As we move ahead in our team analysis for the F1 2021 season, we come to the discussion on the probable top 5 teams of the season.
Let’s get ahead and learn how each team has been shaping up for an intense season starting in a week’s time.
Alpha Tauri comes into the 2021 on a high note with a very good pre-season testing and their new recruit and young Yuki Tsunoda driving the car to its limits. The fastest time for Tsunoda in pre-season tests invited a controversy and it seemed that he had activated DRS (Drag Reduction System) outside the designated DRS zones. But, given the regulations – this can be done in testing but not during race weekends. So, it still awaits to be seen what the real pace of the car is.
Pierre Gasly has been really strong since his demotion from Red bull. The recent race winner at Monza 2020, he has had strong outings in the last season and would be raring to do the same this year as well and show Red Bull what mettle he possesses.
Yuki Tsunoda has had rapid progress in his career too, it will be interesting to see what he can do in a F1 car. On first look though, Alpha Tauri looks a really strong car with good chances of fighting in the mid-field consistently. More onus would be on the rookie, Tsunoda to perform and keep the trust shown in him by the team management. They look like a car that can aim for a top 5 finish in constructors.
After a troubled season in 2020, Ferrari have a basic goal this year – comeback and finish in the top 5 at the least. They had a massive power deficit from their engine in 2020 and things won’t look good if they have not countered that. The team principal of Ferrari, Mattia Binotto, who was at the receiving end of a lot of criticism last year is hopeful that they have solved the problem of the lack of power.
Ferrari have made changes to their line-up this year with Vettel moving out to Aston Martin and Spaniard Carlos Sainz moving in from McLaren. The pre-season testing looked smooth for them apart from a small hiccup where Leclerc had to stop on track owing to a power unit related issue.
Leclerc along with the experience Sainz has had over the years, will be looking to regain back the legacy of Ferrari. None of the Tifosi will be happier with the results Ferrari produced last year, they were clearly slow along the straights. It’s a big task on the new pair to bring back the glory to the Maranello outfit.
Its going to be a big day for Ferrari next Friday as this will be pivotal in describing their work over the winter. We hope they do bounce back strong to compete at the front.
McLaren probably possess one of the best driver lineup for 2021, if not the best. They have Daniel Ricciardo joining them from Renault, and his combination with Lando Norris is going to be a bomb both on and off field as both are known for their knack of creating a funny situation almost everytime. Wonder, how funny and jovial their team briefings would be.
McLaren had a very strong 2020. And with a power unit shift to Mercedes, what needs to be seen is how they cope up with a completely different PU and its set-up. They definitely had to re-design a few parts to go in well with their new Mercedes engine. The reliability did not seem to be an issue in the pre-season testing but what needs to be seen is how good they can be on track with full pace.
It will only be the next weekend, where along with knowing their pace we will also be knowing how well they have adapted to their Mercedes unit. They definitely seem to have a line-up that can drag them to the top of mid-field but what will be interesting to see is how they react to other faster cars on the field, especially Aston Martin.
Expecting them to grow stronger and stronger as the season progresses. They are a real contender for the third place in the constructors.
Red Bull had a poor 2020 going by their standards as for some reason, they did not have their second car performing as their first car. Alex Albon struggled a lot through out the season and this sees him without a seat for 2021. He was replaced by the newest F1 race winner, Sergio Perez, for 2021. The incoming of Perez means that they are receiving an experience of as much as 192 F1 races.
Red Bull has always had the most planted rear-end of a car, and just like that, they did not make any major changes in their design too. The same livery as 2020, they will rely heavily on Checo Perez to gather as many points and race wins as possible in 2021.
Their long time driver Max Verstappen always has looked as a driver to beat in F1. He is super quick and can run away in the teammate battle as he did against the likes of Pierre Gasly and Alex Albon. He was most often a podium placed racer in 2020 along with the two Mercedes, so we expect him to carry on the same form and probably tackle the Mercedes this time around.
Red Bull had the best pre-season testing of all the teams and much better than their main rival, Mercedes who struggled for once – but expect them to come out all guns blazing during the race weekend.
Checo Perez has a lot to prove this year. He has been a classic mid-field driver over the years. His career start at Sauber was phenomenal and the opportunity with a big team (McLaren) probably came a little too early for him as he was no where near the best. He then raced with Sahara Force India and was pivotal in gathering podiums for them. With the second opportunity at a top team, he will be raring to prove his worth and how he can make his mark as a phenomenal driver on the grid.
Checo Perez would be the most exciting driver to watch out for in 2021, so for the F1 fans – watch out for our very own Checo to light up the races the same way he did at Sakhir 2020.
There has been no team that was even close to Mercedes right from the start of 2014. They have been absolutely dominant every single year winning all the championships. Mercedes is known to sandbag a lot during testing and they probably followed the same this year as well. In 2020, they had mechanical issues with testing and this led to their star driver Lewis Hamilton comment in open that they are struggling with reliability, only for them to come out and demolish every other car and each track in 2020. So, if you are a F1 fan for years now, one thing is for sure – DO NOT go by the pre-season testing performance of Mercedes.
They had bad times during testing this year with gearbox issues, change of floor and both drivers complaining of a lack of rear grip. Lewis Hamilton even beached his Mercedes in the gravel after he spun at a very unusual corner. Bottas too struggled but found pace as the testing progressed.
Mercedes over the years, have put no foot wrong and expect them to do the same in 2021 as well. They are expected to be mighty strong. The concern for them is the form of Valterri Bottas. Bottas has failed to compete with Lewis Hamilton on so many occasions. Bottas does have a great one lap pace as he more often than not gets very close to Hamilton’s times but when it comes to the race, it is the 7-time world champion who almost thwarts every opposition aside. Bottas would be looking forward to prove his worth this year, else he may have to vacate the Mercedes seat, now that George Russell has shown what he can do in a Mercedes at Sakhir in 2020.
Hamilton, as always will be a force and the driver to beat. It wont be a surprise if he ends up getting to the landmark of the 100 race wins this year. With the relationship Hamilton enjoys with Mercedes and Toto Wolff, it needs to be seen as how they plan their future. With new regulations coming for 2022, it could mean a lot for Mercedes to keep up the winning nature intact.
Mercedes are expected to lead the field once again, but watch out for the performances of Bottas. He must gather his spirits back and try to stop the utter dominance of his teammate.
Gear up for Bahrain GP:
With this, we hope you have got a knack of the teams for the 2021 Formula 1 season.
The season starts with the Bahrain GP during the next weekend that is 26-28th of March, 2021. This season promises to be super exciting with well set teams and drivers lined up, so do not miss the action.
With the pre-season testing too done and just a week until our first race weekend, it’s a good time to have a look at how the teams have prepared for this season. Let us start with ranking the teams based on their pre-season testing results and the drive lineup. Though, its very difficult to get an actual knack of their performances as teams wouldn’t have had proper runs in terms of set-up, low fuel runs for qualifying etc., we will try to understand how the teams could rank up based on their past performances and taking into consideration all development during the season break.
For a change, lets have a bottom – up approach in this.
Haas have had difficulties even before the season started as they had problems firing up their Ferrari engine until they reached Bahrain for the pre-season tests. The reason being the lockdown rules in Europe and the Ferrari mechanics not being able to travel to Haas factory. Haas is one of the two customers of the Ferrari engine along with Alfa Romeo. They had pre-season controversies as well, with their new driver Nikita Mazepin being involved in a controversy over a social media post.
With Gunther Steiner already stating that they would not put a lot of emphasis on developing the 2021 car, Haas seem to be starring at a tough season ahead. The other thing that makes it more difficult for the team is lining up two rookies – Mick Schumacher and Nikita Mazepin. This literally means less amount of experience in dealing with set-ups, lesser accurate feedback and therefore eventual difficulties in finding the right setup for both qualifying and race.
The positive thing is Haas has facilitated the return of “MSC” to the timing screens. The reigning F2 champion and son of 7-time F1 champion, Mick Schumacher had requested for MSC – his father’s timing screen name and rightfully so, this left almost every F1 fan teary eyed.
Both Mick and Mazepin had decent outings in the pre-season tests with no major mistakes. What needs to be seen now is how they show up at the Bahrain GP scheduled for the next weekend.
Williams under the new leadership seem to have developed their car a bit but these are early days and nothing can be said of their performances as they did not have enough time for their star driver George Russell. They seem to have improved a bit over last year again, but we doubt it would be enough to get into the mid-field yet. Having said that, we never doubt the capabilities of a certain George Russell who was in mega form in qualifying. The race pace was where they were losing out and we hope that they improve and fight in the mid-field this year.
Their striking new livery is very much similar to that of Alpine and it gives a refreshing look first-up. Eyes would definitely be on this team during the first race weekend as we expect them to reduce their gap to the mid-field. Latifi too had a decent outing in pre-season tests and will be looking to up his game this season and be closer to Russell. He was out-qualified in every race weekend last year but would hope to avoid that this time around.
Needs to be seen what impression the strikingly new Williams car makes at Bahrain.
Kimi Raikkonen clocked the most laps – equivalent to 3 race distances during the last day of testing which clearly means that this car has the mileage under its belt. Both Kimi Raikkonen and Giovinazzi have had decent outings in the 2020 season and they would be looking to do the same as a slight improvement would mean they are fighting right in the mid-field. With Kimi sticking around, they have the most experienced driver on the grid, and expect him to show his class – as he did in Portugal last year.
Retaining the same line-up, Giovinazzi has probably got a last chance to prove his worth. He needs to up his game and for that, the first thing he needs to concentrate is on beating his old fox teammate. Kimi is not a easy guy to beat, but with age not on his side and probably this being his last season, Antonio must put up performances which would help him retain his seat for 2022.
This team by no means can struggle to be as low as 7th but the reason we put them here is because of the problems they have had in pre-season testing. Their new recruit, the 4-time world champion Sebastian Vettel has had hardly any running with gearbox issues, change of floor eating up his allocated time. Lance Stroll did show some pace in the pre-final day but their lack of running means they are slotted at the bottom of the super tight mid-field group.
There is hardly anything to differ between the teams slotted from 3rd to 7th and this could well prove to be the case in reality as well. Lance Stroll was error prone last season with so many involvements in crashes that saw him lose critical points. Sebastian Vettel too had a season which was no where close to his standards. The team might cheer him up to perform much better but going by their problems in testing, it seems to be hardwork for them during the next weekend – but we expect them to be strong and sort out their issues.
The re-named Renault team have attracted a lot of eyes – firstly because the team sees a return of the two time champion Fernando Alonso and secondly because of their livery. They definitely seem to have one of the best looking cars on the 2021 grid. The experienced Alonso hit the track as if he was never out of F1. The recent jaw surgery doesn’t seem to be troubling him at all.
Both Alonso and Ocon had decent outings in the pre-season tests. The car seemed reliable and fast enough to compete with the mid-field pack like in 2020.
The team-mate battle is something to look for here as Alonso will be eager to show the world why he is the one of the all time F1 greats and Ocon would be giving his all to prove to the team that he deserves the seat. Ocon has had a fairly topsy turvy F1 career till date, he must start putting up performances otherwise his place is in danger with fellow Frenchman Pierre Gasly knocking the doors.
Check out part 2 for the top 5 teams!!
The All-Indian Mumbai Falcons team ended their first Formula 3 Asia campaign with an impressive third place in the constructor’s championship. The team piloted by two of India’s high hopes for a representation in Formula 1, Jehan Daruvala and Kush Maini, managed to secure 3 podiums in the final round of the championship held at Yas Marina International circuit.
Highlights of the championship –
Post the success in F3 Asian Championship, Jehan Daruvala is going to continue for a second year with Carlin in FIA Formula 2 championship and Kush Maini is expected to land up a drive in the Formula 3 championship.
The high flying Jehan Daruvala put up another strong performance in the Round 2 of the FIA F3 Asian Championship at the Yas Marina International circuit. The All-Indian Mumbai Falcons team came into this round after showing great pace in the Round 1 at Dubai.
They were right on the pace through the practice session and the 2 qualifying sessions that took place on 4th of February. Jehan Daruvala put up a top-notch effort to claim the first pole position for Mumbai Falcons for Race 1. Jehan’s teammate Kush Maini also had a decent effort in the first run but his lap time was deleted because of track limits. He ended up qualifying 15th for Race 1. The second qualifying session which decides the grid for Race 3 proved to be a better outing for Kush Maini as he managed to qualify 8th. Jehan though lost out to the very fast Pierre-Louis Chovet a.k.a PLC and Guanyu Zhou. He would start Race 3 from 3rd on the grid.
Race 1 –
Race 1 was a complete dominance from the Indian driver, Jehan Daruvala. He never looked back right from the start of the race. As the confident driver would say in the pre-race interview that if he goes into Turn 1 in the lead, he is going to win the race and he very much stuck to his words. He capped off a brilliant drive to win the race and handed Mumbai Falcons their first ever victory in Formula 3 Asia series. He also took the fastest lap of the race which means he again starts on pole position for Race 2 as the grid for Race 2 is decided based on the fastest laps by the drivers in Race 1. Kush Maini though struggled to make it into the points, but he surely improved his starting position for Race 2 by clocking the 10th fastest lap of the race. The dynamic Dino a.k.a Dino Beganovic had a heart break as his engine gave up on the last lap of the race when he was in 4th position.
Race 2 –
Starting Race 2 from pole position meant Jehan Daruvala could use up his fresher set of tyres and go all out for another win, and he did the same. Albeit this win was not as straight forward as in race 1. He was put under immense pressure by the charging Isack Hadjar, who punched above his weight to follow Jehan corner after corner. Jehan, though showed great composure and made no mistakes. He made some really good defensive moves to hold Isack’s challenge till the finish. Jehan, thus made it 2 race wins from as many races in Round 2. Isack Hadjar and Dino Beganovic secured the rest of the positions on the podium. Championship Leader Guanyu Zhou finished fourth and Jehan’s teammate Kush Maini dropped one place from his starting position and finished 11th.
Race 3 –
Race 3 had drama right from the start of the formation lap as Dino Beganovic failed to get off the line from 7th on the grid. He eventually made it to the grid slot though as he managed to get going. There were more problems at the start though, and this time it was for his teammate and championship leader Guanyu Zhou who stalled on the grid at the start. With the 2nd placed Zhou having a disaster of a start, Jehan moved up a place into second. The safety car was brought in for 4 laps to clear a coming together of two cars. On the restart, it was the pole sitter Pierre Louis Chovet who rocketed off to build a huge gap from the rest of the pack. Jehan though again had to fend off a charging Isack Hadjar again as in Race 2. Kush Maini was running as high as 11th after falling back while avoiding the stalled car of Zhou at the start. He further dropped down to 17th by the end of the race.
With 2 race wins and a 2nd place finish, Jehan Daruvala climbed to the top of the driver’s standings with 95 points. He is followed by Pierre Louis Chovet with 94 points and Guanyu Zhou with 90 points.
In the constructor’s standings, Mumbai Falcons climbed to 3rd position with 95 points. Abu Dhabi racing team lead the standings with 151 points, followed by Evans GP with 102 points.
The Round 3 of races are set to be run over the 6th and 7th February at the Yas Marina International Circuit. We, as Motorsport enthusiasts, wish Mumbai Falcons all the best. To get the live racing updates, please visit the Youtube channel of Mumbai Falcons Racing Team.
The regional F3 Asian Championship began last weekend at the Dubai International circuit with 3 races being organized across the weekend. The season will go ahead with another 2 rounds of races at the Yas Marina Circuit from 4th to 7th February.
Of all the participants, Mumbai Falcons is an All-Indian team with Armaan Ebrahim as the team principal and two of India’s high hopes in Motorsports – Jehan Daruvala and Kush Maini at the wheel. The team showed great pace across the practice sessions and the two qualifying sessions with Jehan and Kush qualifying at P4 – P8 and P5 – P8 respectively.
India’s recent Formula 2 race winner, Jehan Daruvala continued his rich form with a podium in Race 1. Kush Maini had an unfortunate Lap 1 incident which meant he had to make a pitstop and came out plumb last. He showed great pace though as he kept the fastest lap of the race for most of the race distance only to get out-witted by the experienced Guanyu Zhou in the last few laps to take the fastest lap. Zhou went on to win the race with another F2 driver – Roy Nissany of Israel finishing second. Jehan came home third and completed an all F2 podium for race 1. Kush Maini ended up with the second fastest time of the race.
Race 2 starting grid positions meant a great chance of victory or a podium for Kush Maini as he was slotted to start from the front row of the grid in second place, but luck was not on his side. Such was his torrid luck this weekend that he could barely move a few meters from the grid and had to retire with mechanical issues – expected to be clutch related. Jehan Daruvala finished P7 in race 2 and his pace was not the best as he had opted to race with the used tyre set and preserve the fresh one for Race 3. Zhou, who started on pole and opted to start with a fresh tyre set made use of the fresh rubber to great extent to end up with another win under his belt.
Race 3 had more drama as far as the Indian team was concerned and sadly it was again Kush Maini who was at the receiving end. He had a decent getaway from 8th on the grid but braked a bit late going into Turn 1 and made the cardinal sin of collecting his team-mate Jehan Daruvala in the process. Guanyu Zhou, who won the first 2 races was also caught up and had to retire on Lap 1 with a right rear broken suspension. Both Jehan and Kush fell to the back of the grid but Jehan showed great pace and came home 7th by the end of the race. Jehan kept the fastest lap of the race to his name.
The championship is currently being led by Zhou with 50 points and is closely followed by Pierre-Louis Chovet (nicknamed PLC) and Dino Beganovic (nicknamed Dynamic Dino). Jehan Daruvala is placed 7th with 27 points and Kush Maini is yet to open his account. In the constructors, Abu Dhabi racing team backed by Prema lead the way with 96 points. Mumbai Falcons are currently 5th on the standings.
Mumbai Falcons had a very good outing scoring 27 points in the 3 races, but we hope Kush joins the party as well in the next 2 rounds and they show their true potential. For all the motorsport enthusiasts, who would want to follow the F3 Asian Championship closely, the qualifying and the races are live streamed on the YouTube channel of Mumbai Falcons team.
Let’s get behind the Indian team and cheer them!!
The lack of grip due to the new surfacing did not help the drives at all as everyone found it really difficult to put their foot on the throttle. The free practice 1 saw times which were slower than the GP2 times set a decade ago on the same track. All the free practice sessions failed to produce any representative lap time and this meant that we were heading into the qualifying with almost nothing to analyze for the rest of the weekend. Max Verstappen headed all the 3 parts of the practice and Red Bull remained the car to be beaten as they were looking the best in the slippery conditions.
To compound the grip problems at the Istanbul park, it was wet to start the qualifying and this posed a challenge for the teams and driver. Everyone came out on the wet weather tires and Verstappen was off just a couple of corners into his out-lap to prove how less grip the circuit offered. After some 11 minutes of running, the race control decided it was too wet to drive as there was a heavy chance of cars aqua plaining. The session resumed once the rain stopped but Romain Grosjean found it very difficult and lost his car under braking into Turn 1 and beached it in the gravel which brought out the second red flag of the session. The qualifying resumed and it was visible that the conditions were improving significantly but not so for Nicolas Latifi who lost control and beached his car in the gravel bring out double waved yellows. Kevin Magnussen, Danill Kvyat, George Russell, Romain Grosjean and Nicolas Latifi were eliminated in Q1 with Danill Kvyat spinning coming out of pits.
The second part of Qualifying saw times drop further as the conditions improved and Alfa Romeo’s of Kimi Raikkonen and Giovinazzi found it suiting their car very much as they both put in competitive lap times enough to get them into Q3. Both the McLarens and Ferraris failed to make the cut into Q3 with Pierre Gasly being the other driver to be eliminated by posting the slowest time of the session.
The Q3 started with everyone barring Sergio Perez coming out on full wet tires. Perez though opted for the green walled Intermediate tires and went fastest of all in the first round of laps. This prompted all the other teams to pit for intermediates as the tires required time to get to the temperature and give their best performance. Max Verstappen aborted his what could be the fastest lap time to pit for Intermediates. The Intermediate tires seemed to be the best for the conditions and Lance Stroll came out to put in a brilliant effort to take the pole position with Max Verstappen still on a good lap. Sergio Perez who had led the session for the major part, could not put together a decent lap and did not improve. Max Verstappen though did improve but it was only good enough for P2. Lance Stroll, therefore, became only the 3rd Canadian to take pole position and the 5th youngest to do so. The difficult conditions did not disappoint as it gave us a unique starting grid with both the Racing Points starting in top 3. Alex Albon qualified P4. It was a good day for Renault as they qualified 5th and 7th with Ricciardo and Ocon respectively. The two Mercedes could only qualify 6th and 9th with Hamilton leading Bottas. Kimi Raikkonen and Giovinazzi rounded off the top 10 with 8th and 10th positions, respectively.
With rain coming down and the slippery nature of the track, it was going to be a race to watch out for. And there was drama even before the race started as Giovinazzi and Russell crashed on their way to the grid. The rain and the new surface meant that the even numbered side of the grid was much more a difficult place to start from and Max Verstappen found it so as he was crawling at the start of the race. The two Racing Points made good getaways to run 1-2 with Lance Stroll heading Perez. Behind though there were slips and spins, with Ocon being tagged by Ricciardo at Turn 1 into a spin and Valterri Bottas could do nothing but spin his Mercedes to avoid Ocon. Sebastian Vettel though made an incredible getaway and ran as high as P3 by Lap 1. Hamilton made a superb start to take P3 at the start but lost in under braking to given away his position to Vettel, Verstappen and Albon. Bottas though again collided with the Renault of Estaben Ocon, resulting in a spin for the Renault driver. The Red Bulls looked very comfortable and Max Verstappen was soon chasing the Racing Points who had comfortably got into the lead after the first few laps. On Lap 18, Max Verstappen got behind Perez and began pounding behind his gearbox but the spray coming out might have distracted Max and that resulted in a spin. Max dropped from P3 to P6 and pitted soon to change his flat spotted Intermediates. Stroll led for 34 laps of the race but then pitted for another set of Intermediates, but this was the show over for Stroll sadly as he never could switch on those set of tires and struggled with graining.
On Lap 37, Lewis Hamilton who has pitted only once closed the gap to Sergio Perez and took the lead with the help of DRS. Once he took the lead, there was no looking back as Lewis Hamilton probably drove one of his best races and was at his very best. Lewis Hamilton went on to win the race which made him the World Champion for 2020 and therefore, he equaled Michael Schumacher’s record of 7 world championship titles, the most for any Formula 1 driver. There was a 3-way scrap for the second position though as Charles Leclerc and Sebastian Vettel had closed onto the gearbox of Sergio Perez. Charles Leclerc locked his brakes up going into the penultimate chicane which gave Sergio Perez to reclaim the second position and allowed Vettel to pass Leclerc. Leclerc finished P4 and thus capped off Ferrari’s strongest race of 2020. Carlos Sainz took a brilliant 5th place with the two Red Bulls of Max and Albon finishing 6th and 7th respectively. Norris, Stroll and Ricciardo rounded off the top 10. Valterri Bottas had a weekend to forget as he struggled to keep the car on track. He spun multiple times during the race and finished a lowly 14th.
By winning the Turkish GP, Lewis Hamilton became the 7-time Formula 1 World Champion. Sebastian Vettel was chosen as the Driver of the Day. Though the race had many ups and downs, it must be said that this was one of the best races of the season. A Lewis Hamilton masterpiece with many close battles going on through out the race made it one of the best in recent times.
We hope for many more races of this kind where we as Formula 1 fans will be entertained to the highest possible level.
Imola was expected to be tough with just 90 minutes of practice. The strict track limits though came out of syllabus to add to the problems of drivers. Imola is firstly a narrower track compared to the rest and with cars evolving over years in terms of size, it was bound to be difficult to find a way through to adhere to the track limits and more importantly overtake during the race which made the qualifying very important.
The first part of qualifying again saw the SATURDAY MAN George Russell put in a splendid lap to get out of Q1. He put in the 14th quickest laptime. Kimi Raikkonen was left furious with his best lap time being deleted due to track limit violations and therefore ended a lowly 18th. Both Haas F1 cars of Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen, who went wide in the last corner and lost an opportunity to improve his time were eliminated after posting the 16th and 17th fastest times of the session. Nicolas Latifi was 19th for Williams and Alfa Romeo’s Antonio Giovinazzi finished 20th.
The second part of qualifying started with the drama of Max Verstappen reporting a power issue with his car. A proper shoutout to the incredible work by Red Bull mechanics though as they could change the spark plug in under 5 minutes and sent Verstappen out on mediums as well to make it into Q3 and he obliged. The session saw both the Racing point car miss out of making it to Q3 which Sergio Perez qualifying 11th, which was just 0.01 seconds of the 10th place. Lance Stroll and Sebastian Vettel had their lap times deleted as well and ended up 14th and 15th respectively. Renault’s Estaben Ocon and Williams’s Russel qualified 12th and 13th.
The final part of qualifying was a shoutout between the Mercedes cars for pole. Lewis Hamilton and Valterri Bottas swapped positions 3 times but it was Valterri Bottas who ended up beating his teammate by 0.097 seconds to claim pole position. Pierre Gasly, F1’s newest race winner qualified a brilliant 4th. Ricciardo qualified 5th for Renault and the Redbulls of Max Verstappen and Alex Albon ended up 3rd and 6th quickest. Charles Leclerc and Daniil Kvyat qualified 7th and 8th respectively with the two McLarens of Lando Norris and Carlos Sainz rounding off the top 10.
Pierre Gasly who qualified a brilliant 4th has issues even before the race started. He reported a loss of power on his installation lap but went on to start the race which a repaired vehicle only for his race to last 9 laps as he was asked to retire the car because of terminal damage. At the start, Verstappen got ahead of Lewis Hamilton and Ricciardo made a good start to claim 4th from Gasly. At the back though, the fast-starting Lance Stroll made contact with Esteban Ocon and broke the left endplate of his front wing. He pitted for a new front wing and never could put up a fight for points, thus ending his dismal performance over the last 5 races. Further back, Kevin Magnussen was punted into a spin by Sebastian Vettel which dropped him to 19th place by the end of Lap 1. Bottas and Verstappen pitted for hard tires by lap 20 whereas Hamilton continued on his mediums. Bottas ran over debris from Sebastian Vettel’s car which caused him to lose downforce and was struggling in the corners. Sergio Perez meanwhile extended his stint on the medium tires and ran as high as 4th. Esteban Ocon reported a problem with this clutch on Lap 29 and the resultant Virtual Safety Car aligned the stars in Lewis Hamilton’s favor further and the pitstop under a VSC cost 10 seconds less than the normal pitstop and he ended up coming out comfortably ahead of Bottas. Bottas struggled to keep up the pace and made a mistake going into the penultimate corner thus giving Max Verstappen the chance to easily overtake him for 2nd position. Though the happiness was short-lived for Max as he would eventually retire from the race after a dramatic right rear tire blowout on Lap 51. The Safety car to recover Max’s car brought the cars bunch together with everyone opting to pit for softs apart from Ricciardo, Leclerc, and Albon who stayed on hards giving importance to track position more than the faster tires. George Russell who was having a great race in P10 steered under the safety car on accelerating for tire warm-up and ended up in the wall thus smashing the hopes of his first-ever point in Formula 1. On the restart, Kvyat made a brilliant move to overtake both Perez and Albon into Turn 1. Perez on softs made a brilliant move through the outside on Albon on the very next corner, but that pressure took into Albon and he spun on his exit from the corner. Albon thus ended up plumb last, yet again damaging his chances to secure his Red Bull seat for 2021.
Lewis Hamilton went on to win his 93rd race and Valterri Bottas came home second, which meant that the constructor’s championship has been won by Mercedes in 2020. This was a Formula 1 record as Mercedes became the first ever team to win the championship for 7 straight years. Daniel Ricciardo secured his 2nd podium of the season by finishing third and ended the brilliant with this trademark SHOEY celebration. Hamilton too joined in to do a SHOEY post-race on the podium. Kvyat finished a strong fourth with Leclerc and Perez rounding off the top 6. The two McLarens and the two Alfa Romeo cars completed the Top 10.
Lewis Hamilton created history at Portimao by winning his 92nd Formula 1 race, thereby passing Michael Schumacher as the Formula 1 driver with the most number of race wins.
Earlier, it was normalcy restored with the Friday practice going along unlike at Nürburgring. The drivers took their time to understand the new track which had very high elevation changes and changing wind directions made it difficult for the aerodynamic effects to kick-in. The practices were smooth apart from a few spins here and there. Pierre Gasly had the rear of the car on fire which brought out the red flags and the returning Lance Stroll, who informed that he has tested positive for Covid-19 and got cured, collided with Red Bull’s Max Verstappen at Turn 1. Haas F1 had announced that both Kevin Magnussen and Romain Grosjean will not be driving for them in 2021.
The first part of qualifying started as usual with the “SATURDAY MAN” George Russell again putting in mega efforts to put his Williams into Q2. The Ferrari powered cars of Alfa Romeo (Kimi Raikkonen & Giovinazzi) and Haas F1 (Kevin Magnussen & Romain Grosjean) were eliminated along with the other Williams of Nicolas Latifi, who qualified 20th.
The second part of qualifying saw both the Mercedes and Ferraris attempting to get into Q3 on the medium tyre as opposed to the softs preferred by all other teams. The Mercedes pair easily made it to Q3 but only Charles Leclerc of Ferrari making it to Q3 on medium tyre and Sebastian Vettel in the other Ferrari was unable to go any better than 15th. The session ended with Australian Daniel Ricciardo spinning out and just about nudging the barriers. He managed to scrap through to Q3 with the 10th quickest time. The 2nd part of qualifying saw Estaben Ocon of Renault, Lance Stroll of Racing point, Alpha Tauri’s Danill Kvyat, Williams’s George Russell and Ferrari’s Vettel bow out.
The Q3 began with the Mercedes putting their times on board on a set of soft tyres and going into the 1:16s. Redbull’s Alex Albon put his first time on a set of mediums but had to go for the soft tyre run hoping for a bit more pace. The Mercedes switched plans to go to mediums for the final runs in Q3 probably hoping that the cold temperatures would suit the medium tyre better and that was what exactly happened. The Mercedes pair went a couple of tenths quicker than their soft tyre runs and Lewis Hamilton managed to pip Valterri Bottas to the pole position by 0.1 seconds. Verstappen, Leclerc, Perez and Albon completed the top six. The two Mclarens of Carlos Sainz and Lando Norris followed them with Pierre Gasly qualifying 9th. Ricciardo could not set a competitive time in Q3 as his rear wing needed to be replaced following the spin in Q2.
The race was to provide drama right from the start. As the circuit was damp, it meant everyone had to scrap through carefully on the dry tyres. Hamilton made a clear getaway and held position but soon began to lose temperature in his tyres and began sliding everywhere. Almost everyone struggled barring the most experienced Kimi Raikkonen. Kimi probably made the start of the season by gaining as many as 10 places – from P16 to P6 by Lap 1. Sergio Perez and Max Verstappen made contact which led to the Racing point getting spun and ending up dead last. Perez had to pit for a fresh set of mediums following the spin. Hamilton struggled to keep up with the tyres and was passed by Bottas. The Mclarens made a splendid start to race into P2 and P4 by Lap 1.
Carlos Sainz moved past a struggling Bottas on Lap 2 to gain the lead of the Portuguese which he kept for as long as Lap 6. By Lap 8, Sainz was passed by both the Mercedes and the Red bull of Max Verstappen as he reported to be struggling with the soft tyres. Lance Stroll and Pierre Gasly showed great pace by making up places. On Lap 18, Lance Stroll’s upward movement was cut short when he collided with Lando Norris while attempting an overtake into Turn 1. He received a 5 seconds time penalty for the incident and the collision resulted in both Norris and Stroll falling to the back needing a front wing change. Hamilton showed great pace through out and a made clean pass on Bottas on lap 20 to regain the lead of the grand prix. Sergio Perez who had to pit earlier because of the collision with Max made some great moves and showed great pace in going as high as P4 before pitting again for the second time. George Russell made the medium tyres last long and ran as high as P7 for the initial half distance of the race, the highest position he has raced at in his career. Perez pitted for softs hoping to be gain a pace advantage over all others who were on mediums, but the drop in temperature meant the soft tyre not working as expected and a P5 turned quickly into P7 for him in the last 2 laps with Gasly and Sainz managing to get past him.
At the front though, it was a complete Lewis Hamilton show. Post his overtake on Bottas, he never looked back and put up another strong performance to finally break the record of Michael Schumacher for the most number of wins in Formula 1. He clinched his 92nd victory with over 25 seconds margin on Bottas. Max Verstappen finished third and took the final place on the podium. Charles Leclerc put up a strong performance to end P4. Gasly, Sainz and Perez rounded off the top 7 with Ocon, Ricciardo and Vettel completing the top 10. Red Bull’s Alex Albon finished a lowly 12th and he was lapped by his teammate Verstappen. Lance Stroll was the only car to retire from the grand prix after reporting damage from the collision with Lando Norris.
This win further extends Lewis Hamilton’s lead in the championship and further stamped the dominance of Mercedes in the Constructor’s championship with another 1-2 finish.
Lewis Hamilton has equaled Michael Schumacher’s record of the most number of Formula 1 race wins (91) at the Eifel GP at Nürburgring on Sunday.
The race weekend invited a lot of eyes initially because of the Ferrari junior program drivers Mick Schumacher and Callum Illot scheduled to run the Alfa Romeo and Haas F1 cars during free practice 1 on Friday. But all the build-up could not see the light as both free practices 1 & 2 were called off because of excessive fog which meant that the helicopter could not take off and that could have compromised safety. This posed a very unique challenge for the drivers and teams as well, as everyone had minimal running before qualifying on a track where none had driven the new F1 cars as Nürburgring wasn’t part of the F1 calendar for the past few years. Racing point found themselves under pressure as Lance Stroll was taken sick supposedly by food poisoning and had to miss out on racing. This paved way for the man dubbed as “SUPER-SUB” this season, NICO HULKENBERG. He was near the track because of his commitments with German TV broadcasting. Ultimately, Nico Hulkenberg would drive in place of Lance Stroll during the qualifying and race. The free practice 3 turned into a decent 90 mins running for every team and driver. Scuderia Ferrari found some pace during the practice session which was very different from the last few races.
Undoubtedly it was Nico Hulkenberg who was the first to go out to have some running across the track in a car he had already driven at Silverstone. The first part of qualifying saw the Haas of Romain Grosjean, both Williams of George Russell and Nicolas Latifi, Alfa Romeo of Kimi Raikkonen who made his 323rd Formula 1 race start thus becoming the most experienced Formula 1 driver in terms of the number of race starts and the Racing point of Nico Hulkenberg being eliminated. Antonio Giovinazzi scrapped through to the 2nd part of qualifying by posting a time just 0.020 seconds quicker than Romain Grosjean. Nico Hulkenberg, though qualified 20th but was lauded for the commendable effort as he was just 0.8 seconds of his team-mate Sergio Perez and just 0.4s away from going into the 2nd part of qualifying with such minimal running and joining the team just hours before the qualifying. Max Verstappen topped Q1 with the two Mercedes of Bottas and Hamilton completing the top 3.
The 2nd part of qualifying saw Sebastian Vettel who was out-qualified by his teammate for the 8th race in a row, both Alpha Tauri’s of Pierre Gasly and Danill Kvyat, Alfa Romeo of Giovinazzi, and Haas of Kevin Magnussen getting eliminated.
The final part of qualifying saw Valterri Bottas put in a mega effort to claim pole position by 0.256 seconds, ahead of Lewis Hamilton. Max Verstappen qualified 3rd after being the closest to the Mercedes. Charles Leclerc too put in a mega lap to equal the best qualifying position for Ferrari in p4. The other Red Bull of Alex Albon, both Renaults of Ricciardo and Ocon, McLarens of Norris and Sainz, and Racing point of Sergio Perez completed the top 10.
It was to be a dramatic start as the run towards Turn 1 was long enough and the slippery downward sloping nature of Turn 1 would invite a lot of lock-ups and sliding. Lewis Hamilton made a slightly better start and was momentarily ahead of the Bottas but was pipped by Bottas coming out of Turn 1. There were a lot of lockups from Albon, Gasly, and Magnussen throughout corners 3 to 7. Sergio Perez moved up ahead of Ocon and kept fighting with Norris over p8. At the back, Hulkenberg made a good start to gain 3 places to P17. Giovinazzi had a terrific start to go to P10. Charles Leclerc held off a challenge from the pacy Ricciardo for 9 laps before Ricciardo breezed past the Ferrari. Valterri Bottas held a good 2 seconds lead over Hamilton until lap 13 when he locked up heavily going into Turn 1 and allowed Hamilton to breeze past him through turns 2 and 3. Lap 14 saw the first major incident of the race with George Russell coming off worse in a 3 way battle between him, Vettel, and Raikkonen. Raikkonen locked up and understeered straight into Russell damaging his rear suspension and giving him a left rear puncture thus retiring him from the race. The virtual safety car to recover Russell’s Williams allowed few drivers to pit and all the top 4 runners pitted for new tires. On Lap 17, Kvyat missed his braking point at the penultimate corner and went onto the grass coming onto the track just ahead of Albon and they collided taking the front wing out of Kvyat’s car. Bottas’s race which had turned horrible due to the big lock-up turned even worse when Mercedes had to retire his car due to a problem with the power unit (supposedly the ERS – Energy Recovery System). Lando Norris had electric issues with his car as well and was passed by Sergio Perez but Norris continued with a not a 100% car. Perez made another move on Charles Leclerc on Lap 35 to move into 4th place. Lando Norris retired his car on Lap 44 and thus brought out the Safety Car. The biggest losers of the Safety car were both the Racing points as they were on road to a brilliant 1-stop race as compared to the 2-stop by everyone else. Both the racing points almost raced half race distance on the softs they had started on. Safety car allowed a free pitstop to everyone except Grosjean who made up places to P7 with other pitting.
On the Safety car restart, Perez pressurized Ricciardo for the final place on the podium but Ricciardo managed to stay ahead with some disciplined driving. Hamilton went on to win the race with Max Verstappen finishing second. Daniel Ricciardo finished third and thus making Renault the 7th team to finish on the podium in 2020 – the most since 2012 (7 teams on the podium). Sergio Perez finished a brilliant 4th and his teammate for the weekend, Nico Hulkenberg made up 12 places to finish a brilliant 8th – thus taking Racing Point to 3rd in the constructor’s championship – 4 ahead of McLaren & 6 ahead of Renault. Sainz, Gasly, Leclerc finished 5th, 6th, and 7th respectively and the final 2 points positions were taken by Romain Grosjean and Giovinazzi. Kimi Raikkonen starting his record 323rd race, ended up in the 13th position as he was given a 10 second time penalty for colliding with George Russell. Sebastian Vettel finished out of the points in 11th position at his home race. Albon, Bottas, Norris, and Ocon retired with engine-related issues.
Lewis Hamilton was presented a helmet of Michael Schumacher, as a noble gesture, for equaling the highest number of race wins in F1 history, by Mick Schumacher.
Nico Hulkenberg was voted Driver of the Weekend by F1 fans around the globe.
Formula 1 never ceases to impress us. Be it the superb straight-line speeds or the daring wheel to wheel racing or even the crazy social media presence. But like every other sport, Formula 1 churns out some impressive numbers (and coincidence sometimes).
Let us see one such “Hell of A Coincidence” moment from Formula 1 2020 season:
After 10 rounds of races in the current season, the lead for the championship looks somewhat like this –
Now, these are plain numbers on the first look & very much accepted given that these 3 have shared the podium 6 times in the 10 races so far.
But again, this is Formula 1!!!!
Let us have a closer look at the difference between the points:
Coincidence? Definitely so!!!
The top 3 in championship are separated by the number of points equaling their car numbers.
Like every other season, an add up of numbers does bring in some interesting things to look out for. Let us see what the Formula 1 2020 season has brought out in terms of numbers till now:
1: A first race victory for Pierre Gasly at Monza, Italy! A difficult 2019 followed by the tag “Race Winner” – Never lose hope during difficult times!
2: Only the second time Alpha Tauri (previously Toro Rosso) managed to win a F1 race. Coincidentally, the first time was also at Monza and that race victory introduced us to one of the legends of the sport and four-time champion, Sebastian Vettel.
3: Three young Ferrari Academy drivers to make their Formula 1 weekend debut this year. Mick Schumacher is expected to drive the Alfa Romeo at the Eifel grand prix this weekend and similarly Callum Illot will be driving for Haas F1 in free practice 1. Robert Schwartzman will be driving the F1 car during the final Friday practice 1 of 2020 season at Abu Dhabi. All eyes will be on Mick Schumacher as he would driving at his home race track, a track which is just a few miles away from the birthplace of his father and Formula 1’s all time great, Michael Schumacher.
7: The highest number of driver’s championships won by a single driver, Michael Schumacher. What seemed to be impossible achievement, is set to be equaled by Lewis Hamilton if he manages to win the championship just one more time. Looks very likely, 2020 could be it! Brace yourselves, Michael Schumacher fans, you got to share the top spot tag now!
31: George Russell has now outqualified his teammate in every qualifying session till date, thereby leading the qualifying battle by 31-0 (21-0 to Robert Kubica and 10-0 to Nicolas Latifi)
91: The highest number of race wins by a driver, Michael Schumacher. Lewis Hamilton has currently 90 race wins under his belt. One more in the next 7 races to come this year and he will equal the great Michael Schumacher in terms of race wins. A few more, and one could say Lewis Hamilton is the most successful Formula 1 driver in terms of race wins!!!
96: The highest number of pole positions by Lewis Hamilton. With 7 races yet to come this year and future (maybe), he is all set to cross the 100 mark! The second highest number of pole positions is 68 by Michael Schumacher – which Hamilton has bettered as a Mercedes driver alone (69 pole positions as a Mercedes driver)
322: The highest number of race starts by a Formula 1 driver. It was held by Brazilian Rubens Barrichello till the Russian GP but has been equaled by the ICEMAN Kimi Raikkonen. Kimi is all set to own this record during the next race weekend at Nürburgring. But the question is for how long? Formula 1 veteran, Spaniard Fernando Alonso is coming back to racing with Renault in 2021. He currently has 311 race starts to his name. If Kimi decides to stop racing, Alonso is sure to own this record next year! But will Kimi hang up just yet? Coming days would tell!!