Seven months after they last competed in earnest, the Formula One circus will push a post-lockdown reset button to open the 2020 season in Austria.
Formula One emerges from its three-month coronavirus lockdown with Sunday’s new season curtain-raiser, the Austrian Grand Prix. Seven months after they last competed in earnest, the Formula One circus will push a post-lockdown reset button to open the 2020 season in Austria on Sunday. The event at Spielberg is being held on its original calendar date, but is not the once-anticipated 11th round of the championship, but the first — a season-opener delayed by the global coronavirus pandemic. For all involved, who are tested four days before the event and five days later, it will be an unprecedented and unique experience.
Here’s a look at five talking talking points ahead of the start of the behind-closed doors race at the Spielberg circuit.
Will Sebastian shine in final season with Ferrari?
After confirming he is leaving Ferrari at the end of this year, Sebastian Vettel may feel freed and capable of delivering the consistency and speed that can inspire the team again despite the threat of Charles Leclerc.
The four-time champion has the speed and quality, but Ferrari have to deliver a car that can show immediate performance development as the season unfolds. Pre-season testing suggested that this year’s machine had sacrificed some of last year’s outright straight-line speed for improved pace in slow and medium corners.
Green light expected for Mugello and Algarve F1 races
Two circuits which have never previously held rounds of the world championship are expected to be added to the 2020 F1 calendar in the near future. Italy’s Mugello circuit and the Autodromo do Algarve in Portugal are poised to join the championship schedule. An announcement is expected ahead of this weekend’s season-opening Austrian Grand Prix.
Charles Leclerc expectations
If it was not crystal clear back at the start of the year, it certainly is now – Charles Leclerc is Ferrari’s man of the future. Starting his third season of F1, and second year at the Scuderia, the 22-year-old race-winning Monegasque already knows Sebastian Vettel, once the team’s undisputed number one, is leaving after December.
Fewer races there may be, but there’s certainly no shortage of quality drivers to star in them – at both ends of the experience scale. Hamilton, Vettel, Verstappen, Bottas, Leclerc, Ricciardo, Sainz, Norris, Ocon, Russell… need us to name any more?
A July start. A jam-packed schedule. A socially-distanced paddock and grid. No spectators (at least to begin with). There has never been an F1 season quite like 2020. It’s been somewhat of a revelation in 2020 – and yes, we’re talking about F1 here: The video conferencing service was used for crunch meetings between team and sport bosses on F1’s future during lockdown. And it will likely be used during the season, too, with remote press conferences set to take place on what will be very different F1 ‘media days’…