Last Sunday kicked off the delayed 2020 Formula 1 season. Despite no fans in attendance, this was one of the best races in recent memory.
The debut 2020 Formula 1 grid was compiled of the typical 20 cars. Only 11 crossed the checkered flag. The shortened season has brought added stress to the constructors. Despite races being added, the length of the season still remains uncertain, making every point drivers earn all the more valuable.
Before heading into the Styrian Grand Prix this Sunday to be held at the Red Bull Ring again, there are a few stories to monitor from last weekend.
Mercedes AMG Limps to Win
Hopefully, Mercedes fixed their sensor problems. The brutal curbs of the Red Bull Ring gradually damaged gearbox sensors for both Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton. Instructions to stay off the curbs and on the tarmac for fear of early retirements plagued the Black Arrows as they tried to hold on to a P1/P2 finish.
Bottas was able to maintain is lead and held on through the final laps for the win. Meanwhile, defending World Champion Lewis Hamilton fell back to 4th after a costly 5-second penalty a few laps early. With Bottas at the end of his contract, and Mercedes looking at the possibilities to replace him, a strong performance from the Finnish driver could cement his future next season for the team.
Can Ferrari Fix It?
Despite Charles Lecler’s P2 finish, this wasn’t a great weekend for the Italian powerhouse. Tension between the constructor and driver Sebastian Vettel appears to be at wits end. The Vettel/Ferrari split seems to be more of a divorce than a mutual parting of ways. Regardless, Ferrari seemed to have struggles getting to grips with the track. Being outpaced by some of the midfield cars, this weekend is crucial to the success of Ferrari down the road.
Aston Martin Red Bull Needs to Finish
Max Verstappen retired early in the teams home race. The young superstar should be looking to for revenge this weekend. The same goes for Alex Albon, who was potentially on pace to win the race before he collided with Mercedes Lewis Hamilton. He later retired due to mechanical failure. Provided the team can work out the mechanical failures that caused them a double retirement and cost them a win, the weekend can look very good for them.
What a shocker. Williams, with a reputation as the runt of the current Formula 1 world, showed tremendous improvement in their pace. While prodigy racer George Russel eventually retired, rookie Nicholas Latifi was able to bring his Williams car across the finish line in P11. No matter how you slice it, he survived and brought home one of the best Williams finishes in years. It’s a welcome sign of good things to come in the midst of financial troubles. Williams needs to show the Austrian GP wasn’t a fluke, and that they’re moving in the right direction.
Lando Norris finally got his first podium as a result of Lewis Hamilton’s 5-second penalty. The young driver who has quickly become an F1 favorite this past break was a great story of success for the F1 community. Despite the DNFs from Ferrari and Red Bull, McLaren proved themselves “best of the rest” this race. This is a huge positive as star Daniel Ricciardo is slated to join the team next season. McLaren is looking competitive, and the lines between the top three teams and the midfield are starting to blur.
Haas Future Uncertain Amidst Mechanical Failures
Break failure on both Haas cars lead to a double-retirement for the team. The youngest of all current F1 teams, the team is financially backed by American racing legend Gene Haas. The team has been less-than-exciting. Situations like last week’s double-retirement is not news to the team. With Haas CNC being the primary sponsor of the team, the company’s reputation is at risk due to the team’s inability to produce a competitive car. Rumors have circulated starting last season that Gene Haas is thinking about pulling out of Formula 1 Haas needs to finish both cars this weekend, and for the rest of the season. After finishing second-to-last for the 2019 season, the team is starting to circling the drain.
Racing Point Working Through Midfield
Another midfield team showing good pace. With Renault showing signs of difficulty lately and set to lose Ricciardo next season, Racing Point is in a prime position to become a contender for 4th or 5th in the Constructors Championship. Maybe even 3rd if Ferrari can’t get back on track. Another team that has struggled in the past looking to turn things around. Who doesn’t like an underdog?
The 2020 Austrian GP brought a lot of drama to the Formula 1 world. This next race at the Red Bull Ring can change everything in the matter of a few laps. Or, everything can return to the status quo of the past 6 seasons. The future of the 2020 season is set to be shaped Sunday. The Styrian GP will start Sunday, July 12 and 9:10 EST.