The sun has just set on one of the most intense and controversial seasons ever. 2020 might go down in history as an “annus horribilis” due to the outbreak of Coronavirus and its disastrous implications, but every cloud has a silver lining, at least in sports. Formula 1 managed to successfully organize and hold 17 races in six months, during which a number of unthinkable yet sensational episodes took place.
Mine has to be Italy hosting not one, but three F1 races within two months! It was definitely a remarkable achievement for the country, whose motorsport heritage cannot be easily matched. Mugello followed the Italian GP at Monza in September, hosting an exciting and eventful race. The track itself is a gem, and seeing F1 cars darting through its corners truly was an incomparable treat, especially due to the fact that we are solely used to MotoGP, Moto2 and Moto3 racing there. Imola rejoined the F1 calendar after a 14-year-long hiatus, becoming a guinea pig to trial an all-new two-day format. The drivers delivered a spectacular race at the Santerno circuit, although overtaking is undoubtedly tough there. Also, a special mention to the trophies awarded to the Top-3 finishers: a touch of class!
Purists certainly relish old-school circuits as much as old-school drivers. One of them on the current F1 grid is, obviously, Kimi Raikkonen, whose race-start record impressed our Oprah Sagal.
“If there’s one driver who stands out in the crazy 2020 highlights is Kimi Raikkonen. The Finn matched Rubens Barrichello's 322 F1 and set the record in his own right at the Nurburgring, with 323 race starts. However, the Iceman managed to beat the record set by the Brazilian but in classic Kimi fashion, Kimi never cared much for it.
Watching the interview on Sky F1, Kimi replayed to Brundle, who asked him sarcastically that he will be losing sleep because he's so excited. The Finn replied: “I think maybe in the future when I look back I’d appreciate it more. But for now, it’s like any other race weekend. I hate all the fuss around it.”
David Coath put an Alfa Romeo driver as the protagonist of his awe moment too, but his focus was on the other half of the garage.
“Alfa Romeo's announcement that Antonio Giovinazzi would still race for them in 2021 - surprised many. However, for me, the biggest shock from Alfa Romeo's garage came during qualifying Saturdays. On 9 out of 17 race weekends, Antonio Giovinazzi started higher up the grid than The Iceman. Across the season, on outright qualifying pace, Giovinazzi averaged just five hundredths of a second quicker than his vastly experienced former F1 champion teammate Kimi Raikkonen. A close victory but a victory nonetheless for the less experienced Italian. In a season when Alfa Romeo's C39 was hindered by a Ferrari engine, points were hard to come by. As such, Alfa Romeo only mustered 8 points altogether with each driver contributing 4-points after a 17-race season. Nevertheless, Antonio Giovinazzi will surely be encouraged by the fact that three of his 9 superior qualifying weekends over his teammate were during the last three F1 race weekends of the season. Therefore, 2021 could be the year when Antonio Giovinazzi makes his mark in F1”.
The 2020 season delighted the fans with a few surprise wins, one of which truly amazed both Silvia Giorgi and Daniel Mora.
Silvia: “This 2020 season has been a shocker season on its own, considering last minute races, old and new tracks coming into the Circus and surprising twists of fate in several occasions. The biggest shocker award should be given to the Mercedes team, when they exchanged their drivers’ tyres as if they were newbies and threw in the garbage George Russell’s first win. Using a lens on drivers though, I would say that the biggest shocker has been Pierre Gasly. The Frenchman earned his maiden win in Formula 1 with class and a bit of luck in Monza, at the Italian Grand Prix. The AlphaTauri driver did deserve his cracking win because not only did he make it to the end of that unpredictable race but also he kept his nerves under control and drove amazingly well until the last lap. Even though there were many occasions in this season. It was a strong reminder for Formula 1, of what it was used to be, unpredictability, emotions and shivers through the entire race”.
Daniel: “In my opinion, the biggest shocker of the 2020 Formula 1 season was Pierre Gasly’s victory in Monza during the Italian Grand Prix. For starters, we must remember that Red Bull Racing decided to take him back to, back then, Toro Rosso as he did not manage to provide the results the Austrian team was expecting. It was clear that this was a big hit for his confidence and his driving, although he was back at the team where he achieved awesome results back in 2018 (like a P4 in Bahrain). We all know that this year’s Alpha Tauri was not a very consistent car and in Monza, his car showed great performance, but we did not imagine that both, the driver and the car, would be in the fight for the win. Watching the French driver on the highest step of the F1 podium was something that took us by surprise due to all the things he went through while driving for Red Bull”.
Pierre Gasly certainly had his moment in Monza, but a few races later Sergio Perez earned the spotlight by claiming his maiden race win at the Sakhir GP. Luca Brambilla picked Perez as his biggest shocker, mentioning his troubled path towards securing a Red Bull seat for next year.
"Sergio Perez for me has been without a doubt the biggest shocker of this unusual 2020 season. The Mexican this year achieved his first win in F1 after 10 years inside the Circus. In the final driver standings he ended in fourth position, behind only the “usual” first three on the podium this year: Hamilton, Bottas and Verstappen. It was clear from the beginning of the season that in this 2020 Racing Point would have been a really competitive car, because of the similarities with the Mercedes of 2019. However, Perez, in particular after the announcement that he would have lost the seat in 2021, managed to put on track great performance, guaranteeing himself in this way the Red Bull seat alongside Max Verstappen for next season. Definitely deserved. F1 without Perez would have lost a great driver”.
McLaren’s renaissance from the Honda days is also worth a mention, especially after it claimed P3 in the constructors’ championship. From Lando Norris on the podium in Austria to Sainz stacking up solid results culminating in a P2 at Monza, it is safe to say that the Woking-based team has come a long way and can now put its rivals on notice. Our Sara Habets summed it up.
“Maybe not the biggest “shocker” per say, as it has been brewing for the past few seasons, but definitely an incredible thing that we’ve seen - the rebuild of McLaren and how well they performed this season. There are many factors to that rebuild, on many different levels, but the fact all of this came together in the craziest times and they eventually ended up on 3rd in constructors championship is probably something we did not exactly expect to see, but many of us are possibly more than ecstatic about it. I could go on and on about all of this, but it seems possibly even more exciting to see what will come in the upcoming seasons, with the experience of Ricciardo and the youngster Norris behind the wheels.”