Max Verstappen Wins Season Finale In Abu Dhabi

Max Verstappen won the final race of a strange and previously unpredictable 2020 season in Abu Dhabi and scored his 10th F1 victory. Second place was taken, once again, by Valtteri Bottas in the Mercedes, with Lewis Hamilton in third, who was returning after missing the Sakhir GP after testing positive for Covid-19.

Verstappen’s team mate Alex Albon came home to finish in 4th, after a late surge, but having lacked pace to challenge those in front of him all race. Lando Norris finished 5th and 6th for McLaren, a result that saw them cement 3rd in the Constructors Championship. Daniel Ricciardo finished 7th in his final race for Renault, with Pierre Gasly in the AlphaTauri in 8th. Esteban Ocon finished 9th in the second Renault, and Lance Stroll picked up the final point in 10th.

Daniil Kvyat narrowly missed out on the points in 11th, just ahead of the Alfa Romeo of Kimi Raikkonen. In what was his final race for Ferrari, Sebastian Vettel finished a disappointing 14th, with a disappointing race topping off a dismal season for the four time World Champion. His team mate Charles LeClerc finished in 13th. George Russell finished in 15th for Williams after fending off Alfa Romeo’s Antonio Giovinazzi. Nicholas Latifi finished in 17th, ahead of the two Haas cars of Kevin Magnussen and Pietro Fittipaldi.

It was a largely uneventful race, with all 20 cars thankfully making it round the first lap after a couple of races with heavy crashes right at the start. Max Verstappen maintained his lead, with Bottas and Hamilton following him round in that order for almost all 55 laps.

Abu Dhabi has never really been known for producing exciting and nail biting races, and this was just another example. Some excitement came from Sergio Perez, who won week on from winning his first race in Sakhir, was fighting his was through the field after starting down in 19th following engine penalties. He was up to P14 by the 10th lap, but then suffered an agonising car failure which ended his race early. It was a cruel end to Perez’s race and season, after fighting well all year. It was his final race for Racing Point and may very well be his last race in F1. I really hope it isn’t though.

The Safety Car came out while Perez’s stricken car was cleared, which erased the lead Verstappen had over Bottas, Hamilton and the rest of the field. When the Safety Car came back in however, he kept a cool head and once again cruised away into a lead that was never challenged.

Mercedes were never on the pace on Saturday or Sunday and rarely, if ever, looked like challenging the dominant Red Bull of Max Verstappen. Lewis Hamilton hadn’t seemed 100% with it since returning to the paddock after being tested negative for Covid-19 and Valtteri Bottas, as we have become accustomed to, seemed to lack fight. He did well to comfortably beat Lewis Hamilton however, and ended up almost 2.5 seconds clear of the title winning Mercedes by the end of the race.

Heartbreak for Checo

This was Sergio ‘Checo’ Perez’s last race for Racing Point. It may very well turn out to be his last in Formula One. Red Bull seems like the only realistic option for the Mexican for 2021, but they’re undecided as to whether they take on Perez or keep Alex Albon, who has had an underwhelming season by all accounts.

One week on from winning his first Formula One Grand Prix, Sergio found himself starting at the back of the grid with a lot of ground to make up. We got a typical display from him; he kept his head down, made up plenty of places and was on course for a decent amount of points, before luck cruelly intervened.

Only 10 laps in, his car called time and he ground to a halt at the side of the track. Perez was visibly gutted, as were his entire team, and he ket his helmet on all the way back to the garage, making it clear he wasn’t in a chatty mood.

He has said that if he cannot get a seat for 2021, then he will seek a return for 2022 and I do hope we see him in a Formula One car again, certainly one that shows what he is capable of. It is a travesty that someone of his calibre and skill doesn’t have a drive for next year, but hopefully we will see him in an F1 car again soon.

Grazie Regazzi Seb

It was also the final race for Ferrari for Sebastian Vettel, who is moving across to Racing Point and taking Sergio Perez’s place for when the team are rebadged as Aston Martin Racing.

His Ferrari career has certainly had its ups and downs. When he joined the Italian giants in 2015, he made it clear he wanted to emulate his hero Michael Schumacher and return the team to championship glory, but that never materialised, partly due to Mercedes’ stronghold on the sport, but also due to some unforced errors and bad strategy calls by the team.

2018 was his best chance, but a string of errors, including throwing away an almost guaranteed victory at his home race in Germany, ended his chances of taking the crown that year. He never seemed to fully recover from that season, and he was seen making plenty of unforced errors, with crashes and spins halting any chances of progress.

2020 was an awful year for the team, and he finished the championship way down the order in 13th place, with only 33 points and just one podium to his name.

The move to Aston Martin Racing for 2021 is a chance for him to shake off the pressure that comes with Ferrari and reinvent himself as a driver. I hope we see him on the top step again plenty of times, but it certainly won’t be easy for him!

He leaves Ferrari after 118 races, 55 podiums, 14 wins and 12 pole positions. Grazie Seb!

A Year With No Points For Williams

After witnessing the teams worst year in 2019, I was confident that the only way was up for Williams in 2020. Unfortunately, they end the year with no points, one less than last year, and finish dead last in the constructors championship.

It has been a turbulent time for the fallen giants, with the sudden cancellation of their sponsorship with RoKit at the start of 2020 hitting the team hard, followed by the delaying of the 2020 season. Sir Frank and daughter Claire announced they were putting the team up for sale, leaving their future in doubt. Not long after, buyers were found and investors stepped in.

It also spelled the end of the Williams family in F1, with Sir Frank and Claire stepping down from the team midway through the season. The Williams name remains, but without the familiar faces at the helm.

2021 is more promising for the team. With a heavier cash flow now coming into the team, and George Russell now about to enter his third year at Williams, hopes are much higher than they were this time last year.

I really hope we see Williams becoming regular point scorers in 2021, as their presence is very much needed at the sharp end of the grid!

So Much To Look Forward To In 2021!

2021 is looking like it will be an incredible season. Should Lewis Hamilton still be on the grid (he hasn’t currently signed a new contract at Mercedes), he will be gunning for a record breaking 8th world title. Valtteri Bottas will be looking to end his team mates streak and take the crown for himself, while Max Verstappen and Red Bull will want to bring the glory back to Milton Keynes.

There are plenty of driver moves up and down the paddock, with Carlos Sainz moving from McLaren to Ferrari, Vettel moving from Ferrari to Aston Martin Racing and Daniel Ricciardo moving from Renault to McLaren.

There are new drivers making their debut; Mick Schumacher brings the famous last name back to the grid for Haas, joined by fellow rookie Nikita Mazepin.

And of course, a familiar face is returning. Two time world champion Fernando Alonso is returning to the sport for Renault, who will be rebadged as Alpine for 2021.

So much to look forward to and I for once cannot wait to see how all the drivers do! Mouthwatering stuff.

A Strange, Predictable Yet Unpredictable Year

If you had told me back in January, that at the end of 2020 Mercedes would be 7 times Constructors Champions and Lewis Hamilton would win his seventh World Championship I would have believed you. I wouldn’t be happy - but I would believe you.

However, if you had told me that the season would be delayed until the summer, We would be missing tracks we usually go to, we would be going to circuits we have either not been to for many years or not been to at all before, Lewis Hamilton would be replaced by George Russell for a race, Nico Hulkenberg would be a substitute driver for three races and there would hardly be any fans at any races - I would have called you insane.

But that’s what we got. The season was heavily delayed by the Covid-19 pandemic, with it looking like it might be canceled all together at times. The F1 family pulled together however, races were rescheduled, restrictions were put in place, heavy Covid testing was introduced (76000 tests done in the F1 paddock alone this season) and in June we finally went racing.

It is the strangest season in living memory. There was the usual Mercedes dominance, but we had first time winners in Pierre gasly and Sergio Perez, 13 different drivers on the podium and a tremendous fight for 3rd in the constructors championship.

We went to Austria (twice), Hungary, Silverstone (twice), Spain, Belgium, Italy (once in Monza, once in Mugello for the first time), Russia, Germany, Portugal, back to Italy at Imola for the first time since 2006, Turkey for the first time since 2011, Bahrain (twice) and finally Abu Dhabi. That is still an incredible amount of racing we were lucky to watch this year with everything going on.

What a season it has been. The fact it went ahead is amazing, so I would like to say thank you to all in F1 and around the world who made this possible. Not just the teams, but the logistical side of it, the personnel conducting the testing, the venues for putting on the races and the fans, for continuing to show support and respect for their favourite sport.

I hope 2021 is smoother and better, with less restrictions in place. Hopefully the world has started to return to normal by then, but if anything, 2020 has reminded me why I love this sport so much, and I really shall miss it over the winter.

Thank You For Reading

Thank you so much for reading my articles and my ramblings over the past few months, and I can only apologise that I haven’t written more in recent weeks. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed writing these pieces and I cannot wait to get back to writing race reviews in 2021.

I’ll still be writing various bits and pieces over the winter - after all, Formula One never sleeps! There will be news breaking, updates, driver announcements, plus the odd opinion and rambling from me!

You can still catch us on Monday evenings at 8pm for the F1 Fans Show Live - and we would like to put on a nice end of season special for you all!

Take Care, and stay safe

Steve Thomson