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

Sunday, November 15, 2020

Stroll Scores First Formula 1 Pole In A Soaker In Turkey

Photo Credit: Glenn Dunbar/LAT Image/Pirelli

In the previous 13 Formula 1 events held in 2020, there had been only one team securing pole position. Without doubt contributing to their seventh consecutive Formula 1 Constructors’ Championship title, the Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team succeeded in putting drivers Lewis Hamilton or Valtteri Bottas into the top spot on the grid. Even as the tour shuffled the schedule to operate in spite of this year’s COVID-19 global pandemic the Mercedes team showed the impressive ability to adapt to new tracks. With the 14th round in Turkey, Formula 1's return to Intercity Istanbul Park would throw a wet wrench into the factory team’s desire to continue on its season-long qualifying domination. 

The Formula 1 circuit last visited Turkey in 2011 with the event won by Sebastian Vettel from pole driving at that time with Red Bull Racing. The 2020 revival of the Turkish Grand Prix weekend saw Red Bull Racing at the top of the time sheets in all three practice sessions. Max Verstappen recorded fastest times on both Friday and Saturday morning while Alexander Albon posted a second-quickest time in the first practice session and was with the top-five runners in the other two periods on the 5.338-kilometer track. In an unusual spectacle, the Mercedes-AMG teammates were being outclassed ahead of qualifying. Valtteri Bottas was the fastest of the squad in posting a third-quickest time in the second practice but was eighth in the third practice outing on a wet Istanbul course. The surreal nature of Mercedes-AMG’s performances in practice sessions would serve as a prelude to a wacky qualifying.

A steady rain drenched the Intercity Istanbul Park track that was recently repaved prior to this year’s grand prix. The slick, wet 14-turn race course led to a white-knuckle driving experience for the entire field as they rushed to set a lap time. Some teams sending drivers out on intermediate Pirelli tires and immediately noted the challenge of finding grip on the track. With even full wet weather tires provided little aid to competitors, Formula 1 race control elected to red flag the Q1 session with 6 minutes and 56 seconds remaining. After a 45-minute break in the action, the qualifying session resumed under improved yet still challenging conditions. Haas F1 Team driver Romain Grosjean sliding into the gravel trap in turn 1 resulted in another red flag before the first qualifying session finally concluded with Max Verstappen’s Honda-powered Red Bull race car posting a 1-minute. 57.485-second lap time followed by teammate Alexander Albon. 

Charles Coates/LAT Images/Pirelli

The Q2 session for Turkish Grand Prix qualifying was less chaotic as wet weather tires allowed drivers to maintain some adhesion with the Istanbul circuit. Verstappen again led competitors out of the time trial session with a 1-minute, 50.293-second time with Albon, Lewis Hamilton, Lance Stroll and Antonio Giovinazzi rounding out the top-five. Failing to break into the top-10 included both cars from McLaren Racing and Scuderia Ferrari. 

In the final 12-minute Q3 session, the conditions gave all ten entrants a somewhat fair chance to obtain pole position especially as some drivers would migrate to intermediate tires for their final runs. With six minutes remaining, Racing Point driver Sergio Perez set the top mark with a 1-minute, 52.037-second lap time around the Intercity Istanbul Park with intermediate tires. As time expired for Q3, the Mexican bettered his time performing a 1-minute, 49.321-second lap. However, Perez’s Racing Point teammate Lance Stroll mustered together the session’s best lap time to take his first-ever Formula 1 pole.   

Setting a 1-minute, 47.765-second time on the wet Intercity Istanbul Park using intermediate Pirelli tires, Canada’s Lance Stroll was elated as he celebrated the career achievement. “When I was told over the radio that I had taken pole position, I was thinking: ‘pinch me, I’m dreaming!’. I’m still a little lost for words: I’ve dreamt of days like these and it’s a special moment.” said the driver of the #18 Racing Point RP20 in a post-qualifying report on the team’s website. The effort for Stroll is a welcomed change in fortunes based on his recent grand prix events in 2020. Following a strong first part of the season where Stroll regularly placed in the points and scored a podium at Monza, he has not scored a championship point in four events and missed the Eifel Grand Prix due to COVID-19. Lance Stroll prepares to start his first Formula 1 grand prix on the pole position seeking to complete the total reversal of his recent luck with victory on Sunday. Stroll’s pole is the first achieved by a Canadian driver since Jacques Villeneuve started at the front of the European Grand Prix in 1997. 

Stroll’s qualifying performance was enough to fend off a late lap posted by Max Verstappen who also outran Sergio Perez at the end of Q3. Verstappen’s front row start comes as he prepares to rise above the last race at Imola where a tire failure cost the Dutch driver a strong podium finish.

Starting third for Sunday’s Turkish Grand Prix, Sergio Perez will be positioned directly behind his teammate ahead of the 58-lap race. The qualifying performance by both Stroll and Perez was an overall impressive effort for Racing Point. Positioned alongside the Mexican driver on the second row of the Turkish Grand Prix is Verstappen’s teammate Alexander Albon.

Daniel Ricciardo and his Renault finished qualifying as the fastest on full rain tires. Ricciardo’s teammate Esteban Ocon starting in seventh place and Kimi Raikkonen were the only other drivers preferring the set their best Q3 times using wet weather tires. 

Photo Credit: Charles Coates/LAT Images/ Pirelli

In the qualifying session where their pole-winning streak was broken, Mercedes-AMG experienced a comparably dreadful performance in Turkey on Saturday compared to the 2020 Formula 1 season prior to this weekend. The 2020 winner at the Intercity Istanbul Park track, Lewis Hamilton starts the Turkish Grand Prix in sixth place while Valtteri Bottas is positioned in ninth after qualifying. Entering Sunday’s race with an 85-point lead in the drivers’ standings, Hamilton can potentially clinch his seventh Formula 1 World Drivers’ Championship. 

The winner of the inaugural Turkish Grand Prix in 2005, Kimi Raikkonen provided a sterling performance in the wet weather with his Alfa Romeo C39 race car. Raikkonen will start eighth for Sunday’s main event after a qualifying session that showed the Finnish driver putting in one of his finest efforts since last winning with Ferrari in 2018 at the United States Grand Prix. The bizarre qualifying round at the Intercity Istanbul Park track was favourable for both Alfa Romeo Racing drivers as Raikkonen’s teammate Antonio Giovinazzi also broke into Q3 settling for a tenth place starting spot. 

In the last Turkish Grand Prix, the circuit recorded the highest number of dry weather overtaking moves in a Formula 1 race since 1983. Set for 58 laps around the 5.338-kliometer track, the 2020 Turkish Grand Prix is staged with the likelihood of more wet weather. The start of the race is set for 1:10 P.M. local time (5:10 A.M. Eastern time).

2020 Formula 1
Turkish Grand Prix
Starting Grid

Tuesday, November 10, 2020

Modern Vanwall Venture Revives 1958 Construction Championship Race Car for Continuation Run

Photo Credit: Vanwall Group

Despite operating in Formula 1 for a short period of time, the Vanwall name’s contribution to British motorsport history is significant. 

Set up by an early supporter of BRM (British Motor Racing), industrialist Tony Vandervell established the Vanwall team in 1954 with a Formula 1 debut coming at the British Grand Prix. Starting with a race car propelled by a four-cylinder powerplant derived from combining Norton motorcycle engines, Vandervell’s organization would quickly hit on success. In 1957, the Vanwall VW 5 became a winning platform placed in the hands of a driving team consisting of the late Sir Sterling Moss, Tony Brooks and Stuart Lewis-Evans. The team’s first Formula 1 win was achieved at the 1957 British Grand Prix in a performance where Moss and Brooks shared a vehicle. The Vanwall VW 5 race car powered by an inline-four engine would win 9 of the 15 grand prix events the group entered during its two-season run including the first-ever Formula 1 Constructors’ Championship in 1958.

While the team was unable to propel a driver to an individual championship (Moss was just one-point short of 1958 drivers’ champion Mike Hawthorn), Vanwall won Formula 1's first-ever awarded Constructors’ championship. Fending off Ferrari for the 1958 honours, the British team is also recorded as the only constructors’ title winner to accomplish the feat campaigning a front-engined vehicle. Despite the success for Vanwall, the team withdrew from contention for a Formula 1 constructors’ title defence running just two more grand prix events in the series before shuttering the organization in 1960.  

Obtaining the rights to the Vanwall name in 2013, Iain Sanderson has been working to bring the historic British racing brand to modern relevance. Sanderson’s Vanwall Group first major attempt to revive the past accomplishments attached to the name is to recreate its successful grand prix contender.

Photo Credit: Vanwall Group

Announced on October 19th (the 62nd anniversary for when the Vanwall Formula 1 collected its 1958 championship), a total of six examples of the Vanwall VW 5 race car will be produced to emulate the vehicle that raced on classic circuits against Juan-Manuel Fangio’s Maserati and the Ferrari wheeled by Mike Hawthorn. Being assembled with the aid of the original blueprints and drawings, every vehicle will be hand-built as a completely accurate continuation example of grand prix racing roadster. The Vanwall VW 5 continuation machines will be constructed under the expert craftsmanship of Hall and Hall based in Lincolnshire, England. 

Exactly matching the power source that propelled Tony Brooks wheeled to victory at the 1958 Belgian Grand Prix or Sir Sterling Moss took to glory in the Dutch Grand Prix, the continuation versions of the Vanwall VW 5 will feature a faithful recreation of the original 2.489-liter displacement inline four-cylinder engine. The fuel-injected, 1958 Formula 1 engine was initially created by combining a Rolls-Royce block with a cylinder head similar to those found on Norton motorcycles designed by Harry Weslake. Producing 270 horsepower, the engine of the VW 5 race car is supported by a chassis that was constructed under the engineering guidance of Colin Chapman. 

Photo Credit: Vanwall Group

Beyond the brief existence of the Formula 1 team, Vanwall’s history in auto racing also serves as the spring board for several other major influencers that would define motorsports for decades. When Tony Vandervell’s organization was preparing its own car in 1954, they sought a chassis from Cooper Car Company. In the same year that Vanwall won the constructors’ world championship, a Cooper-built rear-engined Formula 1 scored its first victories ultimately sparking a revolution that would see vehicles with front-mounted powerplants rapidly become obsolete including the Vanwall VW 5. Cooper won the 1959 and 1960 Formula 1 Constructors’ Championship while team driver Jack Brabham took the drivers’ championship. The before-mentioned Harry Weslake would achieve a grand prix victory as an engine manufacturer in 1967. Weslake’s V-12 powerplant propelled Dan Gurney’s Eagle Mk1 race car to a win in the Belgian Grand Prix. Harry Weslake also contributed cylinder heads to the Le Mans-winning Ford GT40s for 1968 and 1969. 

Historically becoming the biggest name employed towards the construction of the Vanwall VW 5 is Colin Chapman. Debuting in 1958, Chapman’s Team Lotus would claim seven constructors’ championships and 74 grand prix wins. While launching his own Lotus Cars company, Chapman consulted with Vanwall on the chassis for the race car. Vanwall would also provide Chapman his only attempted Formula 1 start as a driver in the 1956 French Grand Prix where he qualified fifth but crashed his car before the race. 

Out of the six examples of the Vanwall VW 5 continuation models being produced, only five will be available to the public at a cost of £1.65 million (2.836 million Canadian dollars). The sixth production model will uphold the honour of the first Formula 1 Constructors’ Champion as part of the Vanwall Historic Racing Team.  

Tuesday, November 3, 2020

Hamilton and Mercedes Celebrates Big Victory At Emilia Romagna Grand Prix

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


The 2020 Formula 1 schedule’s thirteenth event presented another wild card of sorts for the improvised season. Returning to Imola’s Autodromo Internazionale Enzo e Dino Ferrari for the first time since 2006, Formula 1 teams converged for the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix. 

Despite returning to a classic race complex, this particular grand prix presented a number of new ingredients. Firstly of all, the 2020 Emilia Romagna Grand Prix would be held on a 4.909-kilometer track layout that was assembled after the final 2006 San Marino Grand Prix took place at the venue. The Formula 1 series as a whole has also changed a lot since the last competitive race at the Autodromo Internazionale Enzo e Dino Ferrari. Turbo-Hybrid power units, DRS detection zones and the ban on in-race refuelling are some of the differences in 2020 grand prix events. The majority of the current drivers on the Formula 1 grid have been able to familiarize themselves with the current track competing in lower tier racing series such as the Formula 3 European Championship as well as the GP2 Series. Kimi Raikkonen is the only active competitor in the field for the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix who had raced at Imola with a Formula 1 car.

Sunday’s 63-lap race at the Autodromo Internazionale Enzo e Dino Ferrari consisted of 20 drivers led by Valtteri Bottas. Joined by Mercedes-AMG teammate Lewis Hamilton on the front row for the start of the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, Bottas launched successfully to hold an early lead. While Valtteri Bottas capitalized on his pole, Hamilton’s #44 car fell to third place at by the first corner as the Honda-powered Red Bull of Max Verstappen found his way around current World Championship leader. Both Bottas and Hamilton entered the weekend with the intention to pilot their W11 EQ Performance race cars to their Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team’s seventh consecutive Constructors’ Championship. 

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

Although a relatively tame first lap of the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, two separate incidents occurred complicating the days for two drivers. After only a few corners in the race, Lance Stroll’s #18 Racing Point lost a piece of its front wing as the Canadian made slight contact with the rear of Esteban Ocon’s Renault while negotiating the traffic at the start on the narrow Imola circuit. Stroll continued to the run but be out of contention for scoring points settling for 13th place. Later on the same lap, the Haas F1 Team car of Kevin Magnussen partially spun coming out of turn seven. Magnussen lost some ground with the rest of the field but quickly recovered. The #20 Haas F1 Team machine would be retired later in the event.  

Though Lance Stroll and Kevin Magnussen survived their mishaps in the early stage of the race, the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix would claim its first casualty on lap eight. After a magnificent fourth-place qualifying effort, Pierre Gasly dropped out of the event when an apparent coolant issue caused the Frenchman to park his AlphaTauri race car. 

Pitting one lap after Max Verstappen on lap 19, Valtteri Bottas surrendered the lead of the race to Lewis Hamilton. Holding the lead through the initial laps, it was later reported that the driver of the #77 Mercedes-AMG race car had hit a piece of debris on the event’s second lap. As his crew was unable to remove the debris during Bottas’ pit stop, the Finnish driver would experience a growing difficulty with handling as the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix progressed. 

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

While the Mercedes-AMG team has shown incredible pace throughout the year, Max Verstappen and his Red Bull Racing team has been capable of presenting a meaningful challenge to the German-based group. A Red Bull Racing versus Mercedes-AMG team fight for second-place emerged during the mid way point of the race. Verstappen zeroed in on Bottas and was able to apply some major pressure on the #77 Mercedes. On lap 42, the Honda-powered Red Bull race car pressured Bottas into over-driving turn 17. On the start-finish stretch, Max Verstappen was able to use the additional momentum of DRS to propel pass Valtteri Bottas.  

After making his impressive pass for second place on the tricky Autodromo Internazionale Enzo e Dino Ferrari, Verstappen’s efforts would be all for nothing in the final results of the 2020 Emilia Romagna Grand Prix. Heading towards turn 5 on Lap 51, the right rear tire on the #33 Red Bull Racing RB16 race car suddenly failed sending the Dutch driver into a gravel trap. A safety car period was called to recover the now-retired Red Bull machine causing many teams and drivers to choose to make pit stops. During the safety car period, Williams driver George Russell joined the retirement list after losing control of his vehicle coming out of turn 10 on the smooth race track hitting a wall. A visually dejected Russell left his car following the single-car incident commenting in a post-race team release “I came out of the corner and the tyres were too cold and I just lost the car, and I was already in the wall. It is absolutely gutting, and I am really sorry to the team. We were having an amazing race up until then, we were pushing really hard every lap and the pace was good.”

Photo Credit: Honda North America

A last sprint to the finish of the 2020 Emilia Romagna Grand Prix resulted in the #44 Mercedes-AMG machine of Lewis Hamilton rolling to his 9th victory of the season. The Imola track becomes the recently-crowned all-time winningest Formula 1 driver’s latest addition to circuits where he has taken the chequered flag in first. This year, Hamilton has previously added victories at the Ferrari-owned Mugello track as well as Algarve International Circuit to his growing list of career conquests.

Crossing the line 5.783 seconds behind teammate Lewis Hamilton, second-place finisher Valtteri Bottas was able to celebrate the Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team’s group accomplishment of securing a seventh-consecutive Formula 1 Constructors’ Championship. With four races remaining, the German-based team has established a large enough gap between them and Red Bull Racing. In the same event where Red Bull Racing fell from mathematical contention to capture the 2020 constructors title points, the team failed to score a point. In addition to Max Verstappen’s before-mentioned retirement, Alexander Albon would slip in the late stage of the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix to finish 15th. 

For the second time in 2020, Daniel Ricciardo has placed his Renault race car into a podium position. While the two Mercedes-AMG drivers completed the 63-lap distance of the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix with a two-pit stop strategy, a number of drivers elected to choose track position instead of softer compound tires during the race’s late stage. Ricciardo was the top-placed driver to operate on only a one-stop plan over 63 laps at Imola. Ricciardo’s third-place finish has allowed the Renault F1 Team to move up two positions in the constructors’ standings placing it third overall with one-point ahead of McLaren and Racing Point. 

Photo Credit: Mark Sutton/Motorsport Images/Pirelli

Achieving his best finish since the German Grand Prix in 2019, Russian Daniil Kvyat’s fourth place run on the Autodromo Internazionale Enzo e Dino Ferrari is a much-needed bode of confidence late in the 2020 Formula 1 season. Kyvat is currently fighting to secure a place on the grid for the 2021 tour as his team has yet to announce the second driver joining Pierre Gasly. 

For the second consecutive race, Charles Leclerc claimed a top-5 finishing position for Ferrari thanks to a single pit stop strategy. Leclerc’s teammate Sebastian Vettel crossed the line at Imola in 12th place sandwiched between Canadian drivers Nicholas Latifi and Lance Stroll. 

Though promoted to third place immediately after Max Verstappen’s retirement, Sergio Perez would relinquish the position to pit his Racing Point during the safety car period. Perez settled for a sixth place finish at the end of the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix continuing a streak of scoring points in every grand prix he entered in 2020 (noting the two races is missed due to recovering from COVID-19). The Mexican driver is still seeking a Formula 1 ride for 2021 but faces decreasing prospects as Williams Racing and Alfa Romeo Racing recently solidified their lineups for next year.

Photo Credit: Charles Coates/Motorsport Images/ Pirelli

Qualifying close together on Saturday at Imola, the two McLaren race cars finished together in the final results for the 2020 Emilia Romagna Grand Prix. Carlos Sainz Jr. captured seventh place ahead of Lando Norris driving for one of three teams that would place both cars into point-paying positions. Besides Mercedes-AMG and McLaren Racing, Alfa Romeo Racing ended the race in Imola with Kimi Raikkonen and Antonio Giovinazzi scoring points for the first time in the same event this season. The veteran Raikkonen placed ninth one position above his younger Italian teammate who captured the last point of the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix. Starting last, Giovinazzi narrowly fended off the Mercedes-Benz powered Williams race car of Nicolas Latifi for the tenth place spot.

Formula 1 teams are given a two-week break ahead of the next race in Turkey. The first Turkish Grand Prix in nine years is scheduled take place at Intercity Istanbul Park on November 15th.

2020 Formula 1
Emilia Romagna Grand Prix 
Race Results

Sunday, November 1, 2020

Bottas Outpaces Hamilton for Emilia Romagna Grand Prix Pole

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


Leaving Portugal after completing the country’s first Formula 1 grand prix since 1996, the premier open wheel racing group has landed back in Italy for its third race in the nation in the 2020 season. The Autodromo Internazionale Enzo e Dino Ferrari (commonly referred to by the name of the nearby town of Imola) is the venue for the first-ever Emilia Romagna Grand Prix. Last hosting a Formula 1 event in 2006 (one year prior to the debut of both Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel competing on the tour), the Imola race track has previously played host to the 1980 Italian Grand Prix and the San Marino Grand Prix from 1981 to 2006. 

The 4.909-kilometer Italian race track presents relatively new pavement (presenting a similar challenge to drivers when competing at the Algarve International Circuit for the Portuguese Grand Prix) resulting in a smooth yet bumpy surface. The Imola circuit is also noteworthy for being particularly narrow presenting the likelihood for a tight racing line and difficulties in passing.

The first race at Autodromo Internazionale Enzo e Dino Ferrari for Formula 1 in the Turbo-Hybrid era, piloting the massively powerful machines around the circuit also involved the nuance of the event operating on a modified two-day routine. Only a single 90-minute practice session would occur ahead of the grid-setting qualifying show for Sunday’s 63-lap race. The combination of unique circumstances presented some difficulty to competitors throughout Saturday. Time deletions caused by drivers exceeding track limits plagued a number of drivers during practice for the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix with 60 lap times taken off the time sheet. After drivers disputed the situation with the FIA sanctioning body, the rules were amended ahead of qualifying. 

Once again, the Mercedes-AMG race car drivers led the way through all three sessions of the Saturday qualifying. Resulting in the defence of their undefeated streak of pole positions for the 2020 Formula 1 season, drivers Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton battled each other for which one would stand at the top of the time chart in Q3 at Autodromo Internazionale Enzo e Dino Ferrari. Cranking out a 1-minute, 13.609-second lap time, the #77 of Bottas was able to out-hustle teammate Hamilton by almost one-tenth of a second. The Finnish driver’s fourth pole position this season, Bottas has so far won just a single race from the spot in 2020 (the season-opening Austrian Grand Prix). Finishing second after Q3, Lewis Hamilton cautioned in an interview that Sunday’s race may be a boring affair due to the narrow Imola circuit. 

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

Max Verstappen’s third-fastest time in the 2020 Emilia Romagna Grand Prix qualifying was a hard-fought team effort. The Dutch driver experienced a loss of power in the early part of Q2 but his garage crew was able to repair the issue allowing the #33 Red Bull Racing car to set a time in order to advance late in the session. Verstappen will start alongside the vehicle from Red Bull Racing’s affiliate team Scuderia AlphaTauri. Churning out an impressive time with his #10 car, Frenchman Pierre Gasly recorded one of his best qualifying performances for a season where he and his team have exceeded expectations

Daniel Ricciardo will start in fifth place with his Renault machine on the third row with the second Honda-powered Red Bull Racing car fielded for Alexander Albon. Continuing to make a familiar appearance as the highest-qualifying Ferrari-powered race car for the 2020 Formula 1 grand prix season, Charles Leclerc is positioned seventh for the start of the race at Imola. Teammate Sebastian Vettel was only able to obtain a fourteenth place position for the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix’s grid. Russian Daniil Kvyat placed a strong personal effort with AlphaTauri resulting in an eighth-fastest time in Q1 just 0.080 seconds slower than Leclerc’s Ferrari. The McLarens of Lando Norris and Carlos Sainz Jr. Round out the top-10 starters for the 2020 race at Autodromo Internazionale Enzo e Dino Ferrari. Every vehicle qualifying in the top-10 for the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix will start the race on soft compound Pirelli tires. 

Photo Credit: Steven Tee/ LAT Images/ Pirelli

Beyond the top-10, a superb qualifying effort was recorded by the Williams Racing team and George Russell. Breaking out of Q1 once again in 2020 with his Mercedes-Benz powered #63 machine, Russell threatened to be a contender for Q3 at Imola. The Brit ultimately fell short of posting a top-10 time concluding Q2 in 13th place. George Russell’s qualifying performance comes on the week that where Williams Racing announced his services as driver for the team is retained for 2021.

The only driver on the current Formula 1 tour who had driven in the San Marino Grand Prix held at the Autodromo Internazionale Enzo e Dino Ferrari in 2006, Kimi Raikkonen’s experience was unfortunately not enough to lift his Alfa Romeo Racing team beyond Q1. Raikkonen was one of several drivers that had a time disallowed for exceeding track limits in qualifying. This week, the Alfa Romeo Racing Orlen organization confirmed both Raikkonen and Antonio Giovinazzi are returning as drivers for the team next season.

The 63-lap Emilia Romagna Grand Prix is set for a 1:10 P.M. local start time (7:10 A.M. Eastern time). 

2020 Formula 1
Emilia Romagna Grand Prix
Starting Grid