F1 2020- End of Season Awards
Recognising those who shone in a dim year.
The 2020 season of Formula 1 will long live in the memory, for so many different reasons. We saw Lewis Hamilton seemingly breaking records at will, there were surprise winners in Sergio Perez and Pierre Gasly, Romain Grosjean survived one of the most horrific accidents seen in the sport's history - and we witnessed 17 races in just six months.
Here are some of those who made 2020 so memorable.
Driver of the Season
It would be easy to argue Hamilton's case here. The Brit not only dominated the Driver's Championship, he also broke the pole position record, the points record, the wins record and became a record equalling seven-times World Champion.
Another tremendous driver this season was Pierre Gasly. The Alpha Tauri man was superb all year, especially after a tough 2019. A string of consistent performances all season were capped off by his spectacular win at Monza, becoming the first French driver to win an F1 race since Olivier Panis won at Monaco in 1996.
However, the driver of the season has to be Sergio Perez. The Mexican enjoyed his best season to date, finishing fourth in the Drivers' Standings. Perez also took a spectacular win at the Sahkir Grand Prix, fighting his way through the entire field after a first lap collision with Charles Leclerc. Checo was incredibly consistent, taking another podium at the Turkish Grand Prix, and was unlucky not to be sipping champagne on a few other occasions. Furthermore, he missed both rounds at Silverstone due to a positive Covid-19 test - which makes his season even more impressive.
Winner: Sergio Perez
Perez became the first driver in history to win a race after being last at the end of the first lap.
Team of the Season
While many teams enjoyed strong seasons, one constructor once again remained dominant. Mercedes arguably enjoyed the best season in their history, taking 15 pole positions and 13 wins in the shortened 17 race season. What was most impressive although was the gap between the Brackley based team and their rivals, who were regularly over a second behind during qualifying. Mercedes were even able to stop development on the W11 early to focus on their 2021 car, such was their supremacy. Despite Hamilton's continued dominance possibly making F1 predictable, you have to recognise we are witnessing one of the greatest sporting dynasties in history.
Hamilton's tally of 347 points was actually more than Mercedes' closest competitors Red Bull scored this season.
Two teams have made large strides forward since last year, Racing Point and McLaren. The 'Tracing Point' saga dominated the early rounds of the season, and despite a points reduction, the Silverstone based team enjoyed a tremendous season - scoring four podium positions and a race win.
McLaren meanwhile finally look like they could be returning to the front of the grid. The British team finished third in the Constructors Championship, their best result since 2012. Another two podiums this year certainly marks a significant improvement since they began to fall backwards in 2013.
However, the award has to go to the Pink Panthers. From a team which regularly were at the rear of the midfield last season, to taking a pole position this year and a race win, their improvement has been phenomenal. As they morph into Aston Martin for 2021 and also have four-time World Champion Sebastian Vettel onboard, it will be interesting to see just how high up the team can challenge.
Winner: Racing Point
Perez's win at the Sahkir Grand Prix was Racing Point's first victory since the 2003 Brazilian Grand Prix, when the team was known as Jordan.
We witnessed some fantastic wheel-to-wheel battles this season, but one move stands tall above the rest. It was the perfect mixture of bravery and judgement- step forward Pierre Gasly. The Frenchman really showed his talents this year, especially after a difficult period with Red Bull in 2019, and his overtake on Perez at the Belgian Grand Prix was evidence of this. There is just something special about a move at Eau Rouge, and with the Racing Point squeezing the Alpha Tauri against the wall, Gasly kept his foot planted to the floor to complete a magnificent overtake.
An honourable mention also has to go to Alex Albon for his move past Kimi Raikkonen at Copse and George Russell for his move past Valterri Bottas at the Sahkir Grand Prix.
Winner- Pierre Gasly
Gasly thought he was "in the wall" while passing Perez.
Underrated Driver of the Season
This award could have gone to a couple of the midfield drivers such as Carlos Sainz, Lando Norris and Charles Leclerc. However, I am going for Daniel Ricciardo.
The Aussie scored two podiums at the Nürburgring and Imola, and was unlucky to miss out at Mugello. Moreover, he dominated his teammate Esteban Ocon, winning the qualifying battle 15-2. The Renault driver also finished a brilliant fifth in the Drivers' Championship, in what was arguably the fifth best car on the grid.
Another superb year for the 31-year-old as he prepares for his move to McLaren.
Winner: Daniel Ricciardo
Ricciardo's third place at the Nurburgring was his first podium since he won the Monaco Grand Prix in 2018.
We were treated to some fantastic action this year, with five different winners from four different teams, the most since 2012. Of course Spain was still boring, but there were several races which stood out. The most prominent of these were Austria, Sahkir, Turkey and Monza
The season opener in Austria was filled with action, including Alexander Albon being punted off by Hamilton, Norris' sensational podium - and that only eleven cars finished the race.
The Sahkir Grand Prix looked certain to finish with super sub George Russell taking his first victory in the Mercedes. However the Constructors' Champions' blunder in the pits and a late puncture sealed the Brits fate. It paved the way for Perez to take an unlikely win, despite falling back to last place on the opening lap.
The Turkish Grand Prix was possibly Hamilton's finest hour. He demonstrated why he is the most successful driver in history, with a masterful performance on a drying track. There was also Lance Stroll's staggering pole position and a race full of spins, incidents and the new 'slicktermediates.'
However, the race of the season has to be Monza. When Hamilton received a penalty for a pitlane infringement, the race looked like anyone could win. You had Stroll on fresh tyres benefitting from the red flag period, the Alfa Romeos high up the order and a struggling Bottas in the middle of the pack.
But, the battle for the victory came down to Gasly and Sainz. The Spaniard gave it everything in his attempts to catch the Alpha Tauri driver, yet it wasn't enough and Gasly took a win which left many fans with wet eyes. The Frenchman's difficult 2019 further enhanced the tale that was the Italian Grand Prix, marking one of the best races in modern history - and the most special moment of the season.
Winner- Italian Grand Prix
Gasly was able to replicate Vettel's achievement of 2008, winning the Italian Grand Prix for the Faenza based team, the only two victories in their history.
The Coronavirus pandemic forced F1 to visit new circuits which had never been used by the sport before in 2020. Races were also held at tracks previously used by F1, which had not been on the calendar in recent seasons.
Many of these venues proved why they deserve a place in F1, especially when tracks such as Sochi, Barcelona and Paul Ricard remain on the calendar.
Portimao proved that you can have a Catalunya-style circuit which produces good racing, and it also showed just how important elevation change is to giving a track character.
F1's return to Istanbul was much anticipated and it certainly didn't disappoint. Despite the track being incredibly slippery, it gave us an unpredictable race.
However, the Bahrain 'oval' certainly gave F1 bosses something to think about. The fast nature of the circuit, with long straights and few corners became F1's answer to the Indy500. In an era where overtaking is so difficult, a circuit like Bahrain outer is certainly something to be considered.
Winner: Bahrain Outer Circuit, Sahkir Grand Prix
The Sahkir Grand Prix was only the second time in history that sub-one minute laps had been achieved.
There were several memorable moments in 2020. Yet Romain Grosjean surviving his horrific accident at the Bahrain Grand Prix has to be the greatest.
The fact that the Haas driver was able to walk away from the crash with only burns is testament to the work that F1 has done to improve driver safety. All of the safety precautions such as the halo, the survival cell and the medical car all worked as they should, ensuring Grosjean was back at the paddock the following week.
During a season where stewarding rightfully faced criticism, the work of the FIA to improve safety needs to be recognised and commended.
Let me know what you think of the awards and Happy New Year!