Gaming Editor Kyle Moffat previews the upcoming Formula One season, which will get underway in Austria over the first weekend of July
On 5th July, the Red Bull Ring in Austria is set to host the first Formula One Grand Prix since December. All ten constructors will travel to Spielburg, with practice and qualifying taking place on 3rd and 4th July respectively. The Red Bull Ring will be host to two F1 races in the 2020 season, with the second scheduled for 12th July.
Six more races have been confirmed for the upcoming season, in locations including Northamptonshire’s Silverstone track, Monza (Italy), and Spa (Belgium). Several previously confirmed circuits are no longer on the table for the 2020 season, such as new circuit Zandvoort (Netherlands) as well as fan favourites Circuit de Monaco (Monaco) and Suzuka (Japan). Fortunately, there is hope for some popular circuits to remain on the calendar such as Bahrain International Circuit (Bahrain) and Interlagos (Brazil).
F1’s 2020 season was originally set to start on 15th March, before the season was postponed courtesy of the COVID-19 pandemic. Due to the lengthy delay, the transfers of Carlos Sainz to Ferrari and Daniel Ricciardo to McLaren have been confirmed for 2021 before the 2020 season has even started. Four-time World Champion Sebastien Vettel will be stepping away from Ferrari, with a space now available at Renault for 2021. Could he emerge as a candidate? Haas could also tempt the German to join their ranks, although he may consider a year away from the sport altogether.
Opening the 2020 season at Austria could make the championship fight intriguing. Max Verstappen emerged as the winner of the Austrian Grand Prix in 2019 and could take his prowess at this circuit to at least challenge Lewis Hamilton early in the season. Kicking off with two Austrian Grand Prix and a Hungary Grand Prix – where the 22-year-old was unfortunate to lose his lead to Hamilton in 2019 – could prove useful for the Dutch driver as he looks to win his first F1 title.
Elsewhere on the grid, Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc will be eager to earn his second consecutive pole position at Austria. Leclerc achieved the most pole positions in the 2019 season (seven) but was a race winner on only two occasions. He will be hoping to convert more of his stellar qualifying performances into race wins and winning the opening race of the season could place him among the title contenders.
Lewis Hamilton will undoubtedly be the favourite to earn his seventh world title in 2020. Overcoming Leclerc and Verstappen in Austria will be regarded as a huge achievement considering how the pair performed last year. Can Mercedes prove to be dominant once again?
Racing Point will also have a point to prove before being re-branded as Aston Martin in 2021. Nicknamed the ‘Pink Mercedes’ in testing, Racing Point could challenge for a podium at Austria due to the high speeds achieved in testing and the nature of the Red Bull Ring, with three straights and several sweeping corners.
While it is an unusual way to start a Formula One season, opening with the Austria Grand Prix could be a worthwhile decision. The Red Bull Ring is one of the more popular tracks on the calendar so it could create early drama and build tensions going into the rest of the season. This will perhaps be one of the most exciting seasons in recent history.
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