Though the 2019 season didn’t quite set the world on fire, we reckon these top talents have the skills to do so in the future…
FORMULA 1 HEINEKEN GRANDE PRÊMIO DO BRASIL 2019, Sunday 17 November, 5.10pm, Sky Sports F1®/HD (CH 516/506)
Unsurprisingly, 2019 saw Mercedes smash their way to a sixth successive championship double of Drivers’ and Constructors’ titles. Even more unsurprising was another inconsistent season from Ferrari that prevented their own title challenges from getting off the ground (despite them arguably having the faster car for much of it).
But for all of 2019’s predictability, plenty of pieces were put in place that, we think, will make 2020 a fascinating and highly unpredictable season for fans and teams alike. It looks set to be an exciting time for the sport, with fresh-faced talents cementing their place on the grid and regulation redrafts for 2021 pitting teams’ vested interests against one another off it.
The Brazilian Grand Prix is always an event worth tuning in for. The tight, undulating Interlagos circuit throws up spins, crumps, and jaw-dropping races as drivers fight to control their cars, creating the kind of “classic” Formula One spectacle rarely seen in an era of polished tracks with run-offs longer than our last takeaway receipt.
Though the titles are now tucked in the boots of Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas’ Mercedes, there are plenty of points still up for grabs for teams further down the grid. As such, the midfield pack of McLaren, Renault, Racing Point and Haas will be duking it out in scraps that’ll thoroughly peeve the leaders as they likely as not romp to yet another win.
But, looking past Sunday’s chequered flag, who are the teams, faces and names that are set to make waves next season? Read on below to find out…
Ferrari’s post-season summary of 2019 can be summed up in two words – “bit weird”. They spent the first of the half the season struggling to get to grips with their car, and the second half winning with it. A lot. They’ve already shifted focus onto their 2020 car, and if it’s as good as this one could’ve been for much of this season, Mercedes will be pinned to the ropes and could have a serious title fight on their hands in 2020.
McLaren’s upward curve
The eight-time Constructors’ champions have had a torrid time since ditching Mercedes engines in 2014, languishing towards the back and struggling to pick up points. But behind the cheeky grins and infectious banter of Carlos Sainz Jr and Lando “Calrissian” Norris are two drivers that possess raw, rapid speed and a level of racing know-how that belies their youth. It’ll be interesting to see if the team can continue their upward curve in 2020. Podiums could well be back in the frame, and (dare we say it?), a possible title challenge in 2021. Watch this space.
Can Renault cut the mustard?
Nabbing Daniel Ricciardo from Red Bull for 2019 was a huge coup for Renault. The promise of a title-challenging car in 2021 and the manufacturer’s ma-hoo-sive budget was too good an opportunity to turn down, clearly. But their self-imposed deadline of a title challenge in 2021 is problematic. The pressure was off in 2019, but they have to prove they can make that leap in 2020. Podiums are a must this coming season. Expect pressure. Lots of pressure.
Hamilton could become the G.O.A.T.
A sixth title was all but a formality for most of this season, but in 2020 Hamilton could match one longstanding F1 record and exceed another. Michael Schumacher’s haul of seven titles is now well within reach, and the German’s record of 91 Grand Prix victories is also tantalisingly close to Hamilton’s 83. True, driving the best car will, inevitably, place you among the greats – but as some of his teammates have proven over the years, the best car isn’t always the fastest, unless a driver of Hamilton’s ability can assert control and extract every second of speed. If he can do so in 2020, expect one hell of a party for Grand Prix victory number 92.
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