Abu Dhabi and the Silly Season – a 2020 Formula 1 recap

Max Verstappen wins under the flashing lights of the Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi to conclude the 2020 Formula 1 season. The last race of the year brought many goodbyes, but the silly season is not over.

Photo credits: XPB/Press Association Images

By Daphne Seberich

It is sorrowful to see a Formula 1 season come to an end, but this one hasn’t been a common one by any means. After the whole world shut down in March, Formula 1 and Liberty Media had to take action and stop the racing for what would feel like endless time. Chase Carey and the FIA went through thick and thin to be able to organize a race calendar with enough races to call this season a championship

On the 5th of July, the Formula 1 world picked up their drills and tires to begin what would be a 17-race championship in 2020 – impressive I’d say, regarding the fact that we are still midst a pandemic. 

Mercedes showed right from the start that their W11 would be hard – if not impossible – to beat. Only three times this season, a non-Mercedes-powered car managed to win a Grand Prix – the RB16 and the Alpha Tauri, driven by the one and only Mad Max and by blessed first-time race winner Pierre Gasly. 

Photo credits: Verstappen.com

The whole race weekend, Red Bull demonstrated to have superior pace on the Yas Marina Circuit, a track that in recent years has only been won by Mercedes. Max Verstappen didn’t disappoint and went on to win the last race of the year, finishing third in the drivers’ championship.

Being the last race of the season as well, it is a point in time where some paths meet or separate. From Monday on, everything changes. Throw the old out, bring in the new. For some, it’s only a matter of changing team. For others, it’s a permanent goodbye from Formula 1. In the case of Sainz, Ricciardo, Vettel and Fernando Alonso, they will be joining their respective new home in the pinnacle of motorsport. 

The nr. 55 driver will leave the team with whom he shared his first podium, as well as legendary teammate Lando Norris at McLaren. 

Photo credits: Fox Sports & Autoweek

Stepping into his footsteps will be Daniel Ricciardo, which can be considered extremely lucky to be part of the British team right at the time they will switch to the Mercedes power-unit, the most powerful on the grid. 

Having been kicked-out of Ferrari even before the season had begun, Sebastian Vettel had to take a crucial decision: whether to continue racing or not. He was looking for a team with potential, someone with whom he could win races. Which better team than Racing Point, future Aston Martin Racing, to move on to.

Photo credits: Il Faro Online

Their 2020 car has been in the spotlight for its controversy. Many saw the resemblance to the 2019 Mercedes W10 car, which explained their sudden boost in performance from one year to the other. Whether it has been replicated or not still remains uncertain. 

With Sebastian Vettel signing for Racing Point, someone had to leave the team. Unfortunately, it was the case of Sakhir GP-winner Sergio Perez, who heard through the walls of his hotel room in Monza that he was going to be laid off by team owner Lawrence Stroll. 

That proves that the F1 world can be cruel sometimes. Even though Checo Perez close the 2020 drivers’ championship in fourth place, his career-best result, he now doesn’t have a seat for next season

Photo credits: Getty Images

His hopes for a contract now lay in Red Bull’s hands, which still haven’t come to a conclusion over who will be driving next to Max Verstappen in the RB17. Alex Albon’s fluctuating performance has brought up whether he’s the right one to fulfill the second driver role the Austrian team needs. The chances, although, are very slim for Checo. Never did Red Bull look for and sign a driver outside of their talent program. 

Goodbyes were said at Haas. Magnussen and Grosjean will leave the team after  respectively being four and five years at the American racing company. They will hand their seats over to two young drivers, Mick Schumacher and Nikita Mazepin, the last one of the two being part of a controversial sexual assault case, which Haas said would be dealt with internally. 

And finally, the last big question mark is: Will Lewis Hamilton remain in Formula 1? There still hasn’t been reached an agreement between Mercedes and the 7-time world champion. His future at Mercedes is linked to Toto Wolff’s. Their fate will be decided  sooner or later with the heads of the German manufacturer. The possibility of not seeing LH44 in his Silver Arrows seat next season, although, is very unlikely.

Photo credits: Pio Deportes

In 97 days, Formula 1 will return in Melbourne, Australia. Until then, the silly season will keep us entertained, before lights-out will make our hearts race again and skip a beat for the pinnacle of motorsport in March. 

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