Words by Tony Robertson (@TonyRob84).
Welcome back to another edition of Overtime Online’s Formula One column Life In The Fast Lane.
We’re on issue number 11 now and we’re also back with the Virtual Grand Prix series as well as updates on the calendar for the “IRL” racing season.
Formula One new racing calendar revealed:
Earlier this week the official Formula One Twitter page revealed an infographic with an updated race calendar for the upcoming season.
BREAKING: The opening 8 races of a revised 2020 calendar are now confirmed
All 8 are currently set to be closed events, operating under the strongest safety procedures
Further races will be announced in the coming weeks pic.twitter.com/vQioKOAkQo
— Formula 1 (@F1) June 2, 2020
The above infographic shows the new 2020 season schedule. All races will be completed behind closed doors to in order combat the spread of Coronavirus.
July 3rd sees the return of the F1 weekend at Austria’s Red Bull Ring, followed up with another visit to the same circuit a week later. This start will be a dream come true for Red Bull Team Principal Christian Horner and drivers Max Verstappen and Alex Albon as they are a team well suited to the track.
Next up is the Hungaroring, which recently had it’s contract to host Formula One races extended until 2027 (contract previously went up to 2026) with a reduction in hosting fees also agreed. Hungary has hosted a race every year since 1986 so it is good to see some normality in all the commotion of this season.
The first two weeks of August give us another double-header, this time at Silverstone. The UK plays host to seven of the 10 current Formula One teams so races four and five in the 2020 calendar should prove to be exciting. The first racing weekend will also be shared with the rearranged FA cup final. The start of August is gonna be a bumper weekend for British Sport.
Next is a return to the testing grounds for the Spanish Grand Prix in Barcelona. This is followed by the first two-week gap the schedule has.
The return at the end of August will see the European tour continue at Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium. The current calendar ends at the home of Ferrari and Alfa Romeo, the “Temple of Speed” of Monza, Italy.
— Formula 1 (@F1) June 5, 2020
Of course, all the races confirmed are European but expect the rest of the Worlds continents to get in on the action in the Autumn, with Australia already having previously discussed a race towards the end of the season.
Another weekend of no F1, another weekend of the Virtual Grand Prix Series.
This time the drivers headed to Azerbaijan’s capital city Baku for the tight street circuit which boasts the longest straight in F1.
George Russell was looking to go one better than Charles Leclerc and win three races in a row while simultaneously taking top spot in the virtual drivers championships, again overtaking Leclerc.
Qualification saw Russell take pole position with Alex Albon completing the front row, while Lando Norris and Leclerc only made it to ninth and 10th respectively, with Nicholas Latifi coming in behind them.
The usual suspects where joined by AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly and Racing Point’s Sergio Perez while the non-F1 driver guest list included the likes of Aymeric Laporte and Gianluigi Donnarumma and content creators Tiametmarduk (Ben Daly) and Jimmy Broadbent.
Turn one saw Russell maintain position one ahead of Albon while Oscar Piastri rear tyre was clipped and led to him blocking a significant portion of the rest of the grid.
Turn two saw another crash as Leclerc dived bombed Gasly on the inside and failed to give him enough room to turn in the first significant straight on the circuit which led to them cascade down the order.
Lando Norris , who this week didn’t have a poor internet connection, put in a solid performance throughout the race and saw himself maintain a top five position for the majority of the race. His battle with Anthony Davidson mid race being his main complication on this occasion.
In previous weeks Albon had adopted a pit strategy which had seen him lose positions, but this week his strategy proved to be quite effective and thanks to some excellent driving saw him keep pace with the race leader despite the Williams having the softer compound.
Unfortunately for the Red Bull driver a three second time penalty on lap 23 effectively ended any hope of him coming home with the chequered flag.
Esteban Gutierrez completed the podium line up with Lando Norris coming home in fourth followed by Renault’s Piastri.
With the news of F1 restarting soon this means that the next Virtual Grand Prix will be the final one in the series, and while there have been many who have complained about the Virtual Grand Prix series, I for one have enjoyed them.
They have been a welcome distraction in the midst of all what has been happening in the world in the past few months and I also think these will have served to widen the audience of Formula One as stars of other sports have come across to participate and connect with fans.
And on that bombshell we come to the end of another column.
You can check out last weeks column here. And as a side note keep an eye out for the return of a certain little podcast in the near future.