After a thunderous 2019 season, Formula One will start again on March 15th. The first race of the season, Melbourne Australia.
Will Hamilton win a seventh world title? Will Mercedes complete a 7th continuous Driver Constructor double? Will there be any new faces on the podium?
All these questions will be answered throughout the 22-race season.
Race one: Australia, Melbourne – March 15th
Australia last year was very much a season opener, Mercedes dominated with Bottas Hamilton by 20 seconds. Verstappen showed his pace, putting the Red Bull third while Ricciardo retired early in his home race and first for Renault.
Formula One have said they are monitoring the tragic situation currently occurring in Australia. As of present, the race is still planned. How will hometown hero Ricciardo do in his home race? Having had poor showings in the past, largely due to reliability.
Race two: Bahrain, Sakhir – March 22nd
What a weekend this was nearly for the young Monegasque Leclerc had put his Ferrari on pole in only his second race for the team. In the race he lost two positions at the start, Vettel and Bottas, but by lap six was back in the lead. Vettel mid race spun under pressure from Hamilton and lost his front wing spectacularly. Unluckily for Leclerc his Ferrari lost power and was caught by the two Mercedes, luckily for him the race finished under Safety car after both Renaults broke down on the same lap.
This track is often tricky in the middle of the desert and its impossible to predict who it will favour, but the first section always offers good racing and overall Formula One’s first night race of the year is usually exciting.
Race three: Vietnam, Hanoi – April 5th
An entirely new race set round the Hanoi streets. It has an almost one mile straight and a purpose-built section with corners taken from other tracks.
This Grand Prix happens early in the calendar so theirs not long to wait. With long straights and tight narrow sections, it’s very much like Azerbaijan.
Race four: China, Shanghai – April 19th
Hamilton overtook Bottas on the first corner and preceded to take a dominate win at Shanghai last year. This race was perhaps most remembered for Ferrari ordering Leclerc to let his team-mate by which helped neither Ferrari a hampered Leclercs race.
Here is hoping for a wet race in China, last season only had one wet race, the German GP and it was the best race of the year. If China brings the rain then it will be a good.
Race five: Netherlands, Zandvoort – May 3rd
Max Verstappen is setting Formula One alight, and the ‘Orange Army’ follows him where ever he goes. Now the Formula One circus is coming to Holland, specifically the Zandvoort circuit. This Track is nestled in the sand-dunes of Holland and was last race here in Formula One in 1985 when Lauda won his final Formula One race.
There are worries that the race may be boring due to the narrowness of the track, but that won’t faze the orange army who will likely pack all the grandstands.
Race six: Spain, Barcelona – May 10th
Another race another Mercedes 1-2. Last year this was their fifth 1-2 in a row the fifth time it had occurred, twice by Ferrari and now three times by Mercedes and all since 2014. This race as usual was rather dull and couldn’t even be saved by a late safety car.
With McLaren now using Mercedes engines, Carlos Sainz will be hoping for a strong showing in his home Grand Prix. The Spaniard impressed last season, finishing sixth and earning a podium in Brazil.
Race seven: Monaco, Monte Carlo – May 24th
Tragically this Grand Prix occurred the weekend after Nikki Lauda passed away. Lewis Hamilton dedicated his hard-fought victory to the legendary former driver.
Ferrari made a massive blunder n qualifying that led to Leclerc; in is home race, being knocked out in Q1. In the race he started making up place very aggressively and smacked the wall attempting an overtake on Hülkenberg. For the Monegasque it would be the cause for his later retirement. Hamilton fended off a later charge from Verstappen but kept him behind to win his third Monte Carlo GP.
A tricky if near impossible circuit to overtake, demanding on cars and drivers the Monaco Grand Prix is always a spectacle, just in recent years has been a bit of a naff spectacle for television viewers.
Race eight: Azerbaijan, Baku – June 7th
Despite three 90-degree corners, all drivers got through unscathed this year and Bottas who started pole, won the race after overtaking Leclerc who had run long and hadn’t pitted. Another slight dud of a race where the most memorable moment was Ricciardo reversing into Kvyat after they both ended up down an escape road.
This race so far has either been massively boring or hugely entertaining and I think this year we will be in for a treat of a race.
Race nine: Canada, Montreal – June 14th
Perhaps the most controversial race of 2019. Vettel was defending Hamilton for large parts of the race near the end. Making a mistake at the first chicane he ran across the road and re-joined the track in front of Hamilton who just escaped hitting the wall. He was awarded a five second penalty for this move which, and if you look at replays of the race he might not agree with. Hamilton crossed the line second but was promoted to first because of the penalty.
He nearly boycotted the podium and hilariously swapped the number boards in Parc-Fermé.
Canada 2011 was voted best moment of the decade and it is easy to see why. The track is fast and technical and no matter the weather can be unpredictable. Whose name will be added to the wall of champions this year.
Race ten: France, Le Castellet – June 28th
Easily the most boring race of the year. Hamilton lead start to finish and was unchallenged from Bottas, Ricciardo gained two penalties on the last lap after attempting an overtake on Norris, going wide and re-joining unsafely, then for overtaking Kimi while going off track.
This track is a test track not a racetrack. The blue and red lines painted around make it look silly and there aren’t any consequences for drivers running off track. It’s a bad track and when tracks like Hockenheim are not on the calendar it is frustrating for fans.
Race eleven: Austria, Spielberg – July 5th
This may have been the best individual drive of the season. Max Verstappen from second on the grid dropped down to eighth after problems at the start. He recovered through the field and overtook Leclerc him with three laps to go with an overtake that forced Leclerc off track. The steward’s decision on this took hours after the race highlighting a problem that would occur several more times over the rest of the season. It also marked the first time a Honda powered car had won a race since Button did so in 2006.
Verstappen loves this circuit, Red Bull’s home circuit in fact. Mercedes meanwhile hate it, in 2018 they had a double retirement and in 2019 neither car had any pace. This race is always enjoyable to watch.
Race twelve: Great Britain, Silverstone – July 19th
Silverstone renewed the contract to host a Grand Prix till 2024 in the week before the race, and what a race it was. From lights out, Hamilton applied pressure on Bottas and in the opening laps the action was intense. Between the two, eventually Hamilton got passed and won the race. Further back Leclerc and Verstappen had a fight that was the best of the year. Both pulled some amazing moves on each other and the drivers around them, it wasn’t until Vettel punted of Verstappen that the action slowed down. Hamilton also set the fastest lap of the race on his last lap while on used hard tyres, the slowest of the three compounds, further proving how much of a talent he is.
Being the oldest Grand Prix Silverstone is always one to watch, hope Hamilton has a bad qualifying because once he is in the lead that’s where he will stay.
Race thirteen: Hungary, Budapest – August 2nd
A solid race last year, underlined by an amazing tactical decision by Mercedes to pit Hamilton, running in second behind Verstappen for new tyres with 20 laps left. Hamilton would make the time back and pass Verstappen who arguably should have pitted when Hamilton did.
The race before the summer break always has mixed feelings, the track has a good run in the first sector an it’s possible to overtake at most corners. But the first corner is where most action happens.
Race fourteen: Belgium, Spa-Francorchamps – August 30th
Belgium was a mixed weekend. Sadly Formula 2 driver Anthoine Hubert was killed in a high-speed crash on Saturday.
Charles Leclerc won his first Formula One race, dedicating his win to Hubert on an emotional weekend.
Spa-Francorchamps is an amazing circuit, dripping in history. Eau Rouge and the Bus-Stop chicane are just two corners that are famous almost all around the world. It is an amazing race and always a great way to kick off the second half of the Formula One season.
Race fifteen: Italy, Monza – September 6th
In front of Ferrari’s home fans Leclerc went on to win at Monza for his second ever F1 victory. Dramatically holding off a late surge from Hamilton to put himself on the top step in front of the Tifosi. Meanwhile Vettel had a race to forget as he spun under no pressure at the Ascari chicane, re-joining the track he sent Stroll wide who, while complaining did the same thing to Gasly, at this point driving for Toro Rosso.
Always following Spa, Monza is a race that is just as historical if not more so as it’s Ferrari’s home race. The long straights always suit a powerful Ferrari as it has done in recent years.
Race sixteen: Singapore, Singapore – September 20th
With his third pole in a row Leclerc looked set to win his third straight race. However, a Ferrari strategy call meant Vettel was able to jump Leclerc in the pits, Vettel then went on to win the race, in which Giovinazzi at one point led. Leclerc’s radio messages slowly got more and more angry as the race progressed.
The second night race of the year, Singapore often has poor weather and safety cars. Both of which always shake-up the race. Kevin Magnussen has won the fastest lap here in the past two races. Usually because the leaders bunch up and can’t run in clean air.
Race seventeen: Russia, Sochi – September 27th
Leclerc, with his fourth straight pole, was again, jumped by Vettel in tis race. This time at the start down the long straight to turn two (turn one is a flat-out). Despite calls on the radio asking to be let past Leclerc only got passed when both cars pitted. Vettel’s MGU-K failed on his out-lap and he had to retire the car, bringing out a virtual safety car. Hamilton capitalised, pitting from the lead and maintaining his place. He went on to win the race.
Sochi is a race that never seems to get exciting, largely due to the tricky last sector always increasing the gap between cars. It’s a race that could do with being left off the Calendar.
Race eighteen: Japan, Suzuka – October 11th
Vettel put a stunning lap to put his Ferrari on pole here, however he bungled the start allowing Bottas to sweep round the outside. Lerclerc punted off Verstappen in the first corner leading to the Dutchman’s retirement later. Bottas went on to win the race after Hamilton’s strategy went wrong Leclerc made it up to sixth after pitting early.
The Japanese Grand Prix was nearly cancelled due to Typhoon Hagibis last year, with qualifying occurring Sunday morning. However, despite the typhoon the weekend was dry. A wet Japanese race would be a blessing for fans, however when it rains in Japan it rains hard.
Race nineteen: America, Austin – October 25th
This was the race in which Hamilton won his 6th World Championship. Despite being beaten by Bottas, Hamilton had already secured enough points to be crowned Champion with two races to go.
The race wasn’t boring but nor was it thrilling. Vettel became a victim of the bumpy run-offs as his rear suspension broke as he battled Verstappen. Bottas managed to overtake Hamilton with 4 laps remaining after he pitted later than Hamilton.
Hopefully the Championship won’t be decided by the time this Gran Prix comes around, especially as its one race earlier in 2020 after swapping with the Mexican Grand Prix.
Race twenty: Mexico, Mexico City – November 1st
Verstappen had his pole taken from him after he needlessly sped through yellow flags in qualifying and his weekend went sour from there. Hitting both Mercedes in the opening laps and suffering a puncture going into turn one. He pitted early and ended 6th after a fight through the field. This race was won in the pits as winner Hamilton did a long run on hard tyres jumping from 4th to 1st.
Another high-altitude circuit, Mexico is fun to watch. The final stadium section in the last sector is always stunning to watch cars go through and it has one of the most unique podiums in the world, with Lewis Hamilton entering the podium on his car as it rose up.
Race twenty-one: Brazil, Sao Paulo – November 15th
Having been robbed of a win in 2018, Verstappen wasn’t going to let it slip this year. In a relatively quite race Hamilton and Verstappen exchanged positions around the pit window on track and in the pits. It wasn’t till near the end of the race that things got interesting. Botts retired with an engine problem bringing out a safety car. After the safety car the two Ferrari’s collided on the straight as Vettel moved across on his teammate. Both cars retired as did Stroll whose suspension snapped on debris. As the grid line-up under the safety car it was a Honda 1-2-3. With Verstappen leading Albon, Gasly and then Hamilton.
On the restart,Hamilton overtook Gasly in the first corner. While overtaking Albon on the penultimate lap, Hamilton collided with him,sending the Thai spinning round. Gasly overtook Hamilton who on the final lap atempted to go past in the last corner drawing level and the two drag raced to the line, with Gasly beating Hamilton by 0.062. Hamilton got a five-second penalty upgrading Sainz to 3rd. This was the first podium since 2013 that no Mercedes or Ferrari drivers were present on the podium.
Brazil is a regularly hailed as a classic race, it’s unfortunate that it doesn’t host the finale of the season anymore. The short track with long straights is great for overtakes and close racing.
Race twenty-two: Abu Dhabi, Yas Island – November 29th
The 2019 season ended more with a whimper than a bang. Coming down from the high that was Brazil, Abu Dhabi failed to deliver any excitement. Alongside this DRS was disabled for all drivers for a period of the race. Hamilton led from start to finish and produced the only grand-slam performance of the 2019 season (Pole, Fastest lap, Winner).
It’s a crying shame that Abu Dhabi has such an awesome setting, an evening race that ends under the spotlights, but it doesn’t produce the excitement that a season finale should.