Just like anything around the world right now, the 2020 Formula One season became arguably the most unusual one to date. Considering the global impact of the Covid-19 pandemic crisis, many did not even believe that racing in 2020 could take place. Ultimately, though, it did. And aren’t we glad it did… So, without further ado, let’s give the 2020 season its proper recap and point out some of the key aspects to remember:
George Russell Raced for Mercedes and almost Won His One and Only Grand Prix With Them.
Imagine that you took 1 driver from the slowest team and put him in the quickest car for 1 race weekend. This is pretty much what happened to George Russell for the Sakhir GP, following Lewis Hamilton’s positive PCR test. It was arguably the most exciting thing to watch for in a long, long time in Formula One. Basically, for the first time since 2007 we could see a race without Hamilton, and see someone else driving his championship-winning Merc. The Williams talent started from 2nd on the grid, took the lead in the first corner, and kept a comfortable distance between himself and Bottas. His maiden victory, however, was ruined by Mercedes’ horrible pitstop disaster and a puncture that he received later on. Despite his bad luck, George still managed to finish 9th and clinch the fastest lap of the race, granting him his first F1 career points.
The Shortest Season Since the Early 2000s.
Although Formula One season used to be only 5-6 Grands prix long back in the 50s, modern-era racing differentiates a lot in that aspect. The last two seasons to feature just 17 races were in 2007 and 2009. The FIA initially planned a 22-race-long calendar, scheduled between March and December. However, the circumstances around the Covid-19 pandemic forced the sport into a rather unusual situation. Nevertheless, Formula One managed to organize and execute 17 Grand Prix events in just 5 months between July and December. Not the ideal scenario for us enthusiasts, but at least it saved the season. On the bright side, the upcoming 2021 season is currently set to host a record-breaking 23 events. Be sure to stock on popcorn and beverages of choice!
Bringing Back Some Iconic Circuits.
Just sit down comfortably and read that again… Portimao, the Nürburgring, Istanbul Park, Mugello and even IMOLA! Who would have though that the craziness of 2020 could lead us to such unusual (though, never forgotten) racing architecture masterpieces! Unfortunately, none of them have been planned to make a comeback in 2021. In fact, the current published calendar does not include a single German Grand Prix, which is a bit odd, but could potentially change in the upcoming weeks. Dutch fans, however, should be able to cheer Max Verstappen up on homeland in Zandvoort come early September. Exciting to see yet another legendary circuit brought back to life.
Romain Grosjean’s Horrific Crash.
Despite what we saw with our eyes, Romain Grosjean is still alive. The modern safety improvements kept us from witnessing a disaster on live television. They also prevented the dad of three children from burning alive in his decomposed cockpit. You can search the event on YouTube if you still have not seen a miracle captured on camera.
Three Drivers Missed a Race Because of Covid.
At the end of the day, Formula One drivers are just humans, too. Despite the strict precautions and adjusted paddock rules, three brave gentlemen still contracted the popular virus. Sergio Perez, Lance Stroll and Lewis Hamilton were each forced to skip a race due to health-related issues. Racing Point gave Nico Hulkenberg the opportunity to return to Formula One in 2020 twice, and he substituted for both Perez and Stroll. As discussed above, Mercedes borrowed Williams’ George Russell to ‘inherit’ Hamilton’s car for the Sakhir GP. This, however, put an end to Lewis’ record of most consecutive races by any driver – 264 (2007-2020). Hopefully, no driver would have to miss an event for the same reason in 2021.
Quite a Few Stepped on the Podium, Including 2 Maiden Career Victories.
13 out of the 20 regular drivers sprayed some champagne at least once this season. It was genuinely great to see more midfield teams fight for a place amongst the quickest almost every weekend. While Lando Norris (McLaren) and Esteban Ocon (Renault) clinched their first podiums, Sergio Perez (Racing Point) and Pierre Gasly (AlphaTauri) took their maiden F1 victories. Objectively, this is the type of season that both drivers and fans would like to see in the future. NOTE: George Russell could have been the 14th driver with a podium in 2020 had he not gotten the infamous puncture in Bahrain.
Lewis Hamilton Became the Most Successful Formula One Driver in History.
Where have you been if you did not know this one? Nevertheless, it had to be included because achievements like that do not happen very often. In fact, Hamilton’s record-breaking 95 victories are quite likely to increase to a 100+ score over the next few seasons. Realistically, this could be the records for a very long time, if not forever. For example, Michael Schumacher kept his 91-victory record from 2006 to 2020. Lewis also became the second driver after Schumacher to achieve 7 career titles. With Mercedes’ strong shape in recent years, a record-breaking 8th title in 2021 is more than anticipated. It is a great time to follow the sport if you want to witness new all-time records.
Mercedes-Powered Cars Won Every Pole Position Besides Abu Dhabi.
This one seems pretty straightforward. Bottas and Hamilton clinched 15 out of the 17 pole positions for the Mercedes team. Lance Stroll, who took his maiden pole in Turkey, did so with his Mercedes-Powered Racing Point. The surprise came just weeks ago in Abu Dhabi when Max Vertappen put the Honda-Powered Red Bull on top of the grid. And his phenomenal last lap came on a track where the Mercs have dominated since 2014. Hard to say anyone saw it coming. Following the logic, no Renault-powered or Ferrari-powered poles in 2020. Speaking of which, let’s talk about the Scuderia.
Red Bull, McLaren, Racing Point and Renault Outperformed Ferrari, Williams Claimed 0 Points Overall.
I know we have been saying this year after year since 2007 but… Not the greatest season for Ferrari. And this time we mean it. The Italians challenged Mercedes in 2017, 2018 and 2019 with real potential for the championship. However, in 2020 they finished 6th in the standings, scoring only 131 points. Quite the difference from the 500+ they have been achieving for the past three years. 2020 was a shorter season, but Mercedes and Red Bull still scored 573 and 319 points, respectively. Ferrari need to do some serious work if they want to come back from the midfield. Speaking of the “midfield”, let’s hope that 2021 will bring us the amazing rivalry of 2020. Oh yes, Williams did not score a single point this season. Now they have 1 point collectively since the end of 2018. And since they could not do any worse in 2021, hopefully they will find room for improvement.