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Home   /   Life In The Fast Lane #1: Formula 1 2020 Season Preview
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Words by Tony Robertson. (@TonyRob84)

Welcome to Overtime Online’s new weekly Formula 1 column, where we will be covering each race in the 2020 season.

Despite the F1 season being postponed until the end of May due to the Coronavirus pandemic, it still seems appropriate that fans of the sport are eagerly awaiting the day the 2020 season gets underway.

Luckily, in the meantime, we’ve so far been treated to Lando Norris racing against F1 Esport drivers such as @Tiametmarduk in F1 2019, Lewis Hamilton washing his hands to spread awareness of COVID-19 and a set of Aussie F1 fans performing a pit stop on a Police car.

Furthermore, with only four drivers: Max Verstappen, Charles Leclerc, Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon having their futures secured for 2021, there is everything to race for and many drivers are fighting for their very survival in F1 beyond 2020.

With that in mind, this article will serve as a preview to a season which should, once it eventually gets underway, excite and attract F1 fans new and old.

The constructors and drivers on this year’s grid

As the reigning constructors champion, Mercedes will be hoping to start the new season as they finished the last, with another constructors championship (which will mean they have would have won seven championships running) and with another one-two finish for their drivers:

  • Lewis Hamilton (2019 Champion) – The six-time champion is looking to equal Michael Schumacher’s record of seven World Drivers Championships and also overtake the Germans record for most race wins (91). If you want to read more on Hamilton’s F1 career and what his future looks like, you can do so here.
  • Valterri Bottas (Runner up in 2019)- The Finn, while being the number two driver at Mercedes, will be looking to improve on his second-place finish last year or at the very least maintain his position as second-best on the grid.

At Ferrari, the infamous Italian team will be looking to maximise the talent in their grid line up and win a first constructor title since 2008 and possibly crown a first drivers champion since 2007. Though they have a lot of ground to make up on Mercedes:

  • Charles Leclerc (4th in 2019) – The 22-year-old will be looking to break into the top three and cement his place as Ferrari’s number one driver, while also trying to better his points tally of 264 points from last season.
  • Sebastian Vettel (5th in 2019)- The four-time world champion is fighting for his place in F1 for the 2021 season, with his Ferrari contract up at the end of the season he will want to try and prove he still has the speed and grit that made him a four-time back-to-back world champion.

Red Bull will be looking to their talented young line up to bring them their first title since 2013. They will also be trying to improve their cars consistency going into 2020 and bridge the gap to Mercedes and Ferrari:

  • Max Verstappen (3rd in 2019) – One of the biggest talents on the F1 grid will be looking to continue his development throughout the season and challenge Hamilton more consistently than he has in the past.
  • Alex Albon (8th in 2019) – The Thai international moved to Red Bull from Toro Rosso halfway through the 2019 season, replacing Pierre Gasly, so will be out to prove his worth to Red Bull and improve on his points tally of 92 from 2019.

McLaren, following a very positive season in 2019, will want to maintain and improve upon their position within the constructors championship and challenge the top three teams more closely:

  • Carlos Sainz Jr. (6th in 2019) – The 25-year-old Spaniard is entering his second season with McLaren and after an impressive season in 2019 will be looking to lead the reinvigorated constructor into consideration for a top-three finish.
  • Lando Norris (11th in 2019) – The young Brit is also entering his second year at McLaren, and after a promising debut season will hope he can impress further on the track (and not just on F1 2019 #NotTheAusGP).

French team Renault will want to move ahead of their British counterparts, especially considering they supply the engine for the team which sits as best of the rest (McLaren). With strong driver ability in Daniel Ricciardo and Esteban Ocon, Renault will be going full throttle to ensure they don’t fall further behind the top four:

  • Daniel Ricciardo (9th in 2019) – The colourful Australian has long been hailed as one of the best drivers in F1, but the 30-year-old is running out of time to win a Championship. Ricciardo will be looking to improve on his tally of just 54 points from last season, his lowest since 2013.
  • Esteban Ocon (reserve driver for Mercedes last year) – Replacing Nico Hulkenberg in the cockpit of the second Renault car, the Frenchman will be desperate to prove why he belongs in an F1 car after being let go by Force India at the end of the 2018 season.

AlphaTauri – Formerly known as Toro Rosso, the Red Bull affiliate will be hoping to build on their most successful campaign to date in 2019, which saw them score 85 points and finish sixth in the constructors table:

  • Pierre Gasly (7th in 2019) – Following his return from to the team halfway through 2019, swapping with Albon, Gasly went on to have a productive season securing his first podium finish after a nail-biting final lap in Brazil.
  • Danii Kvyat (13th in 2019) – In 2019 the Russian enjoyed his best season on the grid since 2015, when he was with Red Bull, racking up 37 points including the third podium finish of his career at the Hockenheimring (Germany).

Formerly known as Force India, Racing Point are finally in a position where they can say they have solid foundations going into the season. After the financial turmoil of 2018, where the team went into administration under the name Force India, the Silverstone based team can finally try and move up the constructors championship table and hope for a better finish than seventh:

  • Sergio Perez (10th in 2019) – The 30 year old Mexican has been an incredibly reliable driver for the team since joining in 2014. He has never scored below 50 points for the constructor and will be hoping to lead the team onto better fortunes in the coming season.
  • Lance Stroll (15th in 2019) – While no doubt a skilful driver, as seen in the first half of 2019 where he outperformed his teammate. Stroll still needs to prove his consistency at Racing Point after only finishing with 21 points in 2019, otherwise, he may find his seat under scrutiny.

Formerly known as Sauber, one of the oldest teams on the grid in Alfa Romeo have a well-earned reputation for building competitive cars and producing good drivers. However, in 2019, their progress somewhat stalled as the C38 design proved inconsistent and with a strong showing in Brazil masking an overall disappointing season. They will hope to get back on track in the new decade:

  • Kimi Raikkonen (12th in 2019) – The 40-year-old Finn is part of an elite club, being one of only three drivers out of the 2020 grid who can say they have won a World Drivers Championship. Entering his second year with Alfa Romeo in F1, he has shown no signs of slowing down but will be hoping to improve on his 12th place finish last year, in what he has said will be in his final year in the sport.
  • Antonio Giovinazzi (17th in 2019) – Despite a difficult start in 2019 for the 26 year old Italian, he showed his potential in the second half of the season scoring points on three occasions, including a fifth-place finish in Brazil. He will be hoping those performances will boost his confidence going into 2020 where he will need to better his tally of 14 points to secure his seat for 2021.

Haas had a 2019 to forget. After punching well above their weight in 2018 and finishing fifth in the constructors championships, the small American team had a huge reality check in 2019, ending up in ninth in the constructors, amassing a paltry 28 points. They will be looking to bounce back from the disappointment of last season and will want to start painting themselves more like the rockstar’s they aspire to be:

  • Kevin Magnussen (16th in 2019) – The 27-year-old year Dane will want to quickly put the 2019 season behind him. With a reputation for being one of the most aggressive drivers on the grid, he will be hoping that a new decade will spark new fortunes for him.
  • Romain Grosjean (18th in 2019) – Like his teammate, Grosjean was dogged by the new Haas car’s inconsistency. The 33-year-old Frenchman came very close to losing his seat last year and will, therefore, be desperate to prove his doubters wrong once the season gets underway.

Put simply, things can only get better at Williams. After another disappointing season where they finished bottom of the pile for the second season running, the British team will be hoping a change of personal can bring some fresh air to the team and help lift them off the bottom of the constructors championship:

  • George Russell (20th in 2019) – The only driver to not score a point in any of last years races, the 22-year-old Brit still showed signs of promise with some impressive displays in what has been the worse car on the grid for the past two years, and will be desperate to score some points this time around.
  • Nicholas Latifi (Runner up in F2 in 2019) – Moving into F1 as the runner up in F2, Latifi certainly has a lot of potential. However, the 24-year-old Canadian will know that he cannot trade his glory in F2 in exchange for points in F1, and will need to work hard in order to help Williams achieve better results, especially considering some of the other talents in F2 waiting in the wings, most notably Nyck de Vries who won the F2 championship in 2019 and was fourth in 2018.

Predictions

I don’t think anyone can really look beyond Hamilton becoming this year’s champion again. Since the new spending cap doesn’t come in until 2021, Mercedes will spend a lot of money on the R&D for their car to ensure they remain ahead of their opponents once the new rules come in.

As such Mercedes will surely see yet another driver crowned as champion and also retain the constructors championship again.

However, while Bottas should, in theory, come second again, Verstappen and Leclerc are each a year more experienced. This should work wonders for the two prodigy’s and thus I can see Verstappen, providing he can be more consistent, coming second and Leclerc coming third with Bottas and Vettel making up the top five.

After their underwhelming fifth-place finish last season, Renault will be desperate to overtake McLaren. But this would require the McLaren to lose a considerable amount of reliability on their cars and drivers which seems unlikely.

Therefore I can see McLaren maintaining their position as the best of the rest. However, it will be a much tighter battle this year than last.

Alfa Romeo, Racing Point and AlphaTauri are all very capable teams with at least one driver who can be considered as a top half driver. Haas also have two very capable drivers but will need to fix the issues which dogged them last year before they are able to duke it out with the other midfield teams.

Propping up the rear, we should expect Williams to be the bottom-placed team. However, they should score better than they did last year. Expect both Russell and Latifi to score points this year.

Constructors table prediction

  • 1) Mercedes
  • 2) Red Bull
  • 3) Ferrari
  • 4) McLaren
  • 5) Renault
  • 6) Alfa Romeo
  • 7) Racing Point
  • 8) AlphaTauri
  • 9) Haas
  • 10) Williams

Drivers table prediction

  • 1) Hamilton
  • 2) Verstappen
  • 3) Leclerc
  • 4) Bottas
  • 5) Vettel
  • 6) Sainz
  • 7) Albon
  • 8) Ricciardo
  • 9) Gasly
  • 10) Raikkonen
  • 11) Perez
  • 12) Ocon
  • 13) Norris
  • 14) Magnussen
  • 15) Grosjean
  • 16) Kvyat
  • 17) Stroll
  • 18) Russell
  • 19) Giovinazzi
  • 20) Latifi

Want more F1 content? F1, as well as a host of other sport, is also covered on the Live Breathe Sport Podcast. You can check out the latest episode here.

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