Preview: 2020 F1 championship to kick off amid COVID-19 fears

11-03-2020 14:50
by Nicolás Quarles van Ufford
Preview: 2020 F1 championship to kick off amid COVID-19 fears

Should it go ahead, the 2020 Formula 1 season is about to kick off. The Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne is the season opener as it has been for some time, and here is our preview for this weekend's action!

Historic highlights at the Australian Grand Prix

The Australian Grand Prix is a classic venue on the F1 calendar at this point. The first edition was 35 years ago in Adelaide, where the race was held for the first ten years.

The most famous moments are the championship defining moments in 1986 and 1994, when the Australian Grand Prix was the final race on the calendar. In '86, championship leader Nigel Mansell retired from the race with a puncture while Michael Schumacher controversially collected Damon Hill in 1994 to seal the championship.

From 1996 the venue changed to Albert Park in Melbourne, where it's been used as the season opener pretty much every year. While it's not known to produce the most thrilling races, it usually has one of the best atmospheres. On top of that, the track's characteristics tend to produce crashes.

The 2019 Australian Grand Prix

When the F1 circus landed in Melbourne in 2019, Ferrari were thought to be the team to beat after a very impressive outing in pre-season. Mercedes proved to be utterly dominant, however, locking out the front row before finishing one-two.

Sebastian Vettel and Ferrari debutant Charles Leclerc both finished outside the podium places in fourth and fifth respectively, kicking off what would be another dominant Mercedes campaign. Max Verstappen finished the race in third in what was the first Honda-powered podium in a decade.

2020 predictions

While Mercedes usually play their cards close to the chest in pre-season, the Silver Arrows were quickest in Barcelona at testing for the first time in over half a decade. Ferrari simply didn't look at the races and the Scuderia played themselves down as well, saying they simply are not as quick as Mercedes and Aston Martin Red Bull Racing. 

Speaking of Red Bull, they look to be Mercedes' main challenger in 2020. The pre-season data showed they are under three-tenths behind Mercedes, a gap which could be surmounted throughout the season. Can the Bulls get their first title since 2013?

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