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Friday, April 16, 2021

2021 Formula 1 Season: Emilia Romagna Grand Prix Preview



Race Date April 18, 2021
Location Imola, Emilia Romagna, Italy
Track Name Autodromo Internazionale Enzo e Dino Ferrari
Course Length 4.909-kilometer (3.050-mile)
Laps 63
2020 Pole Winner Valtteri Bottas
2020 Pole Time 1:13.609
Past Five Grand Prix Winners
2020 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes-AMG
As San Marino Grand Prix
2005 Michael Schumacher Scuderia Ferrari
2004 Feranando Alonso Renault
2003 Michael Schumacher Scuderia Ferrari
2002 Michael Schumacher Scuderia Ferrari



Monday, March 29, 2021

On Track for Victory: Hamilton Fends Off Verstappen for Bahrain F1 Opener

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



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Following a 2020 Formula 1 campaign hindered the COVID-19 global pandemic that delayed the start of the season to July and resulted in a vast shuffling of the schedule towards a 17-race tour that ended in December 13th, the participants and fans of the 2021 season for the motor racing grand prix are hoping that the majority of surprises will be restricted to the race track for 23 events. Despite the sanctioning body limiting teams to running modified versions of their 2020 chassis, the changes applied towards the assembly in this year’s grid are substantial. Seven of the ten teams have shuffled their driving rosters, Two teams adopted new identities and McLaren has switched from Renault to Mercedes-Benz power are also charges appearing on the 2021 Formula 1 grid.


What remains unchanged is the premise that this could be another season where the Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team is the favourite to win week after week en route to a potential eighth consecutive Formula 1 Constructors’ Championship title. The team and its driving lineup consisting of Finland’s Valtteri Bottas and seven-time drivers’ champion and 94-time grand prix race winner Lewis Hamilton is expected to face a fierce fight from Red Bull Racing. The hungry, aggressive Dutch driver Max Verstappen is and the Austrian-based race squad’s newly-acquired veteran pilot Sergio Perez are both expected to act as a foil to the German team.


With more than three months of building anticipation, a new Formula 1 season starting with the 2021 Bahrain Grand Prix would put speculation aside for on-track results. During Saturday’s qualifying on the Bahrain International Circuit, Max Verstappen and his #33 Honda-powered Red Bull Racing car claimed pole ahead of the two Mercedes-AMG runners. As the 20 cars completed the formation lap for the first race of the season, the second Red Bull Racing machine driven by Sergio Perez stopped on the track. The shutdown for Perez was brief and the #11 was able to continue but had to relinquish his 11th place starting grid and started the grand prix from the pit road. The incident also required a second formation lap necessitating in a lap being removed from the 57-lap distance of the Bahrain Grand Prix.


Photo Credit: Charles Coates/LAT Images/Pirelli





Now a 56-lap event, the opening round on the 5.412-kilometer featured a successful start for Max Verstappen, the grand prix was short for Nikita Mazepin. The Russian making his debut with Uralkali Haas F1 Team didn’t make it beyond the third corner of the Bahrain International Circuit losing control under throttle on the first lap. A safety car called to tend to the stopped Ferrari-powered Haas F1 Team car.


Full speed action on track resumed after lap three but the race was slowed in the late stage of lap four for debris on track. Pierre Gasly received front wing and floor damage to his AlphaTauri machine after contact with the McLaren of Daniel Ricciardo. Though the AlphaTauri driver would continue, Gasly was out of contention. Unrelated to the incident but occurring on the same lap, Mick Schumacher spun his #47 Haas F1 Team coming out of the fourth turn. Starting in his first Formula 1 grand prix, the 2020 Formula 2 champion and son of sporting great Michael Schumacher resumed after the spin to finish in his debut race.

 


Pit stops came early for many taking new tires between lap 12 and lap 18 planning a two-stop routine. Exceptions to the pit strategy included Sebastian Vettel and Sergio Perez. Buried deep in the grid misfortune in qualifying concluding in a 17th place outcome, Vettel’s first run with Aston Martin Racing saw him climb as high as 7th place attempting a single pit plan that involved a single stop on lap 24. For Vettel, the strategy failed to garner the results he desired with a penalty added late in the Bahrain Grand Prix when he rear-ended Esteban Ocon’s Alpine race car compounding what was a difficult debut with Aston Martin Racing. In his first race with Red Bull Racing, Sergio Perez’s troubles prior to the race’s start resulted in him playing catch-up in the #11 car. The Red Bull Racing team pitted the Mexican during the safety car period on lap two and was able to stretch his next stop to a slightly later time than the other competitors. Sergio Perez would ultimately operate on a three-stop plan amounting to an impressive finish.


Retirements in the Bahrain Grand Prix were relatively light through the first half of the event with Nikita Mazepin being the only driver out. A growing list of drivers on the sidelines before the conclusion of the first Formula 1 race of 2021 would first add the #14 Alpine of Fernando Alonso. In the race where Alonso returned to the series and team related to his two drivers’ championship titles, he would retire to the garage on lap 34 due to rear brake issues. Pierre Gasly failed to finish the grand prix parking his AlphaTauri machine late due to lingering damage caused in his opening lap collision and the Williams Racing FW43B race car of Canada’s Nicholas Latifi also dropped out before the chequered flag due to a lack of power suspected to be a boost leak.


Vehicles exceeding course limits at the Bahrain International Circuit’s turn four were a persistent problem during practice and resulted in several times in qualifying being deleted. During the race, Lewis Hamilton’s line through the corner was cautioned against for exploring too much of the boundaries of the track. However, the race stewards enforcement of the track limits through turn four actually served to aid Hamilton in his quest for victory.


Photo Credit: Mark Sutton/LAT Images/Pirelli





Verstappen and Hamilton swapped the top spot in the Bahrain Grand Prix during pit stop exchanges with Hamilton gaining first place after the #33 Red Bull machine pitted on lap 39. Rejoining the track 5.4 seconds behind Lewis Hamilton, Max Verstappen began to chase down the Mercedes-AMG racer closing to within DRS range (a one-second interval) by lap 51. On the 53rd lap, the rapidly closing Verstappen pounced on the #44 Mercedes-AMG race car with a charge from turn three down the straight heading into turn four. Along the outside of Hamilton into the fourth corner, Verstappen’s #33 Red Bull Racing car would prevail on the way out of the turn. However, the new leader would be forced to surrender the position back to Hamilton due to Verstappen running wide through the weekend’s infamous corner. As the Mercedes-AMG race car regained the lead, the Red Bull Racing driver was unable to mount a meaningful challenge in the remaining laps of the race.


Standing on the top spot of a Formula 1 podium for the 95th time in his career, Lewis Hamilton’s victory in the 2021 Bahrain Grand Prix was a hard-fought effort operating on 11-lap older hard compound tires than his Red Bull Racing rival. Already holding and expanding records including most career wins and most career poles, the recently-knighted Brit claimed the all-time record for laps led by a single driver. Hamilton is currently vying for a record-breaking 8th Formula 1 World Drivers’ Championship with his third consecutive victory at the Bahrain Grand Prix acting as a good start on that amazing, competitive journey.


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





Crossing the finish line just 0.745 seconds behind Lewis Hamilton, Max Verstappen’s second place result came after a strong effort from pole. As the first grand prix of the 2021 season, the presence of the Dutch driver’s #33 Honda-powered Red Bull Racing machine haunting the Mercedes-AMG cars of Hamilton and Bottas throughout the weekend provides hope for one of the more competitive seasons of Formula 1 in years. Despite the Red Bull Racing team missing out on winning their first season opening Formula 1 round since 2011, the organization can be pleased for both the pressure applied by Verstappen as well as a magnificent recovery for Sergio Perez. After 56 laps, the Mexican’s debut for the team netted a solid fifth place finish.


Taking third place and the final podium spot in the 2021 Bahrain Grand Prix is the second Mercedes-AMG race car driven by Valtteri Bottas. The finish was a great result for the Finnish driver considering a troublesome second pit stop where an issue at the right-front wheel of the #77 car translated into a 10.9-second stop. Bottas was pitted for a third time on lap 54 in what was a successful bid to snag the point for the fastest race lap away from previous holder Max Verstappen.


Cars finishing in fourth and seventh place are both examples of an initially promising reunification for McLaren and Mercedes-Benz. Starting from seventh place, Lando Norris drove a steady race at Bahrain to take the highest spot short of the podium. Daniel Ricciardo’s first appearance in the orange and blue ended with a respectable seventh place run.


Photo Credit: Mark Sutton/LAT Images/Pirelli




The fourth and final team to have both drivers finish in the top-10 is Scuderia Ferrari. Eager to put aside a much-maligned 2020 effort, the famed Italian group brought Charles Leclerc home in sixth place and Carlos Sainz Jr. to the chequered flag in eighth.


Kicking off his Formula 1 racing career in fine fashion, 20-year-old Japanese driver Yuki Tsunoda scored points in his first race. Tsunoda’s debut with AlphaTauri saw the rookie battling through a tightly-contested mid-pack battle where he out-muscled Lance Stroll on the last lap for ninth place. Scoring a point in the first grand prix for the newly-branded Aston Martin Racing team, Stroll’s tenth place result is only the second time the Canadian collected a point in the opening round of a Formula 1 season. Though just a single point in their return to the grand prix grid after 71 years, Aston Martin Cognizant F1 Team’s captured an honour that eluded its predecessor organization that operated in 1959 and 1960.


The second round for the 2021 Formula 1 season is scheduled for Italy’s Imola Circuit (also known as Autodromo Internazionale Enzo e Dino Ferrari). The Emilia Romagna Grand Prix race is slated for April 18th.



2021 Formula 1 Season

Bahrain Grand Prix

Race Results



Pos #

Car #

Driver

Team

Engine

 

 

 

 

 

1

44

Lewis Hamilton

Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team

Mercedes-Benz

2

33

Max Verstappen

Red Bull Racing

Honda

3

77

Valtteri Bottas

Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team

Mercedes-Benz

4

4

Lando Norris

McLaren F1 Team

Mercedes-Benz

5

11

Sergio Perez

Red Bull Racing

Honda

6

16

Charles Leclerc

Scuderia Misson Winnow Ferrari

Ferrari

7

3

Daniel Ricciardo

McLaren F1 Team

Mercedes-Benz

8

55

Carlos Sainz Jr

Scuderia Misson Winnow Ferrari

Ferrari

9

22

Yuki Tsunoda

Scuderia AlphaTauri

Honda

10

18

Lance Stroll

Aston Martin Cognizant F1 Team

Mercedes-Benz

11

7

Kimi Raikkonen

Alfa Romeo Racing

Ferrari

12

99

Antonio Giovinazzi

Alfa Romeo Racing

Ferrari

13

31

Esteban Ocon

Alpine F1 Team

Renault

14

63

George Russell

Williams Racing

Mercedes-Benz

15

5

Sebastian Vettel

Aston Martin Cognizant F1 Team

Ferrari

16

47

Mick Schumacher

Uralkali Haas F1 Team

Ferrari

17

10

Pierre Gasly

Scuderia AlphaTauri

Honda

18

6

Nicholas Latifi

Williams Racing

Mercedes-Benz

19

14

Fernando Alonso

Alpine F1 Team

Renault

20

9

Nikita Mazepin

Uralkali Haas F1 Team

Ferrari



Saturday, March 27, 2021

Verstappen's Early Red Bull Rush Takes Pole in Bahrain

 




Photo Credit: FIA Pool/LAT Images/Pirelli



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An all-new season for Formula 1 has arrived with a slew of pre-season storylines set to be explored as engines turn over for the 2021 Bahrain Grand Prix.


A consistent source of astonishment and a fair level of distain of competitors is the dominance of the Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team. A constant fore-runner since the series’ adoption of the current turbo/hybrid power unit format, Mercedes-AMG with Valtteri Bottas as well as seven-time and reigning Formula 1 World Drivers’ Champion Lewis Hamilton continued to have winning pace last season. However, the 2020 season gave glimpses that Red Bull Racing could potentially achieve the enviable task of matching the performance of the German factory team. Max Verstappen’s Honda-powered race car frequently had the pace to fill the mirrors of Bottas and Hamilton last year, At the 2020 season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Verstappen and Red Bull Racing put on an impressive showcase taking pole along with the race win convincingly. Though just one event, Red Bull Racing’s performance on the Yas Marina Circuit gives reason to consider 2021 may present Mercedes-AMG with battle unlike any experienced since their seven consecutive Constructors’ championship-winning seasons.


Ahead of Formula 1's season-opening 57-lap event, the 5.412-kilometer Bahrain International Circuit hosted Saturday qualifying to set the grid for the Bahrain Grand Prix. Setting fastest time in the Q1 session, Max Verstappen and his Red Bull Racing team became concerned with the underside of his #33 RB16B race car after the Dutch driver rode a track curb. Though he was bettered on pace in Q2, Verstappen valiantly fought to take pole for the Bahrain Grand Prix late in Q3. Shortly after Lewis Hamilton grabbed the top spot with a 1-minute, 29.385-second lap time, the Honda-powered Red Bull flew across the start/finish line setting the pole of 1 minute, 28.997 seconds. Accounting for his top grid position at Formula 1'a last race of 2020, Verstappen has become the first non-Mercedes driver to score back-to-back poles since Charles Leclerc accomplished the feat during the 2019 campaign.


Though Max Verstappen provided Red Bull Racing with a major reason to celebrate after Bahrain Grand Prix qualifying, the second car driven by new team driver Sergio Perez had a less successful outing. Perez will start 11th after attempting to advance beyond Q2 on medium compound Pirelli tires.


Photo Credit: Sebastian Kawka for Mercedes-Benz Grand Prix ltd.



Lewis Hamilton starts second for tomorrow’s Bahrain Grand Prix as the defending winner of the event. Setting a top time in the Q3 session that was 0.589 seconds short of Max Verstappen’s benchmark, Hamilton’s Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas will launch from third on the second row of the race grid alongside Charles Leclerc. Leclerc and his new teammate Carlos Sainz Jr. gave Scuderia Ferrari and their Tifosi to cheer taking the top two spots in the Q2 session aided by the use of soft compound tires. Sainz will start the Bahrain Grand Prix in eighth place.


Pierre Gasly’s Honda-powered AlphaTauri race car was fifth fastest in Formula 1 qualifying and will start the race beside Daniel Ricciardo who is making his debut with McLaren. McLaren’s return to Mercedes-Benz power showed promise for the squad through Friday practice and contributed to a sixth place after qualifying for Ricciardo and seventh for Lando Norris.


Photo Credit: Mark Sutton/LAT Images/Pirelli



Two-time Formula 1 drivers’ champion Fernando Alonso’s return to Formula 1 racing after a two-year hiatus sees the Spaniard in ninth place ahead of Sunday’s main event driving for Renault’s rebranded Alpine F1 Team. Aston Martin Racing, the rebranded entity that was known as Racing Point last year, starts 2021 with a top qualifying effort coming from Canada’s Lance Stroll who will roll off the grid in tenth place. Stroll’s high-profile new teammate Sebastian Vettel will start the Bahrain Grand Prix in 17th place after being impeded by local yellow flags in his Q1 session run.


The 2021 Formula 1 season opener is scheduled for Sunday at 6 p.m. local time or 11 a.m. Eastern time.




2021 Formula 1

Bahrain Grand Prix

Qualifying Results

Pos # Car # Driver Team Engine
1 33 Max Verstappen Red Bull Racing Honda
2 44 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team Mercedes-Benz
3 77 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team Mercedes-Benz
4 16 Charles Leclerc Scuderia Misson Winnow Ferrari Ferrari
5 10 Pierre Gasly Scuderia AlphaTauri Honda
6 3 Daniel Ricciardo McLaren F1 Team Mercedes-Benz
7 4 Lando Norris McLaren F1 Team Mercedes-Benz
8 55 Carlos Sainz Jr Scuderia Misson Winnow Ferrari Ferrari
9 14 Fernando Alonso Alpine F1 Team Renault
10 18 Lance Stroll Aston Martin Cognizant F1 Team Mercedes-Benz
11 11 Sergio Perez Red Bull Racing Honda
12 99 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo Racing Ferrari
13 22 Yuki Tsunoda Scuderia AlphaTauri Honda
14 7 Kimi Raikkonen Alfa Romeo Racing Ferrari
15 63 George Russell Williams Racing Mercedes-Benz
16 31 Esteban Ocon Alpine F1 Team Renault
17 6 Nicholas Latifi Williams Racing Mercedes-Benz
18 5 Sebastian Vettel Aston Martin Cognizant F1 Team Ferrari
19 47 Mick Schumacher Uralkali Haas F1 Team Ferrari
20 9 Nikita Mazepin Uralkali Haas F1 Team Ferrari

Friday, March 26, 2021

2021 Formula 1 Season: Bahrain Grand Prix Preview


Race Date March 28, 2021
Location Sakhir, Bahrain
Track Name Bahrain International Circuit
Course Length 5.412-kilometer (3.363-mile)
Turns 15
Laps 57
2020 Pole Winner Lewis Hamilton
2020 Pole Time 1:27.264
Past Five Grand Prix Winners
2020 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes-AMG
2019 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes-AMG
2018 Sebastian Vettel Scuderia Ferrari
2017 Sebastian Vettel Scuderia Ferrari
2016 Nico Rosberg Mercedes-AMG
Following the decision to postpone the Australian Grand Prix, the originally planned opening round for the 2021 Formula 1 season, the Bahrain Grand Prix will host the first race on this year's calendar. First hosting a Formula 1 back in 2004, Michael Schmacher won the inaugural event from pole driving for Ferrari. The Bahrain International Circuit's 15-turn race course has proven itself to be a high traction, highly abrasive track. Since 2014, the Bahrain Grand Prix has taken place as a night race with the race start time occuring just after sunset.

Friday, February 12, 2021

1 Racing Mind: 2020 Formula 1 Year In Review

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

 


A year many of us are pleased to have in the rearview mirror, 2020 presented some unprecedented challenges as we pursued (and continue to pursue) a manner to globally battle COVID-19 while attempting to maintain as much normality as possible. As a series intended to transverse across five of the Earth’s seven continents, the 2020 Formula 1 championship needed to be greatly shuffled their travel schedule in order to provide an entertaining 17-round season. 

Operating under the improvised, abbreviated calendar, this past year’s Formula 1 competition was held with some complications but ultimately concluded as a season of note. For the seventh-time in his career, the recently-knighted Sir Lewis Hamilton claimed the World Drivers’ Championship winning 11 of the 2020 season’s 17 grand prix events. Although the dominance of the Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team fielding drivers Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas spent another season at the front of the majority of the time, there were a number of impressive feats performed throughout the 2020 Formula 1 paddock. The surprise win of Pierre Gasly at the Italian Grand Prix, Sergio Perez's long-awaited first victory and a re-ignition of the Mexican's career, Canadian Lance Stroll's first pole on a wet Intercity Istanbul Park circuit for the Turkish Grand Prix and the one-off showcase of George Russell at the Sakhir Grand Prix were so of the bright spots defining a sport's 70th Anniversary season.   

As teams and drivers prepare for what will be a challenging 2021 tour, 1 Racing Mind wishes to shed light on their performances in the past year’s 17-race calendar. In addition to grading the team and their driver lineup during the 2020 Formula 1 season for the following race squads, this review will also contain detailed highlights:

     


Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team

Red Bull Racing

McLaren Racing

BWT Racing Point F1 Team

Renault DP World F1 Team

Scuderia Ferrari

Scuderia AlphaTauri

Alfa Romeo Racing Orlen

Haas F1 Team 

Williams Racing



1 Racing Mind’s Formula 1 Season Ending Team Report Card: Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team

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



Team Grade: A

Overall: 

In a narrative that has grown impressive and tiresome at the same time depending on fan allegiances, the Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team captured the 2020 Formula 1 World Constructors’ Championship handily as drivers Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas combined to net victories in 13 of 17 grand prix events. Throughout the 2020 season, the organization’s drivers, staff and leadership were seen as a dynasty in the sport where they have won seven consecutive team titles. The Mercedes-AMG F1 W11 EQ Performance race car demonstrated itself to be the latest in some finely-tuned and engineered Formula 1 challengers from the squad. Only one retirement was recorded for this year’s Mercedes-AMG racer with a power unit failure on Valtteri Bottas’ car during the Eifel Grand Prix.


Achievements During 2020 Season: 

It’s hard to pinpoint a specific moment in the entire season that stands off beyond the others for showing the greatness for the Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team. Winning 13 races in 2020, the Mercedes-AMG Formula 1 team finished first and second a total of five times with Lewis Hamilton taking the top spot on every occasion. In the Tuscan, Portuguese and Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, the team also scored the pole and fastest lap of the event either with Hamilton or Valtteri Bottas.


Shortcomings During 2020 Season: 

Although Mercedes-AMG rolled to what could easily be assessed as another dominant title defence in 2020, this season was not flawless. Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas both suffered from massive tire degradation at the end of the British Grand Prix though Hamilton still crossed the finish line first at Silverstone on only three inflated Pirelli tires. However, tires were also the source of what could be the biggest team blunder of the season at the Sakhir Grand Prix. During a safety car period, the Mercedes-AMG team decided to pit both cars (the #77 of Valtteri Bottas and the #63 being raced by George Russell in a one-off appearance) for tires but mistakenly mixed up the set installed on Russell’s car. With some of Bottas’ tires going on Russell’s vehicle, the #63 needed to return to pit road to correct the matter while the #77 finished the race on used tires.   


Team's Drivers:


#44 Lewis Hamilton: A

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


Overall Season:

 Although Lewis Hamilton has been the face of Formula 1 almost every year since 2014, the 2020 season gave the British driver a reason to be seen as a true motorsport legend. 

Despite the schedule shortened to just 17 races, Hamilton tied a personal record for wins in a single season with 11 victories. Competing since 2007, Lewis Hamilton passed and/or prepared to set records in the series including a quest for Michael Schumacher’s 91 career all-time victory tally. Hamilton tied the mark in at the Eifel Grand Prix held on German’s Nurburgring (receiving a Michael Schumacher race helmet from the past legend’s son Mick) and took sole ownership as the winningest Formula 1 driver at the Portuguese Grand Prix. With his last race of the 2020 coming at the Bahrain Grand Prix, Hamilton currently holds 95 career grand prix victories. In the year that the driver claimed his seventh world championship, he was also recognized outside of the cockpit of his Mercedes-AMG race car for social activism throughout the season. Lewis Hamilton’s successful 2020 campaign was accomplished in just 16 races due to sitting out the penultimate round due to a positive COVID-19 test.


Achievements During 2020 Season: 

With Lewis Hamilton finishing first in 11 races in 2020, there could be at least 11 occasions to cite as the best single grand prix performance for the year. Winning the British Grand Prix while running the final lap on a flat tire is certainly going down as one of the most bizarre Formula 1 victories in his career (in addition, most of Formula 1 history). Hamilton also had three percent races (win, pole and fastest laps) in the Hungarian, Tuscan and Portuguese Grand Prix.

The Turkish Grand Prix might be one of the most impressive race efforts of the season starting sixth and eventually mastering the wet Intercity Istanbul Park circuit. Despite an early struggle, Hamilton recovered and emerged with his dominating style with wet tires changed to intermediate tires. At the end of 58 laps, the #44 Mercedes-AMG race car crossed the line 31.6 seconds ahead of second place Sergio Perez.


Shortcomings During 2020 Season:  

In the 16 races he ran in 2020, Lewis Hamilton finished no lower than seventh place. That result came at the Italian Grand Prix after a penalty when he and his Mercedes-AMG pitted when the pit road was closed during a safety car period. Arguably losing the race due to the miscue in Italy, Hamilton’s next race in Russia also contained another rare mistake with the #44 Mercedes-AMG car. Practice starts conducted by Lewis Hamilton at the beginning of the Russian Grand Prix led race stewards to levy a pair of 5-second penalties. Hamilton also lost second place due to a penalty in the opening event in Austria after being found at-fault for making contact with Red Bull Racing driver Alexander Albon.


#77 Valtteri Bottas: B


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



Overall Season: 

Entering Formula 1 in 2013 with Williams Racing, Valtteri Bottas joined the Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team in 2017 chosen to fill the driver's seat vacated by Nico Rosberg who retired as the 2016 drivers' champion. Participating with the Mercedes-AMG team for the fourth consecutive season, Bottas is a frequent front-runner. 

During the 17-race 2020 Formula 1 tour, the driver of the #77 Mercedes-AMG race car stood at the top spot on the podium after two grand prix events. In addition to the two wins, Bottas finished in the top-three on 11 occasions.  

However, with Hamilton being Bottas’ teammate at Mercedes-AMG, his entire Formula 1 season campaign since 2017 has been measured against an awe-inspiring benchmark. Achieving some great performance in 2020, Bottas has also been less consistent than his teammate.

Achievements During 2020 Season: 

For the second consecutive year, Finland’s Valtteri Bottas secured the place of placing “Best of the Rest” in Formula 1 behind Lewis Hamilton.

Two of Bottas' 11 podium results included victories at the season-opening Austrian Grand Prix and the Russian Grand Prix. For the Austrian Grand Prix held on the Red Bull Ring circuit, the Finnish driver piloted his #77 car to the pole position on Saturday and commanded Sunday's 71-lap main every leading from start to finish. His victory on the Sochi Autodrom came in a race where pole-sitting teammate Lewis Hamilton made a costly error before the start of the event. Bottas' win at the Russian Grand Prix also consisted of him scoring the extra championship point for scoring the fastest lap.

Valtteri Bottas’ second place finish in the drivers’ points standings were locked up on at the season finale in Abu Dhabi maintaining a 9-point advantage over Max Verstappen. 


Shortcomings During 2020 Season:  

Although Valtteri Bottas has been able to maintain his position as being the second-best driver on the Formula 1 grid supported by the 2020 drivers' standings. However, one of the downsides is that the points differential between the first and second place drivers in the Formula 1 World Drivers' Championship this past season was 124 points. Certainly racing against the greatest driver of a generation is daunting but the gap between Mercedes-AMG pilots does spawn questions.  

Valtteri Bottas’ Achilles Heel throughout the 2020 Formula 1 season has come at the start of races on Sunday. On more than one occasion, the Finnish driver would lose multiple positions within the first lap of a grand prix. One of the first instances of a poor start by Bottas occurred at the Hungarian Grand Prix where the pilot of the #77 Mercedes-AMG race car mentioned reacting to the wrong light in his cockpit disturbing his race start. 


#63 George Russell (Round 16): A

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



Overall Season: 

The #63 rode only once on a Mercedes-AMG race car this Formula 1 season but made a massive impact on the tour. Williams Racing regular driver George Russell was called over to the German factory squad when Lewis Hamilton was sidelined due to a positive COVID-19 test. While Russell’s major triumphs for most of the 2020 season has been cracking Q2 in his Williams race car, the Sakhir Grand Prix presented the Brit the opportunity to take pole position coming short by just 0.026 seconds from the top time set by Valtteri Bottas. Qualifying and the race showcased the driver’s ability to be a formidable competitor.  


Achievements During 2020 Season: 

The Sakhir Grand Prix was a remarkable performance for George Russell as a driver. Not only did Russell maintain a steady pace throughout his weekend substituting for Lewis Hamilton but was in position to capture a surprise victory running strong as the race reached two-thirds distance. The chance to win in one of the greatest drives in the Brit’s career was foiled by an uncharacteristic mistake made by the Mercedes-AMG crew. Also overcoming a tire puncture late in the Sakhir Grand Prix, George Russell achieved a career-best Formula 1 finish of ninth place while also gaining credit (as well as the extra race point) for setting the fastest lap of the event.  


Shortcomings During 2020 Season: 

George Russell’s outing with Mercedes-AMG has been both a massive achievement and disappointment as a stellar driving performance fell victim to misfortune. 

 

Thursday, February 11, 2021

1 Racing Mind’s Formula 1 Season Ending Team Report Card: Red Bull Racing

Photo Credit: Andy Hone/ LAT Images/ Pirelli


Team Grade: B+

Overall Season: 

Although Red Bull Racing has lost its dominant position in the Formula 1 tour in 2014 with the arrival of the turbo/hybrid powerplant format, the colourful race cars fielded by the Austrian energy drink company has maintained a place as a top-three team. For the 2020 season, Red Bull Racing entered its second year using Honda-supplied power unit installed in their RB16 chassis. While the team drivers mentioned handling complications with the vehicle at the Hungarian Grand Prix, the race car performed well overall.

In the hands of Max Verstappen, the #33 RB16 race car was a formidable entrant seen as being one of the few competitors capable of nearly matching the pace of the Mercedes-AMG race cars evident by three fastest race laps, two grand prix wins and a pole. Red Bull Racing’s second driver Alexander Albon encountered a less consistent outing in the #23 machine as he navigated his first full season with the team. Albon did manage to stage some noteworthy runs in 2020 including his first career Formula 1 podium. Deservingly, Red Bull Racing finished second in the Formula 1 World Constructors’ Championship after the year wrapped.


Achievements During 2020 Season:


With two race wins in the 2020 Formula 1 campaign, Red Bull Racing’s top triumphs in the season were actually more impressive that just claiming the top podium positions. Max Verstappen’s victories at the 70th Anniversary Grand Prix and the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix were the direct result of Red Bull Racing outfoxing the German factory team on race day with an advantage. The first victory of the year at the Silverstone Circuit saw Red Bull Racing exploit a weakness with the Mercedes-AMG cars’ ability to manage tire wear. At the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Verstappen finally ended up on the best side of a qualifying fight with Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas. Following a great start, the Dutch driver’s second win for Red Bull Racing appeared to be better suited to the Yas Marina Circuit.

Scoring a total of 14 podium finishes between both drivers in 2020, the Bahrain Grand Prix served as the team’s best overall result. Aided by Sergio Perez’s late race retirement, Max Verstappen and Alexander Albon snagged podium finishes behind grand prix winner Lewis Hamilton. The double podium result for Red Bull Racing in the third-to-last event in 2020 was the first for the team since the 2017 Japanese Grand Prix.

Beyond the accomplishments of the drivers, Red Bull Racing’s unsung garage crew staged one of the most breathtaking exhibitions at the Hungarian Grand Prix before the race started. During the formation lap for Formula 1 cars on a wet Hungaroring race track, Max Verstappen’s and his vehicle on intermediate tires slid wide in turn 12. Impacting the safety barrier resulting in damage to the left front suspension and front wing, the #33 car was quickly attended to by the Red Bull Racing mechanics. A grateful Verstappen was able to finish second in the event thanks to his crew’s efforts. 


Shortcomings During 2020 Season: 

Assembling a 2020 season that saw them functioning as the only viable challenger to Mercedes-AMG, Red Bull Racing ended the year as the second-best outfit. Most of the times outright beaten by the German automaker’s Formula 1 team, there were occasions where opportunities for better results slipped away. Despite finishing in the runner-up position in the Formula 1 World Constructors’ Championship, Red Bull Racing failed to score points in three grand prix events. McLaren, Racing Point and Renault only had one race apiece where neither vehicle finished in the top 10. Several mechanical problems and Max Verstappen’s unlucky involvement in an opening lap of the Sakhir Grand Prix proved costly.

Red Bull Racing has been spoiled by their wealth of grand prix talent that existed within their Scuderia Toro Rosso affiliate team. Sebastian Vettel, Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo all followed a route from the so-called ‘junior team’ to Red Bull Racing. In the past two seasons, the Austrian-based team has fielded two entries with noticeably varying consistency. While the #33 Verstappen car was a stable frontrunner, the second drivers have been seen as underachievers. Dropping Pierre Gasly in the middle of the 2019 season, Red Bull Racing put Thailand driver Alexander Albon behind the wheel for the remainder of last year and the full season in 2020. Albon has encountered much of the same obstacles of Gasly with Red Bull Racing. Receiving a new race engineers ahead of the British Grand Prix, the Thai Red Bull Racing pilot eventually gain two podiums but his performance remained uneven.



Team's Drivers: 


#33 Max Verstappen: A-

Photo Credit: Mark Sutton/ LAT Images/ Pirelli


Overall Season: 

When the Dutch driver joined Red Bull Racing in the fifth round of the 2016 season, it was clear to the motorsport world the name Max Verstappen would become a spotlight athlete. In his sixth full season in Formula 1, Max Verstappen maintains a fierce level of aggression on the race track but continues to assert an attitude that some could call abrasive at times. 

The Dutch driver led the charge for the Red Bull squad in 2020 and was ultimately seen as ‘the best of the rest’ compared to the dominating performance of the two Mercedes-AMG team competitors. In 17 races, Verstappen claimed 11 podium finishes and the fastest laps in three grand prix events in addition to victories at the 70th Anniversary Grand Prix and the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. On four occasions, Verstappen was voted by fans as the Driver of the Race. 


Achievements During 2020 Season: 

Max Verstappen was the only non-Mercedes-Benz powered Formula 1 entry to stand at the top of the podium. On two occasions in 2020, Verstappen took the chequered flag in first place beating the Mercedes factory team. 

The season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix was perhaps the best drive by Max Verstappen. Taking the race’s pole by a narrow .025-second maring for Valtteri Bottas, the Dutch racer presented a masterful performance on Sunday reminiscent to some of the showing Mercedes-AMG were able to orchestrate in races this past season. Maintaining his lead from the start, Verstappen would cross the finish line 15.9 seconds ahead of Bottas.


Shortcomings During 2020 Season: 

Max Verstappen finished on the podium in all but one race when the vehicle remained running at the end of a grand prix. On the flip side of that number, the 2020 season featured five retirements for the #33 Red Bull Racing RB16 race car. For two of the DNFs, Verstappen was caught in an opening lap crash including the Sakhir Grand Prix where he had a hypothetical chance at winning if he remained in the race based on the way the event transpired. Verstappen also suffered a retirement at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix at Imola when a sudden tire failure sent him off the track and out of the race while running second.

With only Haas F1 Team driver Kevin Magnussen recording more DNFs in 2020, Max Verstappen’s failure to finish likely cost the Dutch drive the runner-up spot in the World Drivers’ Championship ending the season nine points behind Valtteri Bottas.


#23 Alexander Albon: C+

Photo Credit: Charles Coates/ LAT Images/ Pirelli


Overall Season: 

Thanks to the high profile mid-season driver change pushing Pierre Gasly out of the team in favour of Alexander Albon, the Thai racer was almost immediately on the hot seat to perform in 2020. In his first full year with the Red Bull Racing squad, Albon proved to be less effective in races than teammate Max Verstappen but did manage some accolades. A first career podium at the Tuscan Grand Prix allowed Albon to become the first athletic competing under the flag of Thailand to claim such an honour in Formula 1. Adding another podium later in the season, Alexander Albon succeeded in proving himself behind the wheel of the RB16 race car. However, being constantly measured against a teammate that ended the 2020 season with two wins and eleven podium finishes were inevitable causing the driver of the #23 car to be judged against a high standard. 

Alexander Albon finished the 2020 Formula 1 tied with McLaren’s Carlos Sainz Jr. with 105 points in the season-long drivers’ standings but a second place scored by the Spaniard resulted in the Red Bull Racing driver settling one position behind in 7th place. 


Achievements During 2020 Season: 

In a unique grand prix held at Ferrari’s Mugello race track, Alexander Albon took his first career podium finish crossing the line behind the pair of Mercedes-AMG race cars. The podium result at the Tuscan Grand Prix was essentially an overdue honour for the Thai driver. Running within the top-three late in the 2019 Brazilian Grand Prix as well as at the 2020 Austrian Grand Prix, Albon’s hope to celebrate on a stage was foiled both times after contact with Lewis Hamilton.  

Although Alexander Albon was outranked in many aspects of the 2020 Formula 1 by Max Verstappen, the Thai driver leaves the past season better in one discipline. Albon finished all but two grand prix events compared to Verstappen’s five race retirements.


Shortcomings During 2020 Season: 

Alexander Albon performance during the 2020 Formula 1 season has been a roller coaster. Though he succeeded in putting the #23 Red Bull Racing car in a podium spot twice, the 17-round calendar also featured some less than stellar outings and missed opportunities for better placement. On lap 58 of the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, Albon spun as he battled Racing Point’s Sergio Perez for fifth place costing him and his team a point-paying finish. Albon was also out-qualified by Verstappen in every grand prix event in 2020 and earned a second row grid position on just three occasions. 

The lofty expectations of Red Bull Racing are difficult for many qualified Formula 1 drivers to live up it during a season. Alexander Albon performed well but not good enough for Red Bull Racing to field him in Formula 1 competition for 2021. His team elected to pick up hot free agent Sergio Perez to be the teammate to Max Verstappen next season with Albon remaining with the squad as a development driver. 


1 Racing Mind’s Formula 1 Season Ending Team Report Card: McLaren Racing

Photo Credit: Mark Sutton/ LAT Images/ Pirelli



Team Grade: A-

Overall Season: 

During the 2019 season, McLaren Racing was seen as on the road to recovering much of its historical reputation for being a contender in Formula 1. The 2020 Formula 1 season was another step forward to once-again asserting itself as a podium-fighting squad. Drivers Lando Norris and Carlos Sainz Jr. each grabbed a podium result with McLaren in 2020 with their Renault powered machines. Overcoming reported financial concerns caused due to the Coronavirus pandemic, McLaren Racing’s reward was a third place finish in the Formula 1 World Constructors’ Championship following an aggressive fight with Racing Point and the Renault F1 Team for the honour.   

 

Achievements During 2020 Season: 

The McLaren Racing organization has made a clear and concerted effort in recapturing much of its past glory after struggling through the midpoint of the 2010s. This year, the Woking-based race team was a solid point finisher with both drivers. The Russian Grand Prix was the only instant in 2020 where the team left a race weekend without scoring a top 10 finish. The McLaren Racing team also pulled together a great deal of consistency in the last remaining races that contributed greatly to their third place in the constructors’ standings for 2020. In the final five grand prix events, both cars finished in point-scoring positions.

The Renault-powered MCL35 also proved to be a pretty quick machine over the course of the year. On three occasions during the 2020 Formula 1 season, McLaren team cars captured the fastest lap of the race. 


Shortcomings During 2020 Season:  

For the team in general, the 2020 Russian Grand Prix could be seen as their most disappointing outing. In the only race where McLaren Racing failed to score points, Carlos Sainz Jr. crashed on the opening lap overshooting the second turn on the Sochi track and hit the wall after failing to rejoin the circuit. Lando Norris continued through the event attempting to push the hard compound Pirelli tires he received on lap 1 to the 53-lap distance of the Russian Grand Prix. In the last laps of the event, the #4 McLaren race car had difficulty maintaining the pace to retain a top 10 finish and ultimately needed to make a late pit stop coming across the line in 15th place.  

Another unfortunate moment for the McLaren Racing team came at the Belgian Grand Prix. Before the start of the race on the Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps, the power unit of the #55 machine of Carlos Sainz Jr. refused to engage. Sainz had qualified in seventh place for the weekend’s main event.



Team's Drivers


#4 Lando Norris: B+

Photo Credit: Steven Tee/ LAT Images/ Pirelli



Overall Season: 

Lando Norris entered his second season in Formula 1 returning to McLaren Racing in 2020 and the 21-year-old continued to show talent and some blossoming expertise behind the wheel. In the opening round of this season at Austria’s Red Bull Ring, he scored his first career podium result. Despite the shortened season, Norris racked up almost twice the amount of points in the season-long championship compared to 2019. 


Achievements During 2020 Season: 

Lando Norris enjoyed a very consistent season with the McLaren Racing team failing only to finish one event on the entire 17-race calender. The biggest achievement in his young Formula 1 career occurred at the Red Bull Ring. A track where Lando Norris had tied his season-best result in his rookie year, the Austrian circuit hosted his first series podium finish after Mercedes-AMG driver Lewis Hamilton was issued a five-second penalty. Norris crossed the line in fourth but was 4.8 seconds behind Mercedes elevating him to his new career-best finish. In many events, Norris mirrored the efforts of his more veteran teammate Carlos Sainz Jr. ending the 2020 season with a qualifying average almost identical to the Spaniard. However, Norris bettered his now-former McLaren teammate by taking the extra championship point for fastest lap in two grand prix events compared to Sainz’s one.


Shortcomings During 2020 Season:  

Lando Norris’ efforts behind the wheel of a Formula 1 in 2020 were nowhere near as rage-filled as some of his Twitch game play streams. For a sophomore season in the top open wheel racing series on the planet, Lando Norris enjoyed a quiet yet successful campaign that did not contain too many major moments of failure. Missing the points on four occasions in the season, three of those times came in consecutive races. The Russian Grand Prix was due to Norris losing on the team’s gamble with hard compound tires, the Eifel Grand Prix at the Nurburgring ended with a power unit issue (his only DNF of the 2020 season) and the Portuguese Grand Prix’s 13th place finish was a result of a collision between him and the Racing Point car of Lance Stroll.



#55 Carlos Sainz Jr.: B+

Photo Credit: Glenn Dunbar/ LAT Images/ Pirelli



Overall Season: 

Finishing in sixth place in the 2020 Formula 1 Worlds Drivers’ Championship points standings, Carlos Sainz Jr. had one of the best years in his professional career. A driver in the series since 2015, Sainz entered his second year with McLaren Racing in 2020 achieving several career firsts. At the Styrian Grand Prix held on the Red Bull Ring, the driver of the #55 race car set the fastest lap that was also a lap record for the present configuration of the track. Later in the year, Sainz obtained a runner-up finish at the Italian Grand Prix on the Monza circuit. One-half of the driving team that contributed to McLaren’s third place in the Constructors’ Championship, Carlos Sainz Jr. is taking his talent to Scuderia Ferrari. 


Achievements During 2020 Season: 

The Styrian Grand Prix was one of two showcase events for the Spanish driver’s 2020 Formula 1 campaign. Falling short in the race finishing in ninth, Carlos Sainz Jr.’s outing in Austria was one where the #55 car qualified a strong 3rd place in wet weather and posted the fastest lap on Sunday. However, the highlight of Sainz’s 2020 season (and Formula 1 career so far) has been the Italian Grand Prix. Placing himself in a position to pounce when the majority of traditional frontrunners were out of contention, Sainz and McLaren had a chance at victory. After pursuing eventual winner Pierre Gasly closely in the late laps, Carlos Sainz Jr. earned his second career podium finish and first time as the runner-up driver. Through 17 rounds of the 2020 Formula 1 tour, the Spaniard earned his season-best championship tally of 105 points.   

Shortcomings During 2020 Season:  

Carlos Sainz Jr.’s best Formula 1 finish to date came in a middle of an unlucky streak of grand prix events. Prior to the Italian Grand Prix, Sainz was sidelined in the Belgian Grand Prix when his car’s power unit failed before the start of the event. In the two races following Monza, the #55 McLaren suffered early race retirements. At the Tuscan Grand Prix on the Mugello track, Sainz first suffered damage to his car in the opening lap. He would later be caught up in a multiple car crash following a safety car period on lap five. The following event in Russia had Carlos Sainz Jr. crashing on the opening lap after unsuccessfully attempting to rejoin the track through a run-off area.