Opinion

Surprisingly (Un)Predictable, Undoubtedly Historic: The 2020 Formula 1 Season Concludes

Madelaine Telford

The 2020 Formula 1 season ended with the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix this weekend, and though the race itself was not all that exciting of a spectacle, this season as a whole will go down in history as one of the most memorable seasons in recent years.

There were so many highlights to this season, it seems almost impossible to summarise it all. With 17 races packed into what was the shortest Formula One season since the 1960s, the action seemed endless and despite Mercedes dominating and taking their 7th consecutive Constructors title, there was plenty of exciting racing to follow.

Lewis Hamilton, Valtteri Bottas, and Max Verstappen became the typical podium finishers, and whilst that led to a few ‘boring’ races, it gave rise to a few incredible underdog victories too. Lando Norris kicked off his season with an unlikely podium in the Austrian GP, capitalising on a five second penalty given to Hamilton after his collision with Alex Albon.

A further two unlikely podiums will be cherished by motorsport fans for years to come. An entirely unpredictable Monza race resulted in a brand new podium combination

Norris wasn’t the only driver to achieve his first podium in Formula One: Alex Albon’s came at Mugello, a much needed success for the Thai driver who’s been under relentless pressure throughout the season, and Esteban Ocon crossed the line in tears at the Sakhir Grand Prix as he finished second.

A further two unlikely podiums will be cherished by motorsport fans for years to come. An entirely unpredictable Monza race resulted in a brand new podium combination in the form of Pierre Gasly, Carlos Sainz, and Lance Stroll. After a devastating 2019 for Pierre Gasly with his demotion from Red Bull and many personal hardships, his presence on the top step of the podium felt like a vindication.

The second unlikely podium followed the Sakhir Grand Prix, and this race alone was one of the highlights of the season. With Hamilton out following a positive COVID-19 test, Williams driver George Russell was drafted in. An incredibly talented and popular driver, fans of Formula 1 have been waiting years for Russell to get the chance to prove himself, and that he did with a commanding drive around the Outer Circuit of the Bahrain track. Unbelievably bad luck took the win away from him not once but twice, with a mix up of tyres by the pit crew and a tyre failure ironically caused by Russell’s own Williams car.

Whilst fans empathised with Russell’s loss, they cheered for Sergio Perez’s gain after he was able to capitalise on the Mercedes error to take his first win in Formula 1. No one could have predicted such an outcome, especially after Perez was almost taken out of the race within the first 20 seconds of the race, finishing the first lap plum last. A commanding performance from a man, who as of this moment is still without a seat for 2021.

Perez isn’t the only driver who excelled this season. It goes without saying that championship winner Lewis Hamilton dominated once again, proving his championship status with the most wins of any Formula 1 driver and equalling Schumacher’s record of 7 World Titles. Charles Leclerc also deserves a mention; without the Monegasque, Ferrari would have trailed even further behind this year. And let’s not forget Nico Hulkenberg, dubbed the ‘Super Sub’ thanks to his excellent performances in Silverstone and Germany.

Despite incredible performances, brand new podium sitters, and exciting new races, one incident stands out: Romain Grosjean’s crash at the Bahrain Grand Prix was one of the worst this sport has seen in recent years. Images of the car split in half, Grosjean emerging from the fireball into the hands of Dr. Ian Roberts will be etched into the minds of all who love this sport for many years to come. Despite it facing mixed reviews upon its introduction, the Halo proved once and for all its place in Formula 1, and we will remain forever grateful of the incredible progress this sport has made in the name of safety.

There are still many conclusions to be drawn from the 2020 season. The great Red Bull seat debate remains in full swing, with many claiming Perez deserves the seat after his stellar performances this year, and others arguing Red Bull should support Albon as he progresses through his career. Only time will tell what Red Bull’s decision will be, but it is one that could redefine the team as we know it.

The rest of the grid is playing musical chairs over the winter break, with Sebastian Vettel moving to a rebranded Racing Point (now Aston Martin), Carlos Sainz heads over to Ferrari, perhaps somewhat reluctantly after McLaren crossed the finish line in Abu Dhabi in third place of the Constructors championship compared to Ferrari’s sixth – their worst result since 1980. Filling his place is Daniel Ricciardo, who leaves Renault after two seasons to be replaced by the returning Fernando Alonso.

In the coming weeks, the 2021 line-up will be finalised and confirmed. Teams will begin developing their cars for next year, acclimatising themselves to their new driver combinations, new tyres, and excitingly the new tracks that we will be heading to

We bid goodbye to Kevin Magnussen and Romain Grosjean at Haas, welcoming Formula 2 drivers Mick Schumacher and Nikita Mazepin. The former, as you might expect, is the son of Michael and is fresh from a victorious Formula 2 season. The latter is perhaps a more divisive figure, already causing much controversy after an inappropriate Instagram story that has prompted much conversation about his place in the sport, including multiple petitions to ban him from driving.

There are, therefore, many questions left unanswered about the upcoming season. In the coming weeks, the 2021 line-up will be finalised and confirmed. Teams will begin developing their cars for next year, acclimatising themselves to their new driver combinations, new tyres, and excitingly the new tracks that we will be heading to. For a season that many expected would never come, the 2020 Formula 1 season certainly did not disappoint, and I for one will be counting down the days until the mayhem starts again next March.

Madelaine Telford 

Featured image used courtesy of Jon Hillenbrand via Flickr. No changes were made to this image. Image use license here.

In article image 1 courtesy of @pierregasly via Instagram. No changes were made to this image. 

In article image 2 courtesy of @lewishamilton via Instagram. No changes were made to this image. 

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