Sunday, December 20, 2020

Perez’s Plum 2021 Ride: Checo Joins Red Bull Racing

Photo Credit: Zak Mauger/LAT Images/Pirelli

Sometimes in life, there could be a moment that rewards you with the sensation of overcoming your struggles, criticism and doubts. 30-year-old Mexican Formula 1 driver Sergio Perez concluded a long stint with a team where he spent a large portion of his 10-year career in the sport facing uncertainty in regards to his 2021 racing plans. Perez was informed he would be forced to vacant his Racing Point ride in favour for four-time Formula 1 champion Sebastian Vettel at the end of the 2020. While facing grim career prospects ahead of 2021, Sergio Perez’s final races of the 17-race season caused the motorsport world to see him in a new light. More than a likable, sympathetic regular competitor, the Mexican transformed into a Formula 1 winner with his masterful drive in the Sakhir Grand Prix. The newfound brightness shining upon Perez has brought forth a coveted ride with Red Bull Racing for the 2021 season. 

Making the driver announcement on Friday, December 18th, Red Bull Racing welcomes Sergio Perez to their organization as a veteran partner alongside Max Verstappen next year. Joining the energy drink-backed squad through what is currently slated as a one-year contract, Perez is anxious to be part the race team that was the 2020 season’s runner-up in the Formula 1 World Constructors’ Championship. “The team has the same winning mentality as me and I know I am here to perform and help the team fight for another title” said Perez on the Red Bull Racing team’s website. 

While Sergio Perez won his first Formula 1 event with the emerging Racing Point team, the driver’s ride at Red Bull Racing in a Honda-powered race car had the signs of becoming the first chance for the Mexican to be backed with proven top-contending equipment. Entering the series in 2011 with Sauber (now existing as Alfa Romeo Racing), Perez brought sponsorship to a team that restructured one-year before after BMW dropped involvement in Formula 1. In 2013 when Lewis Hamilton’s former spot at McLaren Racing opened, Sergio Perez joined a renowned team at the wrong time. The Mexican was dropped from McLaren after only one season in favour for Kevin Magnussen leading him to Force India. 

Sergio Perez’s stint with Force India started in 2014 and remained with the team as it was purchased by the Lawrence Stroll-led consortium and became Racing Point. Through the several seasons, Perez expressed a strong amount of confidence with the team. “I’ve seen the progress we’ve made over last couple of years and I’m sure we have the potential to achieve even more going forward.” Perez said in October of 2016 as he chose to stay with what was then the Sahara Force India team through the 2017 season. In 2020, Perez’s final season with Racing Point consisted of point finishes in all-but four races (two missed due to testing positive for COVID-19 and two for power unit failures). Red Bull Racing Team Principal Christian Horner commented that the decision to add Sergio Perez to their group was largely based on 2020 performance results.

Red Bull Racing’s 2021 driver lineup announcement places the Thai driver Alexander Albon will be out of active competition. Scoring two podium results in 2020, Albon’s first full season in Formula 1 was less consistent than the efforts of his teammate Max Verstappen. Positioned in the test and reserve driver role for 2021, Red Bull Racing continues to express support for their 24-year-old driver describing him as an important member of their team. Alexander Albon’s duties will include aiding Red Bull Racing in the development of the 2022 race car.  

Tuesday, December 15, 2020

Maximum Effort Nets Max Verstappen Formula 1 Season Finale Win in Abu Dhabi

Photo Credit: Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool 

The entire 2020 Formula 1 season concluded with a final 305.47-kilometer run at the Yas Marina Circuit. This last race in what was a 17-race tour staged against the challenging circumstances of a global pandemic served as a victory overall as the top open-wheel racing team succeeded in providing a captivating distraction for motorsport fans starting in July. As teams arrived for the 2020 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, the year contained a number of memorable moments. 

A modern, attractive track, the 5.554-kilometer Yas Marina Circuit used for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix is notorious for being a course with limited passing opportunities. The 21-turn track’s reputation made it evermore important for drivers to gain positions at the start of the race. Taking a monumental pole that displaced the dominant Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team from the top grid position for the first time in 2020, the Honda-powered Red Bull RB16 piloted by Max Verstappen started strong granting him open road into the early laps of the 55-lap event. Unlike previous grand prix races, the field finished the opening laps without incident though there was also very little movement among the 20-car group. The top-eight starters completed the first lap of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix in the same position as they started. 

Photo Credit: Charles Coates/LAT Images/Pirelli

Starting second-to-last on the grid after receiving a replacement power unit for the event, Sakhir Grand Prix winner Sergio Perez began a fight towards the top-10 eventually climbing five positions. Unfortunately, the Mexican’s final outing with Racing Point was cut short on lap 10 due to the second power unit failure in the past three races. A virtual safety car was first issued to the competitors to aid the removal of the pink Formula 1 car but the Mercedes-AMG GT-R safety car would later gather the field under the full-course caution. Coming to a rest out of turn 19, the #11 Racing Point machine would be the only car not to cross be running at the chequered flag. Ending his seven-year long career at Racing Point (known as Force India from 2014 to 2018), Perez’s Formula 1 future is still not announced for 2021 or beyond.  

With Lance Stroll the sole remaining Racing Point in the event, the Canadian’s performance had to overcome the combined efforts of the two McLaren Racing entries driven by Lando Norris and Carlos Sainz Jr. In securing the team’s third-place spot in the season’s Formula 1 Constructors’ Championship. When a physical safety car was deployed as track workers needed to retrieve Perez’s car, the majority of the field took advantage of the occasion to make a pit stop on the race’s tenth lap. Race leader Max Verstappen and the two Mercedes-AMG drivers were among those that pitted for new tires. The two McLaren Racing machines and Stroll’s Racing Point race car also joined the parade towards team crews resulting in a minor conflict between the constructors. Norris and Sainz both pitted providing a challenge for the McLaren squad. While Norris’ #4 car came for tires first, the #55 vehicle of Sainz followed but travelled slower entering pit road ahead of #18 Racing Point of Lance Stroll. Both McLaren Racing cars beat Stroll out but the Racing Point team were critical of Carlos Sainz’s somewhat lethargic entrance to the pits potentially costing better track position for the Canadian. Race stewards would clear McLaren and Sainz for the incident that ultimately decided the constructors’ standings battle.

Photo Credit: Steven Tee/LAT Images/Pirelli

The 2020 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix was a race most drivers completed with only a single pit stop. Most drivers taking a set of hard compound Pirelli tires on lap 10 but there would be a group of competitors that ran deeper into the 55-lap event. The top runner that stayed out past the safety car period was Daniel Ricciardo. Positioned in 11th place for the start, his Renault team placed the Australian on hard compound tires at the beginning of the race spending most the grand prix in fifth place until his eventual lap 39 tire stop. Ricciardo’s final race with the Renault factory team netted a seventh place result.

Scuderia Ferrari also attempted to extend their pit stop keeping both team drivers Charles Leclerc and Sebastian Vettel out after the safety car. Starting the race on medium compound tires, the #16 car of Leclerc pitted for new rubber on lap 22. Vettel ran his opening stage of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix on hard compound Pirelli tires and remained in the lower half of the top-10 through the mid-portion of the race but began to lose traction before his lap 35 pit stop. Neither Ferrari race cars finished in the points for the final grand prix for what has been a very disappointing season for the Italian outfit. 

Photo Credit: Charles Coates/LAT Images/Pirelli

While not suffering the same kind of mishap that occurred in the Sakhir Grand Prix, the Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One team’s performance at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix was slightly sluggish compared to the pace set up Max Verstappen’s #33 Red Bull race car. Starting beside Verstappen on the grid, Valtteri Bottas was just slightly edged-out by the Dutch driver into the first corner. Bottas drove a largely flawless event in second place but watched the contender with Red Bull Racing slip away to a growing lead following the end of the race’s safety car period. The #77 Mercedes-AMG W11 F1 EQ Performance race car in the hands of the Finnish driver would itself pull out a steady gap over teammate Lewis Hamilton’s #44 machine. Hamilton returned to competition after a COVID-19 test returned negative prior to the Formula 1 finale in Abu Dhabi.

At the end of 55 laps, Max Verstappen captured his second victory in the 2020 Formula 1 in the most convincing fashion. Crossing the finish line 15.976 seconds ahead of Valtteri Bottas, Verstappen and his Honda-powered Red Bull race car accomplished the feat from pole while also setting the fastest lap in the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. The finish is the sixth consecutive occasion that a race on the Yas Marina Circuit was won from pole position. 

With a runner-up finish in the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Valtteri Bottas was able to hold on to second-place in the Formula 1 World Drivers’ Championship with a 9-point gap over Max Verstappen after 17 races. The second Mercedes-AMG driven by seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton completed what he described as “a hard race” in a post-race team transcript in third place. Hamilton’s 14th podium in the 2020 season came as the #23 Red Bull Racing car of Alexander Albon was drawing close in the late laps. A 1.572-second interval separated third and fourth place at the end of the grand prix. Although the team faced a tough battle from Red Bull Racing, the Mercedes-AMG factory Formula 1 celebrated after overall dominant season where they collected a total of 573 constructor points and 13 race wins.

Photo Credit: LAT Images for Mercedes-Benz Grand Prix Ltd.

A fifth-place finish for Lando Norris and sixth-place result for Carlos Sainz Jr. combined to give McLaren Racing third-place in the Formula 1 World Constructors’ Championship standings. Scoring a total of 18 points and Lance Stroll fighting grip late in the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix to finish 10th gave McLaren a 7-point advantage over Racing Point. Set to be renamed Aston Martin next year, Racing Point still accomplished a lot in 2020 collecting 122 points more than 2019 despite there being four fewer events on this season’s improvised calendar.

Behind Daniel Ricciardo finishing in seventh place at the Yas Marina Circuit is a pair of Frenchmen. The Honda-powered AlphaTauri race car driven by Pierre Gasly took the chequered flag in eighth place ahead of the second factory Renault driver Esteban Ocon who grabbed the position from Stroll in the final lap of the race. 

With the completion of the 2020 Formula 1 season, drivers, teams and even the series itself were preparing for a new year that will hopefully be able to stretch across the world as it has in years prior.

2020 Formula 1
Abu Dhabi Grand Prix
Race Results

Sunday, December 13, 2020

Max Verstappen Claims Pole For 2020 Formula 1 Finale in Abu Dhabi

Photo Credit: Kamran Jebreili / Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool 

Serving as the seventeenth and final event for Formula 1's 70th Anniversary tour, the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix on the Yas Marina Circuit provides a closing to what has been a season like no other. The race on the 5.554-kilometer track follows a surreal outing in Bahrain where Sergio Perez took victory for Racing Point. 

Though Perez’s win Sakhir Grand Prix was a thrilling affair on the merits of the Mexican driver recovering brilliantly from an opening lap collision, the race is best remembered as a moment where the Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team suffered a rare bumble as a result to a pit stop where the tires of the team cars were mixed up. Also missing the seven-time championship winning driving talents of Lewis Hamilton due to a positive COVID-19 test, the unusual event for Mercedes-AMG is one they want to set behind them as they prepare to finish another strong Formula 1 season in Abu Dhabi. The pairing of Hamilton with teammate Valtteri Bottas was put back into place at the Mercedes factory team ahead of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix while last week’s replacement George Russell returns to his regular seat at Williams Racing.

Photo Credit: LAT Images for Mercedes-Benz Grand Prix Ltd

For all 16 races in the 2020 Formula 1 season ahead of Abu Dhabi, the pole position was captured by a driver propelled by a Mercedes-Benz power unit (15 by the Mercedes-AMG factory team and 1 by a Racing Point driven by Lance Stroll). In the finale for the 17-race schedule, Max Verstappen and Red Bull Racing were determined to disturb the German-based propulsion’s attempt to sweep the year with Honda power. Mounting a strong threat against the Mercedes-Benz factory team throughout the season, Verstappen and his #33 RB16 race car suffered several narrow defeats in qualifying in past 2020 grand prix events. With one more chance to claim the top spot in a qualifying session this season, the Red Bull Racing machine succeeded in beating the rival Mercedes-AMG outfit.

With the final times being set in Q3 on Saturday for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Max Verstappen scored the pole position over the Mercedes-AMG duo. Posting a 1-minute, 35.246-second lap time, Verstappen and his Red Bull Racing squad achieved their first pole since the 2019 Brazilian Grand Prix. 

Photo Credit: Kamran Jebreili / Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool 

Upon claiming the fastest time in qualifying, the Austrian-based race team broke the Mercedes-AMG team’s consecutive pole streak at the Yas Marina Circuit that ran since 2014. Just 0.025 seconds slower than Max Verstappen’s pole time, Valtteri Bottas grabbed his 14th front row start for the 2020 season. Holding a 16-point advantage over Verstappen for the second-place spot in the year-long Formula 1 World Drivers’ Championship, Bottas can secure the position with a 5th place or better finish.

Returning to the race car after one race away, Lewis Hamilton swiftly regained his competitive poise standing at the top of the time sheet for Q1 and Q2 qualifying sessions. Hamilton fell short of setting the pole-winning time in the final session and will start the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix in third place alongside the McLaren Racing race of Lando Norris who set the fourth fastest lap time. The second Red Bull Racing of Alexander Albon will roll off the grid in fifth place accompanied in the third row by Carlos Sainz Jr. making his final appearance in a McLaren race car as the Spaniard prepares to compete with Ferrari for the 2021 season. 

Starting seventh, Russian driver Daniil Kvyat out-qualified his Scuderia AlphaTauri teammate Pierre Gasly for the second consecutive Formula 1 event as he faces an uncertain immediate future in the sport. It’s strongly suggested Kvyat will not be racing for the team next year and is likely eyeing a reserve driver role in preparations for a possible return to competition in 2022. 

Photo Credit: Steven Tee/LAT Images/Pirelli

Canadian Lance Stroll starts at the highest position of the two Racing Point race cars for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. Formula 1's newest and most recent grand prix winner Sergio Perez is relegated to a 19th place grid position as a penalty for receiving a new Mercedes-Benz power unit. Sunday’s race will be Perez’s final drive with Racing Point with no solid plans announced in regards to his future in racing.

The ninth fastest car on Saturday, the Ferrari of Charles Leclerc will actually start the race in 12th place. The opening lap incident at the Sakhir Grand Prix was scrutinized by the FIA after the race and ruled Leclerc at-fault that resulted with him colliding with Sergio Perez and contributed to Max Verstappen’s retirement. AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly is promoted to ninth place for the start of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix joined by the Renault of Esteban Ocon.

For what will be the final 55 laps of the 2020 Formula 1 season, the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix is scheduled to start at 5:10 P.M. local time at the Yas Marina Circuit (8:10 A.M. eastern time). 

2020 Formula 1
Abu Dhabi Grand Prix
Starting Grid

Monday, December 7, 2020

Chequered Flag for Checo: Perez Wins Sakhir Grand Prix

Photo Credit: Zak Mauger/LAT Images/Pirelli

Since entering the sport in 2011 with Sauber, Mexican driver Sergio Perez has been recognized as a skillful, talented Formula 1 competitor. With the underfunded race team, Perez almost pulled off an upset victory at the 2012 Malaysian Grand Prix but instead finished a strong second to Fernando Alonso’s Ferrari. Despite his promise (and even strong rumours of a seat at Scuderia Ferrari), the driver affectionately nicknamed “Checo” had spent much of his career in the sport with mid-field teams. Perez moved to a regressing McLaren team in 2013 but spent only a season in the ride until joining Force India. Between 2014 and 2018, the Mexican scored five podiums with the squad. Sergio Perez stayed with Force India after it was purchased by a consortium led by Lawrence Stroll hopeful of the direction for the renamed Racing Point team. His prediction was correct as Racing Point has now become a solid top-five effort in Formula 1. However, Perez’s loyalty was seemingly betrayed after news of the soon-to-be named Aston Martin team signing four-time world driving champion Sebastian Vettel to pair with Canadian Lance Stroll for next season. 

In a 2020 Formula 1 season derailed early by being the first driver to miss grand prix races due to a positive COVID-19 test (Nico Hulkenberg filled his Racing Point ride for the British and 70th Anniversary Grand Prix), Sergio Perez actually boasted a remarkable feat. Until last week’s Bahrain Grand Prix, Perez had finished in the points in every Formula 1 race he entered. Running second last Sunday, a failure with his Mercedes-Benz power unit was a heartbreaking outcome as the 30-year-old seeks to finish strong with Racing Point while his place in the 2021 tour is in doubt. In the race after the disappointing retirement that cost him a podium, Sergio Perez would have the moment he had been waiting for over his 10-year career.

Arranged on the Bahrain International Circuit’s 3.543-kilometer Outer Circuit layout, the Sakhir Grand Prix was immediately viewed as an unusual race. A short race course showcased by Valtteri Bottas’ 53.377-second pole time in his Mercedes-AMG F1 W11 EQ Performance race car, the penultimate race during the 2020 Formula 1 season also lacked two regular drivers. Reigning and 2020 Formula 1 World Drivers’ Champion Lewis Hamilton had to step away from his team after a positive COVID-19 diagnosis. Surviving what was one of the scariest Formula 1 crashes in years one the opening lap of the Bahrain Grand Prix, Romain Grosjean suffered burns to his hands and was unable to race for the Haas F1 Team. George Russell was called over from the Williams Racing team to fill in Hamilton’s big shoes with the Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula 1 Team (ironically needing to wear smaller racing shoes to fit into the championship-winning race car’s cockpit) while Pietro Fittipaldi was tapped to replace Grosjean in the second Haas VF-20 machine.     

Photo Credit: Andy Hone for Daimler AG

With two Mercedes-AMG cars at the front of the grid, the 87-lap Sakhir Grand Prix was sent underway but an opening lap incident would prevent the completion of the second race in the Bahrain International Circuit complex. Thankfully not as severe in impact as Grosjean’s fiery race car last week, the Sakhir Grand Prix’s first-lap accident had major ramifications for the final results. For Max Verstappen and Charles Leclerc, their race ended on the exit of the fourth turn. The #16 Ferrari dived to the right of the Racing Point of Sergio Perez for what was the inside line heading into the corner. As Perez turned right, Leclerc remained alongside resulting in the left front wheel impacting Perez’s car. The Racing Point spun while the Ferrari with a damaged front suspension coasted slowly to a stop. Attempting to avoid the nearby collision, the Red Bull Racing car of Max Verstappen arched wide into turn four but lost traction on the gravel in the runnoff area. Verstappen’s car nosed into the track wall close to Leclerc’s derelict Ferrari. Though Charles Leclerc and Max Verstappen was out of the race, Sergio Perez remained in the race but dropped deep down to 18th place after making a pit stop for new medium compound Pirelli tires. 

Just before the safety car had been called to allow track crews to clean up the lap one crash, the Mercedes-AMG team drivers duelled for the early lead with substitute driver George Russell gaining an advantage over Bottas. On the short Outer Circuit track, laps clicked off quickly during the Sakhir Grand Prix. While there were 87 laps to the event, the majority of the field completed the race on no more than two pit stops. George Russell maintained a small yet steady lead on Valtteri Bottas until he pitted on lap 45. Although he encountered a brief sensor issue on his #63 Mercedes, Russell soon cycled back to the lead as Bottas came to his pit crew on lap 49. 

Photo Credit: Wolfgang Wilhelm for Daimler AG

Behind the two Mercedes-AMG team cars, many competitors between third and seventh place remained close with the total reach among the vehicles being roughly three seconds. Deeper in the field early in the race, Sergio Perez performed an ambitious charge back to the front-running cars. By lap 20, the Mexican had returned to the top 10 and continued to make his way up the running order as other drivers made pit stops. After making a stop for new tires on lap 47, Perez returned to the track behind his Racing Point teammate Lance Stroll. By this point in the race, Stroll had been following the Renault of Esteban Ocon but was unable to pass the yellow and black car. Sergio Perez approached the pair and would pass his teammate on lap 56. The following lap, Perez passed Ocon into turn four gaining the third place spot behind the Mercedes-AMG cars. 

On lap 61, seemingly minor on-track incident involving the Williams driven by Jack Aitken reshaped the entire 2020 Sakhir Grand Prix. Running wide at the track’s eleventh and final turn, Aitken spun and lost his car’s front wing when he clipped the wall. Though the Williams was able to continue to the pit for a replacement front end piece, the debris resulted in a safety car period. Looking to capitalize on their significant lead over the rest of the field, the two Mercedes-AMG drivers were summoned to pit lane for new tires. The winner of seven consecutive Formula 1 Constructor Championship, the Mercedes-AMG team is often seen for its brilliance as it achieves race win after race win. However, on this occasion with the strategy call, the group made an uncharacteristically colossal mistake. Pitting George Russell first during what was a hastily planned move, the wrong tires were placed on the #63 car. When Russell left, the problem was compounded when the pit crew was unable to mount new tires to the #77 car of Valtteri Bottas. Within the confusion that involved an attempted tire change on Bottas’ car, the Mercedes-AMG team needed to remount the previously used tires to the Finnish driver’s machine. Russell was brought back to the pits dropping him to fifth place. 

With the faltering of the Mercedes-AMG race team, Sergio Perez inherited the lead until the safety car followed by Esteban Ocon and Lance Stroll. The pace car returned to pit road at the end of lap 68 setting up a late-race fight among competitors. Losing the lead, George Russell began to chart a path to Perez. Russell climbed to third place by lap 72 and snatched the runner-up spot from Ocon on the following lap. The #63 Mercedes-AMG race car slowly reeled in the Racing Point closing to 2.2 seconds with nine laps remaining. Sadly, any chance of a late race battle for the lead was defeated by a tire puncture on Russel’s car. 

Photo Credit XPB / James Moy Photography Ltd for Groupe Renault

Crossing the finish line with a comfortable 10.518-second lead, Sergio Perez piloted himself and the Racing Point team to a first-ever victory. In addition to being the first victory for the driver and team, the triumph in the Sakhir Grand for Sergio Perez and Racing Point established several other notable achievements. Perez becomes the first Mexican national to win in Formula 1 since Pedro Rodriguez captured the 1970 Belgian Grand Prix. The Mexican’s first Formula 1 win came on his 190th start in the series setting a new record for most driver starts before achieving victory. The record was previous held by Australian Mark Webber when he won the 2009 German Grand Prix driving for Red Bull Racing on his 130th start. The latest Formula 1 victor commented on his great career moment in a statement on Racing Point’s website saying.  “It’s still sinking in that I’ve won the race; I’m almost afraid to get too excited in case I’m dreaming!”

With the victory for Racing Point, four constructors have currently won races in the 2020 season. The last time more than three teams posted wins in a single season was in 2013 before the initialization of the current turbo/hybrid power unit era. The second Racing Point piloted by Lance Stroll finishing in third-place provided an extra reason to celebration. Though Stroll was disappointed by the result reflecting on several matters that could have potentially granted him victory, the 22-year-old was pleased with the effort of the entire team and the victorious Perez. “It’s one of those things, but the important thing is the team result. I’m delighted for the team and so happy for Checo. He’s been a part of this team for a long time. He’s been running up at the front so many times in his career and he totally deserves a victory.” said Stroll. Since his third-place result at Monza in early September, the Canadian had battled a string of unfortunate incidents on race day that involved just one point-paying finish in the previous seven grand prix events. Collecting a total of 40 points between Perez and Stroll, Racing Point has reacquired the third place in the constructors’ championship with one race remaining. 

Photo Credit: Mark Sutton/LAT Images/Pirelli

Between the two Racing Point competitors on the Sakhir Grand Prix podium, France’s Esteban Ocon grabbed his first career top-three in Formula 1. Ocon’s Renault DP World F1 Team pitted him only once in the race on lap 41 mounting hard compound tires on his #31 machine. The result serves as a major bode of confidence for the Renault driver as he prepares to partner with Fernando Alonso next season. Driving for Force India/Racing Point in 2017 and 2018 as a teammate for Sergio Perez, Esteban Ocon’s first podium coming on this particular occasion is fitting. 

Close behind Lance Stroll across the finish line, Carlos Sainz Jr. takes fourth for McLaren in his second-to-last race for the team ahead of a 2021 relocation to Scuderia Ferrari. Finishing in fifth is Sainz’s replacement at McLaren for next season. Daniel Ricciardo took the chequered flag a little more than half a second before sixth-place Alexander Albon driving the last remaining entry for the race for Red Bull Racing. Russian Daniil Kvyat scored the only points for Scuderia AlphaTauri concluding an impressive qualifying performance with a seventh-place finish after 87 laps in Bahrain. 

After appearing poised to take their 14th grand prix in the 2020 Formula 1, the Mercedes-AMG team’s rare stumbling near the end of the Sakhir Grand Prix resulted in their entries finishing in eighth and ninth place. Valtteri Bottas uncomfortably drove the last laps of the event on a well-used set of Pirelli tires but finished ahead of his teammate for the weekend. Bottas’ quest to end the season in the second-place spot in the Formula 1 World Drivers’ Championship was bolstered by his points-paying result in Bahrain and Max Verstappen’s early retirement from the event. The margin between Bottas and Verstappen is 16 points heading to Abu Dhabi.

Driving the race of his relatively young Formula 1 career, George Russell’s interim ride allowed the Brit to convince many observers of his prowess. Following up on topping both Friday practice sessions and narrowly missing pole on Saturday during the Sakhir Grand Prix weekend, Russell led a large portion of Sunday’s main event and posted the fastest lap in the race. With victory appearing to be in his grasp, the 22-year-old Brit stated through Mercedes-AMG’s website, “I’ve had races before where I had a victory taken away from me, but it felt like that happened twice today, I still can’t quite believe it.”. George Russell does earn his first career Formula 1 points with a ninth place finish and the single-point obtaining the fastest lap time. Russell finished ahead of fellow British driver Lando Norris.  

Set to wrap up the 2020 Formula 1 season as the 17th round on the schedule, the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix will run on December 13th. 

2020 Formula 1
Sakhir Grand Prix
Race Results

Saturday, December 5, 2020

Bottas Edges Russell for Sakhir Grand Prix Pole

Photo Credit: LAT Images for Mercedes-Benz Grand Prix Ltd

The third and final time the 2020 Formula 1 season which two races will be held back-to-back at a single venue, the Bahrain International Circuit is the only setting where two different track configurations will be used as teams set to run the first Sakhir Grand Prix. 

At 3.543 kilometers in length, the 11-turn Outer Circuit layout within the motorsport complex is considerably shorter than the 5.412-kilometer Grand Prix Circuit used for last week’s Bahrain Grand Prix. In Formula 1's 70-year history, the track for the Sakhir Grand Prix is the fifth-shortest ever competed upon.

Due to several events that have transpired in the past week, the driver lineup for the Sakhir Grand Prix has been noticeably shuffled. Following news of Formula 1 superstar Lewis Hamilton’s positive test for COVID-19, Williams Racing driver George Russell will belt into the car of the seven-time world driving champion. With Russell’s acting role with the Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team, Brit Jack Aitken will make his debut in the series driving for Williams. The 25-year-old Aitken boasts four wins in the Formula 2 championship over three years and has claimed championships in the two Formula Renault 2.0 series in 2015. Jack Aitken has operated as a test driver for Williams Racing throughout 2020. 

Another driver making set to make has first Formula 1 grand prix start in his career will be Pietro Fittipaldi filling in for the injured Romain Grosjean at the Haas F1 Team. The grandson of two-time Formula 1 champion Emerson Fittipaldi, the 24-year-old American-born Brazilian already boasts a diverse, respectable driving background that includes the 2017 World Series Formula V8 3.5 championship as well as the track championship at Hickory Motor Speedway in the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series.  

Photo Credit: Zak Mauger/LAT Images/Pirelli

At the controls of a Mercedes-AMG F1 W11 EQ Performance, George Russell demonstrated an apparent affinity for the race car fielded by the championship-winning team. Fastest in both Friday practices, there were some high hopes for the British driver heading into Saturday. In the final practice session before Saturday qualifying, Max Verstappen and Valtteri Bottas were at the top of the time sheet showing the advantage of drivers handling their familiar vehicles around the Bahrain International Circuit’s outer track. 

Qualifying for the Sakhir Grand Prix would be highlighted by some of the shortest lap times in Formula 1 history as competitors ran on the short and high-speed race course. After qualifying was completed, all 20 drivers had set a track time well under a minute. Eliminated in Q1 with the slowest time, Haas F1 Team’s Pietro Fittipaldi lapped the Outer Circuit in a time of 55.426 seconds. 

Photo Credit: Pirelli & C S.p.A.

Clocked with setting a 53.377-second lap in Q3, Mercedes-AMG regular driver Valtteri Bottas found a slight notch of speed that spoiled interim teammate George Russell’s best-ever opportunity at a pole in his career. Not entirely pleased with his pole-winning run, Bottas said, “It was fairly close in the end, so I’m pleased it was enough for pole position” following qualifying in a Mercedes-AMG team news release. Valterri Bottas’ fifth pole for the 2020 season comes as the Finnish driver is fending off Red Bull Racing pilot Max Verstappen in the runner-up spot in the drivers’ championship. Heading into the Sakhir Grand Prix, the margin between second and third place in the standings is 12 points. 

Falling just short of his first Formula 1 pole by 0.026 seconds, George Russell in the #63 Mercedes pulled off his most successful qualifying effort during a nearly two-year career in the series. Russell’s second-place starting spot also secured an all-Mercedes front row for the 12th time in 2020. 

Photo Credit: Pirelli & C S.p.A.

Max Verstappen placed his Honda-powered Red Bull race car into third following Q3 starting alongside Charles Leclerc who mounted a magnificent lap in his Ferrari. Sharing the third row of the Sakhir Grand Prix is Racing Point’s Sergio Perez and the Daniil Kvyat driving for Scuderia AlphaTauri. This qualifying performance for Kvyat is only the third time this season he outpaced his teammate Pierre Gasly in the time trials for setting a race grid. Australian Daniel Ricciardo will start in seventh place for Sunday’s race positioned beside Carlos Sainz Jr.’s McLaren race machine. Occupying the fifth row of the 2020 Sakhir Grand Prix is Pierre Gasly and the second Racing Point of Lance Stroll. Between Bottas and Stroll in Q3, a gap of 0.823 seconds separates the 10-car group. 

Making their debuts at the 2020 Sakhir Grand Prix, Jack Aitken will start from the 18th place spot in the #89 Williams/Mercedes-Benz race car while Pietro Fittipaldi is placed at the tail-end of the field in the #51 Haas F1 Team VF-20. 

Start time for the 87-lap Sakhir Grand Prix in Bahrain is scheduled Sunday at 8:10 P.M. local time (12:10 P.M. eastern time). 

2020 Formula 1
Sakhir Grand Prix
Starting Lineup

Thursday, December 3, 2020

Positive COVID-19 Test Parks Lewis Hamilton Ahead of Sakhir Grand Prix

Phoro Credit: Steve Etherington for Mercedes-Benz Grand Prix Ltd.

For much of the 2020 Formula 1 season, Lewis Hamilton has gone largely unchallenged during many grand prix races. The three-wheeled finish at the British Grand Prix, the valiant and victorious charge from sixth to first in the Turkish Grand Prix and the most recent triumph in last week’s Bahrain Grand Prix are one of several occasions where the recently-declared seven-time Formula 1 World Drivers’ Champion, with the backing of his high-tier Mercedes-AMG team, demonstrated the ability to meet challenges and prevail. In a year where the entire world recognizes the battle against COVID-19 as a core challenge, Hamilton was among one out of billions in the fight. As the season reaches its penultimate round, the foe known as COVID-19 would be the only adversary keeping the all-time winningest Formula 1 driver from the possibilities of on-track success. 

On Tuesday, it was announced that Lewis Hamilton tested positive for COVID-19 and would be unable to race in the upcoming Sakhir Grand Prix. Hamilton woke up to mild symptoms on Monday and would later receive confirmation of contracting the virus with two positive tests. In a team statement made by the Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team, it was reported that the driver was tested on the Sunday afternoon of the Bahrain Grand Prix that returned negative. 

Currently in isolation for 10 days, Lewis Hamilton issued a statement on his Twitter account expressing his situation and shared his disappointment for not being able to compete in the upcoming Formula 1 race. Part of the message states, “I’m gutted not to be able to race this weekend but my priority is to follow the protocols and advice to protect others.” 

Having started in 265 grand prix events, the 95-time race winner’s absence at Formula 1's Sakhir Grand Prix in Bahrain will miss his first race since his debut in the 2007 Australian Grand Prix. On Wednesday, his Mercedes-AMG team announced that Williams Racing driver George Russell will run their race entry in substitution for Lewis Hamilton for the second event being held on the Bahrain International Circuit for the 2020 season. 

Lewis Hamilton is the third Formula 1 driver to miss a race due to COVID-19. Racing Point driver Sergio Perez missed both Silverstone events after infection in August while Lance Stroll (also with Racing Point) withdrew from October’s Eifel Grand Prix weekend due to feeling unhurt and later received a positive test.

Tuesday, December 1, 2020

Hamilton Wins Bahrain Grand Prix Marred by Major Opening Lap Crash

Photo Credit: LAT Images for Mercedes-Benz Grand Prix Ltd

The 2020 Formula 1 season is drawing closer to an end as three races remain in the 17-race schedule hastily compiled as a result to the global COVID-19 pandemic. The Bahrain International Circuit is hosting two of the final three events for the year with the first being the annual Bahrain Grand Prix on a 15, turn 5.412-kilometer course. 

Recently locking up enough points in the season-long drivers’ title, Lewis Hamilton arrived in Sakhir as only the second seven-time Formula 1 World Champion. A three-time winner of the Bahrain Grand Prix, Hamilton continuing offensive for victories running to the conclusion of the 2020 calendar has him attempting to score a win in the 57-lap night race from the pole.

The start of the 2020 Bahrain Grand Prix would be routine through the first corners of the first lap as the field diced for positions early but would quickly involve a most frightening scene. During a Formula 1 season that involved a number of red flag incidents, the start of the 2020 Bahrain Grand Prix featured one of the most alarming moments on track this year.

Photo Credit: LAT Images for Mercedes-Benz Grand Prix Ltd

Out of turn three, the #8 car of Romain Grosjean maneuvered right in reaction to the calamity ahead of him but was seemingly unaware of the placement of the AlphaTauri race car driven by Daniil Kvyat. Crossing ahead of Kvyat, Grosjean’s right rear tire brushed the front left tire of the AlphaTauri. The contact caused the Haas racing machine to veer right into a violent, fiery crash with the track wall. The impact with the steel barrier caused the #8 Haas VF-20 race car to split in half with the safety cell portion protecting the driver separated from the rear portion containing the power unit. As the rear of the car coasted several meters away before coming to a rest, the front of the vehicle containing the French driver had become tangled into the track’s steel barrier. With the safety cell of his race car in flames, the FIA safety team and nearby track workers rushed to the driver. Fortunately, Romain Grosjean was alert and able to escape quickly from the burning remains of his race car with the aid of members of the safety crew. Grosjean would be treated in a hospital for burns suffered to both hands and remained in the medical care overnight as a precaution.  

A red flag period lasting more nearly an hour and a half was needed to recover the components of the crashed Haas Formula 1 car and for track workers to replace the section of track barrier. When the race restarted from a standing start for lap three with Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen leading the field, the quest for a full green lap in the Bahrain Grand Prix would have to wait as a result of a turn eight accident. 

Battling from a 13th place starting spot, Canadian driver Lance Stroll would have his race literally turned upside down. Entering the eighth corner in 12th place, Stroll was under attack from the AlphaTauri of Daniil Kvyat. Kvyat made a late move on the #18 Racing Point into lower portion of the turn. The sudden, poorly-timed passing attempt surprised Stroll as the AlphaTauri race car’s left front tire brushed the Racing Point RP20's right rear launching him into a half roll. Upside down, Stroll was able to promptly climb from his vehicle unhurt as a safety car would be called so track marshals could retrieve race car. Daniil Kvyat would receive a 10-second penalty after being judged at-fault for the incident and would finish the Bahrain Grand Prix in 11th place. Kevin Magnussen would also incur minor damage catching debris from the flipped Racing Point car but would continue. 

Photo Credit: Charles Coates/ LAT Images/Pirelli

During the safety car period, the Mercedes-AMG race car of Valtteri Bottas pitted after suffering a tire puncture. Starting the 2020 Bahrain Grand Prix alongside teammate Lewis Hamilton, Bottas, had a disastrous launch from his grid position falling to as low as sixth place in the first several corners before the red flag. The Finnish driver resumed the race in the fourth spot for lap three but the unscheduled tire stop on lap four dropped him deep into the running order. After fighting his way into the points, Valtteri Bottas completed the 57-lap race in 8th place. 

When the safety car returned to the pit lane, Lewis Hamilton charged away to a comfortable yet not massive lead. Through much of the event, Max Verstappen’s Red Bull Racing vehicle was several seconds behind the #44 Mercedes-AMG race car but managed a very strong pace throughout the event. Verstappen was roughly five seconds behind Hamilton on lap 46 just before the Red Bull driver pitted for medium compound Pirelli tires in order to post the fastest lap of the race. 

Photo Credit: Andy Hone/LAT Images/Pirelli

Heading into the final four laps of the Bahrain Grand Prix, the top three runners appeared to have established a steady gap and pace to carry them through to the finish. Running approximately 18 seconds behind the Mercedes-AMG F1 W11 EQ Performance race car of Lewis Hamilton in the running order was Max Verstappen’s Red Bull Racing RB16 who maintaining a sizable interval over Sergio Perez. The sole Racing Point runner through much of the race, Perez was on the verge of celebrating his second consecutive Formula 1 podium. Though the Mexican drove a fantastic grand prix, his Racing Point’s Mercedes-Benz power unit picked the most inopportune time to fail this season. Puffs of smoke from the back of the pink #11 race car would intensify and was soon accompanied by flames. The Racing Point came to a full stop on track with three laps remaining ending Perez’s strong outing and the pursuit for valuable constructors’ points as the team is locked in a tight battle for third in the season’s standings. After the race, Racing Point revealed the cost of the podium finish was specifically attributed to an MKU-K issue.

With the final laps taking place behind the safety car, Lewis Hamilton and the Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team took the 2020 Bahrain Grand Prix. Claiming his 95th Formula 1 victory, Hamilton described the victory as a hand-fought affair despite leading from flag-to-flag. “Max pushed me all the way and he had a lot of speed today. I was struggling a little bit with the car sliding around, but I just had enough to be able to respond to Max’s quick laps when it mattered.” said Lewis Hamilton in his Mercedes-AMG team’s post-race press release. The seven-time Formula 1 World Champion was also thoughtful of the incident at the start of the grand prix grateful that Romain Grosjean left the serious crash without serious or life-threatening injuries crediting the FIA medical team as well as the Halo bar installed on all Formula 1 cars since 2018. 

Photo Credit: Andy Hone/LAT Images/Pirelli

While Sergio Perez and Racing Point lost their place on the podium with the late retirement at the Bahrain International Circuit, the Red Bull Racing celebrated the accomplishment of their first double podium finish since the 2017 Japanese Grand Prix. Finishing second, Max Verstappen successfully scored the point for setting the fastest lap in the grand prix with a 1-minute, 32.014-second lap time. Finishing third, Alexander Albon ran a consistent race en route to his second Formula 1 podium result. 

After team benefiting from the Racing Point’s scoreless outing was the McLaren Racing squad. Both McLaren drivers enjoyed a productive 57 laps at the Bahrain International Circuit improving from their grid positions to register just outside of the podium. Starting ninth, Lando Norris crossed the finish line in fourth place while Carlos Sainz Jr. climbed from a 15th grid position to finish fifth. The effort for the McLaren team resulted in 22 points towards the constructors’ championship giving themselves a 17-point lead for third-place in the team standings. 

Photo Credit: Glenn Dunbar/LAT Image/Pirelli

Finishing sixth in the 2020 Bahrain Grand Prix, Pierre Gasly would last pit on lap 25 and made his AlphaTauri’s medium compound tires last through the final 32 laps. Behind Gasly, the Renault team cars sandwiched Valtteri Bottas’ Mercedes-AMG race machine. Daniel Ricciardo crossed the line in seventh place while his French teammate Esteban Ocon finished ninth. The final point-paying spot in the Bahrain Grand Prix was captured by the Ferrari of Charles Leclerc. 

The penultimate round of the 2020 Formula 1 season will feature a second race in Bahrain taking place in the same motorsport complex on a 3.543-kilometer layout called the Outer Circuit. The Sakhir Grand Prix will set for December 6th.

2020 Formula 1
Bahrain Grand Prix
Race Results

Sunday, November 29, 2020

Newly-Minted 2020 F1 Champion Hamilton Takes Bahrain Grand Prix Pole


LAT Images for Mercedes-Benz Grand Prix Ltd

After four events held on race tracks that were originally unplanned for the 2020 Formula 1 season prior to this year, the series’ trip to the Bahrain International Circuit served as a familiar venue for the majority of drivers and teams. Arriving for the Bahrain Grand Prix, another element of commonality of recent seasons has again been solidified. Thanks to a steady year capped with an impressive victory at the last race in Turkey, Lewis Hamilton has locked up his sixth Formula 1 Drivers’ World Championship in the last seven years. With three races remaining for the 2020 season, Hamilton and his Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team (who had already locked the year’s Constructors’ Championship title) are again at the top of the motorsport world but is unwilling to rest on their laurels. 

Setting fastest laps in the first two practice sessions on Friday, Lewis Hamilton remained focused to add to his growing list of career achievements in the Persian Gulf-based country. Ahead of qualifying for the Bahrain Grand Prix, Hamilton began to face a strengthened opposition as Max Verstappen and the Red Bull Racing team stepped up their effort to be quickest after the third and final practice.

Photo Credit: Pirelli & C. S.p.A.

As daylight escaped the Bahrain International Circuit leaving the 5.412-kilometer race track illuminated by lights, Saturday’s qualifying shaping the field for the 2020 Bahrain Grand Prix commenced with far less drama than the rainy last outing in Istanbul. Only one red flag appeared over the course of the three time trial sessions occurring when the McLaren race car of Carlos Sainz Jr. stopped on track during Q2. Detailed as a braking system issue by McLaren’s Team Principal Andreas Seidl, Sainz will start Sunday’s race in 15th place.

Taking fastest times through all three sessions of qualifying, Lewis Hamilton stormed to one of his most convincing pole position efforts yet in his Mercedes-AMG F1 W11 EQ Performance race car. The British driver’s 98th career Formula 1 pole and 10th this season, Hamilton’s top spot at the 2020 Bahrain Grand Prix came after setting a time of 1-minute, 27.264 seconds in Q3. “No matter what has been thrown at us this year we’ve risen to it. For me it’s important to use these final three more races to learn as much as possible and carry that on into next year.” Commented Lewis Hamilton in a post-race news release from his team.

A little under three-tenths of a second slower than his Mercedes-AMG teammate, Valtteri Bottas provided a vital ingredient in cementing a statement of dominance for the German-based organization in qualifying. Starting 1-2 once again in the 2020 season for Sunday`s Bahrain Grand Prix, the Mercedes-AMG team has recovered one race after its streak of successful pole runs was ended in Turkish Grand Prix qualifying by Mercedes-Benz customer team Racing Point.

LAT Images for Mercedes-Benz Grand Prix Ltd

Falling short of his performance in Saturday practice, Max Verstappen remained tight with the pace of the Mercedes-AMG team cars. The Honda-powered Red Bull RB16 driven by the Dutch pilot recorded a 1-minute, 27.678-second lap time that was just 0.125 seconds slower than Valtteri Bottas. Verstappen’s start from the second row for Sunday’s Bahrain Grand Prix will feature the company of teammate Alexander Albon. Albon’s strong pace in the timed session came roughly 24 hours after the Thai driver suffered a major crash in a practice. In the second practice on Friday, Albon collided with the track barrier after running wide in the track’s final corner.

Fresh off a second-place finish in Istanbul, Racing Point’s Sergio Perez recorded the fifth-fastest time in the final session of qualifying at the Bahrain International Circuit starting well ahead teammate Lance Stroll. Finishing the Q1 session with the second-fastest time, Stroll’s effort setting a top lap time in Q2 was complicated by the red flag as well as being equipped with used medium compound tires. The Canadian Racing Point driver will start 13th for the 2020 Bahrain Grand Prix.

The two Renault race cars finished qualifying very close together separated by Q3 lap times just 0.002 seconds apart. Australian Daniel Ricciardo edged out teammate Esteban Ocon for the sixth place starting spot. Sunday’s 57-lap event will feature an all-French fourth row as the AlphaTauri race car driven by Pierre Gasly will start alongside seventh place Ocon. Behind the two Frenchmen, Lando Norris will start the Bahrain Grand Prix in ninth place while the second AlphaTauri racer Daniil Kvyat will roll off from tenth place.

Set for a 5:10 P.M. local time in the hot desert, the 2020 Bahrain Grand Prix will take place at 9:10 A.M. Eastern time. 

2020 Formula 1
Bahrain Grand Prix
Starting Grid

Friday, November 20, 2020

Lewis Hamilton Locks Up Seventh Champion with Turkish Grand Prix Victory

Photo Credit: LAT Images for Mercedes-Benz Grand Prix Ltd

Located within a city that connects the European and Asian continents, Intercity Istanbul Park had been widely regarded as one of the finest tracks in Formula 1 when the tour visited it between 2005 and 2011 for the Turkish Grand Prix. Designed by Hermann Tilke inspired by tracks including Spa-Francorchamps, Suzuka and even WeatherTech Laguna Seca Raceway, the 14-turn, 5.338-kilometer course has been lauded by drivers and by fans. Sadly, despite an attempt to have a crowd in the grandstands for this race weekend months prior, the 2020 return of the Turkish Grand Prix would run without spectators due to an uptick in COVID-19 cases. Spared of what ended up being a wet Saturday and Sunday at the Istanbul track, fans unfortunately missed witnessing one of the most unpredictable grand prix events of the already unusual 2020 season. 

A prelude to what would be a wild 2020 Turkish Grand Prix was the rain-drenched qualifying session taking nearly two hours to complete due to an extended red flag. Racing Point driver Lance Stroll captured his first Formula 1 pole in a late battle between Max Verstappen and his teammate Sergio Perez. Sunday’s 58-lap feature event allowed the young Canadian to preside at the front of field as the 20-car field prepared to take on a wet Intercity Istanbul Park surface. The first race in 2020 where a Mercedes-AMG factory race car did not start at the front, the Turkish Grand Prix saw the usually stable seasonal front-runners Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas would be placed in sixth and ninth respectively on the grid.

Though there would be no rainfall for the start of the 2020 Turkish Grand Prix, all but the two Williams Racing team cars started the race on full wet weather tires as the recently resurfaced 5.338-kilometer race track was still soaked. From his first Grand Prix pole position, Lance Stroll performed a stellar start holding onto an early lead during what was a busy entrance into the Intercity Istanbul Park’s turn one. Sharing the front row of the grid with Stroll’s Mercedes-Benz powered Racing Point car, Max Verstappen was ambushed after a poor launch. The Red Bull Racing driver left the first turn in fifth place aided when the Mercedes-AMG race car of Valtteri Bottas and Esteban Ocon spun in the corner after making contact. Both Bottas and Ocon remained running but have a difficult race. 

Photo Credit: Charles Coates/LAT Images/Pirelli

Starting third, Sergio Perez skillfully navigated his way to second place into the first turn resulting in the Racing Point cars running in the top two positions early in the Turkish Grand Prix for what could be a highlight moment for the organization. Other drivers improving positions at the start of the race included Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton. Hoping the clinch his seventh Formula 1 World Drivers’ Championship in Turkey, Hamilton jumped to third early in the first lap but his Mercedes-AMG race car slid wide later in the opening lap falling back to sixth place. 

Although the full 58-lap distance of the 2020 Turkish Grand Prix presented slick conditions for competitors, the race’s progression saw the track surface drying leading to the field to abandon their wet weather tires for intermediate tread tires. While Williams Racing drivers Nicholas Latifi and George Russell started on intermediate tires from pit road, the remainder of competitors pitted between lap 6 and lap 12. Ferrari was the first team to begin swapping Pirelli tires when they pitted Charles Leclerc on the sixth lap. Leader Lance Stroll came to the attention of his Racing Point pit crew on lap 9 and would recapture the top spot in the race after lap 12. The stops came just ahead of a brief virtual safety car period used to retrieve the stopped Alfa Romeo of Antonio Giovinazzi. 

The Turkish Grand Prix ended up being the tale of two races for Lance Stroll. From the start in wet conditions, Stroll took advantage of a clear track and compiled a lead of more than five seconds over his teammate in second place. After accumulating a 10-second lead on teammate Sergio Perez, the #18 Racing Point RP20 began to slowly lose its advantage at the front. By lap 24, the gap between first and second draw to within four seconds and Perez would close to within a second of Stroll by lap 35. As the Mexican shadowed his Canadian teammate on lap 36, Racing Point pitted Stroll’s car for a second set of intermediate tires. Returning to the track in fourth place, Lance Stroll was no longer at the wheel of a potentially winning car in Turkey. Citing graining of the latter two sets of tires, the pole-sitting vehicle would run the remainder of the Turkish Grand Prix recording some of the slowest lap times. Losing ground to the majority of the top-10 runners, Stroll limped his Racing Point across the finish line in ninth place. Although scoring his first championship points since his third place finish at Monza in early September, Lance Stroll left the Istanbul track on Sunday falling short of the promising result that might have been. 

Photo Credit: Mark Sutton/LAT Images/Pirelli

Following Stroll’s second pit stop, Sergio Perez inherited the lead of the grand prix. Unfortunately for the veteran Mexican driver who has been chasing his first Formula 1 win since he joined the tour in 2011, the Turkish Grand Prix would not be sight of victory. While Lance Stroll was losing pace as the race shifted from wet to intermediate tires, the Mercedes-AMG of Lewis Hamilton showed the performance the German team had largely lacked over the weekend. Seven seconds behind Perez on lap 32, Hamilton closed to within two seconds of the #11 Racing Point by the end of lap 36. Holding the lead for less than a lap, Sergio Perez was rapidly overtaken by Lewis Hamilton under braking into turn 12 on lap 37.

While Hamilton pulled out a considerable lead over the field in last third of the event in Turkey, a fight second place shaped up as the Racing Point started to feel pressure from the two Ferraris of Charles Leclerc and Sebastian Vettel. On the final lap of the Turkish Grand Prix, Sergio Perez slid on the exit of turn 9 and allowed Leclerc to take the second place spot on the exit of turn 10. However, just as the driver of the #16 Ferrari benefited from a competitor overshooting a corner, he himself would fall victim to a last lap miscalculation on the slippery Intercity Istanbul Park track. Entering turn 12, Leclerc slid wide allowing Perez to retake second place as well as the Ferrari driven by Sebastian Vettel to pass for third. 

Taking the chequered flag 31.6 seconds before the second-place driver, Lewis Hamilton took 2020 Turkish Grand Prix and his 10th win of the season. Additionally, Hamilton’s win clinches the 2020 Formula 1 World Drivers’ Championship with three races remaining on the schedule. In the year where the Brit equalled and succeeded Michael Schumacher in all-time Formula 1 grand prix victories, Hamilton is now tied with the German driver for World Drivers’ Championship titles with seven. 

Photo Credit: LAT Images for Mercedes-Benz Grand Prix Ltd

Falling short of victory, Sergio Perez and Racing Point celebrates a strong effort together in Istanbul. Perez’s first podium since the 2018 Azerbaijan Grand Prix, the Mexican’s only other runner-up finishes came with an upset performance at the Malaysian Grand Prix and the Italian Grand Prix in 2012. Looking for a new ride in Formula 1 or in another form of motorsports, Perez continues to make an impression in 2020 as he bids farewell to Racing Point. The second-place finish for Sergio Perez and Lance Stroll’s ninth place result allows Racing Point to take possession of third place in the Formula 1 Constructors’ standings currently five points ahead of McLaren.

The story of Sebastian Vettel’s 2020 Formula 1 campaign prior to the Turkish Grand Prix is well-documented. Following five previous seasons that did not produce a drivers’ or constructor championship, many observers consider the pairing of Ferrari and Vettel as a disappointment on that front before looking at this year. With the team appearing to favour the younger Charles Leclerc, the Ferrari/Vettel partnership is set to end after 2020. This planned separation has arguably had some effect on the year as Sebastian Vettel’s best run in 2020 was a sixth place result in the Hungarian Grand Prix while Leclerc has two podium finishes and generally outscores his German teammate. In this complicated race in Turkey, Sebastian Vettel showed his most competitive form of the season. Though his first podium since the 2019 Mexican Grand Prix came due to a mistake by his teammate, Vettel nonetheless ran solidly with the leaders throughout the Turkish Grand Prix. With Charles Leclerc crossing the line in fourth place after starting in 12th place, Ferrari has given their hard-core fans some sense of relief that progress can be made with their SF1000 race car.   

Qualifying 13th but forced to start 15th on the grid after receiving a penalty in qualifying impeding Sergio Perez in the session, Carlos Sainz Jr. and his McLaren team managed to score an impressive 5th place finish after 58 laps. Scoring points in the last four grand prix events, Sainz passes his teammate Lando Norris in the season’s drivers’ points standings. Norris Finished eighth in the Turkish Grand Prix but also gained the additional point in the race for achieving the fastest lap at 1-minutes, 36.806 seconds (almost 11 seconds faster than Lance Stroll’s pole time on Saturday).

With drivers finishing in sixth and seventh place, Red Bull Racing had an underwhelming result at the Turkish Grand Prix. After almost capturing pole on Saturday, Max Verstappen showed speed with his Honda-powered race car but also drifted off track on several occasions. Verstappen as well as his teammate Alexander Albon found inconsistency performing on the slick Intercity Istanbul Park circuit. Finishing ahead of Albon, Max Verstappen’s chance at a podium result was foiled by the necessity of a third pit stop after a lap 18 dice with second-place Sergio Perez. Attempting to pass the Racing Point, the #33 Red Bull race car lost control on a wet portion of the track. Spinning twice and coming to a brief stop, Verstappen resumed but the incident led to the premature end for his tires requiring him to pit just seven laps after the initial stop for intermediate tires.

Photo Credit: Charles Coates/Motorsport Images for American Honda Motor Co.

Rounding out the top 10 for the 2020 Turkish Grand Prix is the Renault of Daniel Ricciardo. Ricciardo finished ahead of teammate Esteban Ocon who beat the two AlphaTauri racers across the finish line. The trip to Istanbul was only the second twice in 2020 that the AlphaTauri team failed to score championship points. Despite the adventurous conditions in the 58-lap event, the list of retirements from the Turkish Grand Prix was relatively low at just four cars (Magnussen finished 55 laps but did not take the chequered flag).

Leaving Turkey, Formula 1 now has a 2020 World Drivers’ Champion and three races remaining. The next race will be the Bahrain Grand Prix on November 29th serving as one of two events being held on the Bahrain International Circuit. 

2020 Formula 1
Turkish Grand Prix
Race Results