- All current Champions spank their teammates
- Hamilton over Bottas
- Vettel over Stroll
- Alonso over Ocon
- Kimi over Gio
Pre-Season Formula 1 Predictions for the 2020 Season (June 2020 Update)
One year ago, hell before every F1 race that was early morning Eastern Standard time in 2019, at 10pm the night before, I was generally rewatching qualifying and any highlights posted online over the prior couple of days, finalizing what in the hell we were going to talk about on the podcast (and eventually the YouTube Livestream), and getting our microphones and cameras set up (oh, and making sure the beers were cold!). Hell, two days ago I was expecting to be doing just that tonight.
Not only has F1 essentially been cancelled for the foreseeable future, most other sports have as well. There is a UFC fight on tonight if you’re into that though.
However, like a heroine addict looking for the next fix, we were beyond excited to get back into F1 again in 2020. Getting to watch the brave souls we all love (and sometimes hate) battle it out for pole positions, fast laps, race wins, and more than likely a Schumi tying record seventh world championship for Lewis Hamilton and a couple of other drivers with the car and ability to stop him from doing so, is something we more or less live for at F1 and Coffee.
That being said, as bummed as we are (and bored on the night before what was supposed to be the 2020 Australian Grand Prix), it was the right thing to do from an F1 Management perspective. This is turning into a global epidemic and needs to be taken seriously. There’s zero sense in anyone, whether a driver, spectator, vendor, employee from any team or track, taking the risk of getting sick and possibly infecting others.
Long way of saying, be safe out there, don’t take unnecessary risks, and wash your damn hands!
The 2020 Formula 1 season is set to get officially underway on Wednesday, with the first of two three-day tests at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya.
Each day will feature two four-hour sessions — morning (from 9am-1pm local time) and afternoon (2pm-6pm).
Check the list below to see who will be driving for each team in Barcelona.
Wednesday, February 19
Alfa Romeo: Robert Kubica (morning), Antonio Giovinazzi (afternoon)
AlphaTauri: Daniil Kvyat
Sebastian Vettel Charles Leclerc (changed due to illness)
Haas: Kevin Magnussen
McLaren: Carlos Sainz
Mercedes: Valtteri Bottas (morning), Lewis Hamilton (afternoon)
Racing Point: Sergio Perez (morning), Lance Stroll (afternoon)
Red Bull: Max Verstappen
Renault: Esteban Ocon (morning), Daniel Ricciardo (afternoon)
Williams: George Russell (morning), Nicholas Latifi (afternoon)
Thursday, February 20
Alfa Romeo: Kimi Raikkonen
AlphaTauri: Pierre Gasly
Ferrari: Charles Leclerc (morning), Sebastian Vettel (afternoon)
Haas: Romain Grosjean
McLaren: Lando Norris
Racing Point: Sergio Perez
Red Bull: Alexander Albon
Renault: Daniel Ricciardo (morning), Esteban Ocon (afternoon)
Williams: George Russell
Friday, February 21
Alfa Romeo: Antonio Giovinazzi
AlphaTauri: Daniil Kvyat (morning), Pierre Gasly (afternoon)
Ferrari: Charles Leclerc
Haas: Romain Grosjean (morning), Kevin Magnussen (afternoon)
McLaren: Lando Norris (morning), Carlos Sainz (afternoon)
Racing Point: Lance Stroll
Red Bull: Max Verstappen (morning), Alexander Albon (afternoon)
Renault: Esteban Ocon (morning), Daniel Ricciardo (afternoon)
Williams: Nicholas Latifi
On 19 February 2007, Jacques Villeneuve, Formula 1 World Champion and now pundit, tried his hand as a muso and released his debut album, Private Paradise.
He reportedly wrote six of the 13 songs himself, one of which was about his father Gilles. He launched the album in his Montreal café. C
Stephen South is 67 today, and in F1 is best remembered for his appearance at the 1980 United States Grand Prix West standing in for McLaren’s Alain Prost who was injured, but the substitute failed to qualify. His career was abruptly ended later that year when he had a leg amputated after an accident during practice for a CanAm race at Circuit Trois-Rivières in Canada.
In 2004, Neel Jani became the first person to drive an F1 car in Bahrain when he took a Sauber for a spin on the streets of Manama. The inaugural Bahrain Grand Prix was held the same year and Jani’s stunt was aimed to fire up the majority of locals who were unfamiliar with the sport.
Last year we reported:
Testing was happening in Barcelona for the second day with Charles Leclerc taking over the Ferrari SF90 from teammate Sebastian Vettel. It was the Monaco Kid’s first outing as team’s second-youngest driver and ended the day fastest of all. And a sign of things to come.
Time went on to show that he did not disappoint and in fact, embodies the foreseeable future for Maranello as far as drivers go. He won for the first time in Red in front of Tifosi at the Italian Grand Prix which alone has etched his name among their greats and he has only just begun.
On the other side of the coin, Williams drivers George Russell and Robert Kubica spent another day watching the action as the Grove outfit’s season imploded before it even began. The only good news for them, on this day last year, was the truck was heading to Spain.
Up and down the pitlane there were a few changes, with Daniel Ricciardo slotting in at Renault while rookie Alex Albon began life in the top flight with an early spin as he took the Toro Rosso out for his first laps on day two.
Renault were flexing their muscles and topped the speed traps with their PU, with Mercedes and Ferrari keeping their powder dry. The reigning F1 World Champs notably subdued and showing very little.
Taken on Tuesday 20 February 1979 on the first afternoon of that year’s Kyalami Formula 1 test, this image appeared on page 3 of the next morning’s Rand Daily Mail.
This was the first time anyone had ever seen the 312 T4, seconds after it rolled out of a closed trailer after being flown straight from Rome to Johannesburg on an Alitalia 747 en route to Kyalami.
This photo was taken behind the pits (that’s the concrete wall adjoining the Dunlop bridge) before we pushed it up to the box under the control tower. They had been running a T3 that morning while they waited for this car to arrive – Jody then tested this car from the Wednesday, while Gilles carried on with the T3 before his T4 arrived over the weekend.
This picture captures the essence of those days so brilliantly — the team lads are protecting the skirt on the right of the car and that’s me on the left rear tyre (far right of the pic). Behind the car looking on from left to right, some proper South African Legends, are Ben Morgenrood in the check-shirt and George Fouche is the school kid, then behind the roll hoop in the blue shirt and dark tie is Jack Nucci and the dude behind him in the short pants, hands on hips is John Love and the guy next right (tan shirt, dark pants, arms folded) is Wayne Taylor!
When I got back to technikon on the Monday two weeks anon and presented my doctor’s note, the lecturer took this edition of the newspaper out, turned to the photo and asked me what the fuck!
Privileged memories, halcyon daze…
For the first time in the 20-year history of the prestigious Laureus World Sports Awards, the Laureus Sportsman of the Year Award was given to two sporting greats – Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 driver Lewis Hamilton and footballer Lionel Messi.
Both athletes received the same number of votes from the jury and thus both of them were awarded the prestigious trophy.
The award was given out for their achievements in 2019, a year in which Lewis won his sixth Formula One Drivers’ World Championship and Lionel was awarded the Best FIFA Men’s Player. Both athletes played an important role in the success of their respective teams as well, with the Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team claiming its sixth consecutive Constructors’ World Championship in 2019 and the FC Barcelona winning the Spanish league title and making it to the semi-finals of the Champions League.
Lewis and Lionel were nominated alongside runner Eliud Kipchoge, the first athlete to ever complete a marathon in under two hours, six-time Moto GP Champion Marc Marquez, golfer Tiger Woods, who won his 82nd PGA Tour last year, and tennis player Rafael Nadal, who won his 19th Grand Slam in 2019.
“Wow, this is such an incredible honour,” said Lewis upon receiving the award. “I grew up in a sport that has really given my life meaning and I’m so grateful for what it’s provided me. But I’ve also grown up in a sport that has very little to no diversity. That’s an issue that we’re continuously facing, and I think it’s all of our responsibility to use our platform for that, to keep pushing for gender equality, for inclusivity and making sure that we are engaging and trying to represent where the world is today.
“I want to say a big, big thank you to Mercedes-Benz who have always been such a huge supporter. They signed me when I was 13 and I’m so grateful for them for giving a young thirteen-year-old the opportunity to live his dream. I also want to acknowledge Laureus for all the incredible work they do around the world and for changing people’s lives and for giving people hope – please continue to do so. Thank you very much!”
The World Champ took time out to pose with fellow World Champs from the South African ruugby team which scooped the Team of the Year Award.
The Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team was one of six teams nominated for the World Team of the Year Award. It was the sixth nomination for the Mercedes works team; in 2018, the team won the award.
The Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team was nominated alongside five legendary teams – Liverpool FC, Toronto Raptors, the US Women’s Football Team, the Spanish Men’s Basketball Team and the South African Rugby Union Team who took the accolade.
Red Bull owner Dietrich Mateschitz has expressed his confidence heading into the 2020 Formula 1 season, expecting his team to compete for the world championship.
The Austrian energy drinks mogul, who is celebrating 16 years in the sport in 2020, is playing a very upbeat tune after getting his hands on the offseason data.
“Compared to previous years, we clearly have the highest expectations this year,” he told Speedweek. “All the data from the computer and the wind tunnel is better than last year and we are confident that this will be reflected on the track. That means we can hope to compete for the world championship.”
Long considered to have one of the best chassis on the grid with Adrian Newey in the designer’s chair, the V6 hybrid turbo era has seen Red Bull unable to compete with front-runners Mercedes on engine performance or reliability. Now with his team entering its second year with Honda, Mateschitz expects those problems to be a thing of the past.
“Our engine partner Honda did an excellent job in the winter. We managed kilometres on the test stand like never before — about 5000 without any problems. The engine enables us to compete at the front in terms of performance and reliability,” he said.
As to the question of his company’s continued involvement in the sport past 2020, Mateschitz says he expects to be around for a long time to come, even if he is yet to put pen to paper.
“It’s just a matter of writing the details. I don’t expect any problems. There’s no time pressure. We’ve driven a period without a base contract before. But everything is ready to be signed.”
Similarly, he expects the Austrian Grand Prix at the Red Bull Ring in Spielberg to keep its place on the F1 calendar.
“A project like this is intended to be long-term. Last year we extended MotoGP by five years. Chase Carey is happy to be with us and wants to continue the Austrian GP. So it will not be a big problem to extend.”
Ferrari team boss Mattia Binotto is talking up his troops ahead of Formula 1 pre-season testing starting in Barcelona tomorrow while remaining coy on prospects for the season ahead based on the youth of his team.
Speaking with presenter Fabio Fazio where he and driver Sebastian Vettel were guests on Italian television show Che Tempo Che Fa, while Charles Leclerc joined via satellite link from Monaco after his flight was canceled due to Storm Dennis, Binotto made no bones about his men.
“It is a fact that Leclerc and Vettel are the best driver combination on the grid,” Binotto pointed out: “I am convinced that they are the best couple in Formula 1 — Seb does not need any introduction and Charles is a boy born in our Ferrari Driver Academy nursery, from where we trust he will lead other young drivers into F1.”
Responding to recent Italian press hysteria around development issues prior to the launch of the team’s new SF1000, Binotto admitted, “It is wrong to predict performance — last year we started the F1 tests thinking we were very strong, but then we took a cold shower in Australia and we only recovered later in the season.
“People need to remember that we are still a young team and that we are trying to build, I think the team still has to grow and that there are lessons to be learned from the past. “The important thing is to grow — winning cycles take time to become successful and we must not forget that. “Formula 1 is also very competitive right now, I don’t think the competition has ever been so strong.”
Moving on, Binotto picked on Leclerc for his unauthorised and contentious parachute jump during the off-season. “I told you we have the best couple, but the even the best couple sometimes makes you sweat — that guy jumped in parachute,” Binotto explained gesticulating toward the screen showing Leclerc. “Have I forgiven him? “Actually no — he will never do that again — he has said as much and I hope he understands that!”
Vettel pointed out that he had parachuted before: “The only mistake Charles made was not to invite Mattia to jump with him!” the German joked. “I’ve parachuted before, before I joined Ferrari, so if it went wrong I wouldn’t have been there anyway and also because I know they’d get angry. “I went, I had fun, I just did it once.”
Parachutes are however Binotto’s last concern about his best couple right now — both real racers, lessons learned from the past have already very well proven that neither Vettel nor Leclerc will stand back in battle — even to the detriment of the team. So it remains to be seen if Ferrari can control its best couple on track in one of a few major tests facing Binotto and his young group of men in red through the season ahead…
Ryan Newman flipped across the finish line, his Ford planted upside down and engulfed in flames, a grim reminder of a sport steeped in danger that has stretched nearly two decades without a fatality.
At the finish line, Denny Hamlin made history with a second straight Daytona 500 victory in an overtime photo finish over Ryan Blaney, a celebration that quickly became muted as word of Newman’s wreck spread.
“I think we take for granted sometimes how safe the cars are,” Hamlin said. “But number one, we are praying for Ryan.”
Roughly two hours after the crash, NASCAR read a statement from Roush Fenway Racing that said Newman is in “serious condition, but doctors have indicated his injuries are not life-threatening.”
NASCAR scrapped the traditional victory lane party for Hamlin’s third Daytona 500 victory, rocked by Newman’s accident 19 years after Dale Earnhardt was killed on the last lap of the 2001 Daytona 500. Earnhardt was the last driver killed in a NASCAR Cup Series race.
Newman had surged into the lead on the final lap when Blaney’s bumper caught the back of his Ford and sent Newman hard right into the wall. His car flipped, rolled, was hit on the driver’s side by another car, and finally skidded across the finish line in flames.
It took several minutes for his car to be rolled back onto its wheels. The 2008 Daytona 500 winner was placed in a waiting ambulance and taken directly to a hospital, and the damage to his Mustang was extensive. It appeared the entire roll cage designed to protect his head had caved.
Drivers were stricken with concern, including a rattled Corey LaJoie, the driver who hit Newman’s car as it was flipping.
“Dang I hope Newman is ok,” he posted on Twitter. “That is worst case scenerio and I had nowhere to go but (into) smoke.”
Hamlin is the first driver since Sterling Marlin in 1995 to win consecutive Daytona 500s, but his celebration in victory lane was subdued.
Hamlin said he was unaware of Newman’s situation when he initially began his celebration. It wasn’t until Fox Sports told him they would not interview him on the frontstretch after his burnouts that Hamlin learned Newman’s incident was bad.
“It’s a weird balance of excitement and happiness for yourself, but someone’s health and their family is bigger than any win in any sport,” he said. “We are just hoping for the best.”
Team owner Joe Gibbs apologized after the race for the winning team celebration.
“We didn’t know until victory lane,” Gibbs said. “I know that for a lot of us, participating in sports and being in things where there are some risks, in a way, that’s what they get excited about. Racing, we know what can happen, we just dream it doesn’t happen. We are all just praying now for the outcome on this.”
Runner-up Blaney said the way the final lap shook out, with Newman surging ahead of Hamlin, that Blaney got a push from Hamlin that locked him in behind Newman in a move of brand alliance for Ford.
“We pushed Newman there to the lead and then we got a push from the 11 … I was committed to just pushing him to the win and having a Ford win it and got the bumpers hooked up wrong,” he said. “It looked bad.”
Hamlin had eight Ford drivers lined up behind him as the leader on the second overtime shootout without a single fellow Toyota driver in the vicinity to help him. It allowed Newman to get past him for the lead, but the bumping in the pack led to Newman’s hard turn right into the wall, followed by multiple rolls and a long skid across the finish line.
Hamlin’s win last year was a 1-2-3 sweep for Joe Gibbs Racing and kicked off a yearlong company celebration in which Gibbs drivers won a record 19 races and the Cup championship. Now his third Daytona 500 win puts him alongside six Hall of Fame drivers as winners of three or more Daytona 500s. He tied Dale Jarrett — who gave JGR its first Daytona 500 win in 1993 — Jeff Gordon and Bobby Allison. Hamlin trails Cale Yarborough’s four wins and the record seven by Richard Petty.
This victory came after just the second rain postponement in 62 years, a visit from President Donald Trump, a pair of red flag stoppages and two overtimes. The 0.014 margin of victory was the second closest in race history, and Hamlin’s win over Martin Truex Jr. in 2016 was the closest finish in race history.
That margin of victory was 0.01 seconds. The win in “The Great American Race” is the third for Toyota, all won by Hamlin. Gibbs has four Daytona 500 victories as an owner.
“I just feel like I’m a student to the game. I never stop learning and trying to figure out where I need to put myself at the right time,” Hamlin said. “It doesn’t always work. We’ve defied odds here in the last eight years or so in the Daytona 500, but just trust my instincts, and so far they’ve been good for me.”
The Racing Point Formula One team will start the season with a water company as new title sponsor but podium champagne the target.
“I predict that before the race they will both be drinking water,” team principal Otmar Szafnauer said of drivers Lance Stroll and Sergio Perez at the launch of the new, and still very pink, RP20 car at water technology company BWT’s Austrian headquarters.
“And after the race this year both of them will be on the podium at least once drinking the champagne.”
BWT have pledged to donate a well in Gambia for every race at which the team scores a point. They scored in 14 of the 21 last season.
“We’ve got to get both drivers in the points at every race,” said Szafnauer.
“This year we want to be a strong fourth, we want to be closer to the top three than we’ve ever been in the past and we want to be the top of the midfield.”
Canadian Stroll, son of team owner Lawrence, and Mexican Perez make up an unchanged line-up — the latter starting his seventh year with the team — and both have experience of the podium.
McLaren’s Carlos Sainz and the Toro Rosso pair of Pierre Gasly and Daniil Kvyat all made the top three last season in a championship dominated by Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull.
In 2018, in Azerbaijan, Perez was the only driver from outside the top three teams to stand on the podium.
Racing Point will become the Aston Martin works team next year, when major rules changes also come into force, after Stroll senior agreed in January to buy up to 20% of the British sportscar maker.
Szafnauer accepted Racing Point faced tough rivals, with resurgent McLaren finishing fourth last year ahead of the works Renault team and Red Bull-owned Toro Rosso.
“A long time ago in America somebody told me that you can’t get busier than a one-armed wallpaper hanger. So that’s what we felt like,” he said of pre-season preparations. “It was the busiest winter.”
Spares, he added, would be somewhat limited for the opener in Australia on March 15 but that was more a sign of development being pushed as late as possible rather than any problems.
“I’m confident with the work we’ve done over the winter on the new car and the work Mercedes has done on the powertrain… we’ll have a good chance to hit our targets for the Formula One team as well as the wells in Gambia,” said Szafnauer.
Lewis Hamilton has been declared the Laureus World Sportsman of the Year alongside Barcelona forward Lionel Messi, after the first tied vote in the awards’ 20-year history.
Mercedes driver Hamilton won his sixth world championship in 2019, with 11 race wins and 17 podium finishes, while Messi was crowned the world’s best player for a record sixth time when he won the Ballon d’Or.
American gymnast Simone Biles, who became the most decorated gymnast in world championship history when she won her 25th medal last year, won her third Sportswoman of the Year gong after winning the award in 2017 and 2019.
The South African rugby team, which won the World Cup in Japan last year for the third time in history, were crowned the Team of the Year, beating European soccer champions Liverpool and women’s soccer World Cup winners United States.
German NBA star Dirk Nowitzki, who retired last year after a 21-year career in the NBA with the Dallas Mavericks, was honoured with the Lifetime Achievement Award for his contribution to basketball.
Meanwhile, the Spanish Basketball Federation was recognised with the Laureus Academy Exceptional Achievement Award after the men’s World Cup triumph last year while the women have won three of the last four EuroBasket titles.
German Formula Three driver Sophia Floersch, who fractured her spine in an aerial crash at the Macau Grand Prix in Nov. 2018 that required an 11-hour surgery to fix, made the Comeback of the Year after getting back into the cockpit last year.
Former Indian batsman Sachin Tendulkar, the highest run scorer of all time in international cricket, had the support of a cricket-crazy nation to win a fan vote for the award for the best Sporting Moment from the last two decades.
In his sixth and final one-day international World Cup in 2011, Tendulkar finally got his hands on the title as India won on home soil and he was carried on his team mates’ shoulders for a lap of honour.
List of winners:
Sportsman of the Year: Lewis Hamilton and Lionel Messi
Sportswoman of the Year: Simone Biles
Team of the Year: South Africa Men’s Rugby Team
Breakthrough of the Year: Egan Bernal
Comeback of the Year: Sophia Floersch
Sportsperson of the Year with a Disability: Oksana Masters
Action Sportsperson of the Year: Chloe Kim
Best Sporting Moment: ‘Carried on the shoulders of a nation’ – Sachin Tendulkar
Lifetime Achievement Award: Dirk Nowitzki
Laureus Academy Exceptional Achievement Award: Spanish Basketball Federation
Laureus Sport for Good Award: South Bronx United
Imola could be making an unexpected return to the 2020 Formula 1 World Championship calendar after circuit director Roberto Marazzi confirmed that they have sent an application to replace Chinese Grand Prix.
The race in Shanghai, scheduled for 19 April has had to be scrapped amid the spreading novel coronavirus that is playing havoc in the region.
Marazzi told RacingNews 365, “We have submitted an application to the FIA and F1 organization to replace the Chinese Grand Prix. We have not yet received a response to this, but I expect it will be difficult to arrange everything.”
Imola hosted the Italian Grand Prix in 1989 which became the San Marino Grand Prix the following year, when Monza returned to the fold.
The 1994 edition of the race proved to be one of the darkest three days in F1 history when first Rubens Barrichello was lucky to walk away from a terrifying accident. In qualifying, Roland Ratzenberger was killed when his Simtek slammed the wall at high speed.
The next day Ayrton Senna died when the steering column on his Williams appeared to snap, spearing the car into the wall and killing the Brazilian instantly.
The last Grand Prix held at Imola was in 2006 which Michael Schumacher won for Ferrari, with Fernando Alonso second in his Renault and McLaren’s Juan-Pablo Montoya third.
Racing Point revealed their 2020 challenger the RP 20 – on Monday and it is still pink! But gone is betting partner SportPesa as title sponsor replaced by BWT, whose logo now features prominently on the distinctive pink livery.
Ahead of Formula 1’s landmark 70th anniversary season, Racing Point F1 Team is delighted to announce an expansion of its long-standing partnership with Austrian water technology specialist, BWT – Best Water Technology.
Having turned heads with the world’s first pink Formula 1 car in 2017 and building upon three successful seasons as Principal Sponsor, BWT and Racing Point have expanded their relationship so that the team will be known as “BWT Racing Point F1 Team”
As unveiled to assembled media and guests today at the home of BWT in Mondsee, Austria, the team’s distinctive pink livery – a firm favourite amongst racing fans across the globe – will remain, with BWT branding featuring even more prominently on the team’s new car, the RP20.
A Fitting Tribute
Situated on the scenic shores of Lake Mondsee, BWT’s Austrian Headquarters provided the perfect backdrop for the announcement of a collaboration built on technological advancement and sustainability.
Race drivers Lance Stroll and Sergio Perez were joined by CEO & Team Principal Otmar Szafnauer and Sporting Director Andy Stevenson, as the partnership was formally launched ahead of pre-season testing in Barcelona later this week.
Media assets from today’s event – including rights-free high-resolution imagery, video footage, and the team’s 2020 press pack – will be available later this afternoon. A media alert containing download links will be circulated as soon as this material becomes available.
A Shared Objective
BWT has long been committed to the reduction of plastics through the adoption of reusable vessels and recyclable filters to reduce waste and pollution in the modern world.
With this objective more sharply in focus than ever before, BWT will continue to support the team in its push to achieve sustainability targets, including cutting down on single-use plastics.
BWT’s innovative technology and outstanding know-how has had an incredibly positive impact on reducing CO2 emissions compared to single-use plastic bottled water. Guests visiting the team’s trackside hospitality buildings to refill their reusable bottles with locally produced – great tasting – BWT Magnesium Mineralized Water will enjoy a first class taste experience combined with a convenient way of drinking.
A Few Words
Otmar Szafnauer, CEO & Team Principal, BWT Racing Point F1 Team: “Since 2017, we have thoroughly enjoyed building a successful partnership with BWT and we’re delighted to be celebrating our fourth year together by welcoming them as our Title Partner. This expanded collaboration truly reflects the loyalty, commitment and energy that they bring to the Racing Point family. I’m pleased we could launch our season here in Mondsee at the home of BWT and shine a spotlight on the valuable work being done by BWT to drive sustainability. We have enjoyed many memorable moments both on and off track already and we now look forward to adding more in the 2020 season.”
Andreas Weißenbacher, CEO of BWT: “Over the past three years we have brought our distinctive pink colour into Formula 1 and built a very strong relationship with Racing Point. We are committed to helping this team achieve its objectives and this is why we have chosen to increase our support by becoming title partner. Working together in this way we believe the team can be much more competitive on the track in 2020. We will also support the team’s push to become more sustainable. Together we will cut down the use of disposable bottles at the track, minimise plastic waste and facilitate the local treatment and consumption of water.”
As seems to be the norm in Formula 1 2020, with the current rule set coming to an end after this season, the teams have not delivered any overly radical changes to the 2020 machinery revealed thus far.
It appears that the need for a long-term planning for next year’s radical new aero and tyre era has indeed sapped up some of the resources normally applied to a regular new car, so, like Ferrari’s evolutionary SF1000, Red Bull’s 2020 RB16 F1 challenger is a refined version of last year’s car rather than a radical move in a new direction.
But don’t be fooled — it is also clear that Adrian Newey and the Red Bull lot have put a significant effort into their 2020 car — there are more than enough detail changes, which combined, should keep the Honda-powered machine right at the sharp end of the F1 grid.
Remembering that Max Verstappen ended last season with triple podiums including that Brazilian GP win to score the most points of all drivers over those three races, this team appears set to enter the new year right on the front foot.
To that end, while the RB16 may seem to start off as a refinement of the best package of the latter 2029 season, there is indeed more than what may at first meet the eye. Starting from the front, on closer inspection the new car’s neat nose already represents some fresh thinking — narrower than before but not quite as narrow and Mercedes and now McLaren’s needle noses, its leading edge is interesting with a mini splitter below quad ducts in a slicker, tighter packaged solution within that blackened technical area.
From there, a pair of shrouded vanes under the nose direct the airflow downward and inward in preparation of its rearward journey, while albeit re-profiled NACA ducts remain to feed a more aggressive S-duct that appears to reintroduce an older RB concept in how it scavenges lower airflow up behind the nose to the upper surface of the car. The S-duct exits between a couple of cute winglets that separate flow rising up the nose, back down the sides.
Like Ferrari, Red Bull has also spent much effort in better packaging its front suspension elements to better cooperate with the general airflow around them, while re-thought camera mounts now appear to perform a better aerodynamic purpose too.
That primed under-nose air is greeted by a subtly revised set of barge boards, splitters and similar elements as it moves down and backward under the raised nose, to separate the flow and split it up before the air runs under, and wraps around the sides of the car.
The Red Bull appears to retain a radical rake angle — or the manner in which the front of the chassis sits low and the rear higher, while much attention has clearly gone into the packaging of the RB16’s flanks. Its tighter-lined side pods now feature even smaller inlets sitting behind a lower-placed postbox slot and atop a rearward-biased undercut.
While slimmer, the side pods retain more bulbous overall contours versus the Ferrari’s flatter-faced bottom side treatment and the Red Bull’s Coke bottled flanks are also even more radically waisted toward the rear. The pods taper sharper inward and downward, clearly in search of even better aero efficiency.
Work has also gone into raising the RB16’s more exposed lower rear suspension wishbones, which sit up at a similar height to the now aero-shrouded driveshafts to allow both those vital mechanical components to better work together in an aerodynamic sense and further ease and manage rearward flow as they also best exploit the outer floor and diffuser.
The upper wishbones likewise shift up in sympathy with the dual needs of the raised lower arms and optimal suspension geometry, all of which brings the rear winglets, fence and brake ducts deeper into a more enveloping and efficient airflow.
That flow is joined by the product of a lowered rear cooling outlet at the back of the car, shifted downward most likely in an effort to better accommodate the raised rear suspension within the overall aero package, while the otherwise uncomplicated rear wing features a curvy double endplate design. Moving back forward, work has also gone into managing upper airflow around the halo, over to the familiar snorkel and over engine cover.
Of course, what was shown at launch and in the shake-down is not necessarily what will roll out of the closely guarded Barcelona Red Bull pit box on Wednesday morning, let alone what sits on the grid in Aussie in a few weeks time, but the basic Red Bull package is indeed an interesting one at this stage. Good enough for Max to seem so smug? Well, that remains to be seen — roll on 2020!
The Australian Grand Prix’s Albert Park street circuit could undergo significant changes before the 2021 edition, according to officials.
A race that in 2020, will celebrate ten straight years as the opening round of the Formula 1 season, Albert Park has long been criticised for its tendency to create processional races, but that could soon be a thing of the past.
Currently planning a resurfacing of the track in the next two years, Australian Grand Prix Corporation CEO Andrew Westacott has revealed that alterations to the layout are under serious consideration.
“In the next year or two we will be resurfacing,” he revealed to Autosport.
“We are having dialogue with Formula 1 about how we evolve the track to make sure the changes that have occurred in the cars since 1996 are reflected in changes or adjustments to the track.
“Whether that be widening in some areas, whether that be camber in some areas, or other aspects. That’s all work in progress.
“We’ll probably know, realistically, at event time more about timelines and when the works are likely to happen – whether it will be in the next 12 months or the next 24 months.”
First opened in 1996, F1 has changed considerably in the time Albert Park has been on the calendar, and now Westacott promises the AGPC is considering a wide range of modifications.
“There’s no doubt the cars have evolved and changed from 1996 to 2020, and they’re certainly going to change again in 2021,” he said.
“Now what we can do is, if we’re going to make a change, look at everything.
“The sorts of things we’re looking at are asphalt mix and its impact on tyre degradation, we’re looking at turns and whether they can be adjusted.
“But we don’t want to diminish the character of the circuit, and we need to take into account that there’s a lake, and there’s playing fields, and there’s massive revenues at, for example, Turns 1 and 2 and Turns 15 and 16.
“So you can’t just go doing greenfield-style changes where you’ve got existing geography and topography and so on.
“It’s not as if we’ll be doing Zandvoort-style banking or anything like that, I can promise that.
“What we are doing is looking at all the different inputs, from speed limits in pitlane, to widths, to asphalt abrasiveness, and we’re in active dialogue with Formula 1 about those.”
Changes that are sure to be welcomed by most, if not all, of the paddock, the Australian GP has seen the winner come from the front row of the grid at six out of the last nine races.
Neon leisurewear with high-topped trainers and glowing yellow laces opened American designer Tommy Hilfiger’s latest show on Sunday, a collaboration with six-times Formula 1 World Champion Lewis Hamilton and singer H.E.R. that put sustainability at the fore.
Hilfiger took over London’s Tate Modern, the former riverside power station that is now a contemporary gallery, to present the street style-inspired collection of unisex designs plus his more formal Hilfiger clothes for men and women.
The show, which featured supermodels Naomi Campbell, Erin O’Connor and Jodie Kidd, as well as models of diverse shapes and sizes, and accompanied by a live band that rapped, sang and played a steelpan, was underpinned by environmental sustainability, said Hilfiger.
“As a company, it’s a priority for us to become sustainable, so we’re working very, very hard every single day to become more and more sustainable,” the designer said in an interview before the show.
Also speaking ahead of the show, Hamilton said he hoped other luxury brands would follow Hilfiger’s lead and improve their sustainability profile.
“In the fashion industry, I think there’s a lot of work that can be done with all these brands. I want us to kind of, create a ripple effect,” Hamilton told Reuters.
Hilfiger’s collaboration with Hamilton is in its fourth season. Hilfiger said teaming up with Grammy Award-winning U.S. R&B artist H.E.R. for the latest collection helped them push boundaries. Among the creations were oversized items emblazoned with the words “unity” and “loyalty”.
As for his Spring 2020 collection for men and women, Hilfiger described it as mixing a rock vibe with East Coast prep. Navy and white designs featured fragments of the U.S. flag, alongside oversize duffel bags and quirky jewelry.
— Tommy Hilfiger (@TommyHilfiger) February 17, 2020
Last night was at #TommyxLewis Season 4. Thanks to @thomasjhilfiger, all my amazing models and to everyone at @tommyhilfiger. It’s been a journey to create our most sustainable collection, but it’s something i’m so proud that we’ve been able to achieve. Feeling very gratefulpic.twitter.com/V8RCKlOCZG
— Lewis Hamilton (@LewisHamilton) February 17, 2020
Williams released images of the FW43 ahead of testing for the 2020 Formula 1 World Championship season, with deputy team principal Claire Williams hailing a fresh start for the team.
Notably, the ghastly livery of last year has made way for a neat and racy looking paint-job, with RoKit the title sponsor featuring on the sidepods, and ABK Beer featuring prominently on the car’s engine cover.
Williams, once the mightiest team of all for numerous years, is now by far the worst team on the grid, with last year’s campaign continuing the downward spiral that has doomed them for the past decade.
The 2020 car is supposedly an evolution of the brick they produced for the past two years, which suggests another year in back-of-the-grid oblivion for talented George Russell as well as his new rookie teammate Nicholas Latifi.
However, today, on the occasion of the launch the spin is all positive, with everyone at Grove apparently fired up and throbbing with fighting spirit ahead of the new campaign. One hopes for their sake that they don’t arrive at the F1 gunfight with a kitchen-knife.
On the positive side, and back to the topic of the launch, if the car is as good as the new look livery then it might not be a bad piece of kit.
ROKiT Williams Racing has officially revealed its 2020 Formula One challenger, the Williams Mercedes FW43 which is an evolution of the FW42, with much of the development work carried out throughout 2019 feeding in to the design of this year’s car.
Speaking ahead of the 2020 season, Claire Williams, Deputy Team Principal, said: “This year marks a fresh start for the team. We have spent time addressing our areas of weakness and have ensured that we have the right people, structures, procedures and resource in place to deliver competitive race cars.
“We are all committed to re-building Williams and returning the team to competitiveness. As such, our 2020 campaign is about making progress. The fighting spirit is still very much alive, and this year, everyone will continue that fight until we get back to where we want to be.”
Design Director, Doug McKiernan, commented: “The team at the factory have been working incredibly hard on the development of the car for the 2020 season.
“We have paid significant attention to understanding the problem areas of the FW42 and we have carefully chosen parts of the car to develop, those that would give us the most performance for the resources we have. The main concept behind the FW43 is that it is a continuous development of the FW42, with no fundamental concept changes to the layout.
“The most important indicator that we are on the right path will be the level of correlation we have between the tool kit we use to design the car and what the track data is telling us.
“There has been a healthy development rate in the wind tunnel, and we have found reasonable improvements in the cooling efficiency. The team has addressed the mechanical issues that affected it in 2019, these include the brakes and the overall weight of the car. We have made some good progress across these areas and will continue to focus on them during the season.”
Chief Engineer, Adam Carter, added: “The initiatives that we put in place to drive performance across all disciplines within the engineering department are evident in the design and development of the FW43. It’s been great to see the hard work starting to pay off.
“The decision to retain some of the core architecture of the FW42 means there has been less resource invested in developing new concepts, which in turn has rewarded the design team with greater bandwidth to optimise their work, evident in both packaging and component detail.
“By preserving some key parameters, it has allowed for an uninterrupted development programme within Aerodynamics in order to maximise the efficiency of the resources. As we head towards the pre-season tests and then onto the race season, the most important measure will be the progress relative to our peers, along with our intention of continuing our recent record of reliability.
“Later this week, we will be looking at our single timed lap pace, our long-run pace and the feedback from the drivers to understand where we are and what we do next. We have teams, both at the track and back at Grove, that will be delving into all aspects that define that lap time during the pre-season tests to ensure we are in the best possible place ahead of the first race in Australia.”
The official pre-season tests will begin on Wednesday 19 February for six days, concluding on Friday 28 February. The season officially begins at the first race in Melbourne, Australia, on Sunday 15 March.
Bring it pic.twitter.com/C3JypUqYqM
— ROKiT WILLIAMS RACING (@WilliamsRacing) February 17, 2020
On 18 February, 12 years ago, residents of Monte Carlo would have been forgiven for thinking Ferrari had turned up for the Monaco Grand Prix three months too early when Shell filmed an iconic TV advert featuring a screeching a F2003 past some of the principality’s most famous landmarks.
For the production, various Ferrari F1 cars, from different eras, were filmed driving through the world’s greatest city landmarks honouring for the video their long-standing partnership with Shell who commissioned the video.
Happy birthday to Giovanni Lavaggi, Italian nobleman born in 1958, 61 years ago, who raised the money to buy ten Grand Prix drives, for Pacific and Minardi, making his debut in 1995. He scored no championship points. He also dabbled in sportscar racing between 1989 and 2000.
Today, in 1998, against a backdrop of a trial in Italy following the death of Ayrton Senna four years earlier, the FIA announced it was to fit black boxes to all cars with effect from the start of the season three weeks later. It remains on F1 cars to this day and for the foreseeable future.
Last year we reported:
The first day of F1 testing got underway on this day last year, nine teams took to the track with their new 2019 cars with Williams drivers spectating as Grove were late delivering the FW42 to the track on time.
At the sharp end, Sebastian Vettel set the early pace to top the timing screens in the Ferrari SF90, with McLaren new-boy Carlos Sainz second quickest and setting the tone for what would follow the rest of the year: a very fast Ferrari and a much improved McLaren.
Mercedes ran Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas in the car, the F1 World Champs kept their powder dry on the day. Indeed they did this until qualifying in Melbourne when their ‘woes’ disappeared and before we could blink the title was wrapped up before summer.
Daniil Kvyat and Piere Gasly have both had a taste of life as Red Bull drivers, neither cut the mustard the first time but, be sure, they are both in Formula 1 to service the senior team should Alex Albon fail to deliver.
Which begs the question: Who will get promoted should the Thai driver not continue to progress and at least start matching wonder-boy Max Verstappen?
Step up Pierre or Daniil. Last year the smart money was on the Russian getting the nod upstairs when it became clear by mid-season that the highly-rated Frenchman was not so highly-rated any more. But the always enigmatic Helmut Marko chose Albon instead.
As a rookie in 2019, the quiet-spoken 23-year-old rose to the occasion when he was drafted in for Spa-Francorchamps and did a solid, if not a Max-like stellar performance. Nevertheless, he did enough to convince his paymasters that another crack alongside their prodigy was worth a shot for 2020.
After all, Alex did tick all the boxes, except one and that is, come close to matching Max. But then who is?
Should Albon’s second season go pear-shaped, one would again expect Daniil to be given his second crack. He has in the past been ill-treated by Red Bull and castaway unceremoniously when Marko declared, “Kvyat will not return again. We do not believe he can make the turnaround in the long term.”
The 25-year-old from Ufa in Bashkortostan found temporary refuge as a Ferrari simulator driver before puppet-master Marko forgot he told the driver to “piss-off” only to lure him back when his driver programme dried-up of candidates.
Credit to Daniil for keeping a tight lip regarding his sacking, accepting the offer and hitting the reset button to emerge a more polished diamond than the rough one he was when he first hit the scene. The temperament is better and the approach calmer. Is he a diamond or zirconia?
On the occasion of Scuderia Toro Rosso’s transformation to Scuderia AlphaTauri, Kvyat said, “I wouldn’t say I’ve set myself any specific targets for this year, I want to keep doing what I was doing, but better.”
“This is going to be my sixth year in Formula 1, which is a fantastic feeling. Even though technically speaking, the core of the team stays the same, the name has changed with AlphaTauri stepping in.
“But while the team and the car will have a different look, technically, the AT01 is pretty much an evolution of last year’s STR14, which already worked well. Having that as a starting point, our aim is to improve it and move forward as much as possible.”
Asked what he found in himself to raise his game as he did last year, he ventured, “I wouldn’t say there is anything in particular. You can always improve yourself, so I’ll keep working on that and my personal improvement as a driver, try to get as many good finishes for the team in order to help secure a good position in the championship.
“2019 was a good year for me, with ten top-10 finishes and a podium finish in Hockenheim, so it’s definitely a year to remember, but there’s obviously room for improvement. I wouldn’t say I’ve set myself any specific targets for this year, I want to keep doing what I was doing, but better.
“You always want to improve on the previous season. Considering how tight the midfield battle was and not knowing if and how we have all progressed it’s impossible to predict, but I expect a big show on track and we want to be leading the midfield pack. We should just try to perform well at every race and that will bring us a strong season like it did last year.”
While Red Bull has provided a lifeline to Daniil’s career in the top flight, is he the real deal and is there more to come from him?
“I think I’m working hard to come into my prime,” he pointed out. “Every year I always find something new that I can work on and improve, it’s a constant evolution of myself. I feel like last year was a good year for me in terms of personal discoveries, understanding what works for me and what doesn’t.
“I think in terms of my performance, I feel like I’m always quite happy with what I manage to squeeze out of the car, but I think it’s very hard to identify your prime. I’ll keep working on my personal improvement as a driver and try to get as many good finishes as I can.”
In the end, he will be judged by how he compares with his teammate, last year it was close and much of the same expected from the second chapter of their partnership.
“Last year, I had two during the year and both of them are very competitive, very fast guys. Pierre is a very competitive and fast driver, so of course, I expect it to be close,” Daniil added.
On the other side of the garage, Pierre was destroyed in the 12 races he spent with Red Bull, first he pranged their RB15 chassis during testing, then he was blitzed by Max, hos confidence plummeted and demotion followed.
But a return to Toro Rosso did him the world of good, suddenly he was transformed and back in the comfort-cocoon that the junior team provided him, which he was denied at big brother. His performances improved and his second place in Brazil redemption for a career that was on the rocks.
Pierre acknowledged, “2019 was an interesting year as a lot of things happened, both on a professional and personal level. I feel like I grew and learned a lot, so to get that second place in Brazil, Toro Rosso’s second-best result ever over 14 years in F1, really rounded the season off in the best possible way.
“I was very happy with the way we worked and the way things went and now, I’m more than excited about this new season, which I’d like to start in the same way in which we finished 2019.”
Indications are that the AlphaTauri AT01 will have have the same PU as the RB15, as well as suspension and gearbox from the Red Bull which has clearly inspired team principal Franz Tost who is targeting the top five in this edition of the F1 World Championship.
Pierre explained”As the team is pretty much the same as before and everyone is very motivated and focused with a really good dynamic throughout the company and you can feel it in the factory. Everyone is very excited about the 2020 car and wants to do even better than in 2019.”
The pain of Red Bull demotion will hurt for a long time, at least until he is given the privilege of completing the business he left unfinished in the six months he spent with the team, “There is always something to learn. This will only be my third season in F1. I feel better prepared than last year, as I have a bit more experience.
“Towards the end of the year, together with the people in the team, we really discovered how to understand what we needed from each other and how to get the most out of our package. We must continue to push and it will be important to perform consistently, scoring points throughout the season. We have to seize every opportunity, just as we did last year.”
Fighting talk from the AlphaTauri duo but, in the end, two do not fit into one, thus one of the more intriguing sideshows of the forthcoming season will be this ‘cold war’ between Pierre and Daniil – the big prize: ditch the swanky AlphaTauri kit and suit up for Red Bull again, should Alex fumble.
A special something for the @AlphaTauriF1 launch
— Honda Racing F1 (@HondaRacingF1) February 14, 2020
Lewis Hamilton was upbeat on his first day back at work on Friday, giving the Mercedes W11 Formula 1 car a shakedown during the team’s filming day at the 2.98 kilometres Silverstone International Circuit.
The six-time F1 World Champion shared cockpit duty on the day with teammate Valtteri Bottas and declared afterwards, “It’s a real privilege for Valtteri and myself to be the only people who get to drive this machine and I’m really looking forward to stretching its legs.
“I’ve been in constant communications with the engineers, trying to keep an eye on everything that was happening at the factory. [It was a] really exciting day, finally seeing in person what this team has worked towards so hard. As a driver, you’re just itching to get back into the car,” admitted Hamilton
After the shakedown he was upbeat, “I’ve been doing this a long, long time, but each time you get in, the excitement is exactly the same, if not more. The car felt great.
“There’s so much work that goes into building this car, so you’re only one of two that get to drive it, so you’re really trying to pay attention to the surroundings, the seating position, the feeling you’re getting back from the steering column and the balance.
“It all ran smoothly and we won’t really know till we get to testing to just how good a machine it is, in terms of how big an improvement it is. But it didn’t feel like a big departure from where we were in Abu Dhabi, so that’s a good start,” Hamilton concluded.
Bottas added, “It’s been really interesting for me to get more and more involved, learning about all the new features of our weapon for this year’s fight. Developing and building a new car is never straight-forward, it’s a huge effort by every single team member to deliver this year on year.
“Now things really kick-off and I’m very excited to finally get the chance to drive the new car. I’ve been waiting to get back behind the wheel,” said the Finn.
Over the years, Mercedes have traditionally been on time with their new cars over the years, using the ‘film day’ as a shakedown for their new F1 cars.
Mercedes technical director James Allison summed up, “The shakedown has always been important, but it is particularly precious this year. It’s our last chance to make sure all is well ahead of the first official day of Winter Testing.
“If all goes well in the shakedown then we will be well placed to roll out the garage at nine o’clock in Barcelona and just start hitting the laps. With a shorter winter testing programme, that last ticking everything off at the shakedown is proportionally more important so we are determined to squeeze every drop of goodness from it that we can,” he explained.
F1 pre-season testing takes place at Circuit de Catalunya-Barcelona from 19 to 21 February and again from 26 to 28 February, with the Australian Grand Prix on 15 March kicking off the 2020 season.
— Lewis Hamilton (@LewisHamilton) February 16, 2020
To the untrained eye, much of the changes between 2019 and 2020 Formula 1 cars may feel invisible but when it comes to James Allison, however, the story is flipped on its head as the team embark on a historic campaign to bag 14 F1 world titles in seven years.
James Allison is Mercedes’ technical director and has been in the position since Paddy Lowe departed in 2017. Allison first set foot in F1’s technical departments after graduating from Cambridge in 1991 where he took on an aerodynamics role with Benetton. He was also part of the Ferrari team through their dominance in 2000-2005.
In the Mercedes press release regarding the W11’s shakedown at Silverstone, Allison revealed, “We wanted to change aspects of the concept of the car – aspects that would be completely impossible to change within a season – to give us a more fertile platform for the new season.
“We tried to make a few well-chosen architectural changes to keep the development slope strong even though the regulations are now a little bit longer in the tooth.”
“We made three investments: One at the front, one in the middle and one at the back of the car.
“All three investments were improvements in their own right, but their real effect is to mobilize a raft of secondary aerodynamic gains both during the winter and, we hope, across the season to come.
Both Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas have taken the W11 for a shakedown today at Silverstone, but the first runs in moderate anger will come at preseason testing which commences on February 19th.
“The regulations stayed largely the same for the new year, so for us it was all about trying to make sure that we don’t run out of development steam on a package that worked pretty well for us last year,” said James.
The team also noted that in 2019, the team brought a significant upgrade to the car after the first week of testing that changed the look of the Melbourne car quite significantly compared to the launch car. This year, the race trim will be much closer to the car that is running at Silverstone today.
Allison confirmed, “We will still have upgrades for Melbourne that will come in the second week of testing, but the ‘entire new car’ approach of 2019 won’t feature.
“Last year, the regulations were changed quite significantly, and they were decided quite late in the year. Under those circumstances, doing a launch car and a week two-car gave us the chance to build the maximum amount of learning into our Melbourne car.
“With the regulations being more mature this year and with the opening stab of the 2020 development already being at the same level as the finish of last year’s car, repeating last year’s approach would not make sense,” added the Mercedes tech boss.
— Mercedes-AMG F1 (@MercedesAMGF1) February 14, 2020
Mercedes have completed shakedowns of their 2020 Formula 1 challenger, the W11, today at Silverstone. Despite Mercedes looking to build upon their six back-to-back double titles, but this doesn’t stop Toto claiming to better the teams’ record in recent years will be a challenge
When asked ‘What next?’ in the shakedown press conference, Toto replied:
“There’s a great sense of pride within Mercedes that we were able to win last year’s
championships and that our tally now adds up to those six consecutive doubles which has never
been done before. But at the same time, there’s a lot of scepticism because we know we can’t rely
on records from the past. We all start with zero points again this year and we believe that 2020 will be particularly challenging because there will be teams that will put a lot of focus on 2020 and there will be teams that will start to shift their resources into 2021. Getting that balance right will very important, but that’s not an easy thing to do”
The Austrian was then pressed further on what actually makes finding said balance so difficult:
“2020 is an evolution of the current regulations and the gains will be smaller, so you need
more time and effort to keep improving your car. On the other hand, the 2021 regulations are so
very different that you need to a lot of time to prepare for them. Every month you start later than
your competitors will make it more difficult to catch up. You also have the effect of the cost cap
which means that you will have fewer resources available to throw at things in 2021. But our
ambition is clear: we want to be competitive in both 2020 and 2021. That is a great challenge, but
the greater the challenge, the more we like it.”
The Mercedes Team Principal and CEO hasn’t hung around to brandish this years edition of “we have won everything under the sun for the last six years, but who knows, something might change. Ferrari look quick,”.
Mercedes have found themselves dominant at the top of the sport for some time and have only furthered their grasps on the top spot as the years pass. In recent years, it has become increasingly true that only major rule shakeups are able to shift the status-quo in F1.
However, one must admire the fact that Toto Wolff isn’t allowing his Mercedes team to become complacent as they remain determined to extend their run of title-winning form for years to come.
— Mercedes-AMG F1 (@MercedesAMGF1) February 15, 2020
Formula 1 teams will face a major dilemma in 2020 as to when to switch focus to development of their 2021 car, says Renault’s Marcin Budkowski.
Executive director at the French constructor, Budkowski likened the situation to a “game of chicken” where everyone is waiting to see who will blink first.
“I think it is going to be a big dilemma for everybody,” he told motorsport.com.
“We have a plan, I am sure everybody has, and that plan is to shorten development into the season. It is not less development it is just more concentrated development.
“It is easy to say this now because the season hasn’t started, but at the front it could be quite interesting if the top three are fighting for the championship and it’s going to be a close fight. It is going to be interesting seeing who pulls the plug first and jumps to 2021. Are Ferrari, for example, willing to switch earlier and take a risk that another team will win?
“To be honest it is the same throughout the field. If it is a close fight for fourth, it is going to be a game of chicken about who blinks first, and who transitions first. But I think it is important we don’t get distracted because 2021 is such a big challenge and the margin of progression on the new set of rules is big.”
Set for a radical overhaul of the regulations next year, Budkowski highlighted the concerns teams have that they will be left playing catch-up if they don’t use as much time as possible to hone their new concepts, even if there are the immediate spoils of the 2020 championship on offer.
“There has been a lot of talk about ‘are these rules too restrictive?’, and yes, they are more restrictive than now and I think that is intentional to make sure that the championship is more competitive,” he said.
“At the start of a new set of regulations your development rate is massive and we are seeing this. We see a lot of opportunities to gain performance, so if you transition too late you are going to be in trouble for 2021.
“The reality is we will have to understand, by doing more 2021 development, how much potential there is and where we sit in 2020. I think every team will assess this and make their own choices. It can be interesting to watch.”
Yet to reveal their car for this season, Renault have made it well-known that they are placing their hopes for a return to title contention on the 2021 regulations. Perhaps more than any other team, they will have opened themselves up to criticism should that not eventuate.
AlphaTauri has provided the first image of its new AT01 in action, taking to the track at Misano for a filming day on Saturday.
The team formerly known as Toro Rosso launched their 2020 Formula 1 car in Salzburg at Friday, and a day later they were out on track putting the AT01 through its paces.
Driven by Daniil Kvyat and Pierre Gasly, the team completed the maximum 100km allowed for a shakedown run, with testing set to begin in earnest on Wednesday this week.
Check out the video below for a first-person lap of Misano in the AT01.
After starting second, Panasonic Jaguar Racing’s Mitch Evans emerged victorious after a flawless race in Mexico City, following Evans was DS Techeetah’s Antonio Felix da Costa, while Nissan e.dams’ Sebastian Buemi rounded off the podium in third.
Pulling away from Pole, TAG Heuer Porsche’s Andre Lotterer was forced wide through Turn 1, forcing him back down the order to fourth. Slipping ahead, Panasonic Jaguar Racing’s Mitch Evans took the lead.
Nose to tail, the pack headed through a heaving Foro Sol stadium before completing a lap. Sitting in sixth, Geox Dragon’s Nico Mueller misjudged the entry into Turn 1, ploughing into the wall and ending his race with 48 minutes left on the clock. With the new-look BMW i8 Safety Car deployed, the pack followed in formation while Mueller’s car was recovered.
With the racing restarted, Evans pulled ahead with 35 minutes left on the clock. Under the new regulations for the 2019/20 season, all cars received a 5kW energy reduction after following the Safety Car for five minutes. Travelling wide through Turn 1, Rokit Venturi Racing’s Felipe Massa clipped the wall, damaging his car and ended his race early.
Holding the lead, Evans extended the gap at the front as Envision Virgin Racing’s Sam Bird overtook Nissan e.dams’ Sebastian Buemi to move into second. With the battle for the podium raging, Lotterer slipped even further down the ranks, while damage to his front, right-wing left a plume of smoke behind him. Eventually losing the damaged wing on track, the German returned to the pits for new bodywork before eventually retiring from the race.
For reigning champion and DS Techeetah driver Jean-Eric Vergne, the Frenchman sat behind his teammate Antonio Felix da Costa, as the two DS cars held their place in the points in sixth and seventh. Behind Vergne, was Audi Sport Abt Schaeffler’s Lucas di Grassi in eighth.
With 17 minutes left on the clock, Mercedes-Benz EQ’s Nyck de Vries (in fifth) failed to stop at the end of the start/finish straight whilst attempting to defend a move from Da Costa. De Vries clipped fellow Dutchman and Envision Virgin Racing’s Robin Frijns before skidding to a halt at the end of the straight. Reporting technical problems over the radio, the rookie was left stranded and became the fourth driver to retire from the race.
Having made his way up to fifth, Vergne remained behind his teammate Da Costa in fourth. With less energy than his counterpart, the two DS Techeetah drivers battled over the radio with the management back in the garage, unable to decide on a concrete strategy. Eventually breaking out of his long-held position, Da Costa climbed up into third past Buemi with his extra energy.
With five minutes left on the clock plus one lap to the finish, Evans continued to pull away with Bird and Da Costa following. With increased pressure, Bird misjudged Turn 13, clipping the wall and ending his race along with any chance of a podium finish. Da Costa, now in second, stayed ahead as Buemi moved up into third, hoping to claim his first championship points of the season.
After being discharged from hospital with a clean bill of health just hours before the race, following a heavy crash in Practice 1, Audi Sport Abt Schaeffler’s Daniel Abt retired with just minutes left on the clock.
Running well ahead of the rest of the pack, Panasonic Jaguar Racing’s Mitch Evans crossed the line trouble-free, clinching his and Jaguar’s second victory in the series, followed by DS Techeetah’s Antonio Felix da Costa and Nissan e.dams’ Sebastian Buemi.
Top Three Driver Quotes:
Winner, Mitch Evans Panasonic Jaguar Racing: “It is very nice leaving here knowing that you managed to sort the issues from past races. We had a very good pace and it was a tight battle with Andre. It felt like deja vu from Rome! After overtaking him, I put my head down and tried to gain distance as everybody was quite aggressive in my mirrors. I had to keep them away and the car was working well. I only had to keep hitting the targets. I cannot wait to watch the replay back, as I have heard it was crazy behind me. It feels great to achieve a second victory in Formula E and doing so in Mexico surrounded by such a passionate crowd… it is the cherry on the cake.”
Second, Antonio Felix Da Costa, DS Techeetach: “Going into the race we knew we had a great car. Today was more about energy management than temperatures and we handled it better than others. The car is extremely fast, but I need to work on my qualifying. Being able to get familiar with the car over one lap would make my life much easier during the race. Both me and JEV planned the race really well and we both came through the field. We played a bit of a team game out there, but our engineers knew what they were doing. I was quicker than him and he made it easy for me to overtake and chase Seb. So fair play to him! The team in Paris deserves a massive shout out for all the work they have done so far this season. We have a great team and they never stop working.”
Third, Sebastien Buemi, Nissan e.dams: “I had a loose start and did not manage to make much progress in the opening lap, but I am happy with my race today. Andre was making it really difficult for me at the beginning, as he was completely flat out and I had to consume energy to keep him behind. I managed to overtake de Vries but I struggled halfway through the race. Today DS Techeetach were extremely fast, especially Antonio, and I did the best I could. The new track layout made it much easier without the chicanes and I really enjoyed it. Overall I am very happy to be back on the podium for the first time since the final race last season in New York.”
— ABB Formula E (@FIAFormulaE) February 16, 2020
Dubbed SF1000 in honour of Ferrari’s thousandth Formula 1 Grand Prix due in Canada in June, the deeper essence of Maranello’s newcomer’s technical spec remains guarded, but from what we can see in the flesh, the basic launch car presented in Reggio Emilia suggests an evolutionary, rather than a revolutionary step for the Scuderia’s final stab at the current basic F1 rule set.
If anything, SF1000 does not appear to represent a significant step away from last year’s SF90. Of course, there is always the cloak and dagger around what Ferrari allowed to be shown in Reggia versus how it is expected the car will evolve through the coming two F1 test weeks and into the Aussie GP race weekend — teams never show all their cards, especially in a display as public as that launch, but there is a significant level of detailing that does catch the eye.
The new Ferrari retains its broader nose versus the 2019 Mercedes needle that McLaren has followed with its new car and it is clear that a lot of work has gone into crafting the SF1000’s suspension arms and rods to contribute to the greater goals of the entire car’s airflow management needs. The launch car’s five-element front wing is quite splendid and intricate in its detail, while a short venturi below the nose and between the wings, prepares underbody airflow for a shark’s gill-like multi-vane winglet that concentrates the draught in toward the centre of the underbody.
SF1000 has a number of busy, varied and intricate aero devices directing airflow to, around and particularly below the side pods in what seems a measure to further work the car’s much anticipated and considerable rake. The car gains flow-diverting wing mirror mounts above its smooth red upper side pods that bulge downward to meet a flat-sided black lower surface that waists radically inward and upward toward the rear below the tapering red upper bulge.
It seems the idea is to eke the most out of the dramatic waisting over a broad variety of side surfaces, in conjunction with the separate effect of the significantly raked floor under the car.
While its main foils appear quite simple, the rest of the rear wing is more complex, especially in its endplates, which both develop the waisted theme, but now also sprout a petticoat-like flat downward fence that continues straight down as the S-shaped structural aspect of the plate waists inward.
Team boss Mattia Binotto explains that great effort went into the packaging and detailing to deliver a slimmer car that will not be compromised in its set-up, whatever the circumstances and challenges of the circuit it is racing on.
Binotto reiterated that the team not only focussed on optimising SF1000’s aero performance through the better packaging of all components to achieve its slimline goals but that it has also worked hard to ensure the this year’s unit produces more power and weighs less while meeting this year’s new F1 oil consumption limits.
We will, of course, follow how SF1000 develops as the pre-season progresses, but while some were expecting a significant leap, the all-new Ferrari rather appears to be more of a sensible step forward that uses the sum of myriad smaller measures to perfect what was already a formidable package in some applications, to deliver that mesmerising pace at every racetrack.
With that in place, it remains to be seen how Ferrari handles its often questionable race strategy in 2020, not to mention its fighting cocks in the pits. Bring it on…
What’s the difference between Groupe Renault and Haas Automation?
Let’s start with Haas. Founded by NASCAR enthusiast Gene Haas, who has a net worth of about $250 million, it’s one of the biggest machine tool builders in the world, employing 1500 staff and with an annual revenue of about a billion.
Groupe Renault, on the other hand, is one of the biggest carmakers on planet earth, selling almost 4 million cars, employing over 180,000 people, and counting up annual revenues of … wait for it … about SIXTY billion bucks.
So while Renault has plenty of cash swilling about in the coffers, it appears that its works Formula 1 team hasn’t updated its computers since the Commodore 64 was all the rage.
On the other hand, the computer renderings put out by Haas of its 2020 car’s new livery were so good that I had to be actually tapped on the shoulder and told they were definitely not real. In fact, at the time of writing, I still had to go back and double-check the press release to make sure I wasn’t making myself look even stupider than usual. But there it is, in black and white, pumped out by the tiny Haas PR department: “digital renderings”.
By this stage, everyone knows that Renault’s recent 2020 ‘launch’ the other day was an absolute joke. For a start, it was certainly the only car launch I can remember that didn’t feature, you know, the thing that kinda matters: A CAR. Cyril Abiteboul explained that he didn’t want to rip people off by launching a “fake” car cobbled together to appear like a new car, only for that to be disingenuously analysed and critiqued online.
But that just doesn’t ring true. He could easily have ordered the painting of a 2019 car in the new livery and explained very clearly that what is being revealed here is the new livery, not the new car. A bit like Mercedes. A bit like we’ve seen dozens of times in the recent past.
A bit like buying a pair of Nikes only to open the box and find nothing inside, is there a bigger possible rip-off than a F1 car launch WITHOUT A CAR?
Instead, it seems as though Cyril booted up an old 286, couldn’t figure out how to switch the colour from black to yellow on Paintbrush, and dusted off his Grandma’s old slide projector to put on display the hilariously amateur ‘digital renderings’ for the most disappointed journalists on earth to unenthusiastically giggle at.
I’ve often used this column to scream at those in charge in Formula 1 to cut the crap and get back to racing basics, but this was just ridiculous. I also don’t want to labour the point about Renault’s abysmally pointless ‘launch’, but it really was one of the worst looks ever not just for one of its major teams, but the sport itself.
A couple of days before the dire event, featuring rickety backyard chairs for the media and delayed an hour, someone at Renault obviously cottoned onto the fact that what was being organised was laughably awful, and put out a tweet entitled: “Excitement levels going up this week!”
In the graphical tweet below that dishonest proclamation, it was explained that the event would not actually be streamed online, and that an actual physical car will not be actually “physically present”. There would, however, be “glimpses” of the 2020 car – which I assume is slang for “the worst digital renderings ever produced”.
Think I’m exaggerating? Take another look at those digital “glimpses” one more time, and instead of playing ‘Where’s Wally’, play this game: ‘Where’s the asymmetrical chassis?’
It’s always fun to make fun of the French, so that’s enough justification for this rant right there, but I really am going to stop flogging the corpse of this dead frog now. It just makes me wonder: does this appear to be a Formula 1 team that is preparing to take on the big guns in 2021? Yes, Renault is looking forward to the budget cap and the new rules.
But name another serious team that won’t shut up about basically sacrificing 2020 altogether? I mean … why? Yes, a decent team sitting somewhere behind the big three could pull out a ‘double diffuser’-style ace with the 2021 rules, or at the very least be ready to leap out of the gates with a machine that is seriously ready to rumble.
But I don’t think I’ve ever heard a serious, well-funded Formula 1 operation – that just had a particularly crap season – declaring quite openly that its 7 hardcore fans should be expecting yet another crap season.
“You never heard from my mouth that I shared the objective of having a podium in 2020 or whatever,” said team advisor Alain Prost, one of the greatest Formula 1 drivers of all time. “We could have a good surprise, but not this year.”
Excitement levels going up, anyone?
Former McLaren driver Stoffel Vandoorne will be an official reserve for Mercedes in Formula 1 this season while also competing in the all-electric Formula E series, the team announced on Friday.
The 27-year-old Belgian, who left McLaren at the end of 2018 after starting 41 grands prix, is leading the Formula E standings after three rounds and competing in Mexico City this weekend.
He will share duties with Mexican Esteban Gutierrez, who raced for Sauber and Haas between 2013-16 and also has simulator and development duties, on race weekends.
As Formula 2 champion Vandoorne was highly rated and arrived in F1 with high expectations. As many former McLaren drivers proved not to be, Vandoorne was touted as the next ‘big thing’ to make it to the top flight.
But things got grim when he arrived at Woking during their worst spells ever, his woes exacerbated by Fernando Alonso who simply demolished the younger driver during their two seasons as teammates.
It was a toxic environment at a time when the once mightiest team was bending over backwards to pacify their star driver from Spain while Vandoorne was simply tagging along as a forgotten pawn in the ‘Alonso Show’ which new McLaren team chief Andreas Seidl managed to terminate.
But too late for Vandoorne who was sent packing before the former Porsche motorsport boss took over.
However, being the reserve driver for the sport’s most successful team and reigning F1 World Champions is a mighty feather in his cap and a sign that Mercedes boss Toto Wolff also saw through the orange haze that almost rendered their new team member into oblivion.
Vandoorne’s salvation has been a seat with their nascent Formula E programme and Silver Arrows reserve for Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas should they not be able to make a Grand Prix. Walking away from McLaren was the best career move for the driver from Flanders.
Mercedes-AMG director of High Performance Powertrains Andy Cowell has praised his team’s expansion into Formula E, emphasizing the benefits it provides to the engine used in Formula 1.
Speaking at the launch of Mercedes’ new F1 car, the W11, on Friday, Cowell was asked what his early take-aways have been after the Silver Arrows’ FE debut in the current 2019-20 season.
“Formula E is a fascinating championship with the electric machine as the only device propelling the car,” he said. “Therefore, the efficiencies of that electric machine, the inverter and all the control systems are paramount, and the torque accuracy delivery is crucial.
“Some of the development learning there has now fed back into Formula One, so from Melbourne this year, our Formula 1 hybrid system will benefit from our Formula E development work.”
The six-time defending world champions, Mercedes started the V6 turbo-hybrid era with a clear power unit advantage over its rivals, one that has clearly dwindled as Cowell concedes it has been “tougher and tougher to find performance gains”. Nevertheless, the Briton emphasized there has been improvement on not just the engine’s battery, but its packaging, and most notably, its cooling.
“At the beginning of last year, the cooling capacity of our car was insufficient, which resulted in some challenging races,” Cowell admitted, giving the Austrian Grand Prix as a notable example.
“For this year, we are putting significant effort into making sure that all the cooling fluids on the Power Unit operate at a higher temperature. This increases the temperature difference between that coolant fluid and the ambient temperature that we are racing in, which increases the effectiveness of the cooling system. That’s a tough challenge though, because large parts of the engine are made from aluminium and the temperatures that we are operating at mean the material properties are decaying quite rapidly. Managing that over an eight-race distance Power Unit cycle is a tough engineering challenge, but that’s what we are striving for.”
Former McLaren and Red Bull driver has ruled out a Formula 1 return for Fernando Alonso, suggesting the Spaniard has ‘no options’ for the 2021 season.
Hosting the launch of AlphaTauri’s AT01 in Salzburg on Friday, the 48-year-old Scot was asked by AS whether the two-time world champ could return to the sport next year, and did not sugar-coat his assessment.
“I know he wants to come back, but I don’t think he has a choice,” he explained. “I don’t think Mercedes needs him or wants him. I don’t think Ferrari needs him or wants him. I don’t think Red Bull needs him or wants him. Where’s he going to go? Back to McLaren?”
Having left F1 in 2018 and ended his relationship with McLaren last year, Alonso has spent the past year as something of a motorsport nomad, chasing success across a variety of series, while also refusing to rule-out an F1 comeback.
Most recently, the Spaniard competed in the Dakar rally, and was set for a return to the Indianapolis 500 before Honda vetoed his seat at Andretti Autosport — a rejection Coulthard fears won’t be the last for the 38-year-old.
“For me, Alonso is one of the most talented drivers ever in Formula 1, really talented like Hamilton, Schumacher or Senna. Everything he’s driven has been in a hurry. But everyone has their moment and maybe it has come for him,” he said.
Lewis Hamilton did his first laps on Friday in the Mercedes that could take him to a record-equalling seventh Formula 1 title this season, but team bosses warned of a tough battle right from the start.
The Briton and Finnish team mate Valtteri Bottas put in the first laps in a 100km private filming day at Silverstone circuit before official testing starts in Spain next week.
Technical director James Allison said the team had been bold in boosting aerodynamic performance in several key areas and improved the cooling package that caused problems in hot temperatures last season.
Allison warned, however, that they had to hit the ground running.
“We had a very golden start to last year where we managed to secure a lead in the championship that made it very difficult for our opposition to make any inroads in the second half of the year,” said Allison.
“But in that second half, both Ferrari and Red Bull certainly closed us down in terms of competitiveness.
“We’re expecting 2020 to pick up right where 2019 left off with a three-way fight from the outset. There will be no room for making mistakes.”
Mercedes won the first eight races last year, a devastating blow for Ferrari who had looked the faster team in testing with better straight line speed.
The regulations are largely unchanged, with a massive shake-up planned for 2021, which has given others hope of ending Mercedes’ run of six successive drivers’ and constructors’ titles.
Team boss Toto Wolff said the demands of preparing for next year while developing the 2020 car would be particularly challenging.
“There will be teams that will put a lot of focus on 2020 and there will be teams that will start to shift their resources into 2021. Getting that balance right will be very important, but that’s not an easy thing to do,” he said.
There is also less pre-season testing, with only six days of track time before the March 15 opener in Australia, putting a premium on getting the fundamentals right.
“If we do a good job with our designs and if we’ve done a good job in our bench testing and preparation of the car, then we should be able to get through our programmes in those six days in an organised fashion,” said Allison.
“But if we find ourselves battling an unexpected reliability issue then it will very quickly hollow out our programme and leave us quite short of experience by the time we get to Melbourne.
“This has given us increased impetus to ensure that we’ve had a good off season in the factory so that when we hit the track everything works, leaving us to focus on making it fast.”
Allison said upgrades for Melbourne would come at the second test in Barcelona but there would be no significant aerodynamic changes, unlike 2019.
The newly rebranded AlphaTauri Formula 1 team will be given more direct support by Red Bull Racing — as far as the rules allow, says Red Bull advisor Helmut Marko.
In attendance for the lavish launch of AlphaTauri’s AT01 in Salzburg, Marko explained the change in name from Toro Rosso represents more than just a facelift for the team.
“With this name change and all this publicity and the funds going into promotion, the demand [for resources] has clearly increased,” Marko told motorsport-magazin.com
At the same event, AlphaTauri team principal Franz Tost stated his goal is to finish in the top-five of the constructor’s standings, while Marko acknowledged there has been a shift in the dynamic with the Red Bull senior team.
“There is a transformation and an upgrading from junior to sister team. Everything that is permitted and as far as our capacities are sufficient is [also provided] at AlphaTauri,” he said.
However, regulations and time constraints mean there won’t simply be four identical cars on the grid, but Marko indicated the AT01 will start the season as a facsimile of last year’s Red Bull RB15, and take on aspects of the new RB16 as the months go on.
“Of course with a time lag, because with the pace of development that Red Bull Racing has, we are more than challenged ourselves, especially in this early phase of the season. The backlog is between three and six months. The great evolution has taken place at Red Bull and this can only be incorporated [at AlphaTauri] by the middle of the season at the earliest, if at all.”
Further to that point, Marko admits some parts which have been radically redesigned by Red Bull for 2020 — such as the nose and front suspension — are unlikely to be seen on the sister car, given the difficulty adapting them to an older concept.
The newly-renamed AlphaTauri must set its sights on a top five finish in the 2020 Formula 1 season, according to team principal Franz Tost.
Speaking to reporters at the launch of the team’s AT01 in Salzburg, Tost revealed his belief that after a team-best sixth in the constructor’s standings in 2019, the goal posts have been raised even higher.
“The expectations are that we must be within the top five in the constructors’ championship,” he revealed.
“Why? Because first of all, the car showed very good results in the wind tunnel.
“Second, Honda, our friends in Japan, made big progress during the winter months from the performance side as well as the reliability side.
“Third, we have two good drivers. They showed that already last year. We just missed the middle of the podium — so [to the drivers] that means that you know what you have to do!”
Two Red Bull rejects who shone on their returns to Toro Rosso in 2019, Daniil Kvyat and Pierre Gasly will be among the more scrutinised drivers on the grid this season as they continue to rebuild their careers. Certainly Tost’s remarks will add to their pressure, but the Austrian believes the closer partnership with the “sister” team should help in that regard.
“We have a very close relationship with Red Bull technologies,” he said. “We have the complete rear suspension and gearbox, the hydraulics and the front suspension, that means also from the mechanical side that we are very competitive.”
Whether that proclamation proves true or not, we shall find out in the near future, with the team set for a filming day at Misano Circuit on Saturday before the start of testing next week in Barcelona.
The team that once was Minardi and into Scuderia Toro Rosso as part of Red Bull’s Formula 1 empire, has now begun yet a new era as Scuderia AlphaTauri – the energy drinks organisation’s new clothing brand which goes mainstream this year.
The team name has changed but the drivers remain the same, for now, with Pierre Gasly and Daniil Kvyat teaming up for a second season. The Frenchman demoted from the senior team, replaced by Alex Albon, midway through last year. Kvyat on his second stint with the team that not long ago ditched him.
This is the third Honda-powered car to be built at the Faenza factory and will be badged ATO1 the successor to last year’s Toro Rosso STR14. The new car will run at Misano for the first time tomorrow (Saturday) as part of team’s film day.
World champions Mercedes officially unveiled their 2020 challenger, the W11, on Friday, with a live stream and shakedown performed by Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas.
Taking to the track in a Valentine’s Day gift to their supporters, the Silver Arrows will perform 100km of running around the legendary Silverstone circuit in the real-life debut for the new car.
Offering his first words after the W11’s revealed on the live stream, Mercedes boss Toto Wolff stressed his team was coming into the season focused solely on winning its seventh consecutive championship.
“The atmosphere this year is very calm, very focused – we all know that there’s a job to do and results to be delivered in order to meet our own expectations, so we’re working hard to try and prepare in the best way possible,” he said. “We feel no sense of entitlement to win races or championships, we know that we need to fight extremely hard for that as we had to in every year. This has been our mindset from the beginning.”
Bottas, who will be the first to drive the car in the morning, revealed he was excited to get behind the wheel after weeks of anticipation.
“The first time I came to the factory this was quite a few weeks ago for a number of meetings with the engineers and we’ve been in touch since then,” said the Finn. “It’s been really interesting for me to get more and more involved, learning about all the new features of our weapon for this year’s fight. Developing and building a new car is never straight-forward, it’s a huge effort by every single team member to deliver this year on year. Now things really kick off and I’m very excited to finally get the chance to drive the new car. I’ve been waiting to get back behind the wheel.”
Hamilton, who will take over driving duties in the afternoon, echoed his teammate’s sentiments.
“It’s a real privilege for Valtteri and myself to be the only people who get to drive this machine and I’m really looking forward to stretching its legs”, said the Briton. “I’ve been in constant communications with the engineers, trying to keep an eye on everything that was happening at the factory. Today is a really exciting day – finally seeing in person what this team has worked towards so hard. As a driver, you’re just itching to get back into the car.”
With just six days of pre-season testing this year, Friday’s running takes on even more importance the usual, something technical director James Allison is well aware of.
“The shakedown has always been important, but it is particularly precious this year. It’s our last chance to make sure all is well ahead of the first official day of Winter Testing. If all goes well in the shakedown then we will be well placed to roll out the garage at nine o’clock in Barcelona and just start hitting the laps,” said Allison. “With a shorter winter testing programme, that last ticking everything off at the shakedown is proportionally more important so we are determined to squeeze every drop of goodness from it that we can.”
Replay: W11 Launch Live Stream
— Mercedes-AMG F1 (@MercedesAMGF1) February 14, 2020
Alfa Romeo have offered a preview of their 2020 car on Friday, releasing photos from a filming session of the C39 at the Fiorano circuit this morning before sending a more detailed overview later.
The team reported at the end of the day:
The moulting of a skin is a crucial process in the life of a snake. It allows it to find a new space, to grow, to become comfortable with what it has become. It is nature’s way of providing a rite of passage – a milestone that marks a new beginning.
The same is true for Alfa Romeo Racing Orlen. Emboldened by the new partnership with Orlen, the team will aim to make a decisive step forward with its new car, the C39. Testament to the increasing appeal of the team and its international reach, the Orlen deal is a statement of intent for the renewed ambitions of the Hinwil team, alongside its existing relationship with Alfa Romeo, which is strengthened for 2020.
The C39 is the fruit of this ambition. The car completed a first successful outing during a shakedown at Fiorano Circuit today. The team’s 2020 contender, driven by Kimi Räikkönen, began its competitive life as it left the garage at 9:37am – and it did so in an exotic snakeskin livery in tones of black and dark grey.
The C39 snaked around the Fiorano Circuit for 33 laps, Kimi displaying increasing confidence with every run completed. The car curled around the track’s tight corners, writhed past the fast bends as Kimi explored its capabilities before coiling back in the garage at the end of the day – a positive first session of on-track work ahead of the 2020 season.
The snakeskin livery, designed by the Centro Stile Alfa Romeo, is a homage to one of the brand’s dominant icons, the heraldic Biscione – the large serpent featured in the city of Milan’s crest. It is a fitting tribute to Alfa Romeo, whose logo also features the Biscione, to mark the start of the legendary brand’s 110th year.
The snakeskin pattern not only contributed to creating a unique look for this special occasion: it also helped the team camouflage the C39, leaving the secrets its bodywork holds to be revealed at the team’s official launch on February 19th.
Scales and slithering looks were not the only tributes on this one-off livery, however. The C39 also featured a novel and exclusive interpretation of the Alfa Romeo logo in the shape of a heart, a nod to Valentine’s Day and a celebration of love all over the world. The top of the monocoque also displayed a tribute to the work of all Sauber Group employees, an acknowledgement of their contribution to the creation of the team’s 2020 car.
Just as a moulting snake sheds its skin to grow, so will this livery soon need to give space to a new incarnation. When the covers come off the C39 on Wednesday next week, the snake will be gone, its skin shed to reveal a new, fresh look to tackle the challenge ahead. The task ahead is huge, but so is the motivation of everyone in Hinwil. It will take a new skin for a new beginning indeed.
— Alfa Romeo Racing ORLEN (@alfaromeoracing) February 14, 2020
Lewis Hamilton has offered a stinging rebuke to Red Bull driver Max Verstappen, branding the Dutchman’s recent comments as a “sign of weakness”.
Asked about his rival’s “good but not god” remark at the launch of Mercedes’ 2020 car, the W11, Hamilton did not hold back in his assessment.
“I find it funny seeing that,” he said. “I’ve just always known to just do my talking on the track. Often I tend to see that as a sign of weakness.”
The driver many see as the heir presumptive to Hamilton’s Formula 1 throne, Verstappen was able to lock horns with the Briton on several occasions last year, even if he was ultimately powerless to stop him from winning a sixth driver’s world championship.
Driving a Red Bull car that for the past four years has been unable to match the performance of its title-winning efforts from 2010-13, Verstappen has been vocal in his belief that Mercedes’ cars have played an out-sized role in their pilot’s success.
For his part, Hamilton remains focused on capturing title number seven, a notion he reiterated on Friday.
“This is my eighth year at the team and the buzz is the same every year. Everyone couldn’t be more excited, enthusiastic, or driven.
“I would say the most impressive thing is that because we’ve had the success, it would be quite easy for them to be laid back today.
“Everyone is super focused, there’s been so much work that’s been done in the background to make sure that today runs smoothly and I think everyone is excited at this stage, refreshed, revamped and ready for the challenge that is ahead.”