held by F1 icon Michael Schumacher.

After Turkey, the following races were held in Bahrain. The first race was dominated by the headline of Romain Grosjean’s massive accident which nearly claimed his life. The following week, the race was on a different layout in Bahrain. Hamilton tested positive for COVID-19 and was replaced by Williams’ George Russell. Russell dominated most of the race but fell down to ninth because of a pit stop problem and puncture at the end of the race. Perez won the first race of his career. Then Abu Dhabi brought one of the most jam-packed seasons to a close. 

Shortly after the season ended, Perez was able to secure a drive for Red Bull, pushing Albon to a reserve role. If 2021 brings us even half as many exhilarating races as 2020, it will be another great season.