Can Vettel turn his fortunes around at Aston Martin?
Mick Schumacher will make his Formula 1 debut in 2021. Photo by Charles Coates/Getty Images
The 2020 F1 season is done and dusted and I must admit to being sceptical regarding the number of races scheduled for the dramatically reduced time period.
The first race was the Austrian GP on 5 July at the Red Bull Ring with a second event at the same venue one week later. It was a period unlike any other in F1’s history with multiple double and triple headers scheduled in an all-out effort to successfully stage a 17-race, Covid-19 restricted season.
Last weekend’s final round in Abu Dhabi was testimony to those who made it happen – an incredible achievement. Sunday’s race may not have been a classic but Red Bull’s Max Verstappen pulled one out of the hat by qualifying first, and leading from pole to flag with a 15sec gap to second placed Mercedes of Valtteri Bottas ahead of Lewis Hamilton in third.
The Sky Sports commentators’ view that a full safety car would have livened things up is one I can never subscribe to. A driver builds a substantial lead through both the quality of his car and his exceptional skills. He should never be subjected to a situation where the safety car completely negates all his advantages and backs up the field. I am all for safety but do not believe the current situation is a very satisfactory solution, unless of course it is all for the sake of “entertainment”.
Mercedes stated they have a reliability issue with the MGU-Ks of the W11and consequently reduced the power output. Strange, when there was no sign of an issue in the previous 16 races. Lewis Hamilton also found the race very demanding following his Covid-19 infection and admitted he was not 100% fit. With both the Drivers’ and Constructors titles sewn up, I wonder why he put himself into such a demanding situation?
It is now time for the party game of musical chair. The 2020 music has stopped, and how do the players fare? Staying in the game is Carlos Sainz, who after two years with McLaren moves on to Ferrari to join Charles Leclerc. On Ferrari’s current form one has to wonder if this is a move for the better.
The Spaniard will be replaced at McLaren by the ever ebullient Daniel Ricciardo, joining Englishman Lando Norris, the Aussie having served two years with Renault. Ricciardo’s move to the Woking team, third in the Constructors’ championship and with new investment, plus the change to Merc power units, should make for an interesting challenge.
This provides a seat for Fernando Alonso, returning to Renault for the third time in his career, this time with a new team name and colour scheme. The combination of Esteban Ocon and Alonso may produce some real fireworks in the coming seasons.
Last but not least is the well publicised move from Ferrari to Aston Martin, of four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel. Six years with the Scuderia produced 14 victories but since 2019’s sudden drop in performance it has not been a happy partnership. Perhaps this move will rejuvenate Vettel’s performance alongside new team mate Lance Stroll.
Next there are the drivers who are not quite sure they will stay in the game and retain the seats they have, such as Alex Albon from Red Bull and Daniil Kvyat from Alpha Tauri. Those who have no seats and currently look as though they will be standing on the sidelines are Sergio Perez, ex Racing Point, Kevin Magnussen and Romain Grosjean, both ex Haas F1, the latter pair replaced by new players Mick Schumacher and Nikita Mazepin. Rumour has it that Mazepin’s father have purchased the entire team, yet to be confirmed.
Not goodbye, but rather au revoir as Renault and Racing Point both undergo a metamorphosis, the former returning in 2021 as Alpine F1 and the latter becoming Aston Martin F1. Which means Red Bull says goodbye to Aston Martin as a title partner. A very different year, but one that produced some good racing. Let us hope 2021 will be even better.
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