My Top Five Moments of the 2020 F1 Season
5. Pierre Gasly’s maiden F1 win at Monza.
At Monza in 2020, Gasly became the first French Formula 1 Driver to win a Grand Prix in twenty-four years. Gasly just clung onto his victory at the last corner, fighting off the charging McLaren of Carlos Sainz. Sainz finished the race in second position, only four-tenths of a second behind Gasly. Along with Gasly and Sainz, Lance Stroll also joined the podium, having finished the race an impressive seven places ahead of his teammate Sergio Perez. This race really showed Gasly’s strengths, complemented by a sizeable amount of luck. According to Formula One, “…it’s the first time in the turbo-hybrid era that a Mercedes, Red Bull and Ferrari hasn’t finished on the podium.”
4. Lando Norris gets his first podium in Austria.
Austria was the season opener, delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic until the 5th of July. It resulted in the British driver’s first podium in Formula 1, in just his second season.
With a race that resulted in nine retired drivers and three safety cars, Austria was by far one of the most chaotic of the season. Norris’s opportunity came when Lewis Hamilton collided with Alexander Albon with only ten laps left in the race. Hamilton had taken away what would have been Albon’s first ever Formula 1 podium. With five laps to go, Hamilton was given a five-second time penalty by the stewards for causing the collision. On the penultimate lap, Norris was in fourth position, behind Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton, along with Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc.
Norris pushed the car as hard as he could and set the fastest lap on the last lap. This meant that when Hamilton’s penalty was applied, he was in third position. He had won his first-ever F1 podium by just over a tenth of a second. He shared the podium with Bottas and Leclerc. At twenty years, two-hundred and thirty-five days old, Norris became the third-youngest in Formula One history to score a podium finish.
3. George Russell’s first F1 points.
While I doubt this would be on his list of the top five moments of season, his drive for Mercedes really showed his strengths. Russell, usually a Williams driver, was offered the opportunity to race in Hamilton’s car at the Sakhir Grand Prix. Hamilton had been diagnosed with COVID-19 and would be unable to compete. Russell is 6’1 to Hamilton’s 5’9, but he managed to squeeze in anyway.
Russell is still relatively new to the sport and occasionally shows it (*cough* crashing under the safety car *cough*), yet his drive at the Sakhir Grand Prix was almost flawless. On lap 63, after having led most of the race, Russell and Bottas pitted for new tyres under the safety car. Perez had become race leader. While in the pits, Russell was fitted with two of Bottas’s old tyres. He regained first place, but had to pit again the next lap to change his mixed-tyres. He came out of the pits in fifth place, and the safety car ended on lap 69. By lap 73 of 87, Russell was fighting Perez for first place. However, on lap 78, Russell had a puncture and had to pit yet again. His race was not completely ruined though, as he went on to score his first ever Formula 1 points and finish the race in ninth place. He also set the fastest lap of the race.
I’m sure he’ll eventually get the opportunity again, but for now it’s understandably a sore subject.
2. Sergio Perez’s maiden Formula 1 win at Sakhir.
This one was so well-deserved. Sergio Perez has driven for Sauber, McLaren, Force India, and Racing Point in his lengthy ten-year career. He is entering the 2021 season as a Red Bull driver alongside Max Verstappen. The Sakhir Grand Prix was his 190th Grand Prix start, which broke the record for the longest number of race starts before a maiden win. A first-lap crash with Verstappen and Leclerc demoted him to last place, but he fought his way back up the grid with style. It was an impressive race win, and a thrilling race to watch.
Fun Fact: Perez was also the first Mexican F1 driver to win a Grand Prix since 1970.
1. Lewis Hamilton, Champion of the World!
What can I say? It was a dominant season for Hamilton and he deserved the championship. Hamilton won his championship in Turkey, after qualifying in sixth place. He managed to climb his way up to first position in the rain, finishing with a lead of over thirty seconds to Racing Point’s Perez in second place. He equaled Michael Schumacher’s record of seven world championships that day, a huge accomplishment. I’m sure 2021 will be him aiming for an eighth championship, and setting more new records.
His team radio cheered me up, as he has truly earned this.
Originally published on: February 27th 2021
Cover Image Credit: Formula 1