It is confirmed and we are now set for the inaugural 2020 F1 race at the Red Bull Ring in Spielberg, Austria from 2nd – 5th July 2020. It is very unusual to be saying that this is the first race for the 2020 F1 calendar having gone through a series of race cancellations and a thorough test of scenarios and regulations. The situation on Covid-19 pandemic continue to be a threat, fluid and unpredictable from one country to another but at least manageable to a certain extent. So lets look at which F1 driver or team will fancy a win at Red Bull Ring and why the odds favour such a win………..
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If home advantage is to believed, the Red Bull Ring circuit is the home of the Aston Martin Red Bull Racing F1 team and the team is expected to perform well in this race track, without fans for that matter!! The race will be stream lined live on TV screens and mobile platforms to keep everyone entertained. The Red Bull team has very competitive, young and talented driver line up in the form of Max Verstappen and Alexander Albon. So the expectations will be high on the young drivers to come victorious at the end of the race weekend especially that this a circuit where everyone believes it’s their home backyard. The odds will be tilting towards Aston Martin Red Bull Racing but never underestimate the reigning champions – affectionately known as the Silver Arrows (Mercedes AMG Petronas), Scuderia Ferrari and the endless surprises associated with any F1 race. A win for any driver on the first race would be a morale booster and commanding statement for the rest of the F1 season.
Since the inception of the hybrid Formula 1 cars in 2013, the Red Bull Ring race wins have been shared between two constructors (Mercedes AMG Petronas & Aston Martin Red Bull Racing) and four drivers. Nico Rosberg won the races consecutively from 2014 to 2015, Lewis Hamilton registered a solo win in 2016, Valtteri Bottas was victorious in 2017 and Max Verstappen won the last two races in 2018 and 2019. So the chances are high that Max may again claim another victory for Red Bull Racing team in the 2020 calendar to make it a hatrick of wins. But caution has to be applied here, the drivers are a bit rusty after a long break and we don’t know much about the car performances in a real race environment.
The Red Bull Ring is not particularly a short circuit and the asphalt is fairly new and smooth which makes it fast and low on tyre degradation and down force. Depending on predicted overcast conditions and team strategies Perelli (F1 tyre supplier) have availed three tyre compounds for the race weekend:
- C3 – yellow band medium tyre
- C4 – red band soft compound (fastest)
These are the available tyre options for the race weekend which means the set of tyres will be used for free practice sessions (P1, P2 & P3), qualifying sessions (Q1, Q2 & Q3) and on the main race on Sunday. There is an option for wet weather tyres in case it rains during the race weekend.
The Red Bull Ring circuit is characterized by traction and hard braking, variable weather conditions (due to proximity of the circuit to the Alps Mountains) but normally the circuit is a one-stop race. Based on the past few races some teams like Mercedes suffered from tyre degradation mainly due to their setup towards the circuit and variable weather conditions which resulted in a two-stopper.
Based on individual team preparations and the 2020 car package test performances at Circuit de Catalunya in Barcelona in February this year, a glimmer of what to expect is inevitable. If the testing performances are something to be taken into consideration, the champions Mercedes are on a league of their own. The Brackley based outfit continued from where they left in 2019, with blistering pace and agility at Catalunya topping the time sheets in almost all sessions to the dismay of their rivals. Red Bull and Ferrari were not yet there at the front of the grid but surely they should not be underestimated, these teams are historically front runners and will surely take the fight to Mercedes. Mid grid teams like Renault, McLaren and Haas may also challenge for the top slots in the grid but the teams were rarely up to speed in the 2019 season except in unusual circumstances where they were favoured by rainy conditions or safety car deployments.
Test sessions are ‘normally’ deceiving as most of the teams would be testing for the first time their car package reliability, drivability, aerodynamic performance, power units, chassis adaptability and out right speed. Most of the teams were working on the enhancements of the previous year car models as major rule changes will be implemented in the 2021 season. So teams normally reserve their car package and only unlock the performance during the actual race environment.
When supplied with the right machinery each driver on the grid can produce the desired results, that is, winning races, but some drivers extract more from a not so competitive race car. It is all dependent on the current form, appetite and hunger to break the limits and become one of the greatest in the history of Formula 1 motorsport. Surely Lewis Hamilton will fancy to emulate his successful 2019 campaign tally of 11 race wins which crowned him world champion. Max Verstappen will have his sleeves rolled very high in a bid to challenge Hamilton and establish himself as the driver to beat in the 2020 F1 campaign. The Ferrari duo of Charles Leclerc and Sebastian Vettel will definitely launch a challenge to the ultimate price including Valtteri Bottas who had a quieter 2019 season in a mercedes car.
Preparations on the driver’s side will be very crucial looking at the number of months the F1 motorsport has been on hold due to the Covid-19 pandemic. This may impact negatively to the overall performance and confidence of some drivers resulting in undesirable race results.
ON OTHER NEWS
– F1 teams rejected the idea of reverse grid on the 2020 season
– According to Formula 1 CEO, Carey, fans are expected to grace the race events in autumn.
– F1 confirms the first leg 8 race European calendar
– Silverstone to stage the British GP on 2nd August and the Formula One 70th Anniversary GP on 9th August