THANK YOU, FORMULA 1
In this difficult year, the sport keeps on roaring to keep us entertained, with a slight change...
March 15, year 2020.
The day where a certain motorsport event called Formula 1 was supposed to be held in Albert Park, Australia. However, a reported case of COVID-19 from one of McLaren's team member turned into the cancellation of the race. For 3 months, there are no news about the continuation of the race, and everything seems bleak.
But of course, the silver linings started to show up, with F1 factories dedicated their skills and effort to create ventilators for COVID patients.
From the drivers' side though, who were staying at home, they held many online events, mainly online racing and casual gaming. 4 of them would be known as the "Twitch Quartet", consisting of McLaren's Lando Norris, Red Bull's Alex Albon, Williams' George Russell, and Ferrari's Charles Leclerc. Together, they entertained us with their live-streaming content on Twitch (hence the name), as well as keeping us updated with their life in quarantine.
If you're wondering where the infamous "Banana Leclerc" meme came from, now you know.
Then finally, the revised calendar of 2020 was announced, with races mainly in Europe to reduce travel risks, as well as couple of races in Middle East, with Bahrain and Abu Dhabi hosting the final 3 races. The calendar introduced some double-event, meaning that 2 consecutive Grand Prix will be held at the same circuit, as well as bringing us to new circuits such as Mugello in Italy and Portimao in Portugal, and classics such as Imola and Intercity Turkey.
With preparations all done in such a short time, it's time to hit the track.
Starting on June 5 in Austria, it's the beginning of 2020 season! Of course there were some differences, with no audience around and strict safety protocols, plus the fact that the host track, Red Bull Ring will host the second Grand Prix next week, dubbed Styrian Grand Prix. But getting on the Austrian Grand Prix, Valtteri Bottas won the race, with Charles Leclerc second and Lando Norris third, securing his first career podium due to Lewis Hamilton's 5-second penalty for hitting Alex Albon off-track (Brazil 2019, anyone?).
The next couple of races are quite similar to 2019, with Mercedes' dominations and Red Bull chasing them, plus a win for Max Verstappen at the 70th Anniversary Grand Prix in Silverstone, and the return of Nico Hulkenberg. However, Ferrari has lost their pace since last year, with many DNFs and out-of-points finishes.
Then, we came to the 2020 Italian Grand Prix. All things look normal in practice and qualifying, but then in race time, Kevin Magnussen's Haas breakdown set a chain of unexpected events. With Lewis Hamilton earned a 10-second stop and go penalty during safety car, plus Charles Leclerc's accident at the Parabolica, it was Pierre Gasly who took the chequered flag for AlphaTauri, formerly known as Toro Rosso. It was their first win since Sebastian Vettel in 2008 at the same venue. As Crofty would say, isn't that just wonderful?
Pierre took P1, with Carlos Sainz's P2 and Lance Stroll P3
Alas, the circus moved to Mugello Circuit in Tuscany region of Italy, to hold the Tuscany Grand Prix. Here, we witnessed a chaotic race, with some racers crashing on the third corner, and after the safety car period, more drivers crashed at the start line. The race was eventually restarted, and we finally see Alex Albon's first F1 podium.
And then, after a stint at the Russian Grand Prix where Valtteri Bottas won, we moved to Eifel Grand Prix in Germany, visiting an old friend at the Nurburgring GP circuit. Here, we witnessed a pretty good race, with Daniel Ricciardo grabbed his first podium since Monaco 2018 and for Renault since 2011.
After a weekend in Portugal's Portimao circuit where Max played bumper cars with 2 Racing Point's cars, the event moved to the 3rd and final spot of Italy, in Imola of course. This circuit holds a rather tragic memory, where Ayrton Senna and Roland Ratzenberger lost their life at the 1994 San Marino Grand Prix. For the Aussie though, it was the place where he would grabbed the 2nd podium in this season, as well as Mercedes winning their Constructors Championship title.
Then, comes the Turkish Grand Prix. Unexpectedly, the rain covered the whole circuit, making it very slippery and difficult, especially for inexperienced drivers. It was here where Lance Stroll took his first pole position. The race was exciting too, with drivers after drivers changing the lead of the lap. Amazingly, for Lewis Hamilton who started in 6th, he managed to climb up to 1st, taking the win with Sergio Perez in 2nd and amazingly, Sebastian Vettel in 3rd. Here, we also witnessed Lewis Hamilton's crowning of the World Champion title.
Then, we moved on to Bahrain. Of course, as most of you would have known, it was here that Romain Grosjean had a big explosive crash at Turn 1 that almost took his life, after colliding with Daniil Kvyat's front wing.
Luckily for Grosjean, he managed to get out of the car in time, with the help of Dr Ian Roberts and Alan Van Der Merwe from the Medical team, as well as marshals around. It was a sole reminder to everyone that the sport is dangerous, and how many safety precautions have been developed over the years.
After red-flag, the race went on, with Lewis Hamilton won, followed by Max Verstappen and Alex Albon, their first Red Bull double podium as teammates, after Sergio Perez's engine caught fire, causing him to retired from the race with 5 laps to go.
The following week, the event stayed in Bahrain, this time utilizing the outer layout. Described by many as "almost oval", the lap is less than a minute on average. News broke out that Lewis Hamilton caught Covid-19, and Mercedes needed to find replacement. Rumours went on, until officially Mercedes announced Williams' George Russell, a Mercedes junior driver, as the replacement, with Jack Aitken filling his seat at Williams. For Haas, it was the debut race for Pietro Fittipaldi, who has been their reserve driver since 2019. For many, this is the race where they expected George Russell to win. And of course, we all know what happened. The surprise kept on coming though, as Sergio Perez, who was in last place due to collision with Charles Leclerc's Ferrari, took the chequered flag, taking his first win after 190 races. Esteban Ocon takes P2, his first ever Formula 1 podium.
And then finally, Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. with Lewis Hamilton back in the Mercedes and George Russell in Williams, everything seems normal. Incredibly, Max Verstappen took a pole position, first of the season. In the race he also lead every lap, eventually became the winner. McLaren secured P3 in the championship after a lengthy battle with Racing Point and Renault.
Overall, it has been quite a crazy season, despite the short preparations. I would like to thank you everyone in Formula 1 to hold this amazing season, as well as the community and fans everywhere who keeps it alive and exciting.