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2020 Tuscan GP Race Recap : Entanglements, Crashes, Stoppages, Restarts & Win Number 90!

The pandemic COVID-19 threatened to jeopardize the 2020 F1 Season as the world went into lockdown, and a lot of races were postponed or cancelled. Racing returned in July with a series triple-headers, the governing body planning for 17 to 18 races in the season. Many iconic tracks got added to the calendar while some made a return after a long hiatus.

Mugello had been a regular feature on the Moto GP calendar but had never hosted an F1 race. F1 however, had an in-season test here in 2012 where Grosjean had come out fastest for Lotus F1. It was also the venue where Kimi Raikkonen tested for Sauber in 2000, eventually getting him a ticket to F1 a year later. The track finally got the opportunity to host a full F1 weekend in 2020, and the race got christened "The Tuscan GP".


It would also play host to Scuderia Ferrari's 1000th GP in F1. The Italian marquee has been the most successful team in F1, having participated every year since the sport's inception and sported retro Burgundy livery to commemorate the weekend. The sport welcomed fans ( in limited number ) to the grandstands for the first time this year.


The driver market was abuzz in the leadup to the Tuscan GP. Sergio Perez announced that he would be leaving Racing Point at the end of the season with no alternate destination ( currently ). The replacement got announced the very next day, and it was none other than the 4 Time World Champion Sebastian Vettel! The team would also change its name to Aston Martin from 2021.

Renault Sport F1 also decided to change their name and livery to Alpine Racing F1, 2021 onwards. Alpine, the brand's sports performance division relaunched in 2017 had been a regular feature in the World Endurance Championship. The cars would be powered by Renault E-Tech Hybrid Engines, however.

Simon Roberts, Williams Racing's former MD got appointed as the acting Team Principal for the transitional period.


The Italian Grand Prix threw up a major upset with Gasly taking an unlikely win for Alpha Tauri. Hamilton and Mercedes hoped to reclaim the top step in Mugello. Verstappen and Bottas looked to make amends from last weekend while Ferrari prayed for a memorable 1000th GP in the sport. The midfield battle was hotting up between McLaren, Racing Point and Renault and a good result was the need in Mugello since it marked the halfway stage of the 2020 season.


Who reigned supreme in the wilderness of Tuscany?

Time to revisit the inaugural Tuscan GP!


Practice :

Sunny skies greeted the teams on Friday morning for the start of Free Practice 1. FP1 was a learning experience for all the drivers as they explored different lines and tested the limits of their cars. It wasn't an uneventful session though with Latifi suffering a spin, barely escaping the gravel trap and Grosjean expressing his displeasure after being held up by Perez on his flying lap. Bottas was the fastest in FP1 and the first driver to set a "track record" in an F1 car. Verstappen was a close second with Leclerc finishing an unlikely third. Hamilton, Gasly and Ocon completed the top 6. The top 15 drivers had set their best lap times on the soft tyres while Russell used the mediums and the two Racing Points along with Latifi stuck to the hard tyres.
Raikkonen was P11 for Alfa Romeo, quicker than a works Ferrari driven by Vettel. The German was languishing in P13, a second adrift of his team-mate who was third. Sainz managed only the 15th fastest time while both the Racing Point cars were only quicker than one Williams.
The pecking order would change considerably in FP2 though.



Free Practice 2 got underway with Norris' session getting cut short due to a crash at turn 3. The Briton ran wide, putting his left rear wheel on the gravel that sent him into a spin making him lose his front wing and hit a concrete wall. The session got Red Flagged briefly. A technical issue on his Haas car restricted Grosjean, the Frenchman completing only five laps. Perez got into trouble with the stewards after his left front tyre clipped the rear of Raikkonen's car. The Mexican was exiting the pit lane while Raikkonen had just started a flying lap. The contact sent the latter into a spin and onto the gravel. Thankfully, he was able to continue. Both Ferrari cars suffered spins with Vettel suffering a power loss near the end of the session.
Bottas was the class of the field again, bettering the track record set by him in FP1. The top 6 were two-by-two, the Mercedes followed by the Red Bulls and the Renaults. Perez, Gasly, Raikkonen and Leclerc completed the top 10. The deficit between the Ferrari team-mates reduced with Vettel finishing in 12th, a tenth adrift of his team-mate Leclerc. The McLarens were 13th and 14th, and Kvyat was 15th for Alpha Tauri. Giovinazzi split the two Williams in 17th while the Haas cars brought up the rear of the field.


Perez incurred a one-place grid drop for his earlier misdemeanour.


It was advantage Bottas at the end of day one at Mugello. However, Hamilton finds a new gear come Saturday. Verstappen was doing all he could to keep the Mercedes duo honest, and it seemed that he would finally get some assistance from his team-mate Albon. Red Bull's pace on race simulations was encouraging as well. The midfield battle was a close on based on the results from Friday.

Free Practice 3 saw Bottas continue his dominance at the top, but the gap reduced to less than two-hundredths of a second to Verstappen. Hamilton was a further six-hundredths adrift, qualifying promising to be a close-run affair. Gasly split the two Racing Points in a commendable P5 but had a major off-track excursion at turn 11 while Leclerc ensured Ferrari representation in the top 8 with the 7th fastest time. Albon was 8th in the other Red Bull with Kvyat 9th. The big surprise of FP3 was Grosjean in 10th whose running on Friday got limited due to gremlins. Renault fell backwards with Ocon in P11 and Ricciardo in P17. McLaren too had a disappointing session with only the 12th and 19th fastest times. The chances of making it into Q2 seemed bright for the Alfa Romeo duo who were 13th and 14th fastest. Vettel's woes continued as he could manage only the 18th fastest time. A brake-by-wire failure kept Russell in the pits for almost the entirety of Free Practice 3.



Qualifying :

Williams was the first team to head out on track at the start of Q1. The rest of the field followed suit shortly after, and Gasly, Raikkonen, Russell, Grosjean and Magnussen were in the drop zone after the first set of runs. Vettel and Norris were the drivers under threat while Gasly got hampered by traffic on his first run. Bottas, Verstappen and Stroll opted to stay in the pits, and the rest went out for their final runs of Q1. A mistake in sector two compromised Russell's attempt. The Briton was on a good lap before a short trip over the edge of a gravel trap. He still improved to P12 only to fall back into elimination as others improved on their lap times. Vettel and Norris had fallen into elimination but improved to P14 and P9 respectively. Gasly was the first big casualty of Q1. The winner of the Italian GP from last week got eliminated from Q1 along with Giovinazzi, Latifi, Russell and Magnussen.
Bottas was the fastest in Q1 from Hamilton and Verstappen. Albon, Leclerc and Perez completed the top 6. It was a close call for Vettel who was relieved to make it into Q2. Raikkonen was now making it a regular feature to get into Q2 with Alfa Romeo. It was Gasly's first Q1 elimination since Belgium 2019.



The start of Q2 saw some drama in the pit lane when Racing Point released Stroll just in front of Verstappen, and the Dutchman wasn't pleased with his strategy getting compromised. Everyone opted for the soft tyres and exited the pits for their first runs of Q2. Grosjean, however, decided to stay put and adopt the "out-of-sync" strategy. The pecking order got reversed with Hamilton edging out Bottas by thirteen-hundredths of a second on his first run. Verstappen was two tenths slower in 3rd, followed by Albon, Ricciardo and Stroll. Albon was finally getting to grips with his one-lap pace while Ricciardo was "out of breath" after his first effort of Q2.
The drivers in the drop zone were Kvyat, Sainz, Vettel, Grosjean and Raikkonen. Raikkonen had used a used set of soft tyres from Q1 which explained the deficit to the rest of the field.
The top 5 chose to not run in Q2 again as the others headed out on a fresh set of soft tyres. Vettel improved on his final run, but couldn't make it into the top 10 while his team-mate Leclerc failed to improve, eventually finishing in 8th. Stroll stayed 6th fastest while Raikkonen relegated Vettel to 14th. The Iceman set an identical lap time to Sainz ( who was yet to complete his second run ) and Kvyat. Kvyat made a mistake at turn seven which sent him over some gravel, compromising his final attempt of Q2. The yellow flags from Kvyat's offtrack moment caused Perez to abandon his lap while Sainz improved to P10 and put Norris into the drop zone. The top 5 remain unchanged at the end of Q2 with Norris, Kvyat, Raikkonen, Vettel and Grosjean getting eliminated from Q2. Vettel was only half a second slower than his team-mate, but that was the difference between a P8 and a P14!

The top 10 shootout was underway in Q3 with Ocon and Perez opting for only one run and Perez choosing the "out-of-sync" strategy. Hamilton was on provisional pole from Bottas and Verstappen. The deficit was only six-hundredths of a second between the Mercedes team-mates. Verstappen, four-tenths adrift seemed to be the best of the rest. Albon was the 4th fastest from Stroll, Ricciardo, Leclerc and Sainz.
Perez decided to complete his only run early in the session, desiring to have a clear track. He went 5th fastest, making it an all Racing Point third row ( provisionally ). The final minutes of Q3 saw the nine contenders head out on track for one final faceoff. Hamilton couldn't improve on his second run, a mistake in sector one costing him time. Verstappen went quicker than his previous best lap but stayed in third. There was drama in the dying minutes of the session as Ocon lost the rear of his car at turn 3, spinning him around and bringing out the yellow flags. The yellow flags in sector one compromised the lap times of all the runners behind him, and Bottas was one of them. The Finn wouldn't improve, and Hamilton claimed pole position! Albon ensured a second-row lockout for Red Bull while Leclerc gave the Tifosi some hope with the 5th fastest time. Perez and Stroll were P6 and P7 for Racing Point while Sainz split the Renaults of Ricciardo and Ocon.

It was Pole Number 95 for Hamilton with Mercedes securing a front-row lockout for the seventh time in 2020! Bottas was a bit unfortunate with the yellow flags in the end, but it was a hard-fought battle. Nonetheless, he had a great platform to mount a challenge for the win on Sunday. Red Bull was pleased to have both its drivers in the fight at the front and Ferrari pinned their hopes on Leclerc for their historic weekend. Perez was faster than his team-mate, in a car that was an older spec. Renault didn't capitalize with its drivers on Saturday but hoped for a better showing on Sunday. It had been a tough weekend for the McLaren drivers and a long afternoon awaited them on race day. The Alpha Tauri drivers made mistakes which cost them dear in qualifying, and they couldn't afford the same on Sunday. Raikkonen was the fastest customer Ferrari and even did one better than Vettel who was in the works team. The Iceman hoped to bag his first points of 2020 come Sunday. Haas and Williams struggled again and seemed destined to remain the backmarkers for this weekend as well.


Race :

Sunday was a special day for Scuderia Ferrari F1 as they celebrated their 1000th GP with a small pre-race celebration. Mick Schumacher, the son of the most successful driver in F1, Michael Schumacher, had the opportunity of driving his father's title-winning Ferrari from 2004 around the circuit. 


Pirelli chose the C1, C2 and C3 tyre compounds for this race weekend and most drivers had plans to stop twice during the race.


The drivers made it to the grid after their reconnaissance laps, and Verstappen reported issues with his power unit. There was a flurry of activity around his car as the mechanics first addressed a brake light issue and then the software and electronics. Thankfully, the power unit issue got addressed in time, and Verstappen was ready for the battle ahead.


Kvyat, Raikkonen, Grosjean, Russell and Latifi opted for the medium tyres while the rest were on softs.


The five red lights went out, and the inaugural Tuscan GP got underway! It was a slow start for Hamilton who got overtaken by Bottas and also by Verstappen. However, the Red Bull driver suffered a sudden loss of power, rapidly losing positions and ending up in a midfield tussle. Bottas led from Hamilton, Leclerc and Albon but there was mayhem further down the field. Raikkonen suffered a touch of oversteer out of turn 1, having to correct his line. Gasly was sparring with Grosjean when he ended up in a Raikkonen-Grosjean sandwich. The trio banged wheels with Gasly tangling badly with Raikkonen, getting lifted into the air momentarily and hitting Verstappen. Raikkonen couldn't control his braking due to the locked wheels and rear-ended Verstappen as well, sending the Dutchman into the gravel. Further up, Sainz got spun around by one of the Racing Point cars and suffered damage. Vettel was unable to take avoiding action and damaged his front wing in the process.

The resulting debris on track forced the stewards to deploy the Safety Car. Verstappen was out of the race for the second weekend in a row. The incident got flagged for investigation, but later got termed as a "racing incident".

Vettel and Raikkonen pitted at the end of the first lap for a new wing and a fresh set of medium tyres.

The order behind the Safety Car was - Bottas, Hamilton, Leclerc, Albon, Stroll, Ricciardo, Perez, Norris, Kvyat, Ocon, Russell, Magnussen, Latifi, Giovinazzi, Sainz, Grosjean, Raikkonen and Vettel.

Magnussen was a big winner, having made up eight positions on the opening lap.

It was a lengthy Safety Car period as the marshalls tried to extricate Verstappen's stricken Red Bull. 

The Safety Car peeled back into the pits at the end of lap 6 with Bottas bunching up the field to time his restart perfectly. It was a clean restart at the front, but further down, the midfield got tangled in an ugly crash on the start-finish straight. Sainz, Giovinazzi and Magnussen collided on the restart, parking up on the pit straight. Magnussen went slow at the restart, but Giovinazzi reacted quicker and went into the back of his car. The duo then collided with Sainz and Latifi which caused the Safety Car to get deployed again. Grosjean, Raikkonen and Vettel did well to avoid the mayhem in front of them.

The stewards deemed it best to Red Flag the race to remove the excess debris and the cars on the start-finish straight. Alfa Romeo and Haas also had the opportunity to inspect and repair the damage sustained by Raikkonen and Grosjean in the first lap incident. Both had extensive floor-damage, and the mechanics were busy taping up the gaps under the watchful eyes of the FIA Scrutineers.


The race restart incident got investigated, and the following drivers were issued warnings ( post-race ) for inconsistent application of throttle and brake for the restart procedure - Magnussen, Kvyat, Latifi, Albon, Stroll, Ricciardo, Perez, Norris, Ocon, Russell, Giovinazzi and Sainz.


The restart would be a standing start again but the Red Flag period claimed another victim in Ocon. The Frenchman retired due to his brakes overheating. Only 13 cars remained at the restart. It was turning into a race of attrition. Bottas, Hamilton, Russell and Raikkonen opted for the mediums ( Raikkonen on used ) while the rest of the field was on soft tyres. Lap 9 became the formation lap for the restart. Hamilton's front brakes were smoking as he waited on the grid for the five red lights to illuminate.

Everyone had a clean getaway, but Bottas lost the lead to Hamilton into turn 1. Albon was down in P7 while Raikkonen had moved up into P10. Vettel got past Grosjean for P12 on lap 11 while Russell overtook Raikkonen for P10 a lap later. Hamilton set the fastest lap of the race on lap 13 and was pulling away from Bottas and Leclerc.

Ricciardo overtook Perez for P5 on lap 15 while Vettel relegated Raikkonen to P13. The battle for the final podium position was hotting up with Stroll closing in on Leclerc. It was job done on lap 18 for the Canadian. Albon began to make amends for his poor restart with a pass on Perez for P6 on the same lap. Leclerc then lost three places in the span of three laps with Ricciardo, Albon and Perez getting the better of the Ferrari driver. He didn't want to lose more time and pitted on lap 22 for hard tyres, the team switching him to plan "C". Leclerc rejoined in 13th and last.

Hamilton, Bottas, Stroll, Ricciardo, Albon, Perez, Norris, Kvyat, Russell and Vettel were the top 10 at the end of lap 24.

Ricciardo was closing up on Stroll in the battle for P3 while Leclerc cleared Grosjean for P12. Norris was in acknowledgement with the team's idea of undercutting Perez while Bottas requested Mercedes to put him on the opposite strategy to Hamilton. Ricciardo pitted on lap 28 for medium tyres and rejoined in 8th. Raikkonen pitted for hard tyres, but a slow left-rear and miscommunication with the rear jack-man kept him stationary for almost 13 seconds. He rejoined last, far adrift from the rest of the field. Meanwhile, on track Norris got past Perez for P5 on the 28th lap.

There were more pit stops over the next couple of laps with Perez, Stroll, Norris and Kvyat pitting for the mediums and Vettel, Grosjean and Russell for the hards. Perez got the jump on Norris as the undercut seemed to be the smarter call. Ricciardo was another beneficiary, displacing Stroll for P3. Perez set the fastest lap of the race on lap 32 while Bottas pitted having nursed his tyres till that stop. He switched to the hard tyres and rejoined in third. Mercedes asked Hamilton to pit, but the Briton wanted to go longer since his tyres felt fine. The team asked him to pit for "safety reasons" and cover him off against the undercut. Hamilton pitted on lap 33 for hard tyres and rejoined, his lead intact while Albon switched to the medium tyres on the same lap, emerging in 5th. Norris got past Leclerc for P7 while Raikkonen overtook Grosjean for P12. Bottas set the fastest lap of the race on lap 35 as he tried to reduce the gap to Hamilton at the front. Kvyat was closing in on Leclerc for P8, the latter's tyres losing performance. Leclerc got rid of his hard tyres on lap 38, switching to the mediums and rejoining in 11th.

Albon was the fastest man on track ( lap 40 ) and honing in on Stroll in P4. Russell had quietly moved up to P9 in his Williams, hoping to stay in the points. Mercedes asked both its drivers to avoid the kerbs since they were concerned about the health of the tyres.

There was more drama on lap 43 with Stroll crashing at turn 9. He picked up a rear-tyre puncture and was a passenger as he hit the barriers. The Safety Car got deployed for the third time, and Bottas was the first to pit for medium tyres. Ricciardo, Albon, Perez, Norris, Kvyat, Raikkonen, Grosjean and Vettel pitted for the soft tyres while Hamilton switched to the mediums a lap later. Replays showed the Raikkonen entered the pit lane at the last moment, cutting across the white line, which got flagged by the stewards for investigation.


The old school nature of the track meant that the extrication of Stroll's car was becoming difficult. The barriers also needed repairing, and the Stewards decided to Red Flag the race for the second time! It was a complete reset for the remaining drivers and a golden opportunity for Bottas to try for victory. The drivers returned to the pits to await further instructions about the race restart and have some maintenance work done on their cars. Meanwhile, the Racing Point of Stroll looked like a complete wreck with the marshalls having to use extinguishers to put out fires at the back of the car.

Raikkonen and Grosjean were a lap down to the rest of the field and instructed to complete a lap before rejoining the back of the queue under Safety Car for the formation lap. Lap 46 became the formation lap for the third standing start of the race! Everyone was on the soft tyres for the final stint of this race.


The lights went out and the race restarted with Hamilton getting away nicely. Bottas got overtaken by the fast-starting Renault of Ricciardo with Albon and Perez fighting wheel-to-wheel behind them. Russell, who was in P9 got bogged down at the restart and fell back to P12. Raikkonen was up into P8, ahead of Grosjean and the Ferrari drivers.

Bottas reclaimed P2 from Ricciardo on lap 48 and went about chasing his team-mate in full earnest. He set the fastest lap of the race on lap 49. Meanwhile, Raikkonen got a five-second time penalty for crossing the line at pit entry in the Safety Car period earlier. The Iceman was under threat of finishing outside the points, and the team asked him to keep pushing till the end of the race.

Leclerc overtook Grosjean for P9 on lap 50 while Albon got past Ricciardo for P3 a lap later. The Thai driver looked set to bag the first podium of his career. Grosjean got relegated to P11 by Vettel on lap 51 while Hamilton extended his lead with the fastest lap of the race. Grosjean lost another position, this time to Russell who was trying to recover the places he had lost at the restart. Russell was informed about Raikkonen's time penalty, and the team asked him to keep pushing until the end. They believed they could finish 10th and take home a point at the end of the race.

Albon was closing in on Bottas, but the Finn responded with the fastest lap of the race on lap 53. Russell was now in DRS range of Vettel for P10, the duo falling away from Raikkonen and Leclerc in front. Alfa Romeo was updating Raikkonen about the gaps at the end of each lap, and the Finn consistently kept setting personal best lap times to build a buffer to the chasing pack behind him. Eventually, Vettel and Russell failed to stay within five seconds of Raikkonen. The Finn was pulling away comfortably from Leclerc as well.

Ricciardo was keeping Albon honest but was unable to mount an attack for P3. Albon had to keep it clean for two more laps, and the final podium place was his! Hamilton didn't want the point for the fastest lap to slip away and bagged it on the penultimate lap of the race. Russell couldn't sustain his challenge and fell away from Vettel.


Hamilton took the Chequered Flag and victory at the Tuscan Grand Prix! Bottas was second best again, and Albon was ecstatic to bag the first podium of his career! Ricciardo matched his best result at Renault with P4, narrowly missing on what could have been a famous podium. Perez, Norris and Kvyat had escaped the midfield melee unscathed and finished in 5th, 6th and 7th respectively. Raikkonen came home in 8th, but only 3.5 seconds ahead of Leclerc which meant that he would lose P8 to the Monegasque driver ( due to the time penalty ). He, however, finished P9, finally scoring his first points of the 2020 season. Vettel was 10th with Russell and Grosjean finishing just outside the points. Ironically, the three podium finishers from the previous race weekend didn't finish the race! The Tuscan GP became the longest race of the 2020 season.


Mercedes celebrated 100 Grand Prix victories since their return to F1 in 2010. Hamilton was one shy of equalling Schumacher's record of wins in F1 ( 91 ). Red Bull was pleased to see Albon finally finish on the podium, something that was long due. Ricciardo was the driver of the day and had there not been the third restart he would have won Renault's first podium since their return. He drove a flawless race. Raikkonen did a fine job after the final restart in a car that had a badly damaged floor. Alfa Romeo was steadily improving with each weekend. Ferrari was the only team along with Mercedes to have both their cars finish the race. P8 and P10 were the best they could with the lack of speed. Williams and Russell were disappointed to have finished just outside the points.

Verstappen with his third retirement of the season was out of the title race. Bottas vowed to keep pushing until the end, but Hamilton remained relentless in his quest for the 7th title.


This race was a reminder of the saying - "to finish first, first, you have to finish". Hamilton had clean getaways and made no mistakes at the front. Others kept it clean amid utter chaos which unfolded around them. This race was a test of the mental calibre, fortitude and fitness of every racer and kudos to the men who got across the finish line.


We have reached the halfway point of the 2020 season, and racing resumes in a fortnight in the city of Sochi, Russia. Will anyone be able to dethrone Mercedes on another power track?

The challengers have the time to regroup, restock, restrategize and return renewed for round ten of the season.

2020 Italian GP Race Recap : Gasly, the New Alpha at the Temple of Speed!!

Round 8 of the revised 2020 F1 Season took place at Circuit Autodromo Nazionale di Monza, also known as the Temple of Speed. The circuit situated near the city of Milan is the home Grand Prix for Scuderia Ferrari F1 Team, and it's faithful, the Tifosi. Unfortunately this year the race was held behind closed doors due to the Covid-19 pandemic. 

The FIA enforced the ban on "quali modes" from this weekend. The ban came into effect on Saturday, meaning the teams had to use a single-engine setting from the start of qualifying till the end of the race. 


Williams Racing announced that Claire Williams, the Deputy Team Principal, would step down from her position after the Italian GP weekend. The new owners Dorilton Capital chose to continue with the Williams name, but it was an end to a rich legacy of racing history. 


Mercedes reigned supreme at Spa and seemed destined for the same in Italy. Ferrari's lack of straight-line speed caused them much pain at Spa while Renault produced their best result of 2020 ( till now ). Autodromo Monza is the fastest circuit on the calendar, demanding a low downforce setup from all teams. Would there be a new winner or would status quo be maintained? How did all the teams fare at this historic track?


Time for a quick recap!


Practice :

Free Practice 1 saw Valtteri Bottas top the timesheets from Lewis Hamilton and Alex Albon. Kvyat, Verstappen and Gasly completed the top 6. It was a fruitful session for Alpha Tauri, its duo within a second of the high-flying MercedesVerstappen suffered a spin at the Ascari chicane in the early part of FP1, hitting the wall and damaging his front wing and bringing out the red flags. There were a lot of cars running wide onto the gravel at turns causing "stones" to end up on the racing line which came to the notice of Raikkonen. The midfield battle resumed between Racing Point, McLaren and Renault with Perez, Norris, Ricciardo and Sainz making it into the top 10. Leclerc was P11 for Ferrari, in a car that was a mere shadow of its predecessor. Vettel had a torrid time in the other works Ferrari suffering from balance issues and locking up his tyres regularly. He could only manage the 19th fastest time. Ocon and Stroll were 12th and 13th, respectively. The Haas drivers were 14th and 15th, followed by the two Alfa Romeos. Roy Nissany, the reserve driver for Williams, got the nod for another FP1 session and was the faster of the two Williams drivers. 




Mercedes reigned supreme in Free Practice 2 with Hamilton setting the fastest ever practice time at Monza, two tenths clear of his team-mate Bottas. Turn 5 was the nemesis with a lot of drivers struggling for corner grip. Norris was the surprise of FP2 with the 3rd fastest time in his McLaren. Gasly's Friday got better with a P4 finish followed by Verstappen and Sainz who were more than a second adrift of Hamilton's time of FP2. The resurgence of Alpha Tauri continued with Kvyat in the sister car setting the 7th fastest time from StrollLeclerc and Perez. Stroll had a sparring time with the Haas cars, impeding Grosjean and then getting impeded by Magnussen on his flying lap. Leclerc had his share of off-track moments, relaying how difficult it was to drive the car. His team-mate Vettel suffered a spin ( at turn 6 ) but was able to get his car back to the pits after escaping unscathed from contact with the barriers. He managed the 12th fastest time. The Renault drivers were P11 ( Ocon ) and P15 ( Ricciardo ), but ascertaining their pace was difficult since some of their laps got deleted due to exceeding track limits. Getting a tow is invaluable on a circuit like Monza ( for better straight-line speed ), and the drivers tried to practice for qualifying by queueing up one behind the other, resulting in traffic jams, and some drivers missing their braking points. Giovinazzi however, benefitted from the tow and was P13 ahead of Albon in a Red Bull. Raikkonen, in P17, was in a Haas sandwich with Latifi and Russell bringing up the rear of the field.



Hamilton seemed to have the upper hand with regards to one-lap pace, but how large would the disparity be with the chasing pack by the banning of engine modes remained to be seen. Everyone needed to stay "within the white line" to avoid having lap times deleted. The effect of the tow could also throw up a few surprises on Saturday, needing the teams to form up an effective strategy to benefit from this.




It was a dry Saturday, and Free Practice 3 got underway with the teams running their qualifying simulations. Bottas was the fastest in FP3, three tenths clear of his team-mate Hamilton in P5. Hamilton's final run was compromised after the Briton had to make an evasive manoeuvre to avoid hitting slow-moving cars ( near Parabolica ). Renault power came to the fore with SainzNorris and Ricciardo making it into the top 4. A suspected fuel pump failure on Ricciardo's car cut his session short and briefly brought out the red flags. Verstappen slotted in at P6, his best lap on the medium tyres. Albon, Ocon and the Racing Point duo completed the top 10. Leclerc was P11 for Ferrari, just clear of Gasly and Kvyat in 12th and 13th. Grosjean, in P14, was the first driver more than a second slower of the fastest time of FP3. Vettel split the Haas drivers with Raikkonen, Latifi, Russell and Giovinazzi bringing up the rear of the field. There were a few drivers who had their lap times deleted for exceeding track limits at turn 11, and this trend continued into qualifying.


The desire for a better tow along with optimum track position was leading to massive traffic jams and it became pretty evident that this could cause an accident besides denying some the opportunity to set a lap time ( a repeat of 2019 ). Some drivers were also found guilty of driving too slowly on their warmup laps. Eight drivers got summons at the end of FP3 - Latifi, Grosjean, Perez, Hamilton, Gasly, Stroll, Albon and Sainz. The incident at the Parabolica where Hamilton was the aggrieved party also got investigated.




Qualifying :

Williams and the three Ferrari-powered teams were the first cars out on track at the start of Q1. The rest of the field exited the pits with thirteen minutes left on the clock, everyone barring the Mercedes works team was on soft tyres. Leclerc, Magnussen, Gasly & Stroll had their lap times deleted for exceeding track limits at turn 11. The top 6 after the first runs were Hamilton, Bottas, Perez, Sainz, Norris and Verstappen. The drivers in the drop zone were Latifi, Stroll, Gasly, Leclerc and Magnussen. The list changed again as the latter half of the field went for a second run. Meanwhile, Albon had his lap time deleted for exceeding track limits and was on the cusp of elimination in P15. 

A flurry of cars exited the pits with three minutes of Q1 remaining with Perez, Sainz and Verstappen choosing to stay put. Grosjean, Vettel, Giovinazzi, Russell and Latifi were in the drop zone. The fight for the optimum tow and track position made the Alfa Romeo drivers overtake a couple of cars ahead of them, leading to complete chaos at the exit of Parabolica. Six drivers were battling on the pit straight at the start of their final flying lap of Q1. It seemed to be more of a race rather than a qualifying session as the contenders jostled for position, and the results were disastrous. Vettel got impeded by Russell and had to back out of his final run, eventually pitting and getting eliminated in Q1! Raikkonen got an excellent tow from Ocon, but the Frenchman, himself on a flying lap didn't budge, and the two were millimetres away from a high-speed collision. The replays showed how messy the out laps were for the final runs and almost all drivers got compromised on their flying laps. Russell and Raikkonen made their displeasure known over team radio.

The stewards decided to investigate the incident involving Ocon, Raikkonen and Latifi after the session.

Grosjean, Vettel, Giovinazzi, Russell and Latifi got eliminated at the end of Q1.  

Hamilton was fastest in Q1 from Bottas and Perez. Sainz, Gasly and Verstappen completed the top 6. Leclerc made it into Q2 with the 10th fastest time while Albon was fortunate to scrape through in 15th. Raikkonen and Alfa Romeo made an appearance in Q2 for the second time this season.



All teams opted for the soft tyres for their first runs of Q2, and it was Hamilton who set the fastest lap time ( on the first run ), going past the previous track record of Raikkonen set in 2018. Bottas was second quickest with only five-hundredths of a second separating Perez and Sainz in 3rd and 4th. Verstappen was P5 along with Gasly in P6, the Frenchman continuing to impress in his Alpha Tauri. Kvyat, Ocon, Leclerc, Magnussen and Raikkonen were in the drop zone, Magnussen and Raikkonen having set their banker laps with used soft tyres from Q1. There was a beeline at the pit exit in the final minutes of Q2 with everyone on a fresh set of soft tyres. The Renault drivers had clear air and track position with Ricciardo leading Ocon on their flying laps. Ricciardo had to improve as he was only 9th fastest and was pushing hard for a better lap time. Unfortunately, an error on the exit of turn 5 sent him wide and over the gravel bringing his effort to an end. Magnussen also went wide on the second Lesmo bringing out yellow flags in sector 2. 

Bottas, however, found more pace and went the fastest at the end of Q2, making the track record his own. He was into the high 1:18s, two tenths clear of Hamilton and Sainz. Perez, Verstappen and Gasly completed the top 6. Ricciardo was the only works Renault driver in Q3 with the 9th fastest time while Albon had yet another close call in Q2 with a P10 finish.

Kvyat, Ocon, Leclerc, Raikkonen and Magnussen got eliminated at the end of Q2. 



Q3 got underway with the Mercedes duo having a comfortable buffer to the rest of the field. Hamilton was on provisional pole from Bottas and Perez. Verstappen and Sainz were 4th and 5th fastest. Norris completed the top 6 after the first runs while Albon had another lap time deletion due to exceeding of track limits. Ricciardo, Gasly and Stroll were the others to set banker laps. Hamilton and Bottas didn't wait for the final minutes of qualifying and drove out of the pits with five minutes remaining on the clock. The rest of the field mirrored their strategy. The Mercedes cars were into the 1:18s again with Hamilton setting a new track record, en route to the 94th pole position of his career! Bottas improved on his lap but was a tenth slower than Hamilton's pole lap. McLaren sprung a surprise with Sainz who went third fastest, eighth tenths adrift of the Mercedes. It was the highest starting position for the Ferrari bound Spaniard.

It would be the first time in 2020 that a Red Bull would not feature on the second row of the grid with Perez pipping Verstappen to P4. Row three got taken up by Verstappen and Norris while Ricciardo and Stroll occupied row four. Albon and Gasly completed the top 10.


The stewards' decision was "no further action" for the incident from Q1 ( Raikkonen, Ocon & Latifi ).


It was no secret that the Mercedes would be unbeatable on a Saturday. The deficit would have only been wider if running higher engine modes were allowed. They were clear favourites, and another 1-2 beckoned. Hamilton bagged the 94th pole position of his career besides setting the fastest lap in the history of F1. Sainz had a great qualifying for McLaren and looked a serious contender for the podium on Sunday. Red Bull had Racing Point and Alpha Tauri breathing down their necks while Renault was there to capitalize on mistakes by its competitors. It was a very tight midfield, and teams had to draw up their best strategies for Sunday. Ferrari seemed destined to contend with its customer teams ( Haas and Alfa Romeo ) for yet another weekend while Williams rued a missed opportunity in qualifying and hoped to make amends on race day.


Race :

Bottas had some drama on his reconnaissance lap, locking up his tyres and his car bouncing over the kerbs. No damage suffered though.

The risk of rain during the race was 20%.

The tyre compounds available for the race were C2, C3 and C4. The top 10 started the race on the soft tyres from their Q2 session. Kvyat and Vettel chose the hard tyre, Leclerc and Ocon the softs and the rest were on mediums for the start of the race.

It was a clean getaway for Hamilton when the lights went out. Bottas had a decent start but got swamped by the McLarens into turn 1. Sainz got the jump into P2 while Norris made contact with Bottas on his overtake for P4 a couple of corners later. It got worse for the Finn with Perez and Ricciardo getting past him in the Lesmos and at Ascari.

Raikkonen and Giovinazzi moved up two and four positions on the opening lap while Albon lost six places. The Thai driver tangled with Gasly at the first turn of the opening lap and was down in P15. The incident got noted, the stewards deeming it as "no investigation necessary".

Magnussen pitted at the end of the opening lap, switching to the hard tyres, rejoining almost a minute behind the rest of the pack. He had picked up front-wing and nose damage.

Stroll got past Verstappen for P7 on lap 2, and Vettel overtook Russell for P17. Bottas suspected a slow puncture on his car, but the team assured him that all was fine. Verstappen got back into Stroll's slipstream and reclaimed P7 on lap 3. Meanwhile, Hamilton was motoring away in the lead and set the fastest lap of the race on lap 4. Leclerc and Raikkonen battled for P12, but the latter put up a dogged defence. 

There was drama on lap 6. Vettel suffered a rear brake failure while fighting with Russell over P17 and was unable to brake at the first chicane. He went straight through the polystyrene board, his brake-by-wire system having exploded. Ferrari had made him aware of the situation on the previous lap, and his brakes were already on fire out of Ascari. Bits of the brake components flew off on the entry into Parabolica, eventually sending him through those boards at turn 1. He slowly made it back to the pits and into retirement on lap 7.

Albon incurred a five-second time penalty for not giving Grosjean a car's width while defending his position at turn 1. He suffered massive floor damage as a result of that contact. The Perez and Norris battle heated up on lap 9, the former having to back out of a move at turn 1. Bottas wasn't able to close up on Ricciardo, the chance of a race win dwindling with each passing lap.


Hamilton, Sainz, Norris, Perez, Ricciardo, Bottas, Verstappen, Stroll, Ocon and Gasly were the top 10 at the end of lap 12.


The team decided to put Bottas on the alternate strategy, asking him to go longer than the cars ahead of him on his first stint ( lap 16 ). He also was asked to move off the racing line wherever possible to cool off the temperatures on his car and came under pressure from Verstappen who was in DRS range. Bottas wasn't happy about the setup and the engine settings he was on, his car struggling in the dirty air. Hamilton meanwhile had opened a ten seconds gap to Sainz at the front and looked in control.

Latifi pitted for the hard tyres on lap 17 while Albon made a move on Leclerc for P13. Leclerc didn't waste time and pitted immediately to switch to the hard tyres, rejoining in P17. Raikkonen pitted a lap later for hard tyres, rejoining in P16. The Finn was a bit confused with the strategy call by the team since he believed the medium tyres had some life left. The team wanted to cover off Leclerc and Raikkonen was forced to relent. Latifi overtook Magnussen for P18 ( lap 19 ), and Magnussen rolled to a stop near the pit entry with an engine failure.

Gasly pitted for hard tyres, rejoining in P15 and just after that the Safety Car got deployed ( lap 20 ). Hamilton and Giovinazzi decided to capitalize and pitted for mediums and hard tyres, respectively. The rest of the field stayed out since the stewards had closed the pit lane entry.

Hamilton and Giovinazzi got flagged for investigation for entering the pit lane when it was closed!! Replays showed that the lightboxes had a red cross and the duo had committed a safety breach!

The Pit lane entry cleared on lap 22 and, there was a slew of pit stops. McLaren, Red Bull and Renault decided to double stack their cars. Perez, Bottas, Kvyat, Grosjean and Russell were the others who pitted. Bottas was able to jump Ricciardo and Perez in the pit stops. It was a slow stop for Perez, his right front tyre to blame. All chose the medium tyres. Stroll was the only driver who didn't pit under the Safety Car and was up into P2. Gasly, Giovinazzi, Raikkonen, Leclerc and Latifi had jumped into the top 8 after the round of pit stops.

The Safety Car was in at the end of lap 23 and racing resumed in full earnest.

Hamilton was quick off the blocks with Gasly in tow. Leclerc made a double overtake on the Alfa Romeo cars, moving up into P4. Raikkonen got past his team-mate for P5, and there was a lot of action throughout the field. Sainz was past Latifi for P7, Verstappen cleared Perez for P12, the latter losing three more positions to Ocon, Kvyat and Russell. He recovered to repass Russell. Latifi lost two more places to Norris and Bottas and was down to P10 while Ocon sparred with his old nemesis Verstappen for P12 but couldn't complete the overtake. Further down the field, Albon got past Grosjean of P17.

There was more drama on lap 24 when Leclerc lost the rear of his car under acceleration out of Parabolica and got sent straight into the barriers. It was a big crash, and the Monegasque sounded a bit winded over team radio. Thankfully, he got out of his car and jogged away from the scene of the accident.

The Safety Car got deployed again, but citing the damage done to the barriers, the stewards decided to Red Flag the race. The cars headed back to the pits, and the verdict from the pit lane investigation was out. Giovinazzi incurred a ten seconds stop-go penalty for his earlier infringement. Mercedes informed Hamilton a similar punishment was coming their way.

The cars returned to the pits while the stricken Ferrari got extricated by the Marshalls.

The stewards didn't wait long to punish Hamilton with the same ten seconds stop-go penalty, and this would put him out of contention for the win ( lap 26 ).

Hamilton decided to visit the stewards' office during the break to reason with them, and Mercedes decided to change some bits on both their cars ( specially Bottas ) under the watchful eyes of Joe Bauer, the FIA Technical Delegate.

Norris was also in trouble for driving too slowly in the pit lane entry. Stroll was the biggest beneficiary of the Red Flag. He hadn't stopped for fresh tyres under normal racing conditions or during the Safety Car period and could now swap his tyres until the end of the race. He was in P2 and could inherit the lead once Hamilton came in to serve his penalty. Gasly was P3 with Raikkonen in 4th for Alfa Romeo.

The stewards decided on a standing start for the race restart, and lap 27 became the formation lap behind the Safety Car. 

The pit lane lights went green, and Hamilton led the field away for the second "formation lap" of the race. Raikkonen, Giovinazzi and Ocon had opted for the soft tyres ( a dicey call ), their teams expecting them to complete a stint of 26 laps! Hamilton, Albon and Grosjean were on the hard tyres and the rest of the pack on the mediums. The incident between Verstappen and Perez from lap 24 got flagged for investigation as the cars lined up on the grid.

Hamilton had a clean restart, but Stroll lost P2 to Gasly. Raikkonen and Giovinazzi got passed him as well. Stroll had a big lock-up at the Second Variante, losing another place to Sainz but retaking it at the Ascari chicane. Kvyat got past Latifi ( for P11 ) who continued to fall backwards while Verstappen was down in P14.

Hamilton decided to serve his penalty on the next lap ( 29 ) and rejoined in last, thirty seconds adrift. Gasly led the race for Alpha Tauri with the two Alfa Romeos of Raikkonen and Giovinazzi in second and third respectively! Who could have imagined such a situation!
Meanwhile, Perez got past Latifi for P11 while Grosjean overtook Verstappen for 13th. Hamilton's other title challenger Bottas was in P7 battling for P6 with Norris. Giovinazzi served his penalty on lap 31, rejoining in P16 and last. Verstappen also pulled into the pits and retirement with an engine issue. It was a lacklustre weekend for the Dutchman.

Hamilton set the fastest lap of the race on lap 32, giving his all to reduce the deficit to the cars in front. Russell and Grosjean were sparring over P12, but the Frenchman held firm. Alfa Romeo's decision to put Raikkonen on the soft tyres was turning into a farce as Raikkonen rapidly lost places over the next few laps. He went from second to eighth in the space of five laps, losing positions to Sainz, Stroll, Norris, Bottas and Ricciardo. Thankfully, the racing was hard but fair as the Iceman put up a stoic defence but for a losing cause. The team and driver were having a heated discussion about preserving the tyres while pushing for points finish. Further down the field, Grosjean and Russell tussled over P12 and Hamilton had caught up to Albon and overtook him for P14 on lap 40.

Sainz was within three seconds of Gasly as Hamilton continued his charge up the field with overtakes on Russell and Grosjean for P13 and P12 ( lap 42 ). Raikkonen lost two more places to Kvyat and Ocon in the space of two laps. He was in P9 and under threat of finishing outside the points. Hamilton got past Latifi for P11 on lap 45 as the gap at the front reduced to two seconds. Perez went wheel to wheel with Raikkonen and relegated him to P10 on lap 46. Hamilton had caught up to the duo and put Raikkonen out of the points on the same lap. The fight for the win was hotting up with Sainz reducing the deficit to Gasly to just 1.2 seconds. These were anxious times in both the garages.

Perez lost 9th to Hamilton on lap 49, and the team asked Gasly to start pushing till the end of the race. Sainz got the license to use more battery power and closed the gap in the first sector, only to lose time in the dirty air in the second. Lap 50 saw Norris pulling away from Bottas who was falling back into the clutches of Ricciardo in the battle for P5. Hamilton picked off Kvyat for P8 on lap 51, and Raikkonen lost P11 to Latifi on the penultimate lap.

McLaren asked Sainz to "keep it clinical" and bring the car home in P2, but Sainz wanted to win this race. The battle went into the final lap, and Sainz gave it all under DRS to close up on Gasly. However, the Alpha Tauri had better exits out of the corners and was able to fend off the challenge. Further down the field, Hamilton got past Ocon for P7 and Grosjean relegated Raikkonen to P13.


Gasly took the chequered flag and victory at the Italian Grand Prix!! Sainz had to settle for 2nd while Stroll completed his recovery to 3rd. It was a missed opportunity for the Canadian, the mistakes on the restart costing him dearly. Norris came home in 4th, capping off a great Sunday for McLaren. Bottas could only manage P5 while Ricciardo held on to P6 from a charging Hamilton. It was an inspired recovery from the back of the field for the six-time World Champion. Ocon, Kvyat and Perez completed the top 10.
Latifi finished in P11, just outside the points in his Williams. Grosjean was 12th for Haas while Raikkonen had a frustrating end in 13th. Russell, Albon and Giovinazzi were the other classified finishers.



Celebrations erupted in the pit lane, the Alpha Tauri mechanics celebrating an unthinkable victory. The person responsible for their COVID tests joined them as well! McLaren was ecstatic with the second podium finish of 2020. Ontrack, Gasly was screaming with joy on the radio while Sainz was proud of the best finish of his career. He badly wanted the win for McLaren who hadn't won a race since Brazil 2012, but it was not to be. He wished for one more lap to get the job done. Ocon and Renault had an exchange of words, the team reminding him to avoid discussing sensitive matters over the radio. Raikkonen was livid with the strategy, and Alfa Romeo was apologizing for this gaffe. Latifi and Russell got on the radio to thank the Williams family for their support and wished them the best in their future endeavours.



Gasly was the first French winner since Olivier Panis' win in Monaco in 1996. It was the second victory for Alpha Tauri F1, 4371 days had passed since their last win in Monza in 2008 with Vettel. The Italian GP, their home race had become a happy hunting ground. F1 had a winner who didn't belong to Mercedes, Ferrari or Red Bull after 146 races. The last was Kimi Raikkonen with Lotus F1 at Australia in 2013.



The Williams Family said goodbye to the world of F1, Claire Williams emotional after her last Grand Prix with the team.
9 Constructor's Championships, 7 Driver's Championship, 114 Race Victories, 312 Podiums and 133 Fastest Laps were part of the legacy they leave behind!


The marshalls and the track representatives unfurled a gigantic Italian tricolour on the start-finish straight as the Alpha Tauri mechanics sang the Italian National Anthem with vigour during the podium celebrations.



Mercedes and Hamilton blew the chance of sure-shot victory with the pit lane infringement. Bottas had a humbling experience in the other car while Verstappen, the other title challenger to Hamilton, failed to capitalize and suffered retirement. McLaren was pleased with a strong performance while Racing Point made a recovery of sorts after a mediocre Belgian GP. Albon had a forgettable weekend, and his Red Bull seat was now under serious threat. Williams finished just outside the points unfortunately but would be encouraged with the race pace displayed by its drivers. Alfa Romeo's aggressive strategy backfired, and the team can't afford such mistakes when the chances of points finish are few and far between. Ferrari had an embarrassing weekend with double DNFs, and the absence of the Tifosi saved them further blushes. Their chances of salvaging this season are dwindling with each weekend.



Alpha Tauri and Gasly kept it clean and capitalized when the opportunity came. Honda power reigned supreme on the fastest track of the calendar. They have come a long way since their days of unreliability and lack of pace. Kudos to them! The past 18 months have been an emotional rollercoaster for Gasly, the jump to Red Bull in 2019 only to lose his seat midway through the season; then losing his friend Anthoine Hubert in Belgium and bagging his first podium ( 2nd ) in Brazil at the end of the year to winning this year with Alpha Tauri. Life had come full circle for the Frenchman. He spent a few moments in solitude on the podium, reminiscing the time gone by, remembering his deceased mate and taking in the feeling of being a Grand Prix winner. He was deserving of this honour. He fought hard, prevailed and came out triumphant. He was a new Alpha in the world of motorsport!



The next race on the calendar is the Tuscan Grand Prix. Mugello, a circuit that is a regular feature on the Moto GP calendar will host F1 for the first time. It is also Ferrari's 1000th GP, so the event has even more significance. 

Will we see a new winner in Mugello? Time will tell!




















2020 Belgian GP Race Recap : Mercedes Masterclass in the Ardennes

The third triple-header of the F1 season kicked off at the awe-inspiring circuit of Spa-Francorchamps nestled in the Ardennes forest near the town of Spa. The drivers returned after a week of respite for Round Seven of the revised racing calendar. 

There was news from the F1 world in the interim.

Dorilton Capital, US-based investment firm took over Williams Racing F1 Team. Williams Racing was a family-run outfit and the third oldest team on the grid with a great history of racing in the sport. One can only hope that this acquisition would help them get back up the field. 

All ten teams signed the Concorde Agreement confirming their participation until 2025.

The FIA also decided to delay their ban on engine modes or "quali modes" until the Italian GP weekend, the weekend after Belgium.


The Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps is the longest track on the F1 calendar and demands a mix of power and balance for optimum lap times. The inclement weather and varying track conditions have the potential to play havoc in the races.


All teams carried a tribute for Anthoine Hubert, the Formula 2 racer from France who succumbed following an accident in the F2 Feature Race last year.


Here is a quick recap of the 2020 Race Weekend!



Practice :

It was a cold and windy Friday morning with grey skies in Spa-Francorchamps. Free Practice 1 got underway with only a few runners in the first thirty minutes of the session. Norris ran wide at La Source while his team-mate Sainz suffered from DRS issues. Grosjean returned to the pits after complaining about a lack of power on his first run. His car would remain on stands with what seemed to be an engine issue. Magnussen suffered a similar fate in the other Haas car.  Ferrari powered cars were slow in straight-line speed while Mercedes and Honda the quickest through the speed traps. Raikkonen and Hamilton tried different setups with their rear wings to get the right balance. However, it was birthday boy Valtteri Bottas who was fastest in FP1. He suffered a puncture near the end of the session but was able to return safely to the pits. Less than a second covered P1 from P12 and a tenth the top 3. Hamilton was P2 from Verstappen and Perez. Stroll and Albon completed the top 6. 

Renault powered cars were in the top 10 with Ocon, Sainz, Ricciardo and Norris. Kvyat and Gasly were 11th and 12th for Alpha Tauri and Raikkonen 13th for Alfa Romeo. Leclerc and Vettel could only manage 14th and 15th while Latifi and Russell completed the list of those who set a lap time. Giovinazzi suffered from technical issues and was the third driver ( besides the Haas duo ) unable to set a lap time.


There was a downpour during Formula 3 qualifying, but the track dried up at the start of Free Practice 2. Giovinazzi and Raikkonen were the first drivers on track with the former trying to make up for the time lost in FP1. Raikkonen suffered from tyre vibrations throughout FP2 and Norris reported abnormality in engine power which got addressed in the pits. Woes for Haas F1 continued into FP2 with the mechanics trying to make both cars track-worthy. Magnussen and Grosjean were finally able to get some laps with thirty minutes left of the session, both on new power units. As more rubber got laid, the lap times started going down. It was Verstappen who reigned supreme in FP2 with Ricciardo catapulting his Renault into P2. It wasn't a trouble-free session for the Australian though with Renault asking him to bring the car to a halt on the Kemmel straight with what seemed to be a hydraulics issue. Hamilton looked well settled in P3 while Albon got the other Red Bull into the top 4. Racing Point had representation in the top 6 with Perez and Bottas had a couple of hairy moments at Les Combes, ending the session in P6. Norris was P7 for McLaren from Ocon, Sainz and Gasly. Stroll's best lap fetched him the 11th fastest time, but on the medium tyres. Kvyat was P12 from Giovinazzi and Raikkonen. Ferrari had a forgettable Friday with Leclerc down in P15 and Vettel suffering a series of lock-ups to finish the session in P17. Russell split the Ferraris while Latifi and the two Haas cars brought up the rear of the field.

Red Bull with Verstappen seemed to be a worthy challenger for pole on Saturday and Albon looked more settled with his one-lap pace. Mercedes looked primed and ready for qualifying Saturday while the Ferrari powered teams were sweating after a troublesome Friday. The works team had a lot of setup changes to perform if they were to mount any challenge come Sunday. Belgium has always been a happy hunting ground for Racing Point, and Friday running didn't suggest otherwise. Renault was in the mix only if they could keep their gremlins away. Alpha Tauri drivers seemed to have become consistent top 10 performers and were bullish about qualifying.


The final practice session before Qualifying ( FP3 ) got underway with cloudy skies and intermittent light rain. However, the weather didn't warrant the need for Intermediate tyres. The Haas duo were the first cars out on track and completed six laps each before light rain set in. McLaren and Alpha Tauri were the other teams to venture out, but only for installation laps. Raikkonen complained about battery issues and had to return to the pits for some settings change. The mechanics were busy at work, repairing the floor of Norris' McLaren and taping up bits on Sainz' car as well. Everyone had set representative lap times by then, some with soft tyres and some with mediums and hards. All drivers drove out with a fresh set of soft tyres with five minutes remaining on the clock for their low fuel runs. The Haas drivers had a clear track and set their respective lap times. Bottas made a couple of mistakes on his first run, running wide at La Source and couldn't improve his lap time. The Bus-Stop chicane saw a queue of cars lining up to gain an optimum launch for their laps. Hamilton was the fastest in FP3 from Ocon and Norris. Albon was P4 for Red Bull from Bottas' best attempt ( on mediums ). Verstappen's run on soft tyres was compromised due to traffic and couldn't go faster than his time on the medium tyres. Ricciardo set the 7th fastest time.
Stroll was P8 for Racing Point from Sainz and Perez. A mistake on his final run denied Perez a better lap time on soft tyres, and he got summoned by the stewards for allegedly impeding Grosjean. The Alpha Tauri cars continued to be competitive with the 11th and 12th fastest times from Latifi in a Williams in 13th. Magnussen was the fastest Ferrari powered car in 14th from Grosjean and Raikkonen. Ferrari was languishing in 17th with Leclerc and last with Vettel. They were slower than their customer teams, and the possibility of a Q1 elimination seemed real! Russell and Giovinazzi split the Ferraris in 18th and 19th.



Qualifying :


The threat of rain loomed large at the start of Q1, and the Haas cars were again out on track early. Many teams experimented with slip-streaming between their drivers. Hamilton, Bottas, Ricciardo, Sainz, Verstappen and Albon were the top six after the first set of runs with Latifi, Raikkonen, Vettel, Grosjean and Magnussen the drivers under threat. Leclerc, in the other Ferrari, was hanging on precariously in P14. The final three minutes of Q1 saw a flurry of cars head out, and spar over track position and clean air. Bottas and Verstappen from the top 6 and everyone from P7 ( bar Ocon ) went for another run in Q1. There were improvements on the final run of Q1 and Vettel jumped out of danger to 13th. Leclerc was on the cusp of elimination, but no driver was able to beat his time. Magnussen's off-track excursion at turn 14 didn't help matters either. Raikkonen, the only challenger, missed the cutoff by eight-hundredths of a second! Raikkonen, Grosjean, Giovinazzi, Latifi and Magnussen were the eliminations of Q1. Hamilton was the quickest in Q1 from Bottas, Verstappen, Gasly, Stroll and Kvyat. Russell maintained his record of making it into Q2 ( 14th ) while Ferrari scraped through in 13th and 15th, saving themselves an embarrassment.



Q2 got underway with tyre choice being a pivotal decision for both team and driver. Hamilton, Bottas, Verstappen, Stroll and Perez opted for the medium tyres while the rest of the field chose the softs. Hamilton was fastest from Bottas and Verstappen after their first runs while Ricciardo, Ocon and Albon completed the top 6. The decision to run medium tyres didn't work for the Racing Point cars, and they could manage only the 11th and 12th fastest times. Vettel, Leclerc and Russell were the others in the drop zone, Russell returning to the pits after aborting his lap. It was time to refuel, take a breather, put on a fresh set of tyres and go again. Ricciardo couldn't join the rest of the field due to a brake-by-wire issue. He was in 4th and hoped to make it into Q3. The Racing Point duo made the sensible decision to switch to the soft tyres for their final run, and both made it back into the top 10. Hamilton, Bottas and Verstappen were on quick laps but backed off right at the end to not jeopardize their tyre choice for the race on Sunday. The top 2 were unchanged with Albon improving to third on his final run of Q2. Verstappen, Sainz, Ricciardo, Stroll, Ocon, Perez, Norris were through to Q3 while Kvyat, Gasly, Leclerc, Vettel and Russell got eliminated. However, those eliminated would be eligible for a free tyre choice. 


It was time for the top 10 to faceoff in Q3. Hamilton flexed his muscles and pulled away from the rest of the field. The Briton set a new track record, half a second clear off his team-mate. Bottas made a couple of mistakes which cost him time around sectors 1 and 2. Ricciardo overcame his brake-by-wire issues and was third fastest on his first run of Q3 from Verstappen and Albon. Positions six to ten after the first run of Q3 were: Sainz, Ocon, Perez, Stroll, Norris.
Tow and slip-stream duties were switched between team-mates after their first runs with Albon assisting Verstappen and Ocon giving a tow to Ricciardo. Racing Point didn't send their cars back on track which came as a surprise to many. Hamilton was flying again and went even faster, beating his own time to bag the 93rd Pole of his career! It was a new track record at Spa-Francorchamps. Bottas improved on his final run but was still half a second adrift. Verstappen retook P3 from Ricciardo who had a scruffy lap and bailed out of it. Verstappen was a hundredth of a second away from a front-row start and rued the decision to use up his battery power on the early part of his flying lap. Ricciardo sealed his best qualifying position at Spa-Francorchamps in P4. Albon qualified in a commendable P5 with Ocon ensuring both Renaults made it into the top 6. Sainz and Perez occupied row 4 and Stroll and Norris row 5.



Hamilton and Mercedes were the class of the field once again. Bottas wasn't displeased about a front row start and hoped to use the tow from Hamilton to challenge for the lead on the Kemmel Straight. Red Bull was pleased to have both cars in the top 6 and knew they had the pace to fight the high-flying Mercs. Renault's resurgence with Ricciardo continued with Ocon joining the cause as well. A close contest with their ex-customers ( Red Bull ) awaited them. Racing Point would be disappointed with a poor showing on Saturday, setup changes for what could be a rainy Sunday possibly to blame. McLaren and Alpha Tauri looked as strong midfield teams. Ferrari had a dismal two days. They were the only team who failed to go faster than their lap times set in 2019. It seemed that they would be contending with other Ferrari customer teams and Williams come Sunday. Alfa Romeo and Haas F1 remained the backmarkers of 2020.



Race :

The sky was sunny on Sunday with rain predicted later in the race. The cars left the pitlane for sighting laps, and Sainz reported a problem in his car with smoke spewing out the back of his McLaren. The Spaniard returned to the pits for inspection, but the problem was terminal. He would not start the race due to an exhaust failure. 

The drivers took part in the "End Racism" campaign on the grid followed by a minute's silence to honour the memory of Anthoine Hubert. It was a sober moment for everyone and a reminder that motorsport is dangerous. 


Leclerc adopted an aggressive approach for the start of the race by choosing soft tyres. Gasly decided to go deep into the race with hard tyres while others outside the top 10 chose the mediums.


The race got underway, and it was a clean start for everyone. Bottas was unable to pressure Hamilton into Eau Rouge and Raidillon, but Ricciardo was all over Verstappen for P3. Their battle carried on into Les Combes, but Verstappen managed to hang onto P3. Further down the field, Leclerc extracted the maximum out of his soft tyres and was up to P8 while Giovinazzi and Magnussen moved up four and five places respectively. Norris ran wide at Les Combes and lost positions, relegating him to P11. Raikkonen overtook Russell to retake P16 on the opening lap while Gasly made a move on Perez for P9 on lap 2. The Frenchman wasn't pleased with the Racing Point driver for squeezing him into the wall while defending his position out of La Source.


Hamilton's lead over Bottas was over a second already, and Leclerc was under pressure from Gasly after his mega start. Leclerc lost two positions to Gasly and Perez in the space of two laps, the Ferrari a sitting duck on the Kemmel Straight. Raikkonen overtook Magnussen for P15 on lap 4 with Russell doing the same a lap later. The Mercedes duo was pulling away from the rest of the field and exchanging fastest laps. Meanwhile, Ferrari was down in 10th and 13th, clinging on to the final points-scoring position. Leclerc's defence of P10 didn't last long, and he yielded to Norris on lap 6. Grosjean overtook his team-mate for P17 while Bottas requested permission to attack Hamilton, but the team asked him to hold station, as discussed earlier in the pre-race brief. Leclerc kept going backwards with Kvyat snatching P11 from him on lap 7. Gasly caught up to Stroll, and both went wheel to wheel for P7. Magnussen also had to defend his place from Latifi further down the field. Hamilton was managing the gap at the front and trying to extend his stint as much as possible. 


There was a massive crash out of Fanges on lap 11. Giovinazzi and Russell got eliminated from the race. Giovinazzi, in P14, ran wide out of Fanges, spinning around, the rear of the car hitting the barriers. A loose wheel from his car went across the track and struck the right front of Russell's car who was trying to take avoiding action. The impact sent Russell into the barriers on the opposite side, the halo saving him from a serious incident. The Haas cars went through unscathed, but there was debris strewn across the track. The stewards decided to deploy the Safety Car.


It was a bit early for those on the medium tyres to pit, but they did nonetheless. Leclerc, Raikkonen, Grosjean, Magnussen and Latifi were the first to pit. Ferrari wasn't ready for Leclerc, and the stop cost him track position to Raikkonen. Mercedes and Renault decided to double-stack their pit stops, and it was close for Bottas who exited the pits just ahead of Verstappen. Albon, Stroll, Norris, Kvyat and Vettel were the final set of drivers to pit under the safety car. All drivers except Albon ( medium tyres ) were on the hard tyres. Perez and Gasly chose to not pit and were P4 and P5 after the round of pit stops.


Racing resumed on lap 15 and Hamilton had a clean start again. Stroll came under intense pressure from Norris but defended his position. Raikkonen overtook Vettel for P12 on lap 16 without the use of DRS, an embarrassment for Ferrari to see its customer performing better than its works' car. Ricciardo made light work of Perez for P5 on lap 17 who was then under pressure from Albon and Ocon. It was job done for Albon a lap later. Perez eventually pitted on lap 19 for hard tyres, rejoining in 17th and last. Leclerc tried a move on Vettel at the end of the Kemmel Straight, the duo banging wheels and Leclerc having to relent to avoid further contact. Ricciardo's charge up the field continued with a move on Gasly for P4 ( lap 21 ).


Hamilton, Bottas, Verstappen, Ricciardo, Gasly, Albon, Ocon, Stroll, Norris, Kvyat were the top 10 on lap 22. 


Perez overtook Latifi for P16 ( lap 23 ) and Magnussen for P15 ( lap 24 ) while Albon got past Gasly for P5 ( lap 24 ). Hamilton's pace at the front was unrelenting with fastest lap times on laps 25 and 27. Leclerc pitted again on lap 26 for a set of medium tyres, but it was a slow stop, the team having to refill some pneumatic pressure in his car. He rejoined in 17th and last. Ocon finally got past Gasly for P6 on lap 26, and Gasly pitted a lap later for his only stop, switching to the medium tyres for his final stint. He rejoined in 16th. Gasly got past Latifi for P15 on lap 28. Vettel communicated to the team that he wouldn't be able to pass the cars ahead of him and demanded a pit stop. However, the team didn't seem keen on heeding his request. An overtake by Perez for P11, a lap later, added insult to injury. Gasly was moving up the field rapidly with overtakes on both the Haas drivers and honing in on Vettel. Verstappen reported vibration on his tyres ( lap 31 ) while Latifi pitted for medium tyres. Gasly completed his move on Vettel for P12 on lap 32, the German locking up his tyres and running wide under braking. 


Perez was in DRS Zone, and it was an easy overtake on Raikkonen for P10 on the Kemmel Straight ( lap 33 ). Gasly caught up and did the same a lap later. Bottas reported numbness in his left leg while vibrations on Verstappen's car were getting worse. The top 3 were told by their teams to look after their tyres to avoid a repeat of Silverstone. Leclerc went past Magnussen ( for P15 ) who pitted for soft tyres on the same lap. Perez and Gasly got past Kvyat on lap 37, Kvyat making way for his team-mate who was on an alternate strategy. They were back into points-scoring positions. Norris completed an overtake on Stroll for P7.


Hamilton made a rear error at the Bus Stop Chicane, locking up his tyres and going wide. Bottas made the same mistake a couple of laps later, the lock-ups not helping their tyre management efforts. Mercedes asked Bottas to avoid using the kerbs on the "right side" as the drivers started to lose mechanical grip. Hamilton too didn't feel confident about the health of his front tyres. Gasly completed a move on Perez for P9 on lap 40 while Ocon went wheel to wheel with Albon, but the Thai driver defended well. 


There was a battle unfolding for P5 between Albon, Ocon and NorrisRicciardo was reeling in Verstappen who was closing in on Bottas. The last three laps promised a lot of action. Ocon tried an overtake on Albon again ( on lap 42 ) but couldn't make it work. Gasly overtook Stroll for P8 on the penultimate lap, a brilliant charge up the field after his pit stop. Ocon finally completed his move on Albon on the final lap while Leclerc went past Grosjean for P14.



Lewis Hamilton took the chequered flag victory at the end of 44 laps from Bottas and Verstappen. A charging Ricciardo reduced the deficit to Verstappen to only three seconds and also set the fastest lap of the race on the final lap! Ocon came home in fifth for Renault from Albon and Norris. Gasly, the driver of the day finished in P8, Stroll and Perez completing the top 10. 
Kvyat, Raikkonen, Vettel, Leclerc, Grosjean, Latifi and Magnussen were the drivers who finished outside the points.



It was Win Number 89 for Lewis Hamilton and another 1-2 for Mercedes in 2020. The team would be happy to go away with the best result possible from both its drivers. Red Bull continued to come up second best and need both their drivers to be involved in the battle at the front. Renault would be ecstatic with 4th and 5th, their best result in 2020 till now. It was damage limitation for McLaren after one car failed to start the race due to technical issues. Gasly produced yet another stellar drive, making a strong case for himself to drive with the Red Bull A team. Racing Point would be mulling over what went wrong with their cars at Spa. They hoped for a better Sunday. Kimi Raikkonen was the fastest Ferrari powered car, showing there is no substitute for experience. Alfa Romeo would take some positives from his result. A mistake proved costly for Giovinazzi, but the Italian displayed strong race pace up until then. Haas F1 and Williams had a mediocre weekend again.


Belgium was a humbling experience for Ferrari. The Prancing Horse, which was so dominant a year back, finished in a dismal 13th and 14th. Change is necessary and imminent. They cannot continue like this. They need to salvage whatever they can in 2020.




The next race is at the Temple of Speed, the Home of the Tifosi, in Ferrari homeland, in Monza, Italy. The fastest circuit on the F1 calendar, Monza holds a special place in the hearts of drivers and fans alike. Sadly, the fans will not be able to witness the race live on track, but for some, it might prove to be a blessing in disguise!




BRING ON ITALY!!


2020 Spanish GP Race Recap : Hammer Time in the Mediterranean

The Circuit de Catalunya was the venue for the sixth round of the 2020 Formula One season and the last race of the second triple-header of 2020. The circuit, situated in the town of Montmelo near Barcelona, Catalunya is the most used track on the calendar with the teams participating in two pre-season tests held here besides the GP itself. The Spanish GP is held in May but got postponed to August due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Circuit de Catalunya is a track that has a "little bit of everything" and tests the true capability of a car. Deficiencies if any, are exposed on this fast, flowing, high downforce circuit and the respective lap times indicate the real pecking order of the F1 grid.


The recently concluded 70th Anniversary GP served up a thrilling race thanks to the tyre choice made by Pirelli for the second weekend in Silverstone. However, the Italian marquee decided to take a conservative approach for Catalunya and chose the hardest tyre compounds ( C1, C2 and C3 ) for the Spanish GP weekend. 

Sergio Perez, who had missed the two races at Silverstone, returned to racing with Racing Point after testing negative for Covid-19. 

The FIA also decided to ban "quali modes" after the Spanish GP weekend, intending to bring more parity in the field. The teams will have to run the same engine mode for qualifying and the race from next GP ( Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium ).


More Details about the ruling here :

https://www.formula1.com/en/latest/article.qualifying-engine-modes-what-are-the-proposed-changes-and-why-do-they-matter.OI3cSGqWS6mONcBHUFncL.html


Red Bull bagged a great victory with Max Verstappen at the 70th Anniversary GP. Mercedes suffered due to the higher track temperatures and tyre blistering.

The weather forecast for the Spanish GP weekend wasn't any different.


Did we have a repeat of the previous race or did Mercedes overcome the gremlins to take another victory in 2020? Did Ferrari have a better outing with a higher downforce package? Were Racing Point, Renault and McLaren able to get into the sharp end of the grid? Were Haas F1 and Alfa Romeo able to score points this weekend?

Time for a recap of the events from the weekend!



Practice :


Vettel ( Ferrari ) and Sainz ( McLaren ) got a new chassis for the weekend, the duo hoping to address the issues they faced from the opening rounds. 

Williams Reserve Driver, Roy Nissany got the nod for a practice session, in place of George Russell, the Israeli rookie following his father's footsteps who was the reserve driver for Minardi in 2005. Stroll and Perez came within close contact of Bottas and Raikkonen in the tight and twisty last section of the circuit. The Finns had to relent and give up on their laps. Bottas narrowly missed hitting a bird on one of his flying laps while debutant Nissany suffered a spin ( at turn 10 ) while getting to grips with his Williams. George Russell took to pit lane duties and acted as the lollipop man for his team. 
Bottas was the fastest in Free Practice 1, four-hundredths of a second clear of his team-mate Hamilton. Verstappen was third lastest, less than a second adrift. Leclerc and Vettel were 4th and 5th for Ferrari with Grosjean joining them in the top 6 in his Haas. Perez was P7 for Racing Point. Albon, Magnussen and Stroll completed the top 10. McLaren could only manage P11 and P13 while the Renault drivers set the 12th and 18th fastest times. Giovinazzi and Raikkonen ( P15 and P16 ) split the Alpha Tauris of Gasly and Kvyat. Latifi and Nissany were 19th and 20th for Williams.

Everyone set their representative lap times on the soft tyres except for Perez, Stroll, Ocon and Nissany who were on mediums.


Free Practice 2 was an eventful session with low fuel runs and racing simulations for almost all drivers. Mercedes was the class of the field with Hamilton, three-tenths of a second clear of Bottas. A wobble at the exit of turn 15 along with a trip across the gravel denied Bottas a clean session. Verstappen kept the Mercedes duo honest in third while Ricciardo catapulted his Renault to P4. Haas F1 was in the top 6 again with Grosjean repeating his performance of FP1 with the 5th fastest time. Leclerc ensured works Ferrari representation with P6 while Sainz improved to P7 for McLaren. The Spaniard still struggled with cooling issues on his car. The Stewards reprimanded Sainz for using the run-off area for gaining a position on a slower car, the manoeuvre saving him brake usage. Perez was P8 for Racing Point while Ocon got both Renault cars into the top 10 with P9. It wasn't a trouble-free session for the Alpha Tauri duo with both drivers spending a considerable amount of time in the garage. However, Gasly was able to set the tenth fastest time while Kvyat was only P15, his flying lap compromised by a Williams on the racing line. Stroll was P11 for Racing Point while Vettel was down to P12 in his Ferrari. Albon's travails on a Friday continued with only the 13th fastest time. Norris was P14 from Kvyat, Magnussen, Raikkonen and Giovinazzi. Russell returned in FP2 but was critical of the lack of grip quipping that it felt like "driving on ice". He was the slowest of the session, three-tenths of a second off his less experienced team-mate Latifi's best time. 

Only six-tenths of a second separated P6 from P16, suggesting a tight midfield battle could unfold on Qualifying day. Haas was encouraged by their strong showing on Friday while Alfa Romeo still had no answer for their lack of pace. Red Bull was the best of the rest on Friday with Mercedes holding a considerable advantage over one lap pace. The race simulations in FP2 saw some running the medium tyres and some the hards. The Red Bull cars did comparable lap times with the Mercedes cars on the medium tyres. Christian Horner, the Red Bull Team Principal, believed that this could reduce the deficit come Sunday.


Haas F1 broke the curfew restrictions on Friday night to change the Power Unit on Grosjean's car, the first of their two exemptions in the season. McLaren changed the Internal Combustion Engine, MGU-H and MGU-K to mitigate any issues of cooling on Sainz' car.  


Hamilton led another Mercedes 1-2 in Free Practice 3. Searing track temperatures put a strain on the soft tyres with Mercedes asking its drivers to drive under the shade of the grandstands to cool them down. The lap times got faster as drivers laid rubber on the track. Hamilton made full use of track evolution and was a tenth and a half clear of his team-mate. Verstappen was third, half a second slower with Sainz, Perez and Leclerc completing the top 6. Alpha Tauri looked strong going into Qualifying with P7 for Gasly. Stroll, Albon and Ricciardo completed the top 10. Ocon was P11 but suffered a late crash that brought out the Red Flag and ended the session. The Frenchman got overtaken by Magnussen who seemed to back out of his flying lap three hundred metres later. Magnussen then tried to move off the racing line to the middle of the track when Ocon caught up at turn 3. Ocon, however, didn't react soon enough and had to do a hard turn to avoid ramming Magnussen from behind. The sudden change of direction sent him into the wall, damaging the front portion of his Renault. The stewards investigated the incident but deemed it as "no action necessary" since data on Magnussen's car showed that he was harvesting energy and Ocon had enough time to react. Vettel was P12 in the other Ferrari, ahead of Grosjean and Raikkonen. Norris could only manage P15 with Kvyat, Magnussen, Giovinazzi and the two Williams bringing up the rear of the field. 



Qualifying :

It was a long afternoon for Renault mechanics who got Ocon's car ready, just in time for qualifying. Q1 got underway with the entire field opting for soft tyres. It was a close contest with one second separating P1 from P15. Hamilton, Perez, Stroll, Bottas, Verstappen and Sainz were the provisional top 6 with Grosjean, Raikkonen, Magnussen, Latifi and Giovinazzi in the drop zone. Giovinazzi asked the team to check for floor damage after running wide on the penultimate corner and bouncing over the kerbs. Kvyat had allegedly impeded Magnussen on his flying lap, the stewards deeming it necessary for investigation post-qualifying. A huge bottle-neck formed up in the final minutes of Q1 as the drivers jostled for clear air and track position. The lap times tumbled due to track evolution. Raikkonen catapulted his Alfa Romeo to P14 before ending on the cusp of elimination. The others behind couldn't go faster. Alfa Romeo was into Q2 for the first time this season! Magnussen, Grosjean, Russell, Latifi and Giovinazzi were the drivers eliminated in Q1 with Hamilton being the fastest from Perez, Verstappen, Bottas and Leclerc. The loss of pace for Haas F1 flummoxed one and all, the chances of a promising result seemed bleak.


Tyre choices dominated team discussions in Q2. The teams would run "quali modes" for the last time in the turbo era. All the drivers opted for the soft tyres for their first run in Q2. The order after the first runs was - Hamilton, Bottas, Verstappen, Sainz, Leclerc, Perez, Stroll, Norris, Albon, Ricciardo, Vettel, Ocon, Gasly, Kvyat and Raikkonen. Both the Mercedes drivers and Verstappen chose not to run in Q2 while the rest of the field bar Raikkonen exited the pits on a fresh set of soft tyres. Raikkonen didn't have any new soft tyres left and had to use the mediums for his final run in Q2. The top three remained unchanged with Stroll improving to P4 and Gasly producing a stellar lap to jump up to P5. Sainz, Perez, Leclerc, Albon and Norris completed the top 10. Albon and Norris scraped through to Q3, escaping elimination by five-thousandths and three-thousandths of a second! A lucky escape indeed! Most of the runners were unable to improve on their final runs into Q2, track temperatures going outside the operating range of the soft tyres being the probable cause. Vettel was the big casualty of Q2, failing to make it into Q3 again by the smallest of margins. These setbacks never seemed to end for the four-time world champion. Kvyat was P12 while Renault had a forgettable Saturday with Ricciardo in P13 and Ocon in P15. Raikkonen qualified P14 for Alfa Romeo, faster than a Renault, with medium tyres and narrowly missing a chance of getting into Q3 ( 0.22 seconds slower ). He believed the car had the pace to qualify in the top 10, but for the shortage of soft tyres!


The top-ten shootout got underway a few minutes later. Red Bull released Albon into the path of Hamilton, the latter having to take evasive action. The contenders for pole were out on soft tyres for their banker laps in Q3. Five chose the used soft tyres for their first run - Norris, Sainz, Gasly, Leclerc and Albon. 

Hamilton was on provisional pole, five-hundredths of a second clear of Bottas in P2. Verstappen was P3 from Perez, Stroll and Norris. Leclerc, Albon, Sainz and Gasly completed the provisional top 10. The final minutes of Q3 saw changes in the pecking order with everyone switching to a fresh set of soft tyres. Bottas set the fastest overall time in the second sector but ran out of grip in the final section. He couldn't improve on his first run. Hamilton couldn't improve on his previous lap time either. The Racing Point cars of Perez and Stroll were unable to break into the top 3. Verstappen pushed hard in his Red Bull yet failed to split the Mercedes. Albon improved to P6 in the other Red Bull followed by Sainz and Norris in P7 and P8. Leclerc had reported abnormal engine behaviour on his out-lap but went faster on his final run. He was P9 from Gasly, both a second and a half adrift of the fastest time. Kvyat got a formal warning for his impeding infringement in Q1.


Hamilton was on pole for the 92nd time in his career! Bottas completed a Mercedes front-row. Red Bull was pleased to see both their cars in the top 6 while Racing Point posed a potent challenge to the Milton-Keynes based outfit. The McLarens were there again, ready to pounce on any slip-ups by the drivers ahead. Ferrari continued to be off the pace, despite their higher downforce setup. Alpha Tauri had a great qualifying session and hoped to score some points on Sunday. It was a better showing for Alfa Romeo on Saturday while Renault had their work cut out for Sunday. Haas F1 and Williams Racing were a disappointment, yet again. 



Race :

Red Bull changed the ICE, Turbo, MGU-H and MGU-K on Verstappen's car ahead of the race. They were components used earlier, so no penalty incurred. Racing Point also took new control-electronics and energy store for Perez. 

There was a 20% risk of rain during the race. Vettel, Ricciardo, Raikkonen, Ocon, Grosjean, Latifi and Giovinazzi started the race on medium tyres, the rest choosing the softs. The Mercedes drivers used their DAS system to good effect on the formation lap, bringing their tyres to optimum temperatures.




Hamilton had a clean start off the line with Bottas' slower launch getting him swamped into turn 1. Verstappen and Stroll got mega starts and used the tow to jump him on the 600m drag to turn 1. Verstappen was up into P2 with Stroll demoting Bottas to P4. Perez tried to make it worse for the Mercedes driver but couldn't make it work. Norris got bogged down and fell back to P10. Further down the field, Giovinazzi made up a place on Latifi while Ricciardo also gained a couple of places. Gasly was up to P8 while Kvyat made a pass on Ricciardo for P12 on lap 2.


Hamilton was 1.5 seconds clear of Verstappen at the front. Mercedes asked Bottas to quickly dispatch Stroll so that his race wouldn't be compromised. He tried a couple of times with DRS assistance but the Canadian held firm. It was job done on lap 5 with Verstappen the next target, three seconds further up the road. Russell got past Grosjean for P17 on the same lap as Verstappen tried to maintain his advantage with the fastest lap of the race. Bottas, in clean air, went faster on lap 6. Red Bull informed Verstappen that the gap to Hamilton was reducing, the Briton trying to control the pace of the race while extending his stint on the soft tyres. Albon, in the other Red Bull, was closing in on Perez whose tyres had started to overheat. 


The top ten at the end of lap 10 were Hamilton, Verstappen, Bottas, Stroll, Perez, Albon, Sainz, Gasly, Leclerc and Norris. McLaren was confident about "Plan A" ( race strategy ) for Sainz, as communicated to him on the team radio. 


Hamilton put in a series of fastest laps from laps 10 to 13 as Verstappen continued to complain about his tyres and a tail-wind which had picked up out of turn 7, hampering his drive. The field had begun to spread out with only Kvyat and Raikkonen the drivers within DRS range of the cars in front of them. Kvyat tried to make a move on Vettel for P11 under DRS but wasn't close enough. The battle for P14 was hotting up between Magnussen, Raikkonen and Ocon. 


Albon was the first of the front runners to pit on lap 18 for hard tyres. He rejoined in P16, right in the thick of the Magnussen, Raikkonen and Ocon battle. Russell pitted on lap 20 for medium tyres, rejoining in P20. Albon tried to make an overtake on Ocon but had to back out of it. Ocon, on the other hand, got past Raikkonen for P15 with Albon doing the same a couple of corners later. The Alfa Romeo driver had no more grip and pitted for a fresh set of medium tyres on lap 21.


Frustration over lack of grip due to tyre-wear left Verstappen fuming. Red Bull fulfilled his wish to pit, on lap 22, executing a 1.9 seconds pit stop to bring him out just ahead of Stroll and Perez in P3 with medium tyres. A flurry of pitstops followed over the next couple of laps. Gasly, Norris, Kvyat and Giovinazzi pitted on lap 23 with Norris choosing the soft tyres and the rest, the mediums. Mercedes decided to do a "double-stack" and pitted both its drivers for a fresh set of mediums. It was a slower stop for Hamilton with an issue on his left rear tyre. Thankfully, he didn't lose track position to Verstappen. Bottas, however, was demoted back to P3 after their first round of pit stops. Sainz pitted on lap 25 for soft tyres and rejoined in P12, being passed by Albon out of turn 1. 


Kvyat made a move on Latifi for P16 while Albon got stuck in traffic in P11, the strategy call not paying off. He came under intense pressure from Sainz who was on fresher tyres. Verstappen wasn't too pleased with Red Bull continuously informing him about the strategies adopted by the Mercedes duo. He reprimanded his engineer for being too preoccupied with what others were doing and asked him to focus on their performance instead. Meanwhile, Kvyat went past Grosjean for P15 and Raikkonen overtook Latifi for P18. Stroll pitted on lap 28 for mediums and rejoined in P8. Magnussen lost places in the space of one lap to Ocon, Albon and Sainz. He immediately pitted, along with Latifi, for fresh medium tyres while Latifi switched to the hard set. There was more action on track with Sainz relegating Albon to P11 on lap 29, thanks to his fresher tyres. 


Perez, Leclerc and Vettel were the next drivers to pit on lap 30. Perez and Leclerc switched over to the mediums while Vettel chose the soft tyres. Leclerc and Vettel rejoined in 13th and 14th, respectively. Perez rejoined in P7, just behind Sainz who was completing an overtake manoeuvre on Ocon into turn 1. Ricciardo, Ocon and Grosjean were the drivers who still hadn't pitted. Perez regained track position on Sainz with an overtake on lap 31 while Leclerc got past Kvyat for P12Russell got past Grosjean for P15 and Leclerc had honed in Norris on lap 32. 


Perez tried a daring move on Stroll on lap 33, much to the displeasure of the team principal Ottmar Szafnauer. Stroll held on to P5. Further down the field, Raikkonen made a move on Grosjean for P16. Grosjean pitted on lap 34, rejoining in P19 with soft tyres on his car. Albon moved up into P8 with an overtake on Ocon. Leclerc went wheel-to-wheel with Norris for P11, but the latter put up a strong defence despite a couple of lock-ups. Ricciardo finally pitted on lap 36 for a set of soft tyres, rejoining in 13th while Russell pitted for a set of medium tyres, down to P18. Ferrari informed Vettel that there was rain forecasted around lap 50. However, they had weightier issues to address on lap 37. Leclerc spun, getting stuck at turn 14 and unable to get going again. Replays showed that the Monegasque's engine had given up, sending him into a spin. The problem seemed terminal even though he recovered from the shutdown. Leclerc wanted to pit as his seat-belts had gotten loose as well.


Hamilton was now 9 seconds clear of Verstappen. Bottas, Stroll, Perez, Sainz, Albon, Gasly, Norris and Kvyat completed the top 10 at the end of lap 40. Leclerc pitted on lap 41 to address the issues on his car. Albon also pitted, for a fresh set of medium tyres and rejoined in P11. The Ferrari mechanics couldn't repair the car and wheeled Leclerc into the garage and retirement. A disappointing end to a promising Sunday. The battle at the front intensified with Bottas reducing the deficit to Verstappen, the latter pitting for the second time ( lap 42 ) for another set of medium tyres. Sainz pitted a lap later and managed to rebuff a challenge by Albon for P10 on exiting the pits. Bottas set the fastest lap of the race on lap 43. 


The second round of pit-stops had begun. Stroll and Gasly pitted on lap 44 for softs and mediums, rejoining in P8 and P11, respectively. Norris pitted on lap 46 for medium tyres, rejoining behind Gasly. Hamilton now held the fastest lap time. Raikkonen pitted from P14 for soft tyres and rejoined in 19th. Kvyat and Giovinazzi followed suit a lap later, opting for mediums and softs. Bottas pitted on lap 48 for soft tyres while Vettel asked the team's opinion on pitting again. He was in P5 but converting to a one-stop strategy seemed to be a tough ask. Bottas had to bridge a six seconds gap to Verstappen and had the fastest tyres under him. Meanwhile, Hamilton discussed tyre choices with his team and demanded the medium set for his final stint. Mercedes heeded to his demand in his pit stop on lap 51.


Perez was found guilty for ignoring blue flags and came under investigation. He got a five-second time penalty for his infringement ( lap 53 ). Ferrari, unsure of their plans, asked Vettel about the possibility of extending his soft tyres stint till the end. The German was exasperated, asking why they didn't consider this earlier, presumably before he started taking extra life out of his tyres.
Daniil Kvyat was next on the list to receive a five-second time penalty, ignoring blue flags the crime again ( lap 56 ). 


Bottas was unable to close the gap to Verstappen ahead, the Dutchman extending his cushion to more than seven seconds! There was no sign of rain in the closing stages of the race. Racing Point asked Stroll to push, realising that an overtake would have to be made on track for P5. Stroll completed the move on Vettel on lap 57 with DRS assistance. He had clear air ahead of him and a chance to bag P4 from his team-mate Perez should he finish within five seconds off him. Ocon got past Magnussen for P13. Raikkonen completed an overtake on Grosjean for P16 on the pit straight ( lap 59 ) but wasn't happy with the Frenchman. Grosjean moved under braking, once again and Raikkonen had to slam on the brakes to avoid ramming him from behind. The Flying Finn made another move on the same lap, snatching P15 from Russell. 


Stroll was catching Perez who like Vettel had opted for a one-stop strategy. Stroll was comfortably within the five-second bracket, so a P4 finish was assured. Sainz demoted Vettel to P7 ( lap 60 ) with Albon lining him up next. Grosjean tangled with Giovinazzi while unsuccessfully defending P17 and ran wide at turn 1, causing debris from his car to end up on the track. Hamilton drove over that debris and got concerned about damage. Thankfully, all was ok. The Stewards decided to investigate the Grosjean and Giovinazzi incident after the race. Raikkonen relegated Magnussen to P15 on lap 61 while Giovinazzi completed an overtake on Russell a lap later. The Mercedes duo sparred for the fastest lap of the race on lap 63. Bottas cut the deficit to Verstappen to two seconds, but it was too little too late. He had lost performance on his soft tyres. Grosjean pitted on lap 65 after suffering a tank-slapper at turn 9.


Bottas pitted on the penultimate lap for medium tyres, resigned to P3 but determined to grab the fastest lap point. A train of cars had formed up behind Vettel; Albon, Gasly, Norris and Ricciardo all vying for a higher finish. The German managed his defence of P7 well, positioning his car and using his battery power sensibly to fend off attack after attack from Albon. 


Lewis Hamilton took the chequered flag and victory at the 2020 Spanish GP! Max Verstappen came home in 2nd, 24 seconds adrift. Bottas set the fastest lap of the race on the last lap, completing the podium in P3. Stroll and Perez were P4 and P5 for Racing Point followed by Sainz, Vettel, Albon, Gasly and NorrisRicciardo was P11 for Renault from Kvyat, Ocon and Raikkonen. Magnussen, Giovinazzi, Russell, Latifi and Grosjean completed the classified runners. 




Hamilton had dominated on a Sunday again. He had lapped everyone up to P4 and was in a league of his own. It was his 88th career victory, three short of the record of 91 wins of Michael Schumacher. He surpassed the German with this result being his 156th podium finish! Another record for the six-time World Champion.



Kimi Raikkonen, too set a record this weekend. The Finn achieved the record of longest distance raced in an F1 car ( 83846 km ) which equates to 2 full laps of the earth. He accomplished this feat on lap 37 of the race! Kudos!


Vettel crossed 3000 points in his F1 career with his 7th place.


Mercedes bounced back from the disappointment of last weekend with another flawless win. They would be a tad disappointed with Bottas' race, but except for Verstappen, no one else poses a threat to their title chances. Red Bull needs to have both cars contending with the Mercedes, and the onus is on Albon to improve from the next race. Racing Point continues its upward climb despite the reprimands and protests of their competitors. There was another protest lodged by Renault which got withdrawn as the Technical Delegate had already highlighted the ( same ) brake duct design to the stewards. Racing Point got another reprimand this weekend.


Ferrari would rue a missed opportunity for a double-points finish with the electrical failure on Leclerc's car. It was a mini-revival for Vettel, his P7 finish testament to his never-give-up attitude. Alpha Tauri would be pleased with Gasly's result, the Frenchman's reputation rising with each race weekend. McLaren and Renault seem to be going through a blip in form and need to improve their overall performance to stay in touch with the high flying Racing Point. Alfa Romeo would be encouraged with a better showing on Saturday and Sunday, but finishing in the points remains a target. Haas F1 and Williams Racing have a lot of work to do over the next fortnight if they are to stem this decline in 2020.




The season resumes in a fortnight at Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps ( Belgium ), the next destination on the F1 calendar. It will be the first race of the next triple-header of the season. An iconic track with unique challenges that only a classic F1 circuit can present, the Belgian Grand Prix must not be missed!


Time for the drivers to refresh, regroup and return for round seven, in a fortnight!

2020 70th Anniversary GP Race Recap : Max-imum Attack on a Bull-ish Sunday!

It is the 70th year of racing for Formula 1. The Pinnacle of Motorsport has enthralled fans through the seven decades of its existence returning this weekend to the place where it all began, 70 years ago! Silverstone played host to this special event, the race christened as the 70th Anniversary GP.

There was a lot of buzz in the world of F1 leading up to this historic weekend.

Pirelli investigated the tyre delaminations of the previous weekend and stated that these were due to the "extremely long use" of the tyres after an early Safety Car in the race. The 70th-anniversary event would pose a new challenge with the tyres being a level softer. Higher track temperatures than the previous weekend meant that teams would need to conserve their harder sets for the race, limiting their simulation runs in Free Practice sessions.

On the Protests front, the FIA reviewed the documents and technical data submitted against Racing Point ( by Renault ) over the past four race weekends and upheld the protest. Racing Point had copied the front brake ducts ( of Mercedes ) for their 2019 car ( when it was allowed ) but copied the rear brake ducts for 2020 ( which wasn't allowed ). FIA ruled this as a breach of Sporting Regulations and docked 15 points off Racing Point's points tally along with a 400,000 Euros fine as a financial penalty.

Thankfully, the RP20 was considered legal and allowed to participate in the championship in its current avatar. The team is contemplating an appeal against this decision.

Renault however, isn't happy with the severity of the sentence and plans to appeal for higher sanctions against Racing Point. Ferrari already has, other teams might follow suit.


More Details about the FIA Ruling here :

https://www.formula1.com/en/latest/article.breaking-racing-point-deducted-15-points-and-fined-heavily-as-renault.7j9tsLSAm7rXnWHxH1Uy9c.html


Sergio Perez, who tested positive for Covid-19 last weekend hadn't recovered in time and would miss the 70th Anniversary GP as well. Racing Point retained Nico Hulkenberg as his replacement. The German would hope for a trouble-free Sunday after failing to start last weekend's race due to a faulty clutch-bolt.


So who reigned supreme in the countryside of Silverstone?

Was the 70th Anniversary of the sport a memorable day in its history?


Time for a quick recap!



Practice :


Valtteri Bottas was the fastest in Free Practice 1 from Hamilton and Verstappen. Hulkenberg had an impressive start to the weekend in P4. Ferrari was in the mix with Leclerc in P5 ( with their low-downforce setup ) while Albon completed the top 6, a second adrift of the fastest time. Vettel had an off-track moment but managed to set the 7th fastest time. Stroll, Kvyat and Ocon completed the top 10. McLaren didn't feel bullish this weekend, their drivers spending the session learning about the soft tyres. Grosjean was the fastest Ferrari customer car, splitting the McLarens with the 13th fastest time. The Williams duo was 15th and 16th fastest, Latifi slowly getting up to pace with the FW43.  Ricciardo struggled in FP1 and could set only the 17th fastest time. Raikkonen was 18th from Kubica, the Polish reserve driver getting a session instead of Giovinazzi. Raikkonen believed there was more speed in the car and hoped to finish in the points this weekend. However, he still suffered from balance issues and had a couple of off-track excursions. Kevin Magnussen was P20 in his Haas. Everyone set their representative lap times on the soft tyres.


The drivers chose to experiment with their tyres ( some mediums, some softs ) in Free Practice 2. Lewis Hamilton was the fastest in the session and had set his time with a set of medium tyres. Bottas was P2, less than two-tenths of a second slower than his team-mate. Ricciardo produced a stellar lap, bumping up his Renault into P3, just clear of Verstappen's best time in 4th. Stroll and Hulkenberg were P5 and P6 for Racing Point. Hulkenberg's race simulation program was a bit compromised after the team had to address his seating issues. Leclerc was the fastest Ferrari with the 7th fastest time. Norris and Sainz were back up into the top 10 with Ocon hot on their heels. Albon had another challenging FP2; the Thai driver suffering from balance issues on his Red Bull. Alpha Tauri had another strong showing in free practice with P12 and P13. Vettel could only manage P14 in the other works Ferrari car. The four-times World Champion suffered from an engine failure near the end of the session, grinding to a halt on the old pit straight. The Stewards initiated a Virtual Safety Car period due to excessive oil on the track. Grosjean was again the faster of the two Haas cars in P15 ahead of Russell and Raikkonen. Magnussen managed the 18th fastest time while Latifi was 19th in the other Williams. Giovinazzi, who sat out FP1 for Kubica also suffered a mechanical failure and had to ditch his Alfa Romeo at a run-off area at Becketts. The session was subsequently red-flagged and ended by the Stewards.

Race simulation programs from FP2 suggested that almost all teams would need a 2-stop strategy for the race. Mercedes was still the quickest of the lot but less than half a second separated P6 from P15. Qualifying would be a close-run affair with tyre choice being paramount for the midfield runners.


Mercedes reigned supreme in Free Practice 3 as well. Hamilton was the fastest from Bottas and Norris. Norris was the only driver to set his fastest lap time on medium tyres. Racing Point was in the top 6 with Hulkenberg and Stroll. Ferrari chose to change Leclerc's Power Unit as a "precautionary measure". Leclerc was P6 from the Red Bull duo of Verstappen and Albon. Verstappen was held up by Stroll and had to back off on his first run. Ocon and Sainz completed the top 10. The Alpha Tauris remained quicker than Vettel, the German having a complete lack of pace over one lap. Ricciardo could only manage the 14th fastest time. Grosjean was P15, Latifi and Russell P16 and P17. Giovinazzi, Raikkonen and Magnussen brought up the rear of the field. An intriguing Qualifying session awaited the drivers.



Qualifying :


Q1 got underway with everyone but Russell, Grosjean and Magnussen on soft tyres. Verstappen complained about gusty conditions which were putting the cars out of balance at Maggotts and Becketts. The Stewards decided to investigate an incident between Ocon and Russell, the former guilty of trudging slowly on the racing line. Leclerc, Verstappen and Hulkenberg did not opt for a second run as others drove out on another set of fresh tyres. Bottas set the fastest time in Q1 from Hamilton and Albon. Verstappen, Gasly, Stroll, Norris, Ocon, Hulkenberg and Leclerc completed the top 10. Vettel managed to scrape through to Q2 in P14 while Russell ensured William's representation with the 15th fastest time. Kvyat was safely in the top 15 after his final run but had his lap time deleted due to exceeding of track limits at turn 15. The Russian was immensely disappointed at the end of the session and the first casualty of qualifying. Magnussen, Latifi, Giovinazzi and Raikkonen were the other eliminations. Alfa Romeo had brought upgrades this weekend but still seem to lack outright pace. It is quite a frustrating period for the Swiss-based outfit.


Q2 was the most intriguing of the Qualifying sessions as teams had to debate on the choice of tyres for their drivers. Red Bull rolled the dice by sending Verstappen out on hard tyres. Russell chose the soft tyres while the rest of the field opted for the mediums. Hulkenberg got compromised on his banker lap after an off-track at Chapel. Bottas, Hamilton and Ricciardo were the top 3 after the first runs. Verstappen set the 5th fastest time. Ricciardo and Verstappen decided to stay in the pits with Hamilton, Bottas, Vettel, Leclerc and Sainz choosing the softs for their final run. The rest opted for the mediums hoping to qualify into Q3. Bottas, Hulkenberg, Hamilton, Gasly, Ricciardo, Albon, Stroll, Leclerc, Verstappen and Norris made it into Q3. Hamilton, Bottas and Leclerc had backed off on their final run and would start the race on medium tyres.

Ocon, Vettel, Sainz, Grosjean and Russell were the eliminations in Q2. Vettel was four-tenths of a second slower than his team-mate, another disappointing Saturday for the German. Data showed that both Ferrari cars were struggling in the high-speed corners. Sainz too had a challenging qualifying but had the luxury of a free tyre choice for the start of the race.


The final shoot-out in qualifying brought another mixed bag with tyre choices. Ricciardo, Albon and Verstappen put on the medium tyres for their banker laps of Q3. Hamilton laid down the gauntlet with the fastest time on his soft tyres. Bottas was hot on his heels. Ricciardo, Hulkenberg, Verstappen and Albon constituted the best of the rest.
A change in track temperatures in the final minutes of Q3 brought about another discussion between teams and their drivers over the right tyre choice. Hamilton, Bottas and Ricciardo deduced that the medium tyres were the best fit in current conditions. The rest of the participants chose a more aggressive route with the soft tyres. The final minutes of Q3 would decide the fate of those who made the right call with their tyres. It was a close contest between the Mercedes duo. Bottas came out on top, six-hundredths of a second clear of his team-mate. Hulkenberg set a blistering lap, promoting himself to P3 on the grid! Verstappen could only manage P4. Ricciardo had a strong showing for Renault in P5 while Stroll ensured Racing Point had both cars in top 6. Alpha Tauri would be proud of another stellar lap by Gasly who would start in P7. The Frenchman was maturing well in Red Bull's B-Team. P8 was the best that Ferrari could manage with Leclerc. Albon had a mediocre outing in P9 while Norris qualified in P10 for McLaren.


Ocon got a three-place grid drop for impeding Russell in Q1 and would start the race in P14.


Mercedes seemed unbeatable this weekend as well. Red Bull held a slight advantage over their rivals with Verstappen starting the race on hard tyres. Overcutting both the Mercedes was a different matter altogether. Hulkenberg was the talk of the town with a great qualifying. The entire F1 world hoped and prayed for a trouble-free and incident-free Sunday for the German. A podium finish beckoned; if all went well! Ricciardo was Renault's best chance at a podium while Leclerc hoped for some fortune like last weekend to finish higher up on Sunday. Albon has a better showing on Sunday and looked to undo the damage of Saturday. Vettel was in the same boat as Albon. McLaren aimed for points finish for both their cars. Alpha Tauri needed a clean race from both their drivers. Williams saw improvement with each passing weekend while Haas and Alfa Romeo fell backwards despite their upgrades.


Sunday would be a memorable day!



Race :



The 70th Anniversary GP saw all 20 starters line up on the grid for the formation lap. Verstappen was the only driver to start on hard tyres in the top 10. Vettel, Sainz, Kvyat and Raikkonen also followed suit. The rest of the field were on medium tyres. The "Alternate Strategy" wasn't ideal; as shown in the F2 Feature Race on Saturday. Those on the hard tyres had a chance to prove otherwise.  


It was a clean getaway for the Mercedes duo as the lights went out. Verstappen was up into P3 with Hulkenberg having to fend off Stroll in P5. Vettel had a decent start off the line and was challenging Sainz into turn 1. However, the rear of his car got loose, sending him into a spin and relegating him to the back of the field. Leclerc held onto P10 while defending from Sainz. Giovinazzi and Magnussen were the biggest gainers ( 4 positions up ) on the opening lap. Raikkonen passed Latifi for P18 with Vettel following suit a few turns later ( lap 2 ). Vettel went past his ex-teammate on lap 4 to move up to 18th.


Bottas, Hamilton, Verstappen, Hulkenberg, Stroll, Ricciardo, Gasly, Norris, Albon and Leclerc were the top 10 at the end of lap 4.


Mercedes warned Bottas about the "critical" health of his left front medium tyre ( lap 6 ). It seemed like his race was getting compromised.  


Albon was the first to pit for what seemed to be an early stop for a two-stop strategy ( lap 7 ). He rejoined last with a fresh set of hard tyres. Red Bull made the call to pit Albon early and save him from the midfield squabbles. Gasly and Giovinazzi pitted a lap later for a set of hard tyres as well. Vettel was now up to P15 and honing in on Russell in the Williams. Russell was the next driver to pit on lap 9 for a set of hard tyres. The battle at the front was hotting up with Verstappen setting similar lap times to the Mercedes in front. Gasly made a move on Raikkonen for P14 on lap 11 while Red Bull asked Verstappen to back off and preserve the life of his tyres. Verstappen refused to relent citing a rare chance of coming out on top with his alternate strategy. He was in DRS range and heckled Hamilton for the next few laps. Meanwhile, Norris pitted from P7 ( lap 13 ) and rejoined in 13th with a fresh set of hard tyres.


Albon made a daring overtake on Raikkonen for P15 while race-leader Bottas pitted for hard tyres ( lap 14 ). The Hamilton-Verstappen battled carried on with Hamilton getting increasingly critical of the health of his rear tyres. Bottas rejoined in 6th behind Ricciardo, the Finn needing to make a few overtakes to maintain track position over a charging Verstappen. Hamilton pitted on lap 15 for hard tyres and rejoined in P6 behind Bottas and Leclerc. Ricciardo switched to another medium set, rejoining in P10.      


Hamilton was back up to pace quickly with an overtake on Leclerc for P4 while Bottas set the fastest lap of the race. Hulkenberg pitted from P2 on lap 16 and switched to a set of hard tyres rejoining in P7. Verstappen had track position and continued to extend his stint on the hard tyres. Grosjean lost P11 to Vettel ( lap 17 ) and P12 to Norris ( lap 18 ) before entering the pits for a switch to the hard tyres. He rejoined in 20th and last. Stroll and Leclerc pitted on lap 19, both switching over to hard tyres. Stroll rejoined in 6th while Leclerc was down to P12.


Magnussen sparred with Latifi for P18 and ran wide at Stowe. They banged wheels with Magnussen dangerously rejoining the track. The Stewards investigated the incident and Magnussen copped a five-second time penalty for his misdemeanour. Albon went wheel to wheel with Gasly, for P13, but the Frenchman held his ground. Leclerc tried a manoeuvre on Norris ( for P10 ) and was past him out of Luffield ( lap 20 ). Kvyat pitted for a set of hard tyres from P8. Grosjean went past his team-mate Magnussen for P19, the latter pitting for a set of hard tyres. 


Both Mercedes cars were now reporting blisters with Verstappen lapping quicker than them! The tables had turned! Red Bull Racing had the upper hand; a rare opportunity beckoned! 


It was job done for Albon with an overtake on Gasly ( for P12 ) on the outside of turn 7 ( lap 22 ). Kvyat moved past Raikkonen for P14. 


There was another flurry of pit stops on lap 23. Sainz, Ocon and Vettel dived into the pits. Sainz had a slow stop ( left rear ) and rejoined on a set of medium tyres. Vettel and Ocon had a set of hard tyres on rejoining the race. Gasly pitted a lap later, rejoining in P19 with a fresh set of hard tyres. The issue of tyre blistering worsened for the Mercedes cars, Verstappen now had time for a pit stop on Hamilton! 


Vettel had another tussle with Raikkonen, moving up to P13 ( lap 25 ). The series of pit stops continued into the following laps. Russell pitted on lap 25 for a set of hard tyres while Ricciardo pitted for hard tyres from P6 ( lap 26 ). Verstappen was also into the pits and completed a switch to mediums on lap 26. It was a slightly slower stop for the Red Bull crew, Verstappen rejoining the track a few car lengths behind Bottas in P2. Verstappen was back in the lead on lap 27 with a move on the outside at Luffield! Raikkonen and Latifi also pitted for a set of mediums and hard tyres respectively. They rejoined in P17 ( Raikkonen ) and P19 ( Latifi ). Leclerc was the fastest driver on the track now.


Vettel wasn't happy with the strategy that Ferrari put him on and made his displeasure known on the radio. The German was stuck in traffic, down in 12th behind Sainz. Meanwhile, Albon passed Norris for P7 who decided to pit immediately after for a set of hard tyres. The McLaren protege rejoined in 13th. Bottas set the fastest lap of the race while Red Bull instructed Verstappen to go aggressive on his current stint and forget tyre management. Hulkenberg and Albon pitted on lap 31 for a set of hard tyres, rejoining in P6 and P12 respectively. Ricciardo suffered a spin on lap 31 and dropped out of the points. The Australian had closed in on the Ocon-Kvyat battle and looked to have banged wheels with Sainz which sent him into a spin. Verstappen heeded to his team's advice and set the fastest lap of the race on lap 31. He was into the pits a lap later, Bottas mirroring his strategy! Hamilton was into the lead and yet to make a second stop ( if needed ). For Verstappen and Bottas it was a race to the finish. 


Vettel and Giovinazzi pitted on lap 34 for a set of medium tyres, rejoining in P14 and P19 respectively. Sainz switched to the hard tyres two laps later and rejoined the race behind Vettel. Meanwhile, at the front, Hamilton questioned his team's decision to prolong his run on the hard tyres. The team assured him that he still had some grip left on the current tyres. Albon overtook Ocon for P7 while Norris went past Ricciardo for P10. Kvyat pitted for the final time on lap 36 for medium tyres. Ricciardo had suffered flat-spots on his tyres due to his spin earlier and forced to pit for the third time. Albon, in clear air, set the fastest lap of the race. Leclerc, in P4 for Ferrari, was the only driver in the top 6 yet to make a second stop. 


Mercedes contemplated on switching Hamilton to a one-stop strategy, the reigning World Champion having track position and an eleven seconds cushion to the charging Red Bull behind him. There was action further down the field - Ricciardo went past Raikkonen for P14 while Grosjean and Russell pitted for a set of hard and medium tyres respectively. Albon was closing in on the Racing Point cars in P5 and P6. Red Bull asked Verstappen to start pushing and close the gap to Hamilton ( lap 41 ) since they believed that he would not be pitting again. However, Mercedes chose the conservative approach and pitted Hamilton for a new set of hard tyres at the end of lap 41. He rejoined in P4, 12 seconds adrift of Leclerc. He could now push till the end and possibly, salvage a win. 


Hamilton was on a charge, setting the fastest lap of the race on lap 43. Hulkenberg, in P5, reported vibrations and pitted for a fresh set of soft tyres on lap 45. He rejoined in P7, having lost positions to Stroll and Albon. Hamilton caught up to Leclerc and completed the overtake at Stowe on lap 46. Leclerc put him a good fight and probably slowed Hamilton enough to guarantee Verstappen a win. Magnussen's dismal day came to an end on lap 45, the Haas driver retiring from the race in P20. 


Verstappen had a five-second lead over Bottas who himself was three seconds clear of Hamilton. The gap between the Mercedes team-mates was reducing rapidly. Mercedes informed both their drivers that they were free to race but had to "keep it clean". Hamilton was within striking distance of Bottas and P2 on lap 50. He had a look on the outside of Vale chicane but relented. They were side by side through Aintree and Brooklands with Hamilton finally getting past his team-mate on the Wellington straight. Albon brought more joy to Red Bull with an outstanding overtake at Corpse corner on Stroll for P5. 


Verstappen was on the final lap and had a chuckle with his race engineer! It had been a challenging race for the team and driver. He took the chequered flag and his first win of 2020, comfortably clear of Hamilton and Bottas! It was a victory well deserved! 
Leclerc produced another stellar drive to come home in P4. He was one of the two drivers in the top 10 that had pitted only once during the race! Albon had another strong Sunday in P5 while Stroll and Hulkenberg could only manage P6 and P7 for Racing Point. Ocon was the other single-stopper to finish in the points. The Frenchman had to do a considerable amount of fuel-saving besides fending off a late attack by Norris. Kvyat completed the top 10. Gasly narrowly missed out on another points scoring weekend while Vettel was left wondering about Ferrari's strategy choice for him. Sainz and Ricciardo had a long afternoon in P13 and P14. Raikkonen was P15 for Alfa Romeo from Grosjean, Giovinazzi, Russell and Latifi. 


Racing Point got reprimanded for using the same brake ducts that conflicted with the sporting regulations. Renault had protested against Racing Point again but withdrew after the latter got a reprimand.


Higher track temperatures combined with softer tyres caused the undoing of the Mighty Mercedes! Red Bull showed that they never back out of a duel and are more than a handful on their day. Verstappen didn't slip up when the opportunity arose. Ferrari was kinder on its tyres and would be encouraged by Leclerc's showing. There is still light at the end of the tunnel. Albon repaid Red Bull's faith in him with a strong performance on Sunday. He needs to address his qualifying issues to be right up there with Verstappen. Racing Point had a strong weekend with another double-points finish, the podium still elusive for Hulkenberg. An uncharacteristic error by Ricciardo robbed him of a finish in the points. Ocon had to hold the position due to fuel saving at the end. It was another "what could have been" day for Renault. McLaren would like to put this challenging weekend behind them as quickly as possible. Alpha Tauri would be ruing the missed opportunity of a double-points finish. Ferrari's race strategy miffed Vettel, the spin at the start of the race adding more woes to his never-ending struggles. The German is possibly suffering neglect in his final year there. Alfa Romeo's travails continue with a lack of outright pace despite the upgrades this weekend. Raikkonen, however, did a great job with tyre management on his one-stop strategy. Haas F1 had another forgettable weekend. Williams went backwards again on a Sunday. 



It was one of the most memorable Sundays for Red Bull Motorsport. They came out victorious both on two wheels and four! 



Yuki Tsunoda, the Honda Program driver, was victorious in the F2 Sprint Race at Silverstone. Brad Binder, the rookie in Moto GP, helped Red Bull KTM Racing ( the factory team ) bag their first win in Moto GP history at the Czech GP in Brno. He sported number 33 on his bike. 


Two hours after Binder's win, Max Verstappen won the 70th Anniversary GP for Red Bull Racing F1 Team in F1! He too raced with number 33 on his car!


An iconic win on a historical day in F1! 



Red Bull Racing is the only challenger to a rampaging Mercedes in 2020 and Max Verstappen is its warrior elect.


Catalunya is next on the F1 calendar with similar weather forecasted for the race. We could see yet another Red Bull victory next weekend.

Bring on the Spanish GP!



2020 British GP Race Recap : A Tyre-ing Day at the Office!

Silverstone UK was the venue for rounds four and five of the 2020 F1 season. The teams travelled west, a fortnight after the first triple-header of the year. The teams took stock of their performances in the opening rounds and arrived in Silverstone, some with an upgraded package.

There was a buzz in the air with the 70th anniversary of the sport a week later. However, grim news hit the paddock on Thursday. Sergio Perez, Racing Point F1 driver, was isolated due to an "inconclusive" Covid-19 test. He later tested positive. The Mexican went into self-isolation as per UK quarantine guidelines and would miss the British and possibly the 70th Anniversary GP. He had flown to Mexico to visit his injured mother and believes he contracted the virus during travel. Thankfully, he was asymptomatic.

Racing Point had little time to search for a replacement. Nico Hulkenberg got chosen over Vandoorne and Gutierrez. The German was a part of the sport up until last year and had a 5-year stint with the team. He infamously holds the record for the most number of races without a podium ( in F1 ). Many hoped this would change in the extremely capable Racing Point RP20.

Hulkenberg was allowed into the paddock after a series of Covid-19 tests and a seat fit completed in the Racing Point factory which is next door.


Silverstone is a power-track which offers a fair bit of challenge to general car balance thanks to its fast, flowing corners. This track was the first test of the capabilities of each car on the 2020 F1 grid and the "home race" for Mercedes AMG Petronas, Red Bull Racing, Racing Point, McLaren, Renault, Haas F1 and Williams Racing. 

Varying track temperatures would make it a challenge for the right tyre choice come qualifying and race. The tyre selection ( by Pirelli ) were a step harder than the ones chosen for the weekend after. The engineers had their hands full for an action-packed British and 70th Anniversary GPs.


Let us have a quick recap of the British GP weekend!


Practice :

Free Practice 1 saw Verstappen top the session with Hamilton and Stroll hot on his heels. The Mercedes powered cars were on the medium tyres vs the soft for the Red Bull. Ferrari had a mixed session with Leclerc setting the 5th fastest time and Vettel unable to participate due to intercooler issues on his engine. Bottas could only manage P6 while the Renaults made it into the top 10. Hulkenberg was a commendable P9, only half a second slower than his team-mate. McLaren had a tricky start to the weekend with Sainz and Norris in 12th and 13th respectively. Kimi Raikkonen and Antonio Giovinazzi had offtrack excursions - Raikkonen suffered from a spin in Luffield while Giovinazzi had an incident at Becketts. The Italian came off worse. The blistered hard tyre damaged the floor of his car and debris got strewn across the track. The session was red-flagged, Giovinazzi summoned to the stewards' room. Russell complained about balance issues but was able to split the Alfa Romeo cars. Latifi was the last driver to set a lap time.

Track Temperature during Free Practice 2 was 10 degrees higher than that predicted for Qualifying and the Race. Stroll was the fastest in the session from Albon and Bottas. Albon had a high-speed crash on the exit of Stowe corner, massive damage to the rear end of his car. FIA had to red flag the session briefly. Bottas was 3rd for the Mercedes works team while Charles Leclerc promoted his Ferrari to P4! Hamilton had to back off on his flying lap and finished in P5. Sainz got McLaren into the top 6. Hulkenberg improved to P7; 6 tenths of a second the deficit to his team-mate. Gasly and Ricciardo were 8th and 9th. Kimi Raikkonen got his Alfa Romeo into the top 10, encouragement for the Ferrari powered customer team. Giovinazzi was P13 in the other Alfa Romeo while Norris and Ocon finished in P11 and P12. Max Verstappen was impeded on his qualifying sim run by Grosjean and had to settle for 14th. He made his intense displeasure known on the team radio and returned the favour a lap later. He also held up Ocon's Renault in the process. Vettel's woes didn't seem to end in FP2 either with the German setting only the 18th fastest time. He was confined to his box again due to a loose pedal floor. He had work to do on Saturday due to the limited running on Friday. Haas and Williams were the slowest in FP2. Latifi suffered a spin, out of Stowe corner near the end of FP2.

Free Practice 3 got underway with conditions being overcast. An ERS Issue for Albon resigned him to the pits for the majority of the session. Vettel's FP3 program also hit a blip when his brake pedal came loose, the German visibly frustrated with these setbacks. Bottas was the fastest in FP3 from Hamilton and VerstappenA gust of wind through Maggots and Becketts compromised Hamilton's flying lap, his real pace still unknown. Mercedes had a clear advantage to the rest of the field. Less than a second separated P1 from P9 with Stroll slotting himself into P4 ahead of Sainz and Leclerc, the only Ferrari powered car in the top ten. Hulkenberg reduced the deficit to his team-mate to only two-tenths of a second and finished in P9. P13 was the best that Albon could do after having his first lap time invalidated due to exceeding track limits. Vettel ended the session in P14. Five Ferrari powered cars were in the bottom six with Haas and Alfa Romeo bringing up the rear of the field. 
Alpha Tauri changed gearboxes for both their drivers. Gasly had retired in the previous race so didn't incur a penalty. However, Kyvat got a five-place grid drop. Renault broke the curfew restrictions on Friday night, their first of the two exemptions allowed in the season to change the chassis on Ricciardo's car after it developed a hairline fracture. Giovinazzi and Hamilton switched to their second MGU-K units, no penalties incurred.


Qualifying :

Bottas was the dominant Mercedes in Q1. Hamilton and Verstappen completed the top 3. The Racing Point cars were 4th and 5th. Russell once again bumped his Williams up into Q2 with a 13th place finish. His team-mate Latifi had a big spin at Luffield in the final minutes of Q1 and brought out yellow flags. Russell set his personal best time under yellow flag conditions ( P13 as mentioned earlier ) and was investigated by the stewards after the session. Raikkonen and Giovinazzi had improved on their times but couldn't get themselves out of Q1. Alfa Romeo Racing F1 was the only team to have not entered Q2 till date, troubled times for the Swiss-based outfit. Magnussen, Grosjean and Latifi were the other casualties. Raikkonen reported his displeasure at being impeded by Ocon and the stewards decided to investigate the incident.


Q2 got underway with a varied tyre choice for drivers. Mercedes, Racing Point, Red Bull and Leclerc chose the medium tyres for their first run. The rest of the field were on softs. Bottas set a new track record whereas Hamilton made a rare mistake at Luffield and got spun around. To add insult to injury, the Stewards decided to halt the session when Hamilton was on a flying lap ( his second attempt ). The marshalls had to clear the gravel off the racing line before the resumption of the session. The seven-time World Champion had a decision to make in the interim. He chose to use his final set of Medium Tyres for his second run in Q2 with eight minutes left on the clock. He set the 2nd fastest time, the move paying off. In the final minutes of the session, Vettel and Stroll exited the pits on a fresh set of medium tyres while the rest of the field ( including the Mercedes ) chose the soft tyres. Stroll couldn't improve on his final run, neither could Vettel. Stroll was the driver under threat in P10. Gasly matched his lap time ( to the thousandth of a second ) but was classified eleventh since Stroll was the first driver to set the same lap time ( as per FIA rules ). Albon was the big casualty of Q2 with twelfth being his best effort. Hulkenberg too was a disappointment in 13th. He believed the car had more pace. Russell and Kvyat were the other eliminations. Hamilton, Bottas, Verstappen, Stroll and Leclerc would start the race on the medium set of tyres, enabling the quintet to go longer than the others ( in Q3 ) before their pitstops.


Low fuel loads, a fresh set of soft tyres and maximum engine performance are the hallmarks of every dry Q3. The final session of Qualifying got underway with some drama in the pit-lane. Stroll had to slam on his brakes after Ferrari released Leclerc in his path. Ricciardo was behind Stroll and had to do an evasive manoeuvre. Stewards decided to investigate the unsafe release. Mercedes pulled a considerable gap to the rest of the field with their banker laps. The order at the top had changed with Hamilton getting the jump on Bottas. He held onto provisional pole after the first runs and set a new track record in the process. Verstappen was the best of the rest in P3, a couple of tenths clear of Stroll and Leclerc. Vettel's lap was compromised after he put a wheel on the dirt at Chapel but managed to get provisional P6. The order would change drastically in the final run of Qualifying though. Hamilton went even faster, by three-tenths of a second, to grab pole at the British Grand Prix. Bottas pushed hard but had to settle for P2. A qualifying masterclass by the seven-time World Champion! Verstappen qualified in P3, a second down on the Mercedes duo. Leclerc produced a stellar lap to qualify in P4, a great place to start for the Ferrari driver. Norris and Stroll completed row three, Sainz and Ricciardo row four and Ocon and Vettel row five on the grid. Vettel's final lap time was invalidated as he had exceeded track limits, a dismal couple of days for the four-time world champion. 


The stewards decided to hand Russell a 5-place grid penalty for ignoring double yellow flags in Q1. Russell failed to interpret the "double-yellow" signal and wasn't instructed ( by the team ) to abort his lap ( as per the rules ). He also got three penalty points on his licence for this infringement. There was no further action on the Ocon/Raikkonen, Leclerc/Stroll and Stroll/Ricciardo incidents.

Hamilton bagged the 91st pole position of his career. It was also a day of milestones for both driver and team!

More on that here :

https://www.formula1.com/en/latest/article.qualifying-facts-and-stats-hamilton-claims-100th-front-row-start-for.3Osq6MptqI9lu9lc5Yf2WC.html


Mercedes were the class of the field on Saturday again. Verstappen was their closest challenger, albeit a second behind. McLaren and Racing Point hoped to have better race pace than the Ferraris while Albon had his work cut out for Sunday afternoon. Renault would be in the mix too. Duels in the front, midfield and at the back awaited fans on Raceday!


Race :

Hulkenberg, the replacement for Perez in Racing Point failed to make it to the grid due to engine issues on his car. Racing Point tried for a pit-lane start but to no avail. A disappointing end to a roller-coaster weekend for the German.  

Everyone ( bar Hulkenberg who didn't start ) outside the top 10 chose the medium set of tyres. Norris, Sainz, Ricciardo, Ocon and Vettel were the drivers who started the race on soft tyres.

The five red lights illuminated and a frenetic lap 1 got underway. Hamilton managed to fend off Bottas while Leclerc went wheel-to-wheel with Verstappen. The Dutchman held on to P3. Ricciardo moved up to P5 ahead of Sainz and Norris. Vettel ran wide at Corpse corner but managed to hold onto P10. Magnussen and Albon tangled at the last corner of the opening lap. Magnussen lost momentum after clipping the inside of the kerb and Albon tried a move on the inside. The left front tyre of the Red Bull hit the rear right tyre of the Haas, sending it into the barriers through the newly laid gravel.
The FIA immediately deployed the Safety car as well as the Medical car. Thankfully Magnussen was safe. The stewards initiated an investigation.

Racing resumed on lap 6 with Hamilton having a great restart. Ocon tried a move on Stroll but couldn't pull it off.  Albon pitted on lap 7 for hard tyres after reporting vibrations on the mediums that he had started the race on. He didn't suffer any suspension damage from the incident, a relief for the team. Vettel was stuck in P10 when DRS got enabled on lap 8. The Mercedes drivers were pulling away from Verstappen who was himself building a gap to Leclerc in 4th. Kvyat overtook Giovinazzi for P12 on lap 11 but had a massive crash at Maggotts a lap later. The car was a wreck after the High-G crash and brought out another Safety Car. The team suggested it was a right rear puncture to blame for the crash, not the driver. 

The Safety Car period caused a flurry of pit stops with everyone switching to the hard tyres. The front runners ( top 6 ) followed suit a lap later. Grosjean opted to not pit and got elevated to P5 at the expense of Sainz, Ricciardo, Norris and Stroll. Stroll was having a tough day at the office, the Racing Point car unable to live up to its true potential. Raikkonen also lost track position due to a poor double-stack by Alfa Romeo. The top 4 remain unchanged. The safety car period came at an ideal time for those on the soft tyres. It was a no stop race to the end now.

A prolonged period of seven laps under the safety car ended on lap 19 after a safe extrication of the stricken Alpha Tauri of Kvyat. Hamilton had a great restart again. Bottas doing likewise with Verstappen and Leclerc. There was action further down the field though. Sainz defended from Ricciardo who got bogged down and lost a place to Norris, the McLaren protege pulling off an amazing overtake on the outside of the corner. Norris then went wheel-to-wheel with Sainz but had to relent after running wide at Corpse. Further down, Ocon and Raikkonen overtook Vettel and Russell for P10 and P15 respectively. The stewards decided to punish Albon with a five-second time penalty for the incident ( on lap 1 ) which he served on his second stop.
 
Hamilton and Bottas were trading fastest laps in the front and pulling away from the rest of the field. Grosjean moved under braking while defending his position from Sainz. The Spaniard made his displeasure known over the team radio but got the move done on lap 22. Norris followed suit a lap later. Grosjean got warned with a Black & White Flag for unsporting behaviour on track, the stewards having studied his incident with Sainz. Stroll put a wheel on the dirt out of Becketts and was vulnerable to an overtake on the Hangar straight, Ocon unable to pounce at the opportunity. Raikkonen lost P15 to Russell on lap 28, a torrid time for the Iceman in the underperforming Alfa Romeo. Albon was slowly moving up the field and had Gasly in his sights. Gasly overtook Giovinazzi ( on lap 31 ) for P12 while Albon decided to pit instead of sparring with the duo in front. He served his time penalty, put on a new set of medium tyres and rejoined in seventeenth and last. Giovinazzi came under scrutiny a lap later over a Safety Car infringement. Raikkonen lost another place to Latifi on lap 33. Giovinazzi got punished with a five-second time penalty by the stewards and Ricciardo made a successful move on Grosjean for P7 ( lap 36 ). Grosjean had adopted dodgy tactics to defend his position again. The incident got flagged for investigation post-race.

Grosjean got overtaken by Stroll before he pitted for a set of hard tyres on lap 37, got stuck in the box, rejoining in 17th and last. Hamilton had retaken the fastest lap crown in the interim. Gasly passed Vettel for P10 on lap 38, the German's day going from bad to worse! 

Hamilton, Bottas, Verstappen, Leclerc, Sainz, Norris, Ricciardo, Stroll, Ocon and Gasly were the top 10 on lap 39.

Albon resumed his charge up the field by passing Raikkonen and Latifi on laps 40 and 42 respectively. Verstappen held the point for the fastest lap after it changed hands between Hamilton, Albon and him. There was excessive tyre wear on both Mercedes cars. Bottas reported vibrations and decided to conserve his tyres till the end. The gap to Hamilton started increasing steadily. Raikkonen was relegated to P17 and last when Grosjean overtook him on lap 45. Albon closed in on the duo of Giovinazzi and Russell in the battle for P12 and passed them on lap 46. Vettel in the Ferrari was next, seven seconds adrift. Stroll moved under braking while defending from Ocon on the Hangar Straight and got served a Black & White Flag for unsporting behaviour. It was job done for Ocon on lap 47 who was up to P8. Albon was taking chunks out of his deficit to Vettel and set the fastest lap of the race. 

Hamilton's lead to Bottas now extended to 6.5 seconds while Verstappen reduced his deficit to less than 9 seconds. McLarens were also reporting issues of blistering and Norris was coming under pressure from Ricciardo. Raikkonen's miseries didn't seem to end when he suffered a front wing failure and a left front puncture on lap 48. He limped to the pits and rejoined after a fresh set of tyres and front-wing swap. Gasly overtook Stroll for P9 on lap 49 and Albon was honing in on Vettel for P11. 

No scriptwriter could have imagined the drama that unfolded in the last three laps of the race. Bottas suffered delamination on the left front tyre going wide at turn 1. Verstappen was up into P2! There was more action further down the field with Albon overtaking Vettel for P11 and Ricciardo going past Norris for P6.  Bottas had already begun his lap when the tyre mishap occurred and would have to tip-toe around the entire length of the circuit, losing a lot of time to those behind him. He pitted on the penultimate lap, got a set of soft tyres in a 6.5 second stop and rejoined in P12 behind Vettel. Disaster for the Finn! 

Verstappen also pitted for a fresh set of tyres, Red Bull aiming to bag the point for the fastest lap. It was a guaranteed P2 for Verstappen who had a comfortable buffer to LeclercMercedes had the option of pitting Hamilton to mitigate the chances of tyre delamination. They chose otherwise. Hamilton had a thirty-six seconds cushion after Verstappen's pit-stop and instructed to exercise extreme caution with his tyres.

Albon's recovery drive continued with an overtake on Stroll for P9 on the final lap. There was more drama further up the field. Sainz was next on the list of casualties from tyre delaminations. The Spaniard's left front tyre gave up the ghost, losing P4 to Ricciardo. He pitted and rejoined in P16 and out of the points. 

Lewis Hamilton, the Race Leader, was halfway through the final lap when he too suffered delamination on his tyre! Mercedes had made a tactical error by not pitting him when they had the chance. It was a nerve-wracking time for the six-time World Champion. There were continuous changes to the settings ( on his dash display ) to manage a car that was limping around on three wheels. Verstappen was informed about Hamilton's predicament and kept pushing till the end. The gap reduced drastically but Hamilton limped over the finish line, less than 6 seconds clear of a late-charging Verstappen. Leclerc came home in 3rd after putting in another flawless drive. Ricciardo equalled his best finish in Renault with P4, Norris was P5 for Mclaren and Ocon P6 for Renault. Gasly, Albon, Stroll and Vettel completed the top 10. Bottas put Vettel under intense pressure but couldn't pull the move off at the end. A dismal end to such a promising weekend for the Finn. Giovinazzi was P12, another good drive put in by the Italian for Alfa Romeo. Russell, Latifi, Sainz, Grosjean and Raikkonen were the rest of the finishers. 

Some experts believed that Red Bull blew the chance of victory by pitting Verstappen on the penultimate lap. However, Team Principal Christian Horner refuted the claims by saying that Verstappen had cuts on his tyres and would have suffered the same fate as the Mercedes duo had he not pitted. Mercedes had a bitter-sweet day and rued the missed opportunity of another 1-2. Hamilton and Mercedes seem unbeatable even under duress. Ferrari is having a challenging 2020 but will be encouraged by a strong showing on Sunday. Alan Permane, Renault's Track Operations Director, completed a milestone of 500 race weekends on Sunday. P4 and P6 by his drivers is quite a tribute for his dedication to the team's cause. McLaren also had a mixed day at the office with Norris getting P5 and Sainz being denied a points-finish at the end. Gasly put in another strong weekend for Alpha Tauri in P7. Albon once again proved his skill to fight on a Sunday. Stroll and Racing Point had a forgettable British GP and will look to bounce back the next weekend. Hulkenberg seems destined for another round of racing next weekend with Perez restricted to the confines of his room. Vettel was frustrated after a trouble-ridden weekend but will have a second shot at it. Williams is improving with each passing weekend while Haas F1 and Alfa Romeo seem lost at sea. 

Grosjean got a formal warning from the stewards for his unsporting defensive manoeuvres in the race.  

Pirelli promised a thorough investigation of the tyre delaminations at the end of the race. Their findings will be critical since the dry tyre compounds chosen are a level softer with higher track temperatures forecasted for the 70th Anniversary GP. 


The 70th Anniversary of F1 is nigh. The teams will return to Silverstone this weekend for a second bout. A special event awaits one and all. 

2020 Hungarian GP Race Recap : The King of the Ring Hungry for More!

The 2020 F1 season got underway with two back-to-back races at the Red Bull Ring in Spielberg, Austria. Mercedes reigned supreme over the two race weekends. The sport then made its way east, to the city of Budapest, home to Hungaroring, venue for the Hungarian GP which completed the first triple-header of the season.

Hungaroring, a high downforce, street-like circuit, has seen some memorable races in the past. This was one race that could close the gap between Mercedes and the chasing pack. Lewis Hamilton, a 7-time winner here, also called "the King of the Ring" hoped to reduce the 6 points deficit to the Championship Leader and his teammate Valtteri Bottas. 

The Racing Point cars still ran the "controversial" brake ducts that Renault had protested against while Ferrari hoped for a better outing after the fiasco in the previous race. 


Were Red Bull and Racing Point able to upset the mighty Mercs? Was Lewis able to become an 8-time race winner at Hungaroring and take the lead of the Championship or did Bottas have a say? Did Ferrari & Renault show signs of resurgence? Was McLaren able to maintain the momentum they had from the season openers? 

All shall be revealed in this race recap! 


Practice :

Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas were the fastest in Free Practice 1. Sergio Perez and Lance Stroll were the only drivers within one second of their times. Renault got themselves up into the top 10 with Ricciardo in P6 and Ocon in P10 while Vettel and Leclerc set the 6th and the 7th fastest times respectively. It was a mixed session for Red Bull with Alex Albon down in P13 and Verstappen in P8. Both the cars struggled with balance issues and traffic on track. McLaren was in a similar situation with Norris in P9 and Sainz in P11. The Haas cars were P12 and P14  while Latifi outpaced his more experienced team-mate, George Russell to finish P15. Gasly didn't take part due to sensor issues on his car while Kubica replaced Raikkonen for this session. Williams was now on par with Alpha Tauri and Alfa Romeo.

Free Practice 2 was hit with inclement weather and few chose to drive in the wet. Gasly and Raikkonen used this session for acclimatization. Sebastian Vettel topped the timesheets for Ferrari with Bottas hot on his heels. Charles Leclerc, in the other Ferrari, could only manage the 10th fastest time while Carlos Sainz Jr. went P3 for McLaren. The Racing Point cars were in the top 6 again. Drivers experimented with intermediate sets but struggled due to poor track conditions. Many ran wide due to lack of grip and the session finished with thirteen setting times, the Renault and Williams duo, Albon, Magnussen and Hamilton unable to do so. 

Free Practice 3 was a rain threatened session. The session was split into race and qualifying simulations by the teams. Bottas was fastest from Hamilton, Perez, Leclerc and Stroll who completed the top 5. Red Bull struggled with balance issues while Williams had a great run with Russell in P14. Racing Point seemed to be the real challenger going into qualifying. Ferrari was encouraged by their performance in the final practice session. Gasly reported engine trouble on his Alpha Tauri, warning signs for Honda. Haas and Alfa Romeo were the slowest of the lot, their chances for the weekend bleak. 



Qualifying :

Q1 got underway with a flurry of cars coming out of the pits as the rain clouds closed in. Soft tyres were the choice for all as a slight drizzle hit the track. Latifi, Raikkonen, Grosjean, Magnussen and Giovinazzi were in the elimination zone after the first run. Giovinazzi's lap-time was deleted for exceeding track limits at turn 4. The bottom 5 kept running through Q1 in their attempt to better their times. Track conditions improved as the clock ran down and the likes of Albon, Ocon, Gasly were under threat. Russell and Latifi jumped into the top 10! Meanwhile, Perez set the fastest time of Q1! Everyone drove out on a fresh set of soft tyres with less than 2 minutes on the clock. Verstappen was at risk in the final moments of Q1. The Dutchman improved to P8 while those in the drop zones failed to do better than the 15th placed Latifi. Magnussen, Kvyat, Grosjean, Giovinazzi and Raikkonen eliminated from Q1. It was a forgettable day for Alfa Romeo and Haas once again. Williams had both cars in Q2 after a gap of 4 years! Claire Williams was elated. The Racing Point cars were the fastest of the session with Hamilton hot on their heels. Sainz was under investigation for impeding Giovinazzi. Verstappen and Gasly complained about engine issues.

The lights went green for Q2 and Mercedes, Racing Point and Renault drivers chose the medium set of tyres for their first timed laps. Gasly was the last one to set a banker lap on a set of soft tyres. Leclerc, Russell, Albon, Ocon and Latifi were in the drop zone with 8 minutes left on the clock. Red Bull suspected damage on the front wing of Albon's car while Gasly's engine woes continued. Gasly was informed by the team that the issue couldn't be fixed in-session, much to his chagrin. Racing Point had a tense time with Stroll, who got called to the weigh-bridge for a random check. They had to wheel him into the garage to refuel and replace his tyres with less than 4 minutes left. Gasly gave up on his final attempt in Q2 due to an engine failure. The Frenchman would get a new engine for the race on Sunday. Racing Point again chose the medium set of tyres for their final run in Q2, a bold decision indeed! Everyone else was on the soft tyres. Albon made a couple of errors on his flying lap and couldn't better his time. He eventually qualified 13th behind Russell in the Williams! A bad day at the office for the Thai sensation. Ricciardo, Russell, Albon, Ocon and Latifi were the drivers eliminated. Gasly scraped through in 10th but wouldn't take further part due to the issue. Ferrari was relieved to have both cars in Q3 for the first time this year.  Advantage Mercedes and Racing Point - the quartet would start the race on the medium set of tyres ( from Q2 )!


Mercedes were a class apart in Q3 as they dialled up their engines. Lewis Hamilton set a new track record on his first run with Bottas three tenths behind. Perez exceeded track limits, his lap time deleted. Stroll was provisional P3 from Verstappen, Norris, Sainz, Vettel and Leclerc. The Ferraris were the first ones out to complete their final run (with 5 minutes left). Stroll followed shortly after. The trio improved and Ferraris locked out the third row on the grid, Stroll P3Perez, on his legitimate run, set the 4th fastest time; Racing Point 3rd and 4th! Hamilton went faster on his final run, beating his lap record set a few minutes earlier, a tenth clear of his team-mate Bottas in P2. Verstappen, Norris and Sainz couldn't improve on their final runs and would start 7th, 8th and 9th respectively. Another day of dominance for the Mercedes powered cars! The works team was in a league of its own with their favourite customer, best of the rest! Ferrari was the 3rd fastest team on the grid ( in qualifying at least ) while Red Bull had work to do overnight, sorting out balance and engine issues. There was the possibility of rain on race day as well, an exciting prospect on Sunday!



Race :

The heavens opened on Sunday. It would be a wet start to the race. There was drama before the race even began! A skid at turn 12 ( on his exploration lap ) sent Verstappen into the barriers damaging his front wing and possibly, the front suspension. The Red Bull mechanics wheeled him into his grid slot and began a thorough inspection. Others ran back and forth to gather tools and spares for the car. The front wing and the steering rod were some of the components replaced. The mechanics completed a 90-minute job in 15, kudos! 
Their troubles were compounded when the FIA initiated an investigation on the other car. The mechanics had allegedly used leaf blowers to dry the grid slot of Albon's carFIA F1 Technical Delegate Jo Bauer was witness to the act. The verdict would be given post-race. 

The formation lap got underway and barring Magnussen ( who was on wets ) everyone chose intermediate tyres. 
Haas F1 decided to pit both their drivers ( for slicks ) at the end of the formation lap. They believed the track was ready for dry tyres.
The others lined up for the race start.

It was a poor start for Bottas. He seemed to have jumped the lights, stopping momentarily before using the launch control again. Fortunately, ( for him ) the sensor didn't report this infringement. 
Hamilton led into turn 1 from Stroll. Verstappen went wheel-to-wheel with Vettel for P3 and got the position. Vettel and Leclerc were 4th and 5th, Bottas down to 6th! Perez, Sainz, Ricciardo and Latifi completed the top 10 at the end of lap 1. 
Norris had a bad start and was down in P14. Raikkonen was P15 but got served a 5 second time penalty for being in the wrong grid slot for the race start.

Kvyat pitted on lap 1 for a set of mediums. Bottas and Leclerc pitted on lap 3 for medium and soft tyres respectively. Albon overtook Latifi for P8 while Verstappen pressurized Stroll for P2. A slew of cars entered the pits ( on laps 4 and 5 ) for a switch to dry tyres. Vettel lost a lot of time in this melee. Sainz tangled with Latifi when his front wing clipped his left rear tyre at the pit exit. Latifi got spun around and suffered a puncture. It was an unsafe release by Williams and Latifi was awarded a time penalty of 5 seconds ( on lap 10 ). Magnussen and Grosjean jumped to P3 and P4 after the first round of pit stops! Leclerc, Kvyat, Gasly, Russell and Giovinazzi had chosen the soft tyres while the rest of the field the mediums. 

Perez ran wide and lost 2 positions to Vettel and Albon on lap 5. Verstappen set the fastest time on lap 6. DRS got enabled a lap later and Stroll overtook Grosjean for P4.  Bottas sparred with Leclerc ( lap 8 ) but was forced onto the wet section, his challenge fizzling out. Hamilton reclaimed the fastest lap from Verstappen. Bottas returned for round 2 and completed a clean pass on Leclerc on lap 10. He then overtook Grosjean on lap 12 for P5. Vettel made an error and ceded a place to Albon and Stroll pressurized Magnussen for P3. Hamilton extended his lead at the front. 

There was a prediction of a light shower on the radar. 
Albon started pressurizing Leclerc who was losing performance on the soft tyres. He attempted a couple of overtakes but was unsuccessful. This allowed Vettel to close in on the sparring duo. Meanwhile, Raikkonen passed Gasly for P14. Gasly limped into the pits on lap 16 and into retirement, his car emitting smoke. Stroll caught up to Magnussen and passed him on lap 16. Down the order, the battle for P7 raged on with Vettel joining the fray as well! Bottas demoted Magnussen to P5 on lap 17. Perez, Ricciardo and Sainz joined Albon & Vettel behind Leclerc. Albon was getting frustrated and requested for more engine power. It was job done on lap 18, the Haas duo up next. Vettel had to clear Leclerc who was struggling to prolong his stint.
Thankfully, Ferrari didn't stall his progress and the German overtook his team-mate with DRS on lap 19. Kvyat pitted for a set of hard tyres. Leclerc, now under pressure from Perez, defended his position and pitted on lap 21 for a new set of hard tyres. He rejoined in P15. Perez had clear air and started pulling away from Ricciardo and Sainz. Giovinazzi pitted for a set of medium tyres on lap 22. Light rain was predicted in 10 minutes. Hamilton was pushing and lapping backmarkers pretty quickly. Leclerc was one of them on lap 24.

Bottas was closing in on Stroll, Leclerc likewise with Norris. Sainz too maintained pressure on Ricciardo. Drivers complained about tyre wear and loss of grip but chose to continue ( with the threat of rain in the air ). Lap 29 saw two great battles unfold - Bottas vs Stroll and Leclerc vs Norris. Leclerc was wheel-to-wheel with Norris but unable to complete the move on the outside of turn 3. Albon overtook Grosjean on lap 30, the Frenchman coming under intense pressure from Vettel. Vettel, however, pitted at the end of the lap for a set of hard tyres and avoided the loss of time behind slower cars. He rejoined in P12, Raikkonen up to P11! 

Perez demoted Grosjean to P8 on lap 31 and Leclerc was having a titanic battle with Norris. The McLaren protege was immovable. Leclerc finally passed him on the next lap. Meanwhile, Vettel set the fastest lap of the race and Ricciardo made a move on Grosjean for P8.
There was a slew of pitstops again. Bottas pitted on lap 34 for another set of medium tyres and Raikkonen pitted from P12 for a set of hard tyres and rejoined in 17th. Albon pitted on lap 36 ( from 6th ) for hard tyres and rejoined in 10th. Stroll pitted for a set of medium tyres but lost third place to Bottas. Bottas' undercut strategy paid off. Verstappen and Hamilton pitted as well
( on laps 37 & 38 respectively ). Status quo maintained. 

Magnussen couldn't defend against Perez for P9 ( lap 40 ) and was falling into the hands of Leclerc. A switch to the hard tyres for Sainz on lap 41 put him out of the points scoring positions in P11. Yellow flags were deployed when Latifi had an offtrack excursion. He made it back to the pits and put on another set of fresh tyres.

The Haas cars were going backwards - Ricciardo overtook Magnussen ( lap 47 ) after his final pit stop while Grosjean lost two positions to Ocon and Norris in the space of two laps. Bottas switched to the hard tyres with another pit stop on lap 50, in the hope of "under-cutting" Verstappen. The Red Bull driver chose to continue on his worn set. Bottas had to reduce the 23-second deficit in the space of 20 laps for a P2 finish. There was another battle brewing, this time between would-be teammates, Leclerc and Sainz.
Bottas went about chasing Verstappen with a series of fastest laps and steadily reducing the gap. Stroll, meanwhile, pitted for a fresh set of boots on lap 53. Albon and Vettel were the next cars to be lapped by the leader Hamilton, only the top 4 remaining on the lead lap! 

Hamilton, Verstappen, Bottas, Stroll, Vettel, Albon, Perez, Ricciardo, Magnussen, Leclerc were the top 10 at the end of lap 58.
The battle for the final point intensified with Sainz challenging Leclerc on lap 60. The Ferrari driver held firm. He couldn't defend on the next lap though and ceded his place to the Spaniard. Mercedes asked Hamilton to pit on lap 63 but aborted it, the life of the soft tyres still being debated on the pit wall. He eventually did pit on lap 67 for a fresh set of soft tyres. Albon snatched back P5 from Vettel on the same lap. Bottas held onto the fastest lap with 3 laps remaining. He was within 2 seconds of Verstappen and catching him at a rate of knots. Hamilton reclaimed the point for the fastest lap ( on the penultimate and last laps )!
All eyes were on the battle for P2. Bottas was in DRS range of Verstappen on the final lap. Unfortunately, he was a lap too late.


Hamilton won the Hungarian GP for the 8th time! Verstappen had his Red Bull Mechanics to thank for his second place. Bottas came home in third. Stroll was P4, Albon P5 followed by Vettel, Perez, Ricciardo, Magnussen and Sainz
Leclerc, Kvyat, Ocon, Norris, Grosjean, Raikkonen, Giovinazzi, Russell and Latifi failed to finish in the points. Gasly was the sole retirement.

Post-race, the Haas F1 team got summoned for alleged breach of regulations on the formation lap with regards to driver aids. Both drivers were served a 10 second time penalty. The team made the call to pit ( not the drivers ), hence the penalty.
Grosjean was relegated to P16 and Magnussen to P10. Sainz & Raikkonen promoted to P9 & P15 respectively. 

Red Bull Racing and Albon weren't penalized for their alleged breach on the grid. The Stewards reviewed the video evidence and concluded that the team didn't attempt to alter the grip of the track surface.


Hamilton was a class apart this weekend. He had lapped every car up to P5, truly a drubbing. Bottas has relinquished his lead in the championship. Red Bull had a tough weekend but was able to salvage a P2 and a P5. Racing Point had another strong weekend. Vettel made the right calls and scored good points. His team-mate had another disappointing weekend, a poor strategy call to blame. McLaren hit a low after the highs of the opening races. Renault would be glad to see both cars finish a race and aim to score points with both cars. Williams did great on Saturday but faltered on Sunday. Alfa Romeo struggled on both days! It is disheartening to see a team struggle on tracks where they scored points a year earlier. Alpha Tauri would like to forget this weekend as quickly as possible.  

Silverstone, another power track, is next on the calendar. The next triple-header is less than a fortnight away, so teams need to address issues to recover lost ground. Mercedes might still have the upper hand. Time will tell.



Hamilton, the King of the Ring, won at Hungaroring for the 8th time! More records beckon, the hunger never dies!!

2020 Styrian GP Race Recap : Deutsch Dominance in the Styrian Countryside

The 2020 F1 season got underway at the Red Bull Ring with the Austrian GP! Valtteri Bottas and Mercedes AMG F1 won the opening round. Charles Leclerc produced a stellar drive to finish P2 with Lando Norris bagging the first podium of his F1 career.

These 3 constructors ( Mercedes, Ferrari & McLaren ) shared the podium for the first time in the history of the sport!

The week that followed served up more surprises. Fernando Alonso announced his return to F1 with Renault Sport F1 Team for 2021 and 2022. 

The race calendar now included Mugello and Sochi as the latest entrants. The circuit in Mugello makes a return to the sport and will be the venue for the 1000th GP of the Scuderia Ferrari F1 Team.

The contenders returned to the same venue, a weekend later, to take part in round 2, now known as the Styrian GP! The race was named after the region of Styria where the circuit is located. It wasn't the first time a race would be named after a region. Pescara in Italy hosted the Pescara GP in 1957. This would be the first venue, however, to host back-to-back races in the same year!


Ferrari rushed in a couple of aero upgrades for Round 2. Lewis Hamilton hoped for a clean weekend while Honda claimed their engine issues were addressed ( due to an electrical fault ) and Red Bull would have a more reliable car for the weekend.


How did the teams fare on the weekend? Did we have a new winner? Time for a recap!



Practice :

Friday Practice saw Racing Point dominate FP1 with Max Verstappen and the Mercedes duo hot on their heels. Ferrari powered cars continued to struggle with 10th being their highest finish. Nicolas Latifi retired from the session with a broken gearbox. Jack Aitken and Robert Kubica, reserve drivers for Williams and Alfa Romeo respectively, finished P17 and P18. Haas' woes continued - Romain Grosjean suffered braking issues while Kevin Magnussen completed only 3 laps before the team called him to investigate what seemed to be a faulty battery. Lando Norris got penalised with a 3 place grid drop for overtaking under Yellow Flags during FP1.

The weather prediction for Saturday was heavy rains with the threat of both FP3 and Qualifying being called off. If conditions didn't improve by Sunday morning ( alternate timeslot for Qualifying ), the FIA would be forced to refer to the FP2 results for forming the grid for the race. 

FP2 commenced on a disastrous note for Daniel Ricciardo. The Australian lost control of his car into turn 9, careering into the barriers, the car wrecked. He was pretty winded after the impact and seen limping. Thankfully, precautionary checks at the medical centre deemed him fit for the rest of the weekend.

A lot of teams chose to throw caution to the wind, using up more than one fresh set of soft tyres to set banker laps. Some, like Mercedes, went the conservative way and ran their race program after a few flying laps. 

The result? Max Verstappen was top of the pile with Bottas and the Racing Point cars a close 3rd and 4th. Hamilton ended the session in 6th while the Ferraris languished in 9th and 16th, Vettel reporting issues with the front end throughout FP2. McLaren was in the mix with Sainz in 5th and Norris in 8th. Albon finished in P7 but it wasn't a clean session for him ( spin and an off-track excursion ). The Williams got the jump on Haas, an encouraging sign for them!

Saturday arrived and the heavens opened. The Formula 3 Race had to be Red Flagged and after a lot of deliberation, Free Practice 3 stood cancelled

The possibility of a postponement of Qualifying to Sunday Morning seemed real...



Qualifying :

The start of Qualifying was delayed due to the onset of another shower and poor track conditions. 

Q1 finally got underway, 50 minutes later, with everyone making a beeline for the pit exit. The teams didn't want to be caught out if the conditions worsened. Everyone was fueled to till the end of the session. Lap times started improving slowly as the water was displaced off the racing line by the train of cars. Williams rolled the dice by sending Russell on a new set of wet tyres in the final minutes. He improved to P12.  Less than a minute left on the clock and the Alfa Romeo of Giovinazzi spun, going backwards into the barriers, bringing out yellow flags and eventually red-flagging the session ( when it ground to a halt ). The runners behind the Alfa Romeo had to slow down and couldn't improve their lap times. Sergio Perez was the big casualty of Q1. Kimi Raikkonen was the other. Both were on personal best laps when the session was red-flagged. Latifi, Giovinazzi & Grosjean were the other eliminations of Q1. Grosjean was unable to set a lap time with an ERS issue. Giovinazzi was handed a 5 place grid penalty for a gearbox change while Haas came under investigation for working on Grosjean's car in parc-ferme conditions.  

Q2 began under slightly better conditions. Hamilton traded fastest laps with Verstappen initially but the conditions soon deteriorated as the rain intensified. Ferrari was once again struggling to stay in touch with the front runners with Charles Leclerc outside the top 10 and Vettel the driver at risk of elimination. The Monegasque driver couldn't better his time and eventually finished the session in P11. Leclerc's woes didn't end there as he was under investigation for impeding Kvyat on his flying lap in Q2. He was awarded a 3 place grid drop for this infringement and would start the race in 14th! Russell, Stroll, Kvyat and Magnussen were the other casualties, mistakes for Stroll and Magnussen costing them dearly. Racing Point hoped to turn things around come race-day.   

Track conditions were similar to that of Q1 ( at the start of Q3 ) and the cars tiptoed around the track for the first couple of minutes. Lap times were set and the Mercedes duo seemed to have an upper hand in the fight for the front row. The lap times started dropping in the final three minutes of the session. Verstappen jumped to Provisional Pole while Gasly improved to P4. Lewis Hamilton had different plans. The 6 times World Champion set purple sectors and snatched back provisional pole, this time with a margin of seven-tenths of a second. Ocon demoted Bottas to P4 before Sainz claimed P3 from OconMax Verstappen pushed hard on his final attempt displaying razor-sharp reflexes whenever the car tried to misbehave. It was neck and neck into the last couple of corners when a distraction caused by the Ferrari of Vettel pulling into the pits upset his focus. He lost the rear end of his car into the final turn and the challenge was over. It wasn't over for the Mercedes duo...yet... Bottas pushed hard but could only manage P4. Lewis flexed his muscles and went even faster. He would eventually finish on pole with a buffer of 1.2 seconds to Max Verstappen and 1.6 to his team-mate ( who was in 4th ). It was a driving masterclass in atrocious conditions! 

Carlos Sainz Jr qualified P3. Bottas, Ocon, Norris, Albon, Gasly, Ricciardo & Vettel completed the top 10.

Come rain, come sunshine, Mercedes was still the team to beat. Red Bull and McLaren had a great base to fight them on Sunday. Once again there was only one Ferrari powered car in the top 10 and the works team needed to produce a foolproof strategy ( with a fair bit of luck ) if they were to replicate their performance from the previous week. The Racing Points weren't able to display their true pace either. The race on Sunday promised to be an exciting affair!



Race :

The Regional Anthem of Styria was played before the drivers took a stand ( or knee ) against racism. 19 cars lined up on the grid as Grosjean opted to start from the pit lane. The sun was shining in all its glory and the track was bone dry! It was time to go racing!

Everyone had a free choice of tyres ( due to a wet qualifying ). Ricciardo, Vettel, Kvyat, Raikkonen, Latifi and Giovinazzi opted to start on the medium set of tyres while the rest of the field chose the softs.  

The 5 red lights went out and Hamilton was quick off the blocks. Sainz tried to scrap it out with Verstappen but the latter held firm. The train of cars reached turn 3 and Leclerc tried to make a move on Vettel, went over the kerb, the rear of his car lifted into the air and tangled with the rear wing of Vettel's Ferrari. The latter limped to the pits with a dangling rear wing. His race was over and the Safety Car was deployed. Kimi Raikkonen had a front-row seat of the incident and had to slam his brakes to avoid contact with the sparring Ferraris in front. His car went into anti-stall relegating him to the back of the pack. Vettel retired from the race. Leclerc pitted as well for a front wing change and a switch to an alternate strategy (a new set of hard tyres ). Stewards investigated the incident and deemed it as "No Action Necessary".

Racing resumed on lap 4 and once again Hamilton had a clean getaway. Leclerc's car was undrivable due to massive underside damage and he retired from the race on lap 5. Perez had a mega start and was already in P11 by the end of lap 7. Bottas overtook Sainz for P3 while Albon closed in on the McLaren. An off-track excursion for Russell demoted him to 18th and last. Albon overtook Sainz for P4 ( lap 8 ). Raikkonen passed Latifi for P17 while Stroll bickered with Norris over P9 on lap 10. The Canadian was on the move having started 13th on the grid. He was able to make the overtake a lap later. His team-mate Perez then made his entry into the points scoring position on lap 14 with Norris going backwards in a tough phase of the race. 

Daniel Ricciardo was closing in on his team-mate Ocon for P6. Renault had opted for different strategies and it seemed that Ocon was losing performance on his soft tyres. Things got quite nervy on lap 17 when Ricciardo tried to make a move on the outside at turn 4. Ocon held forte. Ricciardo didn't mince his words over the team radio and wanted to chase down Sainz ( in P5 ) if the team instructed Ocon to let him by. Stroll made it past Gasly on the same lap and was closing in on this duo rapidly. A lap later the Renault team-mates went wheel-to-wheel again while Gasly lost another spot, this time to Sergio Perez
Ricciardo finally made it past Ocon ( lap 19 ).

Mercedes instructed both their drivers to push and Hamilton responded with the fastest laps of the race on laps 20 & 21. It went from bad to worse for Gasly who lost another place to Norris ( on lap 22 ). The Alpha Tauri was rapidly losing performance on the soft tyres. Meanwhile, Leclerc and Vettel exchanged words in the paddock and the former apologised for his mistake at the start of the race. 

Bottas was now closing in on Verstappen. There was a lot of action at the back of the field as well. Raikkonen was now in P14, having passed Magnussen. Giovinazzi, his team-mate, was the next car up ahead.  

Red Bull decided to undercut the Mercedes and pitted Verstappen for a fresh set of medium tyres on lap 25. Game on! Ocon retired from the race on lap 26 with a suspected cooling issue. Hamilton was now 25 seconds clear of Verstappen.


Hamilton, Bottas, Verstappen, Albon, Sainz, Ricciardo, Stroll, Perez, Norris and Kvyat were the top 10 on lap 27. Hamilton dived into the pits at the end of lap 27, switched to a fresh set of medium tyres and exited the pits with a comfortable lead over a charging Verstappen. The Dutchman was unhappy and questioned the team's attempt of an undercut.

Bottas took over the lead of the race and decided to go longer on his first stint. Gasly pitted on lap 29 for a set of hard tyres, the Frenchman rejoining in 17th and last. Lewis Hamilton wasted no time in setting the fastest lap time ( of the race ) on his fresh set of medium tyres, pulling away from Max Verstappen and reducing the deficit to his team-mate in front. Meanwhile, Sergio Perez put immense pressure on his team-mate for P7. Racing Point had a decision to make. 

Carlos Sainz pitted from P5 on lap 33 but a sticky left-rear wheel delayed the Spaniard. A stationary stop of 7.2 seconds caused him to get stuck behind a train of cars that were yet to pit. Bottas finally pitted on lap 34 for a fresh set of medium tyres and rejoined in 3rd behind Lewis Hamilton & Max Verstappen. The Finn would now have to make an overtake on-track to claim P2. 
Racing Point also pitted Lance Stroll on the same lap ( lap 34 ). This cleared the road for Sergio Perez in his quest to reduce the gap to Ricciardo. The Alfa Romeo cars were now into points-scoring positions. 

Albon pitted from P4 on lap 36 and rejoined in 7th behind Lando Norris. Stroll and Sainz were now hunting down the cars yet to make a stop. Stroll overtook Raikkonen on lap 36 and did the same with Giovinazzi a lap later. Sainz followed suit with overtakes on laps 38 and 39. Perez pitted on lap 39 ( from P5 ) and rejoined the track just in front of Sainz. The Spaniard was unwilling to yield and went wheel to wheel with Perez. He had track-position out of turn 4 but Perez got a great slipstream and went around the outside of turn 5 to retake P8! What an outstanding manoeuvre!

Norris and Giovinazzi pitted on lap 40 for a fresh set of tyres while Bottas set the fastest lap of the race, reducing the deficit to Verstappen. Haas F1 drivers were having a torrid time and still suffering from braking issues. Raikkonen pitted for a fresh set of soft tyres on lap 45 while Perez closed in on his team-mate ( again ) for P6. He was side by side with DRS Assistance out of turn 4 and had the inside line into turn 5. Another brilliant move and great wheel-to-wheel racing! 

Perez had Daniel Ricciardo in his sights, the latter struggling on the soft tyres. The front-runners were now lapping the backmarkers and the gap between Verstappen and Bottas was hovering around the 8-second mark. Raikkonen and Magnussen had quite an aggressive duel with the former rebuffing the challenge ( lap 48 ). Raikkonen then passed Gasly to move up to P12 on lap 49. Gasly ditched his hard tyres for a fresh set of mediums and rejoined last... a forgettable Sunday for the Frenchman.

Perez was in DRS range and overtook Ricciardo before turn 4. It seemed like the latter was nursing an issue or running conservatively to protect the reliability of his car. Ricciardo soon fell into the clutches of the other Racing Point and Stroll was unrelenting in his pressure to claim P6. Ricciardo held on, using his battery power at the right places to maintain the status quo. The crown for the Fastest Lap shifted to Perez who was flying with the clear track in front of him. The Mexican put in a series of blistering laps! Suddenly P4 seemed a possibility... an incredible feat from P17 ( if he could accomplish it ). The gap was reducing rapidly and Albon ( in P4 ) was apprised about the situation. 

Mercedes informed Bottas ( lap 54 ) that he would catch Verstappen on the last lap with the current pace and Verstappen had picked up some front wing damage on the right-hand side. Thankfully it wasn't critical. Alfa Romeo was on the cusp of scoring points again with Giovinazzi and Raikkonen hot on the heels of 10th placed man Kvyat. The team deliberated on a position swap between their 2 drivers. Raikkonen was on fresher tyres and was stuck behind Giovinazzi, losing performance in the dirty air. 

Perez was within striking distance of P4 and in the DRS range ( lap 57 ). Albon and Perez then ran into a couple of backmarkers with the latter getting held up just a bit. Down the field, Raikkonen finally got the nod to pass Giovinazzi and hunt down Kvyat to grab the solitary point ( on lap 60 ). It would prove to be too little too late. 

Stroll was still stuck behind Ricciardo when Norris and Sainz started tussling for 8th. McLaren swapped positions with minimal time loss to either, giving Norris the license to go after the Renault and Racing Point in full earnest ( lap 62 ). Perez continued to pump in a series of fastest laps in the DRS range of Albon while Bottas was 2 seconds behind Verstappen! Verstappen complained about driveability issues and worn-out tyres and Bottas was in DRS range by lap 65. The fastest lap of the race changed hands again! It was Norris who claimed it ( lap 65 ) as he closed in on Stroll in P7. 

The battle for P2 intensified on lap 66. "Not much left on my rear tyres" quipped Max Verstappen as he led Bottas into the triple DRS zones. Bottas got close into the run at turn 3, was made to take the outside line, got better traction out of the corner and with DRS assistance the pass seemed to be complete before turn 4. However, Verstappen had other ideas and drove around the outside. Bottas was forced to yield ( at turn 5 ) and Verstappen kept his place for another lap! 
The battle resumed on the next lap with Bottas forced to take the outside line out of turn 3 again. This time he got the job done with DRS into turn 4. It was a Mercedes 1-2 ( lap 66 ). 

Lewis Hamilton, meanwhile, decided to turn up the wick and reclaimed the fastest lap point from Norris ( lap 66 ). Carlos Sainz pitted on the same lap for a fresh set of soft tyres, his goal the same. It was a free stop for the Spaniard. 

The race had come alive in the closing stages! 

Verstappen would then pit at the end of lap 68, a free stop for him as well. Kudos to the FOM for adding an extra point for the fastest lap of the race since last year. Carlos Sainz now topped the fastest laps chart but would he hold onto it until the end?

Perez knew it was now or never and tried a pass on Albon into Turn 4 ( on the penultimate lap ). The two made contact, Perez's front wing suffering damage after contact with the rear of Albon's car. The latter was lucky to come out unscathed out of the same turn where he suffered much grief a week earlier. The front wing of the Mexican's car was hanging on precariously but he kept racing. Meanwhile, Norris had joined the Ricciardo-Stroll battle for P6.

There was more drama on the penultimate lap. Lance Stroll went for a last-ditch, late-braking lunge, down the inside of Ricciardo at Turn 3, out-braked himself, ran wide, pushed Ricciardo further wide and offered Norris the chance of a double overtake. The trio raced wheel-to-wheel into turn 4 with Norris getting the jump on Ricciardo and even challenging Stroll only to relent a turn later. 

The McLaren protegee got a second shot at it on the final lap and got the job done into turn 4! 

Lewis Hamilton took the chequered flag and the win, well clear of his team-mate Bottas and Verstappen. Albon took P4.

Perez had a 6.5 seconds cushion to Norris. The gap reduced massively and Norris overtook Perez on the penultimate turn! Norris finished in P5 with Perez holding off Stroll and Ricciardo in a photo finish! Sainz and Kvyat completed the top 10 with Sainz bagging the point for the fastest lap! 

Raikkonen came across the line in P11, the Finn having to back off due to fuel saving towards the end. Magnussen and Grosjean jumped Giovinazzi for P12 and P13 respectively. Gasly was P15 followed by Russell and Latifi.



Hamilton had lapped everyone up until P9. Such was the dominance of the Mercedes! Red Bull, the best of the rest. McLaren and Racing Point had another strong weekend. Renault still had reliability issues to address. Scuderia Alpha Tauri had a mediocre weekend. Alfa Romeo Racing had a better outing while Haas F1 was relieved to finish after their double retirement the previous weekend. Williams would rue a missed opportunity with Russell.

Ferrari had a forgettable weekend and need to bring all their resources to bear to turn things around quickly. They have numerous issues to address. P11 was the best finish for a Ferrari powered car ( Alfa Romeo of Kimi Raikkonen ) this weekend. Challenging times for the most successful team on the grid.


Offtrack, Renault lodged a complaint with the FIA over the legality of the Racing Point RP20. FIA confirmed Renault's protest was admissible. There will be a full hearing.


The F1 brigade now makes its way to Hungary. The circuit, close to the city of Budapest, is a high downforce track and the chasing pack can reduce the deficit to the Mercedes here. Track position will play an important role though.

Mercedes will be glad to start the season with a win for both their drivers. Their quest for a 7th Constructors' Championship has begun on the right note. The three-pointed star landed a knockout punch in both the bouts.

Mercedes reigned supreme in the Sytrian countryside! Bring on Hungary!!

2020 Austrian GP Race Recap : Season Opener serves up a Race of Attrition!

2020 has been a challenging year. The Pandemic Covid-19 brought the entire world to a standstill with nations having to enforce lockdowns, instructing their populace to exercise social distancing and employ extensive sanitization measures. Sporting events had to be postponed or cancelled throughout the year and F1 was no exception. The sport attempted to kick-start the season in Australia in March but the event was called off on Friday morning after a couple of personnel in the paddock tested positive. Consequently, more racing events were cancelled or postponed and there was a possibility of a heavily truncated 2020 F1 season.

Thankfully the "curve flattened" in Europe ( from June ) and various sporting events announced dates for resumption in 2020. Formula One Management also drew up plans and the season would kick off at the Red Bull Ring in Spielberg, Austria on the first weekend of July, with a calendar featuring 15 to 16 races. 

Unfortunately the first 8 races viz. Austrian & Styrian GPs, Hungarian GP, British GP, 70th Anniversary GP, Spanish GP, Belgian GP and the Italian GP would be closed-door events with a set of protocols in place to protect the well-being of the travelling F1 Fraternity.


Let us have a quick recap of the opening race weekend!


Practice :

Friday and Saturday Free Practices saw the dominance of Mercedes powered cars with the Honda-powered Red Bulls trying their best to keep the Mercedes' works team honest. Ferrari suffered from a lack of straight-line speed while their customers - Haas and Alfa Romeo Racing Orlen had balance issues. Racing Point was a revelation, so was McLaren; Renault featured in the top 10 as well. Less than half a second separated P3 from P16, qualifying would be a closely contested affair!



Qualifying :

Q1 saw almost all drivers set lap times on soft tyres ( bar Albon who used a Medium set ). Magnussen, Russell, Giovinazzi, Raikkonen and Latifi were the casualties. Raikkonen complained about traffic on his final run. Ricciardo ran wide just ahead of him throwing up a lot of gravel onto the racing line compromising his times even further. Nevertheless, it was a day to forget for Alfa Romeo Racing Orlen.. a team which was 1.1 seconds quicker and in Q3 last year; back to the drawing board for them. 

Max Verstappen set a banker lap with a set of Medium tyres while his team-mate made a mistake on his first run but had the luxury of an extra set of soft tyres to set things right on the second. The Ferrari duo of Leclerc and Vettel struggled to keep up with their lap times; the former just scraping through in 10th while the latter ending up as the first big casualty of Q2. Gasly, Kvyat, Ocon, Grosjean were the others eliminated. Ocon had a lacklustre Saturday and was hoping to things around 24 hours later. Everyone barring Verstappen had set their fastest lap on the soft tyres. Red Bull's decision to have Max start the race on a medium set of tyres could prove pivotal in terms of strategy.

Mercedes AMG Petronas turned up their engines and went all out in Q3. They opened up a considerable gap to their immediate challengers ( Red Bull ) with Bottas getting provisional pole against Hamilton. Verstappen & Albon were P3 and P4, followed by Perez, Leclerc and Sainz. Norris, Stroll and Ricciardo opted for only one run in Q3. 

Bottas was on a flyer in his final run but ran wide and onto the gravel, bringing out yellow flags and compromising the times of the cars behind him. Lewis ( who was behind him ) set personal best sector times but couldn't beat his team-mate and had to settle for a front-row start. Verstappen qualified 3rd while Norris catapulted himself to 4th to split the Red Bulls. A great qualifying session for McLaren! Albon was 5th followed by Perez, Leclerc, Sainz, Stroll and Ricciardo.


Hamilton had ignored Yellow Flags on his final run in Q3 ( due to Bottas' offtrack excursion ) and got docked 3 places after Red Bull protested against the Stewards' decision to not penalize him earlier for the infringement. The penalty was dished out just an hour before the start of the race and the 6 times World Champion would have to start the race in 5th.



Race :

Red Bull had enjoyed a fair share of success at their home race with Max Verstappen winning the previous 2 editions and many experts believed the performance deficit would reduce with Verstappen starting on the more lasting set of medium tyres. Mercedes too had an ace up their sleeve, their much talked about DAS - Dual-Axis Steering System. They opted to use it only for the race. DAS is a device that appears to change the alignment (toe) of the front wheels. It is controlled by the driver by pulling and pushing on the steering column. 

More on that here: https://www.formula1.com/en/latest/article.das-explained-what-we-know-so-far-about-mercedes-trick-new-steering-system.4vgDQ6cc20xUfhdZGT0ejB.html

Red Bull Racing lodged an official protest over the legality of the system but their claims were rejected by the FIA.

Tyre choices were the same for everyone outside the top 10 ( Medium set ). The lap times around the circuit are pretty short so the timing of the pit stops had to be perfect for the front runners.

The 5 red lights went out and the 2020 season got underway with Bottas leading into the first turn from Verstappen and Norris. Norris tried to challenge Max but the Dutchman held firm. Hamilton too put extensive pressure on Albon but status quo was maintained. It was a clean getaway and a clean opening lap for all 20 drivers.

Bottas slowly pulled away from Verstappen while Albon breezed past Norris with DRS Assistance on lap 3. Norris was then passed by Hamilton a lap later and relegated to 5th. 

Sebastian Vettel finally made it past Ricciardo to get into points-scoring position on lap 7. Hamilton, on the other hand, overtook Albon on lap 9 and started eating into the lead that the duo at the front had built. 

Disaster struck Max Verstappen on Lap 12. The Dutchman slowed down and rapidly lost places while trying to run through a series of settings on his dash to restore power to his Honda unit. He complained about the car going into anti-stall after every mode change. He limped back into the pits, the team put on a set of hard tyres, even performed a Steering Wheel change at the stop but the problem seemed terminal. He climbed out of the car and into retirement on lap 14, visibly frustrated. 

The Mercedes duo now had a free run at the front and it seemed that they were destined for a 1-2; the order though was debatable as Lewis continued to chip away at Bottas' lead. Lap 18 saw more drama with Lance Stroll who was running in 8th started suffering from sensor issues on his engine and lost positions to Vettel and Gasly in the space of 2 laps. He would eventually drive back to his garage at the end of lap 21, a sad end after a promising Saturday. Bottas and Hamilton were notified about the sensor failure and instructed to take utmost care of the car. Daniel Ricciardo too suffered a retirement, cooling issues on his power unit to blame. ( Lap 18 ). Grosjean had a quick trip across the gravel at turn 5 while Kimi Raikkonen passed his team-mate Antonio Giovinazzi to take over 13th in his pursuit of Magnussen and Ocon. The Finn pitted for a set of Hard Tyres on Lap 25 to undercut both.

Magnussen suffered a front brake failure while defending from Ocon on lap 26 ( Turn 1 ) bringing out the Safety Car. A slew of pit stops followed a lap later with everyone opting for the Hard Compound tyres. Perez and Norris were neck and neck out of their respective pit boxes but the Racing Point driver avoided the fast lane thus escaping from an unsafe release investigation. 

Racing resumed on Lap 31 with Sainz challenging Leclerc for P6 going into Turn 3. The Spaniard was on the outside and had to give up on the move to make the corner but Sebastian Vettel who was behind him went for a late and unrealistic lunge, locked up, got spun around and suffered damage besides being relegated to 15th place! The stewards deemed the incident as "no action necessary".

Perez went past Norris on lap 34 while the Mercedes started building up a gap again. Grosjean was served a black and white flag for exceeding track limits on multiple occasions, the warning adding insult to injury to an already under-performing Haas driver.

The fight at the front was pretty tense with Hamilton staying within DRS Range but not getting too close to avoid the dirty air from the Mercedes in front. He was also very vocal about the strategy employed by the team and wanted the right of passage since he believed he could go quicker. Both drivers were once again warned about their sensor issues - engine and gearbox and instructed to avoid using the kerbs as much as possible. These instructions didn't stop being issued and eventually, the Chief Strategist James Vowles came on the radio to warn them that the levels were "critical" ( Lap 47 ). Meanwhile, Vettel was stuck behind Raikkonen in 14th who eventually went past Russell on lap 45, the Finn losing positions due to the timing of the Safety car earlier. 

Bottas, Hamilton, Albon, Perez, Norris, Leclerc, Sainz, Gasly, Kvyat and Ocon were the top 10 at the end of Lap 48. 

2 Laps later, Grosjean suffered a brake failure like his team-mate and was forced to retire while the Williams of George Russell suffered a sensor issue and ground to a halt on Lap 51. This caused another safety car to be deployed and barring the Mercedes duo and Perez, everyone else pitted for a set of fresh tyres for the final stint of the race. The Renault of Ocon and Alfa Romeo of Giovinazzi jumped Kvyat after the round of pit stops, both moving up into points-scoring positions. Perez also gained track position on Albon.

The battle at the front was now an intriguing one with the Mercedes' drivers on a used set of Hard Tyres, Perez on a used set of Mediums and the rest of the pack on brand new sets of tyres ( some on softs, some on mediums ).

The safety car pulled into the pits on lap 54 and Albon went about reclaiming 3rd place from Perez in full earnest. 2 corners into the restart and the safety car had to be redeployed! This time it was Kimi Raikkonen who had stalled on the start-finish straight minus the right front wheel! Replays showed that the wheel had gotten undone when the Finn went over the penultimate turn at the restart! He would be the 7th retirement of the Race, a cross-threaded wheel nut to blame! His team-mate Giovinazzi ran wide on Turn 1 ( at the restart ) and was relegated to P13.

The cars then had to pass through the pits while the stricken Alfa Romeo was cleared off the start-finish straight. Albon who had earlier challenged Perez for P3 was allowed to take up that position after replays showed that he was already ahead of Perez ( under racing conditions on Lap 54 ) before the Safety Car was deployed for the third time. He now at a great chance of a podium, possibly a win!

The safety car pulled into the pits on Lap 61 and Bottas had a great restart but Lewis came under intense pressure from Albon at turn 3. The battle continued on the run into turn 4 and Albon was forced to take the outside line. There was contact between the duo and Albon was sent into a spin! Albon didn't mince his words over the radio! Perez, Norris and Leclerc now completed the top 5 while the remaining Red Bull rejoined in 13th and last! 

The Stewards initiated an investigation into the incident ( on Lap 64 ). A rejuvenated Leclerc made an amazing move on Norris to take P4 on the same lap and also set the fastest lap of the race. 2 Laps later, on lap 66, he performed an amazing late braking manoeuvre into turn 3 to take P3 from Perez. The Ferrari had come alive! 

Lewis Hamilton was handed a 5 second time penalty for his collision with Albon which would effectively mean that Leclerc and possibly Perez could end up on the podium! ( More on that later )

Perez's hopes of a podium were dashed on Lap 68 after he was handed a time penalty of 5 seconds for speeding in the pit lane; to make matters worse, Lando Norris made a lunge down the inside at turn 3 a lap later, banging wheels and relegating him to P5. Lando now had the chance to reduce the deficit to Hamilton and possibly get a maiden podium finish! There was action at the back of the pack as well. Antonio Giovinazzi made up for the places he lost with overtakes that promoted him to P9, even fending off a charge by Vettel! Kvyat was the one going backwards in this tussle.

Bottas and Hamilton were given "full beans" to help the latter build a five-second buffer to the 4th placed man Norris. Hamilton set a couple of fastest laps and the team even pondered on a position switch to better his chances. 

There was more drama on Lap 69 with Albon pulling over to the side of the track after what seemed to be a power unit failure. One lap later, Daniil Kvyat suffered a Rear Right Suspension Failure to become the 9th and the final retirement of the race! 

It seemed that Lewis would still end up on the podium with Lando Norris being just outside the 5-second window on the penultimate lap. 

The young British driver had other plans! He punched in the fastest lap of the race on the final lap pipping his countryman to a well deserved maiden podium finish!!!

Bottas had driven a flawless race to win the first race of the 2020 F1 Season! Charles Leclerc and Lando Norris produced stunning drives to finish P2 and P3 respectively. Lewis Hamilton had to settle for P4 while Sainz, Perez, Gasly, Ocon, Giovinazzi and Vettel completed the top 10. Rookie Nicolas Latifi would take 11th, the final finisher of a retirement laden race!



Analysis of the Albon-Hamilton Incident :

Albon was on a brand new set of soft tyres while Lewis was on a set of old hard tyres. Albon got great traction out of Turn 2 and carried that momentum into Turn 3 and Turn 4. Lewis placed his car pretty well and the only way to pass was on the outside. The power deficit on the Honda meant that Albon couldn't pass Lewis on the 2 DRS straights and would have to make a move under braking. He was able to execute this and was ahead of Lewis at the exit of Turn 4. Lewis held his line but didn't go full lock on his steering ( personal opinion ); eventually, this angle would lead him to tangle with Albon, the rear of the Red Bull taking the hit and going into a spin.   

There is no place for niceties in the world of racing and Lewis is one tough customer. However, he was fighting a losing battle here and should have displayed better spacial awareness. Albon had run out of road.

In Lewis' defence, he was on a set of worn-out hard tyres so was lacking grip and traction coming out of the turn. Possibly, he couldn't have turned anymore and this caused the eventual contact. The universal rule in racing is that the car with track position should always have the right of way and Lewis was penalized for this breach. Thankfully the severity of the penalties have been reduced from this year and Lewis got a time penalty of only 5 seconds. Albon came off worse losing the chance of his maiden podium or even win, eventually retiring on lap 69. 


 Post-race investigation of  Kimi Raikkonen's retirement revealed that a wheel nut was cross-threaded in his pit stop and  Alfa Romeo were fined 5000 Euros for this. Tough day at the office for the most experienced man on the grid.


The season opener was a thriller!  Bottas began the season on the right note with Mercedes still being the fastest car on the grid but with chinks in their armour. Ferrari had a poor Saturday but Leclerc stepped up to the challenge and produced a stellar drive on the day that mattered. Vettel could have done likewise but for the incident; he will have another shot at it later this week. McLaren's resurgence was the talk of the paddock and Lando Norris deserved special praise for pushing right till the end and bagging his maiden podium. Sainz Jr. put in yet another consistent drive. The days of old were back for the Woking-based outfit.  Racing Point wasn't far behind and will have a say sooner rather than later.  Red Bull Racing would be hoping to have better reliability with their Honda units for Round 2 next week as they have the pace to challenge for a win. Renault's struggles seem to be far from over and they need to improve. Haas & Alfa Romeo are in a similar situation with their pace considerably slower to the times last year. Giovinazzi was the saving grace for Alfa. The Italian Stallion drove a great race to finish P9 and bring home a couple of points. Williams is improving and I believe that they shall be in the points soon.


The second race of the season will be on the same track the following weekend. Addressing reliability will be the main concern for all teams. We might be served another masterpiece in the hills of Styria!  


The F1 Season is truly underway!

The F1 Travel Guide : Hockenheimring, Hockenheim, Germany

The German Grand Prix was a regular feature on the F1 Calendar and produced some memorable races. The track where this race was hosted alternated between the legendary Nurburgring and Hockenheim circuits. Nurburgring couldn't host more events post 2013 ( due to financial woes ) and Hockenheim became the permanent abode for the German Grand Prix ( 2014 onwards ). The country, home to multiple F1 greats, be it drivers or constructors like Mercedes has seen some incredible racing over the years. 

The 2019 German GP was voted as the "Race of the Decade" by the fans! 

However, citing financial issues, the race was sadly taken off the calendar for 2020. The season hasn't kicked off yet due to the Covid-19 pandemic and after the cancellation of many races from this year's calendar, there is a glimmer of hope that this circuit might make an unlikely return. 

I had the honour of attending the 2014 and the 2018 editions. 2014, was my first as a guest of Scuderia Ferrari F1 team while 2018 saw Vettel make an uncharacteristic error and crash out of the lead. Kimi Raikkonen was the saving grace that day after he finished P3 with a very compromised strategy. Who can forget how the heavens opened after the race came to an end!



My experience from the 2018 German Grand Prix :






The Circuit Layout :



Official Website :



Location :

The circuit is located at a short distance from the town of Hockenheim in the Rhine Valley in the Baden-Württemberg region. The circuit is well connected by road ( thanks to the high-speed Autobahns of the country which run into the neighbouring countries as well ), rail ( DB Bahn ) and even air! It is also close to bigger towns like Mannheim and Heidelberg and cities like Frankfurt and Stuttgart! 


Closest Airports :

The Closest Airport is Mannheim City Airport but it is used majorly for Chartered Travel. 

Frankfurt Airport ( FRA ) is the airport of choice for almost all F1 travellers. The busiest airport in Germany caters to a large number of International Carriers bringing in flyers from all habitable continents. It is also the main hub for the National Carrier Lufthansa. Lot of low - cost European carriers offer connections to Frankfurt from major European cities.

Stuttgart Airport ( STR ) is another point of entry, albeit further away and caters to several European and a couple of Asian Carriers.

I chose to fly on Emirates to Frankfurt via Dubai. The 2018 Experience is featured here :




Where to Stay :

Accommodation options in the town of Hockenheim are limited and tend to get sold out early in the year. 

Walldorf is another town which offers a few options and its a 10-minute drive to the circuit. However, most of the hotels are occupied by the teams over the weekend. One can still try and book a room at inflated non-refundable rates and probably meet someone famous from the paddock at one of these properties. 

I chose to stay in Frankfurt during the 2014 race weekend; the commute was good on Friday but come Saturday and Sunday, an early departure ( around 7 pm ) was advisable to make it in time for the morning sessions.

In 2018, I considered staying in the town of Heidelberg, a city well frequented by other tourists as well. However the options there were quite expensive; besides the "touristy" element, a lot of F1 Media and Personnel choose to stay there which explains the inflated pricing and limited availability. Heidelberg is situated on one side of Autobahn 6 while on the other side is the city of Mannheim! 

Mannheim is the third-largest city of the region and one of the important commercial and economic hubs. The accommodation options are many and prices are relatively cheaper than those on offer in Hockenheim or Heidelberg. Mannheim is also the only city which offers direct connections to the circuit via rail ( more on that later ). This is the city of choice for me if I were to make plans in the future. I chose the Radisson Blu which is close to the city centre and also used by the FIA and the Safety car Drivers over the weekend!

The ones who plan to rough it out would be glad to know that the circuit offers some great camping facilities! A lot of fans flock to Hockenheim from all over Europe over the weekend.

More Information is available here :



Circuit Access :

By Road :

The circuit is extremely well connected to various cities of Germany and beyond by their efficient road networks and the Autobahns. The commute from Frankfurt can vary between 60 to 90 minutes ( depending on the traffic over the weekend ). The commute from Mannheim ( via Autobahn 6 ) and Heidelberg ( via Autobahn 5 ) is about 30 minutes. It is best to opt for car hire and buy parking passes over the weekend. There are a couple of taxi drop-off points but they can be a considerable walk if one doesn't opt to use the circuit shuttle. Taxis are sparse on the return journey as well so its advisable to wait longer at the circuit post-race.
This is the only way of a commute if one chooses to stay in Walldorf for the weekend.


By Rail :

DB Bahn is a great way to travel across the country. Major Cities are well connected to the station in Hockenheim. There are circuit shuttles which ply from the station to the circuit, the distance is about 3 km. Commute time from Mannheim to Hockenheim is about 20 minutes, from Heidelberg & Frankfurt is about 45 minutes & 75 minutes respectively. All connections run via Mannheim. 

Tickets can be purchased from https://www.bahn.com/en/view/index.shtml


By Air :

Helicopter Transfers are also available for those who wish to fly into the circuit. A lot of the F1 Drivers use this mode for travel.


More information on all these options can be found here :



F1 Village, Fan Zones :

The F1 Village is located behind the Main Grandstand and has a semi-modern feel to it. There are a plethora of merchandising outlets ( the Official F1 Store included ) selling different team merchandise. Outlets selling Michael Schumacher Merchandise are always crowded and there are some unique items on sale at the Official Circuit Merchandise outlet as well. 

The Village is also a hub for off-track activity, be it Simulator Experiences or Fan Q&A sessions or Pit Stop and Reaction Time ( Batak ) Challenges. Food & Beverage options are pretty good with the "Frankfurter" outlets being the most popular. The village is well planned and I never came across the issue of over-crowding on any of the days.

There are smaller merchandising and F&B outlets behind other grandstands as well.


Fan Experiences :

The circuit is home to some of the most passionate fans and the Mercedes Grandstand is one of the star grandstands. It offers some of the best views of the track and its popularity has increased all the more, thanks to the dominance of the Three-Pointed Star in the Turbo Era. 

Friday is an open-access day to most of the grandstands so fans can take in views from different sections of the track! 

3-day Ticket Holders can enjoy a Pit Lane Walk, Driver Autograph Sessions and a Track Walk on Thursdays. There is trackside commentary in English and German.

It is advisable to carry rain gear as torrential rain isn't uncommon. The drainage facilities need to improve though; a lot of the access tunnels and roads got flooded after the race in 2018.

The circuit changed in 2002 and although a part of the old circuit layout is now a forest, it is a nice walk in the woods for race fans.

VIP Guests, Paddock & Paddock Club Guests can avail of Pirelli Hot Laps Experience around this iconic track.

F1 Experiences offers upgrades for standard tickets with experiences such as Guided Track Truck Tour, Guided Paddock Tour, Support Race Paddock Visit, Podium Visit and Photo-op with Race Winning Trophy!

The Hockenheimring Museum is a must-visit for those who love racing history. There are also track days organised for those who wish to hire supercars or bring their own for a round of the track; for those who want to indulge in some racing, there are go-karting facilities in and around Hockenheim!


Hockenheimring has so much history about it and Germany has contributed so much to the world of F1. It is unfortunate to not see this track on the F1 Calendar anymore but I still believe that it might make a return either this year or the next and if it does, then one must draw up plans to be at the legendary German Grand Prix!