F1 Extra Session is your favorite Formula One podcast. Daphne Seberich, Sebastian Becerra, and Zoé Guimard bring you post-race analysis and discuss other major stories surrounding the sport. We are Formula One fans just like you. As F1 journalists we also provide a unique perspective to what’s happening in the world of F1.
Sergio “Checo” Perez was the surprise winner at Baku after Max Verstappen had tire failure and Lewis Hamilton locked his tires after being too aggresive on the ensuing standstill restart. Perez gets his second win of his career that sees Red Bull open a 26 point gap on Mercedes. Sebastian Vettel and Pierre Gasly rounded out the podium with near-perfect races. Disastrous day for Mercedes as Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton finish P12 and P15. In Off-track chit chat Red Bull is clashing with Mercedes about their wing flexion which Horner and company believe breaks FIA rules. Definitely something to keep an eye on as the circus travels to France in two weeks time.
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Pre-season testing came to an end on Sunday and the teams had the chance to see where they stand in terms of performance ahead of the first race of the 2021 F1 campaign in Bahrain.
By Daphne Seberich
Only two weeks separate us from the first race of the year. As the pre-season testing in Bahrain wrapped up on Sunday, teams have a much clearer picture of where they stand in terms of pace. What exactly can we expect on the first day back racing? Pre-season testing doesn’t tell the whole story, but it seems like the battle to the top won’t be as predictable as it was the last seven years.
Red Bull’s RB16B proved to be a real contender this time. Although Max Verstappen seemed to struggle with the stability of the car on day one of testing (a known issue of the past RB challengers), he topped the standings on Sunday, setting the fastest lap of all sessions combined. This result counts as his best ever pre-season testing outcome and certainly brings a boost of confidence coming into the first race of the year.
The new addition to the team, Checo Perez stunned everybody as well. His ability to adapt so quickly to a new machine impressed everyone in Bahrain and at home. The gamble Helmut Marko took in December by signing the Mexican speedster seemed to pay off for Red Bull.
“The vibe inside of the team is one of excitement,” says Lawrence Barretto, senior writer at Formula1.com. “Their Honda power-unit looks to be in great shape too, with promising signs of a good step in terms of performance.”
They have the right lineup and a good car. Is this the year of Red Bull bringing the Mercedes’ era to an end?
On the other hand, the Silver Arrows haven’t had the best pre-season testing sessions, as most were characterized by reliability issues. Valtteri Bottas had to sit out the Friday morning practice; his W12 suffered from gearbox difficulties. Lewis Hamilton’s challenger seemed untamable, as he spun on Saturday and Sunday’s sessions. A never-before-seen characteristic of the Mercedes car, known for its maneuverability and handling on all sections of every track they competed at.
The W12 on soft tires seemed to be 0.56s behind the fastest time set by their Austrian rivals on a flying lap. The German team has its work cut-off in the next two weeks ahead of the first race in Bahrain. Even Lewis Hamilton admitted that the Silver Arrows challenger is “just not quick enough”, anticipating a “great battle” between Verstappen and Perez in the 23-race campaign.
Nevertheless, Valtteri Bottas seems confident in his crew and his W12: “I absolutely believe the car and the team, it has the potential [to take the title]. I don’t think it’s yet there as a package in terms of performance, but I’ve no doubt that we will work hard to find it somehow.”
Mercedes is notorious for “sandbagging”, meaning that they like to hide their actual performance ahead of the first race of the season. Is this the case this year as well?
Finishing off on a good note, the third top-team Ferrari saw some progress between the SF1000 and their new SF21. The Prancing Horse ended their 2020 F1 campaign in sixth place. Their worst result in Formula 1 since 1980.
This season, the music — or better — the engine noise seems to be different, as the Scuderia based in Maranello debuts a completely new power-unit after their 2020 engine fiasco. Team Principal Mattia Binotto said the team’s straight-line speed is “not anymore a disadvantage,” with the data collected on the track backing up the dyno results encountered back at their facility in Italy.
Over the winter, Ferrari admitted of having “massively improved” their power-unit, which was at the top of the pyramid of reasons why Ferrari had such a terrible season in 2020.
After the FIA decided to investigate the Prancing Horse’s 2019 challengers amid allegations of Ferrari breaching the fuel-flow regulations, the two parties reached an agreement, which still hasn’t been made public to this day. But as testing began in Barcelona and the SF1000 lacked in pace, it was clear to everyone that the Italian team had a massive setback in terms of performance compared to the previous year.
Everyone at Ferrari wants to put the 2020 F1 season behind their backs, especially the Monegasque star driver Charles Leclerc, whose 2020 campaign was sub-par to his 2019 breakthrough season. With Carlos Sainznow in the second seat of the SF21, the Scuderia has a much brighter future ahead. The Spaniard managed to put the red, green and burgundy car up in third in the classification on Sunday, 0.651s off the pace on Pirelli’s C4 compound (the second softest of the range).
The excitement towards the new F1 2021 season is through the roof, with the Silver Arrows set to battle it out with Red Bull for the title. Will Lewis Hamilton become the most successful F1 driver ever with eight Driver’s Championships? Does Red Bull actually have a chance to end the Mercedes domination? Ferrari is set to make a comeback, but will they be able to win some races again? All these questions will be answered in Bahrain on the weekend of March 26th-28th when we’ll finally hear the engines roar and Martin Brundle say: “Lights out and away we go!”.
More and more teams are set to release their 2021 challengers in the next month. But who’s racing for which manufacturer? The 2020 silly-season is finally overThe 2020 silly-season is finally over and we’re ready to give you a rundown of it all.
By Daphne Seberich
As the first Formula 1 race in Bahrain is getting closer, the excitement of the fans surrounding the start of the new season is beginning to show. The different teams are preparing to launch their new 2021 challengers ahead of pre-season testing at the Bahrain International Circuit. Many drivers have found their way to their new homes during the winter. Last year’s silly-season was full of surprise announcements, delayed contract signatures and unknown futures. Who’s exactly racing for which team you may ask? Let us give you a rundown of it all.
The first one to release their 2021 challenger is McLaren, who will publicly announce their MCL35M on February 15th. British sensation Lando Norris, who started competing in F1 with McLaren in 2019, will begin his third season with the Woking-based team.
The new addition to the 2021 McLaren driver-lineup will be Aussie superstar Daniel Ricciardo, who left Renault F1 team after securing them their first podium since 2011 at the Nürburgring. He then also scored third place in the Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix, proving to be in top shape when it comes to performance. Many will have high expectations for Ricciardo in the MCL35M. Hopefully, he’ll adapt to his new drive soon enough to challenge the other midfielder for points.
Photo credits: Soymotor & Motorsport Magazin
Daniel Ricciardo’s move to McLaren was finalized as former driver Carlos Sainz left the Woking team to race for Scuderia Ferrari. Shortly after Mattia Binotto, Ferrari’s team principal, announced that the Scuderia would not renew Sebastian Vettel’s contract for 2021, Sainz’s transfer was disclosed to the fans. The unsettling part of all this silly-season unfolding is the fact that by then, the 2020 championship hadn’t even started. Sebastian Vettel had to race with a team that abandoned trust and hope in his abilities.
Ferrari’s focus shifted midst the 2019 season towards youngster Charles Leclerc, who has a long-term project ahead with the Maranello-based team. He signed a contract with the prancing horse through 2023. Will he stay until then? Ferrari hasn’t done too well in 2020 and if the Scuderia can’t engineer a title-challenging car for the Monegasque star, he might choose a different route in the future.
The rejected four-times world champion Sebastian Vettel found himself in a tricky situation. The German sensation’s dream to win the Driver’s Championship with Ferrari was crushed to pieces. In addition to that, not many competitive seats were left for him to fill.
When Monza came around, rumors surrounding the German champion moving to Aston Martin Racing arose in the paddock. The problem was that there were no available contracts at the former Racing Point manufacturer. Team owner Lawrence Stroll’s son, Lance Stroll, would’ve never lost his seat. Stroll Sr. bought the company for his protegé to be able to compete in the circus. That was clear to everyone. The one who had to go, even though he had a contract until 2023 and was deserving to stay in Formula 1, was Checo Perez.
Perez, who saved the ex Force India team from bankruptcy, was forced to find a new home. As the season went by, Checo proved to be consistently at the top of the field, securing second place in Turkey. Most importantly, he triumphed in the Sakhir GP, recovering after an incident all the way from last place. He earned his maiden victory with the insecurity of being able to compete in the 2021 season.
As the championship ended, Perez’s future was still uncertain. Red Bull Racing was the only team that could’ve offered him a seat in 2021. Helmut Marko, Red Bull and Alpha Tauri’s driver consultant, saw the opportunity to finally sign a competitive teammate for Max Verstappen, one capable of pushing the team to the top of the standings.
After Sebastian Vettel’s last championship title win in 2013, the Milton-Keynes-based-manufacturer never managed to come close to Mercedes’s dominance in the field. Verstappen’s 2020 teammate, Alex Albon, couldn’t keep up with the pressure he was under and was dropped at the end of the season to make place for Perez. Sister team Alpha Tauriwas set to sign Yuki Tsunoda to replaceDaniil Kvyat.
Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes decided to keep everyone on their toes. His contract with the Constructor’s Championship titleholders expired at the end of the 2020 season. No one thought Hamilton was gonna retire, especially ahead of the 2022 FIA regulation change. Contract negotiations went down for over a year at Mercedes with the British champion only signing at the beginning of February. Lewis Hamilton is officially giving becoming the most successful Formula 1 driver ever a shot. He equaled Michael Schumacher, can he beat his seven titles as well?
Speaking of Schumacher, his son Mick will make his debut in the pinnacle of motorsport with Haas F1 Team. After having Romain Grosjean since their first appearance in the sport in 2016 and Kevin Magnussen since 2017, the South Tyrolean team principal Günther Steiner decided that the American manufacturer needed a refreshed driver lineup. It will be the first time after 2012 that F1 will see the Schumacher last name on the grid. Mick will be paired with the troublesome Nikita Mazepin, who has had controversies surround him in recent times. Will Haas score better results with an all-rookie driver lineup?
And last but not least important, Fernando Alonso is making his F1 return after leaving McLaren in 2018. The Spaniard will be joining the team that aided him to win his two Driver’s Championship titles, Renault. The French manufacturer will be called Alpine from 2021, their supercar brand department.
A full-circle moment. Ricciardo leaving Renault pushed Alonso towards rejoining the pinnacle of motorsport. We never know what to expect from the silly-season. What can we await from the manufacturers? We’ll find out in March when the 2021 championship will finally get underway.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
It was an eventful race held in Bahrain, characterized by one of the most frightening accidents since Jules Bianchi’s deadly crash in Suzuka. Romain Grosjean shunned death by a hair’s breadth, being surrounded by charring flames while his car was split in half against the guardrail.
By Daphne Seberich
An angel was watching over Romain Grosjean in Bahrain. He escaped the fire evoked by crashing into Daniil Kvyat’s front left tire. Incredulous, the Russian looked over and over into his right mirror, realizing the consequences their contact had. A ball of fire, an explosion: a frightening sight that provoked chills and apprehension to the whole world watching the race. Firemen surrounded the car in flames, attempting to save the driver from a dreadful end. Soon after, the Frenchman’s hand was spotted in the fire, asking for help, fighting for his life. With a shoe missing and his hands burned, the Haas driver jumped out of the blaze, in pain but still alive. Romain was taken right away to the medical center to ascertain his conditions, which are now stable.
Motorsport is dangerous. That is clear for all the drivers. They are risking their lives every time they jump into the death machines that are Formula 1 cars. Last year Antoine Hubert lost his life in Belgium. It could’ve been Grosjean’s last breath if it wasn’t for the halo technology introduced in 2018. If the modern F1 cars weren’t as safe as they are now, this would’ve turned out to be a tragic day for motorsport.
After a 45-minute red flag circumstance, the race restarted from the grid. Hamilton had a blazing start, securing the lead of the race. Meanwhile, at the back of the field, Stroll found himself upside down on the tarmac due to contact with- you guessed it- Daniil Kvyat. It surely wasn’t his best day. The image of the flipped pink car reminded me of the last race of 2018 in Abu Dhabi, when Nico Hulkenberg and his Renault were in the same conditions, hanging from the guardrail “like a cow”. After not even a lap racing, the safety car had to make its way onto the track, setting the pace for the drivers still competing while the marshals removed the Racing Point from the circuit.
As the race kicked-off once again, many drivers had to fight hard to regain the positions lost due to Stroll’s accident. The one that was advantaged from it the most was Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc, who found himself from P12 to P7 in the matter of one lap. His future teammate at the Italian Scuderia, Carlos Sainz, wasn’t too keen on surrendering his spot to the prancing horse driver. An exquisite fight evolved between the two youngsters, exciting the fans at home and fueling their enthusiasm for the 2021 season, where they’ll compete in the same car.
Even though Sainz was on the least performing tire, his brilliant driving ability granted him to run on the soft compound for over 20 laps, which no one else did. Leclerc’s inferior power unit allowed the Spaniard to overtake the Monegasque, permitting him to regain the position he had lost. Daniel Ricciardo took advantage of the technical inferiority of the Ferrari as well, chasing Leclerc until a DRS zone enabled him to breeze by the Italian car.
Sainz was literally “on fire”, overtaking everyone with such ease and class. He recovered from P15 al the way to P6, surprising everyone, especially since he was running on the most unusual tire strategy.
Another great fight between teammates was the one between Ricciardo and Ocon, battling it out for P8. The Aussie requested team orders to be set in place. His race pace was superior to the one of the French, which didn’t take it too well.
A surprising turn of events saw P3 holder and fan-favorite Checo Perez retire on the 55th lap of the race due to an engine problem of his Mercedes power-unit. The race finished under the safety car, prohibiting the podium fight between Lewis Hamilton and the two Red Bull drivers Max Verstappen and Alex Albon, who subsequently completed the podium.
Next week Formula 1 will be back in Bahrain, although racing on a new track layout, similar to an Indycar oval. God willing, Romain Grosjean will be back in his car racing for Haas. Hopefully, we won’t see any accident like this ever again.
After a complicated and nerve-wracking wet qualifying at the Istanbul Park, Lance Stroll astonishingly sets the fastest lap for what will be his first start on pole position. Will Mercedes’s winning streak after the Turkish GP end?
By Daphne Seberich
Who could have imagined such a crazy qualifying session? The conditions of the track for the three free practice sessions were already challenging. The new tarmac, that the organizers of the Grand Prix prepared, turned out to be an ice rink for Pirelli tires. Even in regular weather conditions. Rain just turned the dial to the max, providing for an exciting, but tough race to set the fastest lap.
All drivers were struggling to keep their cars on track. No one excluded. Max Verstappen and Charles Leclerc proved to be the ones coping the best with the slippery tarmac, securing the two top spots respectively in all of the free practice sessions. Choosing the right tire strategy was key. Many drivers stuck to the full wet tire, although some brave racers tried to use Pirelli’s intermediate option, to earn some advantage in speed. The grip was inexistent for everyone, even for those that chose the blue-striped compound.
Q1 turned out to be madness, with multiple drivers going off the track, looking like they were driving on ice with no snow chains on. Gaps between drivers were huge, separating the top spot of the ranking and the 15th place, the Q1 cut-off spot, by over 11 seconds. The two clear favorites for pole, Verstappen and Leclerc, were fighting against their car trying to do what it wants, turning out to be very time costly, both struggling to make it into Q2. Six minutes before the end of Q1 the FIA decided to red-flag the session, due to the weather conditions that made the track undriveable. The Red Bull and Ferrari drivers found themselves at the bottom of the cut-off line, securing respectively the 15th and 16th spot. They only had two last chances after the restart to set a good enough time to enter the next qualifying stage of the Turkish GP.
After a long, but detailed analysis of the track, done by safety car driver Bernd Mayländer, the session restarted, although the conditions were still not optimal. Many drivers were seen spinning off-track and one, in particular, Romain Grosjean, got stuck in the gravel at the edges of the track, forcing the FIA to red-flag Q1 again. Only being three minutes remaining, everyone just had one last shot to set their flying lap. Verstappen secured the top spot of the ranking, Hamilton barely made it into the next round, qualifying in 14th place.
At the start of Q2, it finally stopped raining, slightly improving conditions. The “Flying Dutchman” seemed to have what it takes to get on pole, setting the fastest lap at every attempt. Others were struggling to warm up their tires properly, especially the two Ferrari drivers, which didn’t make the cut for Q3. Leclerc, the big favorite to take the crown, suddenly didn’t have any pace and dropped down to P14.
Surprisingly, both Alfa Romeo drivers made it for the first time this season to the last round of qualifying.
Going into the round that matters, Perez and Ocon took a risk mounting on their cars the intermediate tire, while everyone else was lapping the circuit with the full wet compound. The strategy paid off for the Racing Point driver, securing provisional pole with an astonishing time of 1:52.037. “Inters” were the right choice for the track conditions, which made most of the teams change their drivers’ tires, allowing them just one attempt to get the top spot.
Verstappen beat Perez’s time, but Lance Stroll, Checo’s teammate, secures out of nowhere an incredible pole position, his first in his Formula 1 career.
A disappointing qualifying session forLewis Hamilton, which will start the Turkish GP from the third row. His worst qualifying of the season.
If he can pull the rabbit out of a hat, now’s the time. Winning in Turkey would end the championship fight while making history by equalling the most championship titles won by the legend Michael Schumacher.