With the 2020 Formula 1 season right around the corner, the 10 teams took to the track this weekend to test out their new cars for the very first time. Winter testing takes place over the course of 2 weeks and is situated about a month before we head to Melbourne for the first race of the season.
All 10 teams participated this year, including Williams who skipped last season’s winter testing, and then went on to one of the worst seasons ever in the team’s history with only 1 point finish. But with the first round of testing done, one key question comes into the mind of every race fan:
What team will be the fastest in 2020?
This question seems to have a straightforward answer, with Mercedes leading with the fastest time in every session so far. This may not be the case if last year’s winter testing has taught us anything. Last year it looked like Ferrari would dominate every team by posting the fastest lap times in every session. The prancing horse did not fare so well against the silver arrows, though when it came time to race, with Mercedes winning 15 out of the 21 races and the other 6 race wins split between Ferrari and Red Bull.
The midfield teams are the ones who benefit the most from winter testing though, as they are attempting to bring in the big money sponsors they need to keep the car running for the upcoming season.
Most fans predicted McClaren to be on top of the midfield this year after a fantastic season by the dynamic duo of Carlos Sainz and Lando Norris. Though, when it came to testing, it was the Racing Point that reigned supreme. Sergio Perez with a P3 and P2 finish in days one and two, teammate Lance Stroll then finished P4 on the final day when Sergio sat out.
Other teams have also seen a vast improvement with the most notable car being the Williams car, who scorched their first runs, beating their qualifying times of last season. The Renault also looked to be quick around the corners when under the helm of the returning Esteban Ocon, but the smiley Australian Daniel Ricciardo would have the last laugh as he was the quicker of the two drivers on day 3. This could set up an exciting power dynamic within the team with longtime driver Ricciardo fighting for a new contract this season and possibly a seat with Ferrari if Vettel were to retire.
On the other side of the team, you have Ocon, who was forced to sit out last season after being dropped by Racing Point after Lawrence Stroll, father of Lance Stroll, bought the team and made room for his son to come onboard. Ocon will look to show that he has what it takes to be an F1 driver.
Another driver who needs to show he has what it takes is the only rookie on the grid in 2020, Nicholas Latifi. He had a good season last year in Formula 2, finishing P2 for the DAMS team. He will need to show he can get the most out of this Williams car to secure his seat and fight with teammate George Russel who some are saying may take Bottas’ seat at Mercedes after this season like how Leclerc took Kimi Raikkonen’s seat after the 2018 season.
The talk of the paddock this weekend was Mercedes’ dual-axis turning system. This system could help the Mercedes car become faster on the straights and corners dramatically by ensuring the wheels stay aligned. Many fans call this an unfair advantage as last season Renault had driver aids in their car and were disqualified from the Japanese Grand Prix, but for right now the FIA has said that the system Mercedes has in place falls within the rules.
It will be interesting to see what happens when the cars finally line up on the grid in Melbourne.
Will we see a role reversal of last season with Mercedes showing fastest in testing, but Ferrari blowing them out of the water? Or is it possible we see another contender in Max Verstappen fight for the driver’s championship next season?
All we know for now is that 2020 could prove to be one of the most exciting seasons F1 has had for a while.
Photo: Formula 1