2020: The Story of the CRAZIEST Formula 1 Season in History

31-12-2020 18:00

2020 has been the most unbelievable year on record from January all the way through until December, each month threw up something different. Here’s the story of 2020, the craziest season in Formula 1 history! 


January was quiet to say the least. The drivers were on their well earned holidays after the end of a gruelling season. Lewis Hamilton went skiing and Max Verstappen was keeping fit in Monaco after signing a new deal with Red Bull. Meanwhile, Valtteri Bottas threw himself back into racing and competed in the Artic Lapaland Rally.


February kicked off with car launches as teams unveiled their 2020 challengers. Alpha Tauri took car launch to a new level as they launched the AT01 with an entire fashion show. Racing returned in the form of pre-season testing and it was clear from the get go it was going to be a long season for Ferrari. Last season’s second placed team were all of a sudden lacking the pace that had previously kept them in races. Mercedes were up the their old tricks as they tested their DAS system which caused quite the stir. And concerns started to grow over the coronavirus as the Chinese Grand Prix was cancelled, but more on that later. 


It’s March, we’re in Australia, racing is back, right?… But as sport around the world was halted because of the coronavirus, it was only a matter of time before F1 was too but it took until just hours before FP1 of the Australian Grand Prix for F1 to take action.  McLaren had already withdrawn after a team member tested positive. The Bahrain Grand Prix followed, as did the first ever Vietnhamese Grand Prix. By the end of March every race up until the Azerbaijan Grand Prix was either cancelled or postponed indefinitely, including the Dutch Grand Prix and the Monaco Grand Prix, meaning it was the first time since 1954 that the race in the principality hadn’t been held. 


With the world in lockdown, Formula 1 were working behind the scenes to create a new calendar for when the season restarted but it was clear we could be waiting a while. Canada and France were both scrapped, but there was some light at the end of the tunnel, as Silverstone and Hungary confirmed they hoped to go ahead behind closed doors. Chase Carey unveiled F1’s plans to return in July with between 15 and 18 races planned for the new season


As we started to see plans for the 2020 season coming together, we also saw 2021 coming together. Sebastian Vettel confirmed he would be leaving Ferrari at the end of the season, as the Scuderia opted for McLaren’s Carlos Sainz to replace him. That freed up a seat alongside Lando Norris, and McLaren went for Daniel Ricciardo, leaving one spare seat for a familiar face… The Dutch Grand Prix was officially scrapped as they decided to wait for fans to return. 


Grands Prix in Azerbaijan, Singapore and Japan were officially cancelled but we finally had the start of the calendar in place as it was confirmed Austria would host a double header, starting on the 5th of July. Silverstone would host the British Grand Prix and the 70th Anniversary Grand Prix, with further races in Hungary, Spain, Belgium and Italy confirmed. Rumours of more races in locations and tracks that weren’t originally planned swirled and despite the delay 2020 was shaping up to be a fascinating season. 


5th July 2020. Formula 1 returned. The Austrian Grand Prix wasn’t planned to be the season opener but it filled the void brilliantly. A dramatic race saw Valtteri Bottas claim the win as only 11 drivers finished the race. Lewis Hamilton returned to the top step a week later after winning the Styrian Grand Prix and he backed it up with victory at the Hungaroring. The Russian Grand Prix was re-added to the calendar, shortly followed by the first ever Tuscan Grand Prix to be held at Mugello. The Nurburgring was set to make its return with the Eifel Grand Prix and Portimao in Portugal was confirmed to host its first ever race. Imola was also added to the calendar in what would be  shortened race weekend with just one practice session. And Fernando Alonso signed for Alpine, previously Renault for 2021, filling the seat alongside Esteban Ocon.


The Silverstone double header welcomed in August as last lap drama saw Lewis Hamilton survive a tyre blowout to take another win. But the big news was over at Racing Point as Sergio Perez was the first driver to test positive for coronavirus. He was replaced by Nico Hulkenberg for the two races in Britain but the German didn’t even start the first due to mechanical issues. Max Verstappen halted Mercedes’ winning run as he won the 70th Anniversary Grand Prix. August concluded with another two Hamilton wins in Spain and Belgium.. Istanbul Park was added to the calendar for October along with a Bahrain double header, including one race on the unique outer loop, which would provide one of the races of the season. August also saw the sale of the Williams F1 team as Dorilton Capital took ownership, ending 43 years of success in the hands of Sir Frank Williams.


12 months on from the end of his Red Bull nightmare, Pierre Gasly enjoyed the finest day of his career so far as he won the Italian Grand Prix with Carlos Sainz and Lance Stroll joining him on the podium, the first time since 2012 that Ferrari Red Bull or Mercedes hadn’t made the top three. The Frenchman benefitted from red a red flag and a penalty for Lewis Hamilton to take a first ever race win. Normal service resumed a week later at Mugello as we saw red flags and a Hamilton masterclass at the Tuscan Grand Prix and Valtteri Bottas picked up his second win of the season at the Russian Grand Prix. For a while it looked as if Sebastian Vettel might not be in F1 next year but in September it was confirmed he’d be racing for Aston Martin, in 2021, replacing Sergio Perez.


One of October’s highlights was Daniel Ricciardo’s third place finish at the Nurburgring. The Aussie finished third behind Hamilton and Verstappen and it meant Cyril Abiteboul would have to get a tatoo following a bet between the pair. Lance Stroll missed the race after feeling unwell, with Hulkenberg returning for Racing Point. The Canadian would later confirm a positive coronavirus test. Portimao hosted it’s first ever Formula 1 race and it started in frantic fashion as Carlos Sainz took the lead of the race on soft tyres. However, Hamilton would take his 92nd Formula 1 victory, passing Michael Schumacher’s record number of race wins. 


George Russell’s agonising wait for a Formula 1 point would go on as he spun out behind the safety car despite being well placed at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix. The big story of the month and the season came two weeks later as Lewis Hamilton won the Turkish Grand Prix, sealing a seventh Drivers’ Championship, but not before Lance Stroll had qualified on pole, five seconds faster than Mercedes. The rain poured for most of the weekend on an already slippy track but it was a remarkable weekend for the Brit to seal yet another title! He’d score his final win of the season two weeks later at the Bahrain Grand Prix, but as with most things in 2020, drama wasn’t far away. The first race in Bahrain however was overshadowed by a horror crash for Romain Grosjean which involved his car splitting in half and bursting into flames. Thankfully Grosjean escaped without any major injuries but was forced out of the last two races.


The final month of the year started with Lewis Hamilton testing positive for coronavirus just days after winning the Bahrain Grand Prix. He was replaced by George Russell for the Sakhir Grand Prix on the outer loop in Bahrain, with Jack Aitken filing the seat at Williams. After qualifying second, Russell swept past Bottas at the first turn and looked on course for not only a first ever F1 point but the win. However, 2020 had another surprise for us as a series of pit stop mistakes and a puncture meant the Brit finished ninth. However, it was left to Sergio Perez to claim a first ever F1 win, staking his claim for a seat next season. Hamilton returned at the season finale in Abu Dhabi but Max Verstappen took his second win of the season as he dominated from start to finish. December also saw the final seats confirmed for 2021. Perez got his drive with Red Bull, replacing Alex Albon, Mick Schumacher and Nikita Mazepin signed for Haas, whilst Yuki Tsunoda joined Alpha Tauri.

2020 has been a truly memorable year despite it looking like we might not have a season at all. Thank you for joining us this year on this crazy season, have a happy new year and we can’t wait for 2021!

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