After the longest gap between seasons in decades, the 2020 Formula One season is finally upon us. It will be a strange, uneven and unusual championship, with double-headers, no fans and no podium celebrations at least for the time being. And at the moment there are only eight confirmed races from an initial calendar of 22. How many races will we actually have this year?
The coronavirus pandemic and its consequences has changed many aspects of F1, but others will stay the same. There will still be 20 drivers and 10 teams competing in every Grand Prix and although the teams will have had more time to develop their cars, they have very had limited track time since. We still do not know the true running order.
The hope is that 2020 will start where 2019 finished, with three teams closely competing for wins at the front. With the major 2021 regulation changes postponed a year, a competitive 2020 will bode well. But F1 does not always work out as you hope.
How are the 10 teams shaping up going into the first race of the season? Can anyone beat Mercedes? Can McLaren keep ahead of the midfield? Will Williams bounce back from their most miserable year yet? We take a look…
Drivers: Lewis Hamilton (44), Valtteri Bottas (77)
2019 points: 739 (1st)
2019 wins: 15
After six consecutive driver and team titles, the question at the start of this year should probably be how close anyone can get to Mercedes rather than whether anyone can beat them. Their innovative new Dual Axis Steering system used in testing what seems like a lifetime ago is just another example of the team being a step (or two) ahead of everyone else. Perhaps the only downside to their pre-season program was the reliability of their power unit, but they still racked up more miles than any other team.
With Lewis Hamilton seemingly in permanently good form and Valtteri Bottas putting together an improved 2019 season with four victories and the general stability in the regulations, the Silver (now Black?) Arrows look comfortably the best team heading into 2020. It’s difficult to imagine anyone taking their crown, even if the sport desperately needs them to have serious and sustained competition.
A more truncated season could aid Red Bull or Ferrari if Mercedes have reliability issues early on but they could also be out of sight before we enter September. In 2019 they had the title all but won after dropping only 14 points in the opening eight rounds. Let’s hope we do not see such dominance again. A repeat performance of that in a very compact summer period could be demoralising in the extreme.