Mercedes started its exercise in an authoritarian way, placing its two drivers in the front row. The author of pole position, the Finn Valtteri Bottas will therefore start in front of his teammate, world champion Lewis Hamilton.
The 2020 F1 season should have started on March 15 in Australia but was delayed by the Covid-19 pandemic. It finally started this weekend on the Spielberg Red Bull Ring (4.318 km) with the Austrian GP, the first in a series of eight races in Europe until early September.
Formula 1 will return to Spielberg next weekend for the Grand Prix of Styria. The Hungarian GP will take place on July 19, then a double appointment at Silverstone, in Great Britain, which awaits the paddock (August 2 and 9). After the Spanish GP on August 16 in Barcelona, the F1 caravan will stop in Belgium on August 30 at Spa-Francorchamps, before the last scheduled race, the Italian GP scheduled for September 6 in Monza. Doubt still hangs over the rest of the calendar which should, in theory, bring pilots to the Asian and American continents.
Reigning world champion Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes), 35, will start this season with his eyes riveted on the numerous records of Michael Schumacher, starting with that of the number of world titles: 7 for the German, 6 for the British. Hamilton has 84 victories in 250 Grands Prix, 7 less than Schumacher, who has won 91 times in 307 starts.
Hamilton will leave again with the favors of the forecasts. Finland’s Valtteri Bottas, Hamilton’s only rival in the title race last year, remains Mercedes’s second driver. A German team where the third driver is now named Stoffel Vandoorne, back in the F1 paddock after his experience at McLaren between 2016 and 2018.
Ferrari and Red Bull will try to put an end to the Silver Arrows hegemony, which has lasted since 2014. At Ferrari, where the title has been awaited since the coronation of Kimi Räikkönen in 2007, the forced break was marked by the announcement of the end of the collaboration with Sebastian Vettel at the end of the season. The German pilot will be replaced in 2021 by Carlos Sainz Jr. (McLaren). The Spaniard will be replaced by Daniel Ricciardo.
At Red Bull, the hierarchy is clearer, with Dutch Max Verstappen, 22, third in the final ranking last year, in No. 1 and Thai Alexander Albon, 23, to support him.
No case of coronavirus was detected after some 4,000 tests carried out before the Austrian GP. In order to avoid importing the new coronavirus into the paddock, but also to export it to the host countries of the championship, strict sanitary measures have been taken, including in camera, physical distancing, the wearing of a mask during all trips and contacts, or PCR tests every five days.
The number of people on site has been reduced to the essential minimum of “approximately 2,000”, according to the FIA, for F1 but also the F2, F3 and Porsche SuperCup, which are also racing on the Red Bull Ring in Spielberg this week end.
# Belga context
View full context on [BelgaBox] (( http://m.belga.be?m=bekeipkn )