Looking from the Outside: A Pre-Season Prediction for the 2020 F1 Season
By: Eleazar Gonzales
Let’s begin this piece with a question: Will Lewis Hamilton win another championship in 2020?
A follow-up question: is that even a question?
The 2020 Formula 1 season is set to be one of the longest seasons yet again in recent memory owing to the fact that F1 fans will get to witness 22 Grands Prix which will include the inaugural Vietnamese Grand Prix and yes, a race in the Netherlands. It is going to be a long season and yes, a long season especially for non-Mercedes fans who will need to hope that their respective teams have something under their sleeves to actually become a serious threat against the dominance of Lewis Hamilton. But if you are to look back at last season, Lewis Hamilton didn’t claim his sixth world championship until the United States Grand Prix in Austin. And while many would say that it was inevitable, one cannot take away the fact that Lewis Hamilton had a lot of challengers last year, namely his own teammate, Valtteri Bottas, Max Verstappen of Red Bull, and yes, even Ferrari’s new golden boy, Charles Leclerc was once in the running to challenge Hamilton.
Will it be the same in 2020?
In the essence that Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes will win the most numbers of races in 2020, then yes it will be the same as of that in 2019. But in the essence of the number of potential threats, will it be the same bananas or some of the mid-fielders will actually up their games? That is a good question.
Can Red Bull Furthermore Spread their Wings?
Max Verstappen ranked third in the driver’s championship at the end of the 2019 campaign. He scored a total of 278 points, winning 3 races and finishing on the podium 9 times. His teammate, Alex Albon finished with 92 points which was good for 8th place in the standings. And if not to Lewis Hamilton’s boohoo in Brazil, Albon would gotten his first career podium finish there. So, what enabled Red Bull to win 3 races in 2019?
The answer to that question is simple: the Honda engine performed well for Red Bull and that something that didn’t work out with McLaren.
Now, if Honda can provide a good increase in terms of the engine’s power and Red Bull can provide that engine with a reliable chassis plus a strong start to the upcoming season, Red Bull might just be able to fly their way into becoming a legitimate championship contender again.
Can McLaren Get Rid of the Midfield Battle?
McLaren scored their first podium in more than 5 years when Carlos Sainz Jr. was promoted to third place in the 2019 Brazilian Grand Prix after Lewis Hamilton was handed out a time penalty for his boohoo involving Alex Albon. It was a long wait for a team whose last podium finish happened in the same scenario when Jenson Button was promoted to third place after Daniel Ricciardo got disqualified in his home race. In the end, McLaren scored a total of 145 points which was more than enough for a fourth-place finish in the standings- their best finish in years. More than that, they finished 54 points ahead of their engine provider, Renault. Ironic, right?
Having said that, McLaren is hoping to build on that 2019 success especially with Lando Norris coming off an impressive rookie season. Remember the French Grand Prix when he had DRS problems and yet he finished in ninth place? Impressive, right? With one podium in the bag for Sainz Jr. and a promising future for young Norris, the team is looking to get rid of their “midfielder” tag and get back to winning races. That’s easier said than done but given how McLaren progressed over the course of the last few seasons?
It’s no longer impossible for them to score a race win this season, right?
Can Ferrari Contend in 2020?
Now that’s a good question, right?
And perhaps the right question to ask considering the fact that early reports that are coming out of the Internet are saying that Ferrari’s 2020 car is “worse than expected” due to an aerodynamic flaw that the team is yet to find. That if we believe the reports coming from both the German and the Italian press.
But more than the potential flaw in the car, there’s a more storyline to follow in the guys in red come the 2020 campaign: will Charles Leclerc and Sebastian Vettel work together to win a title for Ferrari? They certainly don’t need a repeat of what happened in Brazil last year. And the big question is: who will be the number one driver this time around?
Considering the fact that Charles Leclerc won more races than Vettel last year, who knows?
Can Leclerc threaten Lewis Hamilton’s aspiration of a 7th championship? He can. If Ferrari can provide him with a championship challenger. If he and Vettel can settle down in races. If.
Let’s be realistic here, folks.
Lewis Hamilton’s dominance will continue in 2020 for one good reason: things are looking to be promising for their 2020 car as far as news reports are concerned. As a matter of fact, one can joke that the season should already be scrapped and just crown Hamilton and Mercedes.
There’s no doubt that Hamilton is seasoned to tie Michael Schumacher’s record for most championships won. By now, it’s just the question of who can delay the inevitable. Will it be Verstappen? Leclerc? Or will we see a redemption season from Sebastian Vettel himself? All of the questions will be answered once the season kicks off in Melbourne.