The moment Formula One calendar kick started in Austria (Red Bull Ring Circuit), after a delayed start due to Covid-19 pandemic, Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes never looked back on the racing track. The Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team banged in victory after victory on almost all the past nine races except two. The Brackely based team lost the 70th Anniversary GP at Silverstone and the Italian GP at Monza, the two having been won by Red Bull’s’s Max Verstappen and Alpha Tauri’s Pierre Gasly respectively. It remains to be seen whether Hamilton will be able to surpass Michael Schumacher’s all time race victories and match his world championship titles by the time F1 wraps up the 2020 season in Abu Dhabi. By looking at the way how the 2020 F1 season is unfolding, the six time world champion looks set to another championship title.
If history is to be believed, the statistics support it in the world of Formula One. Since their return to Formula One in 2010, Mercedes have won back-to-back Constructors titles together with driver’s championships. The Mercedes team have dominated the F1 race tracks ever since 2013 when there was a major regulation change which introduced the 1.6litre V6 hybrid cars, moving away from the V10 versions. The statistics show that the Mercedes outfit have been the dominant team since the introduction of the complicated hybrid cars and unbeatable in all aspects of the competition, qualifying, pole positions and race victories. In the 2020 F1 Championship so far, Mercedes team has won seven (7) races out of the nine (9) completed with Hamilton winning six of the races all from pole position. Another Mercedes driver, Valtteri Bottas has only won one race so far this season, the Austrian GP, otherwise he has been coming out second best to Hamilton. There has been some sporadic wins by Red Bull’s Max Verstappen and Alpha Tauri’s Pierre Gasly all having won one race apiece.
Challengers and pretenders
Red Bull Racing F1 Team are the nearest challengers to title runaway Mercedes team in the constructors’ championship standings. The Mercedes team looks set to be on their way to bag in their seventh constructors’ title unless a turn around of performance is demonstrated by the chasing pack behind. Red Bull has shown their 2020 ambitions in one or two races but disappeared drastically due to a couple of DNF’s (did not finish) registered along the way. The team is a distant 152 points behind Mercedes who occupy the top spot at 325 points on the constructor’s standings. McLaren, who are likely to be one of the most improved teams in the 2020 season, are sitting third on 106 points, lower than half the points Mercedes have accumulated so far in the championship. Scuderia Ferrari are disappointedly sitting sixth with sixty-six (66) points a position that the prancing horse is not familiar with in Formula One history. Ferrari have basically moved two steps backwards in terms of challenging the top teams on the grid, their SF1000 car has not really come up to speed with the rest of the grid and no sign that the team would make a turn around anytime soon. In fact, Racing Point and Renault have somehow overtaken the Maranello based outfit in terms of utmost race pace as evidenced in a number of races so far.
Why are other teams under performing?
Mercedes is bullish on its adventure in Formula One and no stone is left unturned by the Petronas sponsored team. Whether it relates to unsatisfactory qualifying position, race starts and negative race results the team seems to be relentless in terms of performance. One may think the field is not conducive to other teams, but we have seen the banning of “party mode” settings during qualifying sessions on all cars not really bringing other teams to the party. The devil lies on the construction details of the competing machines and competency of the drivers, and who has done his homework perfectly. It is astonishing to realize that other teams struggle due to a number of reasons such as movement of drivers across teams, management reshuffles, limitation on budgets or generally distraction due to the Covid-19 pandemic. These put aside, the expectation is that the front runners usually should mount a challenge to the top team like Mercedes but that is not being seen in the 2020 season. The performance is just not there, Red Bull’s, Ferrari and McLaren require a robust approach and spot on upgrades for them to reach the levels Mercedes is enjoying. These teams have the resources to topple Mercedes but it is just not happening, they’re more reliant on Mercedes making mistakes which they rarely do.
If anything is to go by, the 2020 F1 season have resulted in reducing race victory opportunities for some teams due to the cancellation of some races around the world in line with Covid-19 regulations. The possibility of other teams winning races at certain circuits has been diminished as one would realize that F1 racing cars are usually suited to certain racing circuits or whilst other circuits would deem difficult for a particular team. The most important thing is the car settings, circuit configuration, slow speed or high speed corners, high tyre degradation or even the weather conditions may affect the performance of a Formula One car. Monza is characterized by long straights and high speed corners while Circuit de Monaco is a slow speed circuit characterized multiple corners and Silverstone is hard on tyre degradation. Having said that, Mercedes continues to thrive at almost every circuit in the 2020 F1 calendar with their W11 car showing its robust racing capabilities in different environments and circuits.
The ultimate goal
For all the competing teams and drivers alike, the goal is to win races and championships whenever the season starts. The top teams, in no particular order, like Mercedes AMG Petronas, Red Bull Racing, Ferrari, McLaren usually target the top spot year after year. It is sometimes very interesting when you see mid table teams like Racing Point, Williams and recently Alpha Tauri being on the mix and wining races, which makes the championship entertaining and less likely predictable. This season, coming to the next race after Mugello, all systems are set for the icon Russian GP, at the Sochi Racing Circuit. All eyes would be on Mercedes after dominating the race track in the previous seasons and Mercedes pair will surely be battling it out in the front grid. If ever Red Bull wants to keep their tittle hopes alive, we expect to see a resuscitated Max Verstappen challenging for the race win. See you at Autodrom Sochi Race Circuit next weekend…………..