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Image: Alfa Romeo F1

You may be forgiven for only getting your breath back after the terrific Turkish Grand Prix two weeks ago, but the 2020 Bahrain GP is now upon us and here’s your preview for what you need to know.

Both championships are now wrapped up. Turkey saw Lewis Hamilton claim his seventh career world title with Mercedes having their seventh consecutive crown one race earlier. That doesn’t mean there isn’t anything to play for in the fourth and final triple-header event of the 2020 season.

Bahrain GP 2020: At the sharp end

Hamilton may have as many titles as Schumacher and more wins than anyone, but there are still records he doesn’t hold. You may or may not believe Lewis when he says he doesn’t race for stats. Whatever your thoughts, the prospect of being the first man to hit 100 Grand Prix wins must have entered the Brits mind. …

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Image: AMG Mercedes F1

Talking about Lewis Hamilton’s latest F1 title in late November is beginning to feel a lot like an annual event. The year is capped off by Christmas, with Thanksgiving the preparation event a month prior, and at some point around then, Lewis Hamilton wins the championship.

And just like seeing what presents Santa brings you this year and thinking about what gifts you had in Christmases before, perhaps it’s natural that we also compare Lewis’s latest F1 title with his others.

With there being so many, seven now, it can be challenging to distinguish one from another. That itself speaks volumes of just how relentless the Brit has been since 2014. But as I wrote 10 months ago, some championships are more impressive than others. Since the 2020 campaign isn’t complete yet, I cannot put this season in a final position yet. However, I can compare each to this ongoing season. …

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Image: © Red Bull Media House

Formula 1’s 2021 calendar will visit a record twenty-three venues across the globe next year. The growth of the calendar to such a length has seemed inevitable for a while. Liberty Media has openly been looking to reach a twenty-five race schedule, and they have now taken one step closer. But as Dr. Ian Malcolm famously said , perhaps Liberty has been “so preoccupied with whether or not they could, they didn’t stop to think if they should.”

I’ve battled internally about the merits of such a lengthy calendar since the announcement. And we’re still two events shy of that magic 25 tentpole figure. More races per year certainly sounds exciting from a pure viewer perspective. It gives us more opportunities to watch our favorite superstars race the most advanced cars in the world throughout the year. There will be more weekends with news and updates to keep track of with F1’s ever-increasing coverage. …

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(Photo by Bryn Lennon/Getty Images) Red Bull Content Pool

Up until Q3 at Istanbul Park last weekend, there was only Max Verstappen at the top of the timesheets. Max seemed to find grip at the slippery Turkish circuit while those around him could not. The disappointment and anger from Verstappen were evident to see when he did not clinch pole position on Saturday afternoon.

Max, however, had a second chance on Sunday with his front-row start. But his RB16 did not get off the line, and he soon found himself well down the order. It came as a surprise as Verstappen does have a high reputation for his wet weather driving. …

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Image: Racing Point F1

Formula One has always produced divisive drivers. But of the current crop, Lance Stroll is perhaps the most polarising. The 22-year-old Canadian splits opinion like none other on the grid. Some fans believe he doesn’t deserve the opportunity to drive in Formula One because of his route into the sport. Others believe that Stroll is regularly showing he has what it takes at the peak of motorsport. His maiden pole position at the Turkish Grand Prix certainly added weight to the latter’s argument. After all, being the fastest man in the most challenging conditions isn’t something anyone can do.

With an unprecedented media spotlight on Formula One these days and with a more diverse audience than ever, thanks to Liberty Media’s push for an ever-broadening appeal, Lance faces perhaps a tougher job to win over his detractors than any other driver before him. Every mistake and every sub-par performance gets scrutinized and shared in glorious HD from countless different angles. And it’s never been easier for fans to voice their opinion, valid or not, on any of the sport’s competitors. …

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Image: Racing Point F1

The seemingly incessant rain may have darkened the skies at F1’s return to Turkey, but it made Lewis Hamilton’s smile after his championship-clinching victory even brighter. A tumultuous weekend at Istanbul Park saw a new polesitter, fifth-gear wheel-spinning, pre-race crashes, as well as an unexpected podium. And, despite all the disorder, Hamilton demonstrated why it is he, and not his rivals, who is a now seven-time champion.

With the popular venue not holding an F1 event since 2011, the Turkish hosts opted to resurface the entire circuit in the weeks preceding the Grand Prix. The unintended consequence was an ice-rink like track surface that caught out drivers in every session over the weekend. …

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Image: Shutterstock/sbonsi

Formula One had an unexpected season this year, full of surprises: Pierre Gasly claimed his first win; Imola and Nurburgring returned; Portimao and Mugello debuted. But perhaps the most unexpected thing for me has been the ascent of Renault, against all odds.

In a year where the fight at the front is between only three men and one and a half teams, I’ve spent more time looking further down the grid. At pre-season testing, the scandalous pink Mercedes that Racing Point unveiled looked to wipe out the midfield. McLaren showed terrific early-season pace, starting their year with a podium and picking up a second one at Monza. With Ferrari falling back in the order, both outfits are ahead of the Italians. …

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Image: Alfa Romeo ORLEN F1

As the F1 driver market for 2021 finally takes shape, many observers were surprised by Alfa Romeo retaining their line-up. Kimi Raikkonen and Antonio Giovinazzi both seem out of place at the team, but for very different reasons. Despite Kimi’s origins at Sauber, his perseverance with a team slipping ever backward seems almost like charity work for a man possessing such a high reputation. The opposite goes for Giovinazzi. On the surface, Alfa’s decision to stick by their man looks like a gesture of goodwill, but does Antonio deserve his one-year extension?

For reasons related to a substandard Ferrari power unit, the Alfa Romeo cars are fighting for scraps this year. We saw at Monza just how powerless Raikkonen was in his defense following the race restart against the midfield. So some leniency must be shown when analyzing Giovinazzi’s 2020 season. But still, the numbers aren’t flattering for the Italian. …

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Image: © Red Bull Media House

Formula One’s 2021 driver market has been a particularly unusual jigsaw puzzle to complete this year. A flurry of unexpected driver moves followed Ferrari’s surprise dropping of Sebastian Vettel. Daniel Ricciardo and Carlos Sainz moved, and then Fernando Alonso announced a return from retirement. Valtteri Bottas stayed in place ahead of George Russell for the sought-after Mercedes seat. And then Vettel finally decided Aston Martin was a fit for him, as Aston Martin felt Sergio Perez’s contract was surplus to requirements.

It’s enough to make your head spin, but aside from Haas, the only remaining pieces to slot in are the spare seats at AlphaTauri and Red Bull (I don’t subscribe to Hamilton retiring this year). Following some criticism that the Red Bull Junior Team talent pool ran dry, the Austrian team somehow now appears to have too many drivers and not enough seats. The only definites we have for 2021 are Max Verstappen and Pierre Gasly retaining their drives at Red Bull and AlphaTauri, respectively. …

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Image: AMG Mercedes F1

Formula One’s first race at Imola since 2006 was a slow burn, but late-race reliability problems reinvigorated the Grand Prix as Mercedes glided to their 7th constructors’ title. With Red Bull, their distant challengers floundering behind them, the Mercedes team seemed serene by comparison as they sealed the championship with another 1–2 finish.

The Silver Arrows are enjoying headline after headline in their relentless march of success. Lewis Hamilton equaled, then surpassed Michael Schumacher’s win record at the previous two Grand Prix. Now, the German manufacturer has officially won the team championship. The result at Imola means that mathematically, only one of their drivers can win the Driver’s Championship. …

About

Jim Kimberley

A tall man, living around the world, watching fast cars

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