With the excitement building as we get closer by the day to the return of Formula 1, this season will be a record breaking one straight out of the box as 22 massive races will take place throughout the year. A new race will take place for the first time ever in Vietnam while the circus makes it's much anticipated return to the Netherlands for the first time since 1985. Here is a simple and brief look at the year you should come to expect in Formula 1 this season, the races to look out for and what team could possibly be strong where. Hang on in there kitty, we are almost ready to see those sweet, sweet chassis for the first time....
First things first
Valtteri Bottas, 2019 Barcelona Testing. (Mercedes AMG Petronas/Steve Etherington.)
So, before any racing gets underway this year, we have the matter of pre-season testing in Barcelona first. This is usually our very first chance to see the new season's cars in all their glory and it gives us a slight idea of who is looking good going into the first race of the season. This year will be a little bit different, as in preparation for the new regulations in 2021, the overall testing length will be shortened from the regular eight days to six, giving teams an even shorter window to get all their programmes and tests done and be up to scratch for round one in Melbourne.
However, just because it is testing doesn't mean it isn't worth keeping an eye on. Last year saw multiple spins, failures and even accidents as teams rushed to be ready for the first race of the season. Testing does come with a warning however, as just last year, Ferrari led the majority of the eight day's testing looking like the team to beat in 2019, but we all know how that ended up, so take everything you see with a pinch of salt. Testing takes place in Barcelona from the 19th - 21st of February and then again from the 26th - 28th of February and although it mostly won't be shown live (2019 being the first year that some test sessions were shown live on TV.) all the major publications will be covering the six days.
Hanoi Street Circuit layout. (FORMULA 1.)
As I mentioned, there is two new races joining the F1 calendar for 2020. The first is a completely brand new race held on the recently constructed Hanoi Street Circuit in Vietnam. Now I know what you're thinking and I thought also 'oh god, not another street circuit!' But the super long straights and sweeping curves of the circuit surely looks set to be a promising race. As it will be the first time F1 will have ever been on the circuit, it will also be that bit closer amongst the teams as everybody tries to find their feet as quick as they can.
The second new race of the season is actually a return to one of the most classic tracks in F1 history. Not having held a race since Niki Lauda's victory in 1985, the Dutch Grand Prix makes it's return on the Circuit Zandvoort. The circuit itself looks to promise some tight racing, and that newly installed banked final curve should give some good overtaking opportunities and wheel-to-wheel action down the main straight and into the first corner.
Red Bull Ring, 2019 Austrian Grand Prix. (Red Bull Content Pool.)
As well as some new additions to the calendar, old favourites are to make their return once again in Formula 1. Much to the delight of the fans throughout 2019, Monza, Silverstone and Mexico were all confirmed to be staying on the calendar for the coming years, with Barcelona making a return also, but just for this year. The certainty of this circuit staying beyond 2020 is very much in doubt. All the other old favourites such as Monaco, Canada, Austria, Japan and Brazil are back for 2020, with the championship concluding in usual fashion in Abu Dhabi.
The only circuit not making it's return in 2020 is Hockenheim, as the German Grand Prix continues it's teeter-totter on and off the calendar and will remain absent for this season. A bad move considering that the 2019 German Grand Prix was recently voted by fans in a poll by Formula1.com as the race of the decade, but one can hope to see a return to the circuit in the years to come.
Who to watch?
Ferrari's Charles Leclerc and Racing Point's Sergio Perez. (Red Bull Content Pool.)
As we have learned in recent years, Formula 1 has become very much a season of what team suits which circuit. With 2020 seeing barely any regulation changes we can hope that the top three teams will be a lot closer to each other and giving it everything before the major regulation changes in 2021, but we can still expect some teams to perform stronger than others on some circuits.
Mercedes will be the team to beat once again going to Melbourne, but nobody can rule out the recent resurgences at Red Bull and Ferrari. In recent years, Red Bull have been the team to beat on tight and technical circuits such as Monaco and Hungary, while on circuits such as Spa and Monza with long straights, Ferrari were able to storm ahead with their strong power units, so those particular teams would be my bet on certain circuits. However, Mercedes has constantly had the best all-rounder car so they are always a danger no matter the circuit.
So there you have it, your quick guide to F1 2020. At the time of writing, only Ferrari (11th February), McLaren (13th February) and Alpha Tauri (14th February) have confirmed their car launches for 2020, but we will be very excited to see what the other seven teams will come up with for their season challengers. Can somebody finally top Lewis Hamilton and the mighty Mercedes powerhouse in 2020? Hang on just a little bit more, we are about to find out..