The 2020 Formula 1 season will kick-off this weekend in Austria. Its been seven months since the last Grand Prix and five months since the winter testing. Well, there has been no action on the race track, but there has been plenty of action off the track.
The pre-season testing was exciting with new cars and new liveries. But its been so long since the winter testing and the true potential of the 2020 cars will be unleashed in Austria. But before that, I decided to brush up the data from pre-season testing and let’s see how the 2020 F1 cars stack up in terms of performance, reliability and outright pace.
Things look better for Williams with the new Mercedes-powered Williams FW43. But the question is, will the team challenge the midfield teams? Unfortunately, the answer is No. Both George Russel and rookie Nicholas Latifi are happy about the car, and the FW43 managed to set the seventh-fastest time during testing. But on a realistic note, Williams is still languishing at the bottom with only little improvement.
The American outfit Haas had a lacklustre winter testing. The Haas VF20 clocked the least number of laps, and the team was placed in the bottom of the table. The car lacks the qualifying pace, which is disappointing when compared to the 2019 car. With this car, I fear that Haas will find it hard to challenge the midfield teams. Oh and don’t forget the impressive crashing record of Romain Grosjean!
The Swiss team had an average testing session in February, and the story remained the same with the new car. The 2020 car showed impressive straight-line speeds but failed to set good lap times. With the experienced Kimi Raikkonen, I believe that Alfa Romeo should be able to challenge the midfield teams.
The rebranded Toro Rosso or the AlphaTauri had a decent winter testing with the seventh fastest lap time. Apart from the new colours and name, there has been no significant improvement in the performance of the car. Still, the Honda-powered AlphaTauri AT01 remains to be a reliable car in the midfield, and the young driver lineup should make it exciting.
McLaren emerged as the best of the rest by claiming the fourth spot in the standings in 2019. The team had decent pre-season testing, and there was nothing to write home about when it comes to the performance of the new MCL35. Carlos Sainz set some decent lap times in the winter testing, and the season looks promising for McLaren.
Renault had an excellent winter testing and was the third-fastest team in terms of lap times. It looks like Renault has improved the performance of the car over the winter break and the lap times show the difference it has made. Without a doubt Renault is one of the strongest teams in the midfield and with an exciting driver line-up comprising of Daniel Ricciardo and Esteban Ocon, we can expect some good results from Renault.
Racing Point created a buzz during the pre-season testing for two reasons — quick lap times and for copying the 2019 Mercedes W10. Yes, the Racing Point RP20 is pretty much a copy of Mercedes’ title-winning WP10, and it’s a Pink Mercedes. Well, the overall package looks good, and the car was quick in Barcelona. Sergio Perez said that it was the best he ever drove on a pre-season test. Well, I will be not surprised if Racing Point challenges for podium positions this season. Copy or not, the car is quick, that’s all matters!
It was evident that Ferrari was lagging behind Mercedes and Red Bull during the winter testing. The Ferrari SF1000 managed to breach the 800 lap mark during the two weeks of testing, but it lacked outright pace. With so much time after the pre-season testing, it will be interesting to see the pace of the car in Austria. But for me, Ferrari was not up to the mark when compared to the rivals.
Red Bull was the only team which was closest to Mercedes in terms of performance. The RB16 looked strong over the two weeks of testing and posted some quick lap times. Initially, the car looked like having some balancing issues as both Max Verstappen, and Alex Albon suffered spins. But post that the car was strong and I can say that Reb Bull will be the team to bother Mercedes throughout the season.
Once again Mercedes is the team to beat in the 2020 season. This time the Mercedes W11 featured an innovation known as DAS (Dual Axis Steering System). Mercedes was the fastest car throughout the winter testing, and it was the only car to breach the 900 lap mark. Lewis Hamilton will be looking to defend his title, and Valtteri Bottas will be on a charge to win his first title. The rivals will find it hard to beat the Silver Arrow, and I expect the W11 to be on pole this season.