Formula 1 2020: Full Preview

It’s almost here – the brand new season of Formula 1. There have been some things that have gone wrong this year, such as the postponement (as it stands) of the Chinese Grand Prix following the outbreak of the coronavirus disease worldwide, but at the moment, with testing now finished, this is what you can expect from this season.

TEAM: Alfa Romeo Racing Orlen


NATIONALITY: Italian (Alfa Romeo)/Swiss (it’s parent company, Sauber Motorsport)

BASED IN: Zurich, Switzerland


2019 DRIVERS: Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) and Antonio Giovinazzi (ITA)

2020 DRIVERS: Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) and Antonio Giovinazzi (ITA)

2019 DRIVERS’ CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS (out of 20): 12th (Raikkonen) and 17th (Giovinazzi).


TEAM PRINCIPAL: Frederic Vasseur


Alfa Romeo
Credit: Formula Spy


Alfa Romeo’s strategy throughout seemed to be to do as many laps as possible on each day, and get the fastest time possible.

It wasn’t a great start from them in Barcelona, as they finished 13th and 15th out of the 15 who drove on Day 1 of testing, but they were around their rivals. George Russell in the Williams was faster than both of them, so that would have been a small concern for them perhaps. However on Day 2 they did finish top of the pile, with Kimi Raikkonen registering a 1:17:091 time around Circuit de Catalunya. For reference, champions Mercedes only managed a 1:18 from Hamilton and a 1:19, the slowest time of the day, from Bottas, so being a second quicker was a positive for Alfa Romeo.

On Day 3, they placed 6th, but were among the AlphaTauri’s, a Renault and a Racing Point, with whom they will be competing more often than with the “top 3”, so that was a good sign for them.

Day 1 of the second test saw them top the board with reserve driver Robert Kubica, and were second bottom out of 19 with Raikkonen, so mixed results there.

Overall, aside from Giovinazzi’s 1:20 on Day 1, both of their cars averaged between 1:16 and 1:19 for their laps, so that should put them into the middle of the grid, where I think they will be reasonably happy to be.

FASTEST TESTING LAP: Robert Kubica – 1:16:942


Alfa Romeo had a mixed season last year when it came scoring points, given how good Sauber (the team’s previous name) were in 2018. It was probably because they had Leclerc on loan from Ferrari in that season, and we all saw how good he was last year with the Prancing Horse, but it wasn’t a complete disaster last year. Raikkonen tended to finish in the lower points places, whilst Antonio Giovinazzi averaged around P10 to P15, and given the competition around those places, that’s not bad for a debut season.

I think the team can push for more points, but it will require Giovinazzi having a slightly better start than last year, as he wasn’t able to score his first point until Austria, when he finished 10th, but he is capable of getting more than his total last year of 14 points.

TEAM: Scuderia AlphaTauri Honda



BASED IN: Faenza, Italy


2019 DRIVERS: Daniil Kvyat (RUS) and Alexander Albon (THA)/Pierre Gasly (FRA)

2020 DRIVERS: Daniil Kvyat (RUS) and Pierre Gasly (FRA)

2019 DRIVERS’ CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS (out of 20): 7th (Kvyat) and 13th (Gasly) – under the previous team name of Toro Rosso

2019 CONSTRUCTORS’ CHAMPIONSHIP STANDING (out of 10): 6th – under the previous name of Toro Rosso



Alpha Tauri
Credit: Pitpass


A fifth-placed finish for Daniil Kvyat on the first day of testing was a really good start from the team that was last year known as Toro Rosso. He registered a 1:17:698, although he did do 115 laps on that day, so perhaps there is something to read there. Pierre Gasly took over on Day 2, and it was another 5th on the table for that session, and a time that was only a second slower, so the early consistency was good for the team.

Day 3 was the first day that both drivers were out together for AlphaTauri, and they placed 5th (again) and 9th, but were a matter of milliseconds apart from each other – both were in the 1:17 bracket, so around the same performance as before. Again, on Day 1 of the second test, both were in the 1:17 bracket, and the same with Gasly on Day 2 of that test. They managed to breach that and get a 1:16 with Kvyat on the final day of the testing schedule, but overall I think they will be very happy with the consistency of their times and placing across all days, and will be confident going into the season.

FASTEST TESTING LAP: Daniil Kvyat – 1:16:914


Last season, Toro Rosso were 6th out of 10 on the Constructors’ Championship, but I think they are more than capable of breaking into the top 5 this year. Last year they had some disruption, with Albon moving up to the senior Red Bull team and Gasly rejoining the junior team, but there is definitely talent in both their drivers. Gasly did look much more like himself back at Toro Rosso, so I think he will have a much better start to the season than he did last year, and hopefully register some early points on the table.

This year, the team has been renamed, and is being treated as a sister team instead of a junior team to Red Bull, so will that bring about some changes to their way of racing? I don’t think so, but it’s something to consider for certain.

As for Kvyat, he gained a 3rd-placed finish at Hockenheim last year when we had all the fun and games in the wet, with both Renaults, both Racing Points, Bottas’ Mercedes and Leclerc’s Ferrari all exiting the race early, particularly at the last turn, SudKurve. He was also generally consistent throughout, finishing in the lower points places quite a few times. He will hope to finish in around the lower half of the top 10 when 2020 is over, and it’s not beyond him to do that, particularly given how well testing went for them.

This all shows that, when you factor out the top 3 teams (Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull), AlphaTauri are a team with good pace who can challenge for points in each race, so will be a team to keep an eye on this year for sure.

TEAM: Scuderia Ferrari Mission Winnow



BASED IN: Maranello, Italy


2019 DRIVERS: Sebastian Vettel (GER) and Charles Leclerc (MCO)

2020 DRIVERS: Sebastian Vettel (GER) and Charles Leclerc (MCO)

2019 DRIVERS’ CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS (out of 20): 4th (Leclerc) and 5th (Vettel)


TEAM PRINCIPAL: Mattia Binotto


Credit: Essentially Sports.


Let’s be honest, Ferrari needed some good testing sessions, and these simply haven’t been. On Day 1 of the 1st test, they only sent out Charles Leclerc, but he finished the day on 1:18:289, whilst Mercedes, their main rivals for the title, were on 1:16:976 (Hamilton) and 1:17:313 (Bottas), so Ferrari were a second slower than Bottas, but with Hamilton the driver they want to be on a par with, in order to really challenge, they will know that to be 2 seconds off him is not great at all. Day 2 was much better, as they had the same pace as Hamilton on 1:18, but that is the same speed for the second day running, so while it was consistent, it was the same speed as Day 1, which was slower. Day 3 was another 1:18 for Vettel, whilst Leclerc didn’t drive that day. Hamilton and Bottas delivered a 1:16 and 1:15 respectively, so that was even slower in that they were 2 seconds behind the Mercedes.

It didn’t really get any better until the last two days of the second test, when Vettel and then Leclerc delivered a 1:16, matching the Mercedes – one on each of those days. However, Ferrari will be concerned about the four days that they had 1:18 times, because that is what could win or lose them the title.

FASTEST TESTING LAP: Charles Leclerc – 1:16:360


As said previously, Ferrari need a good season, and this hasn’t made the perfect start for them. In 2019, their entire season was not focused on whether they could win a Grand Prix, but which of their drivers was going to get the preferential treatment, and also whether Vettel was going to do any better than the previous race.

This season, that simply has to change. They have already said that both will have equal status going into the start of this season, but the question is how long that will last. Leclerc held the award for most pole positions last year, and got two race wins compared to Vettel’s one, so the stats show that, if anyone will be the team’s No. 1 driver, it’ll be the Monagesque, but Vettel is not likely to take that sitting down.

The other thing that will worry Ferrari is that they finished behind Verstappen and Red Bull last season, and given Red Bull’s huge improvement in the last couple of years, and Verstappen’s rise as a genuine title contender, the Prancing Horse will know they face a huge battle to get anywhere near those two teams, and anywhere near Hamilton and Verstappen. It’s going to be interesting to see how they go on as the season advances.

TEAM: Haas F1 Team



BASED IN: Kannapolis, North Carolina, US (main)/Banbury, Oxfordshire, UK (European)


2019 DRIVERS: Romain Grosjean (FRA) and Kevin Magnussen (DNK)

2020 DRIVERS: Romain Grosjean (FRA) and Kevin Magnussen (DNK)

2019 DRIVERS’ CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS (out of 20): 16th (Magnussen) and 18th (Grosjean)


TEAM PRINCIPAL: Guenther Steiner


Credit: Octane Photographic Ltd


Day 1 saw Kevin Magnussen drive in the new Haas car, and finish 14th out of the 15 that were out that day. That was the same speed as the Ferrari of Charles Leclerc though, so that shows how poor the Ferrari was. For Haas though, it brought some positives, with them registering the same speed as the two Williams cars, a Renault, a Racing Point and an Alfa Romeo, and realistically, these are the teams they want to be placing around. Day 2 saw them register a 1:18, the same as Day 1, and again it was the same as Williams’ George Russell. However, Antonio Giovinazzi did a 1:17 that day, but a second slower for Haas is not a disaster.

What will please the team is that their times remained around the 1:18 mark, occasionally moving up to 1:17, but that sort of consistency is a good thing to have, and gives them something to build on as the season goes on.

FASTEST TESTING LAP: Romain Grosjean – 1:17:037


Haas finished second to bottom last season, in what was a disappointing season for them. Their team had it’s off-grid issues as well, with sponsor Rich Energy ending it’s partnership with the team in September.

This season, they will hope to improve in their reliability, because last season they had 9 retirements against their name – Romain Grosjean had 7 and Magnussen had 2.  Out of those results, Grosjean did manage to finish mostly within P10 to P15, with a few outside of that gap, whilst Magnussen was slower and finished lower down. What this means is that, on the whole, it wasn’t a lack of pace that hurt them, just those issues of finishing races. Grosjean actually didn’t finish a race until the third round, in China, which says it all really. Make no mistake about it, this is a team sadly on the slide downwards as far as the table and the grid goes.

I wouldn’t expect a lot from them, but perhaps some small improvements might be enough to see them pick up a few more points here and there, or certainly some better placings.

TEAM: McLaren F1 Team



BASED IN: Woking, Surrey, UK


2019 DRIVERS: Lando Norris (GBR) and Carlos Sainz Jr. (ESP)

2020 DRIVERS: Lando Norris (GBR) and Carlos Sainz Jr. (ESP)

2019 DRIVERS’ CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS (out of 20): 6th (Sainz) and 11th (Norris)




Credit: McLaren


Day 1 saw the only McLaren being tested, driven by Carlos Sainz, post a quickest time of 1:17:842, which was only a few milliseconds slower than the Red Bull of Max Verstappen. Given that McLaren were best of the rest last season, they would have been very happy with that. Day 2 saw Lando Norris post a 1:18, which was the same as Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel, so again, another good time. In fact, their times on all six days were all around the 1:16 – 1:18 time period, and they were always placed around the Mercedes and Ferrari cars, so for them, it was a very good six days, and I think they will be happy with the pace and the consistency.

FASTEST TESTING LAP: Carlos Sainz – 1:16:820


McLaren were last year’s surprise team in most respects. After their episode with the Honda engines when Alonso was still racing for the team a couple of seasons ago, then finding out that the Renault engines were slightly better but still not great, they needed last year to be good, and it was.

Given that, and their consistency in testing, I can’t see them finishing anywhere other than 4th again. However, they finished last season 272 points behind third-placed Red Bull, and had 1 podium, but I think they might get closer this year, and perhaps have a few more podiums here and there. It won’t be easy, but I do think they will have a really good season.

Next year, they are reuniting with Mercedes, to reignite the partnership that saw the McLaren team at its heyday win 3 Drivers’ Championships and 1 Constructors’ Championship between 1995 and 2014. That is a really exciting thing to think about, so the McLaren team are definitely on the up.

TEAM: Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team


NATIONALITY: British-based, races under a German licence

BASED IN: Brackley and Brixworth, Northamptonshire, UK


2019 DRIVERS: Lewis Hamilton (GBR) and Valtteri Bottas (FIN)

2020 DRIVERS: Lewis Hamilton (GBR) and Valtteri Bottas (FIN)

2019 DRIVERS’ CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS (out of 20): 1st (Hamilton) and 2nd (Bottas)




Credit: Planet F1


Day 1 saw them top the leaderboard with Hamilton first and Bottas second, before they finished the second day near the bottom of the table, with both being 2 seconds slower. They finished the first test top of the pile again, so will be pleased with their overall performance in the first week.

The second test saw them post times around the 1:17 mark for the first two days, before a 1:16 for both on the final day of the second test. The thing that would have concerned them was on the second day of the second test, when Lewis Hamilton broke down after 14 laps of the Circuit de Catalunya, but the fact that they managed to fix the car and get it in the top 5 on the final board will make them feel quite relieved.

FASTEST TESTING LAP: Valtteri Bottas – 1:15:732


The last six years have seen six consecutive Constructors’ Championships for Mercedes. As far as the Drivers’ Championship has been concerned, it’s been exactly the same. I can’t see anything other than a 7th straight double, to be honest. However, I think Hamilton will be challenged much more by Max Verstappen, because we saw promise in that rivalry at times last year. That could be something to really keep an eye on as the season progresses.

Will the face much competition from Ferrari this year? On the basis of last year, and pre-season testing, it doesn’t seem so, but then if they can sort out their teammate issues, and can get their car a little more reliable and take advantage of pole positions (so the opposite of Bahrain last year), then it’s possible we could see a three-way driver rivalry between Hamilton, Verstappen and Leclerc. But I still can’t see anyone other than Hamilton emerging from that battle on top.

TEAM: BWT Racing Point F1 Team



BASED IN: Silverstone, Northamptonshire, UK


2019 DRIVERS: Lance Stroll (CAN) and Sergio Perez (MEX)

2020 DRIVERS: Lance Stroll (CAN) and Sergio Perez (MEX)

2019 DRIVERS’ CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS (out of 20): 10th (Perez) and 15th (Stroll)


TEAM PRINCIPAL: Otmar Szafnauer


Racing Point
Credit: Motorsport Week


Day 1 of the first test started with the Racing Point delivering a 1:17:375, putting it third on the leaderboard, level with Valtteri Bottas and a second behind Lewis Hamilton, but what made this even more impressive was that Sergio Perez, who was in that car, got this time in just 58 laps, whilst Bottas did 79 laps and Hamilton 94. Lance Stroll posted a fastest time of 1:18:282, putting him 10th out of 15, but only doing 50 laps. Things were looking quite good for Racing Point. The second and third days of the first test were equally as promising, with both cars registering a lap of 1:17, putting each one in the top 4 of the day they were racing (the team had one car out on each day).

The second test saw both cars continue to perform, with a 1:17 being the most common time, and every day the car was comfortably inside the top 10. This was especially notable on the middle day of this test, when 19 cars were running, so that made it particularly impressive.

On the final day, they managed to get a 1:16 from Perez, although that was after 153 laps of the track, but it wasn’t a bad testing session at all from the Racing Point team.

FASTEST TESTING LAP: Sergio Perez – 1:16:634


The testing times posted by the team each day were all very impressive and, for a team that finished last season’s Constructors’ Championship in 7th, I think they will be hoping for better this year. Their times show that we can expect better too. Lance Stroll managed to gain some points last year, but never finished higher than 9th. The exception to that was the German Grand Prix, when he managed to survive the chaos that ensued to finish in 4th. Sergio Perez was much more consistent when it came to points finishes, and finished quite a few races between P6 – P10. However, when he wasn’t in the points, he was often just outside them.

There is genuine hope and promise here, and they might be a team to keep an eye on this season.

TEAM: Aston Martin Red Bull Racing


NATIONALITY: British-based, races under an Austrian licence

BASED IN: Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire, UK


2019 DRIVERS: Max Verstappen (NLD) and Pierre Gasly (FRA)/Alexander Albon (THA)

2020 DRIVERS: Max Verstappen (TLD) and Alexander Albon (THA)

2019 DRIVERS’ CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS (out of 20): 3rd (Verstappen) and 8th (Albon)


TEAM PRINCIPAL: Christian Horner


Red Bull
Credit: F1


It wasn’t a bad testing period for Red Bull, with them managing to register no lower than a 1:17 across all six days. The car needs to be good this year, because everyone is expecting so much of this team. Max Verstappen is expected to be challenging Lewis Hamilton for wins, so as far as testing goes, he needs to be on a par with Hamilton at the least. If we look at his times, he was a second slower on Day 1, having done more laps, and on Day 3 it was the same. On Day 4, when most cars tested, he was around 200 milliseconds quicker than Hamilton, and had done 7 laps fewer than the Mercedes. Day 5 can’t really be used as a comparison, because Hamilton broke down, but the final day saw Verstappen again be around 200 milliseconds quicker than Hamilton.

In this sport, it really is the tiny details that can win or lose a championship, so this sort of data really matters.

As far as Alex Albon’s testing went, it was generally good, with him posting times of around 1:17 and 1:18 most of the days, and finishing inside the top 10 each day except on the final day when he was bottom despite registering another 1:17. Everyone was quick on that day though, so it wasn’t like he drove really badly.

FASTEST TESTING LAP: Max Verstappen – 1:16:269


Red Bull have to be the team to watch this season, in terms of the expected fight with Mercedes and Ferrari’s demise over the last couple of years. We saw glimpses last season of Hamilton against Verstappen in wheel-to-wheel combat, like in Hungary, and that’s what we want to see more of this year.

As for how they could finish, I really think another third place is the minimum for Verstappen, but I don’t think he will get the title until Hamilton has announced his intention to leave the sport. If Bottas has a bad season, which is always possible but seems unlikely, then perhaps he might get a second place at the end.

Red Bull for me will end up as 2nd on the Constructors’ table unless Ferrari manage to get themselves going quickly, and I think Alex Albon will get a minimum 6th place finish this season too, because he is really impressive and displayed some really encouraging signs after his mid-season move last season.

TEAM: Renault F1 Team



BASED IN: Enstone, Oxfordshire, UK/Viry-Chatillon, Essone, France


2019 DRIVERS: Daniel Ricciardo (AUS) and Nico Hulkenberg (GER)

2020 DRIVERS: Daniel Ricciardo (AUS) and Esteban Ocon (FRA)

2019 DRIVERS’ CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS (out of 20): 9th (Ricciardo) and 14th (Hulkenberg)


TEAM PRINCIPAL: Cyril Abiteboul


Renault F1
Credit: Fansite. This is only a temporary livery used in testing.


It was mainly between 1:17 and 1:18 for both Renault cars, which isn’t a bad return. Daniel Ricciardo in particular has been particularly quick. Aside from the last two days, the Australian has been posting times of 1:17, which is really impressive, especially given that the team were off the pace at times last year.

Esteban Ocon has been only a second slower than Ricciardo, on the whole, and that is a good place to be, as it gives him and the team something to work on as the season gets going. He has finished in good places on the end-of-day tables, but the one day that really tells us how the teams are looking compared to their rivals, the second day of the second test, saw the Frenchman finish bottom with a 1:22 lap. However, that seems to have been an anomaly, as all his other teams were quite respectable.

FASTEST TESTING LAP: Daniel Ricciardo – 1:16:276


This is a team that had a season full of high and low points last year. They didn’t finish in the points as often as they would have liked to, so that is something they would like to do more of this year. I would like to see them having a really good battle with McLaren and Racing Point, because I think with the quality of their drivers, and the times they have been posting, they are capable of it, but that depends on whether they can get the finer details right in the early stages of the season.

Daniel Ricciardo in particular will want to have a good start, given that the first race is his home Grand Prix. The team finished in 5th in 2019, so it wasn’t a bad season at all, and to be behind McLaren in the “best of the rest” competition was very respectable. However, they finished 54 points behind McLaren last year, so there is a target there for them to see how much closer they could get this year.

TEAM: ROKiT Williams Racing



BASED IN: Grove, Oxfordshire, UK


2019 DRIVERS: George Russell (GBR) and Robert Kubica (POL)

2020 DRIVERS: George Russell (GBR) and Nicholas Latifi (CAN)

2019 DRIVERS’ CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS (out of 20): 19th (Kubica) and 20th (Russell)


TEAM PRINCIPAL: Sir Frank Williams/Claire Williams


Credit: Autosport


In general, the Williams car seems to be running around a second slower than the rest of the cars, which is not a disaster given their really poor season last year. However, they will know that they need to improve and get more points this year, and that means having a quicker car as a starting point. Has testing shown their car to be quicker overall? In parts, yes, but the second or so that they are behind the cars at the top of the leaderboard will still mean they have work to do to get something out of this season.

Day 1 of the second test, when 19 of the 20 cars drove, has been the table we have looked at most for seeing how cars are looking ahead of the season, and Williams managed to register 1:18 laps for both cars, finishing the day in 14th and 15th place. The cars they beat were Romain Grosjean’s Haas, Lando Norris’ McLaren, Kimi Raikkonen’s Alfa Romeo and Esteban Ocon’s Renault. Having said that, they were on the same time as the Haas and McLaren, so that will please them. What will also please them is that, on that day, they posted the same time as Charles Leclerc’ Ferrari, having done less laps than the Monagesque, but as good as that is for Williams, I think that’s more a case of how slow Ferrari were than how quick Williams were.

FASTEST TESTING LAP: George Russell – 1:16:871


This has to be a good season for Williams. They had the slowest car on the grid by a country mile last year, and for a big name like Williams, that was not good at all. They only gained 1 point throughout the whole of last season, when Robert Kubica, now Alfa Romeo’s reserve driver, finished 10th at Hockenheim in the German Grand Prix, but then that was a good result given how slippy it was, particularly around the final turn, SudKurve, as previously mentioned.

In pre-season testing, they have been posting the same times roughly as Haas and Alfa Romeo on average, and that is important, because it is those two teams that Williams are likely to see as their main competitors this year. Other than that, unless it really is quick around Albert Park in the opening race, I don’t expect anything other than another last-place finish for the team, sadly.



Australian Grand Prix – Albert Park,  Melbourne – Sunday 15th March

Bahrain Grand Prix – Bahrain International Circuit, Sakhir – Sunday 22nd March

Vietnamese Grand Prix – Hanoi Street Circuit, Hanoi – Sunday 19th April

Dutch Grand Prix – Circuit Zandvoort, Zandvoort – Sunday 3rd May

Spanish Grand Prix – Circuit de Catalunya, Barcelona – Sunday 10th May

Monaco Grand Prix – Circuit de Monaco, Monte Carlo – Sunday 24th May

Azerbaijan Grand Prix – Baku City Circuit, Baku – Sunday 7th June

Canadian Grand Prix – Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, Montreal – Sunday 14th June

French Grand Prix – Circuit Paul Ricard, Le Castellet (near Marseilles/Toulon) – Sunday 28th June

Austrian Grand Prix – Red Bull Ring, Spielberg – Sunday 5th July

British Grand Prix – Silverstone Circuit, Silverstone – Sunday 17th June

Hungarian Grand Prix – Hungaroring, Mogyorod – Sunday 2nd August

Belgian Grand Prix – Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps, Stavelot, Liege – Sunday 30th August

Italian Grand Prix – Autodromo Nazionale di Monza, Monza – Sunday 6th September

Singapore Grand Prix – Marina Bay Street Circuit, Singapore – Sunday 20th September

Russian Grand Prix – Sochi Autodrom, Sochi – Sunday 27th September

Japanese Grand Prix – Suzuka International Racing Course, Suzuka – Sunday 11th October

United States Grand Prix – Circuit of the Americas, Austin, Texas – Sunday 25th October

Mexican Grand Prix – Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez, Mexico City – Sunday 1st November

Brazilian Grand Prix – Autodromo Jose Carlos Pace (also known as Interlagos), Sao Paulo – Sunday 15th November

Abu Dhabi Grand Prix – Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi – Sunday 29th November


Chinese Grand Prix – Shanghai International Circuit, Shanghai – TBC


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