F1 is back - Lewis, Zanardi, Austria and how F1 will look

F1pitbox.com F1 2020 – And let’s go racing

A couple of days to go until F1 lights up and brings joy to so many millions of fans across the globe. It might only be an eight-race season so far, but the world cannot wait to get in front of the TV’s to watch the 2020 F1 cars come to life.

On Friday 3rd July it will 110 days since the cars were meant to start FP1 in Australia. It reminds me of when the season finished in October and only re-started the following March. Remember those days?

Lewis Hamilton

There has been a tremendous amount of press and social media regarding Lewis Hamilton and his plea for more diversity. Many have slammed his approach, and many have praised him. His approach has been embraced by his racing team as well as by the F1. Whatever your stance is don’t let it cloud your judgment about him. He can make a stance and to try and get others to follow his cause. Whatever his legacy will turn out to be will also be because of his commitment to his cause. I have no right to judge him and won’t. What he stands for is very passionate to him and he must be allowed to voice his feelings. I applaud Lewis Hamilton and my hope is that he follows through by perhaps starting racing academies and the like going forward.

F1 will be different

This is what has changed since the coronavirus Covid-19 shook the planet. It is not what we are used and please do not use the ridiculous phrase the “new normal” Puke!


1. Closed Door Races – no spectators for the first 8 races. From there we don’t know

2. No guests, no sponsors and team numbers are limited at each race

3. Interviews will respect social distancing. No big motorhomes. All personnel to wear facemasks

4. All personnel will be tested prior to the event and will be tested every 5 days thereafter. There is a track and trace app for all the people who have special FIA entry. The bubbles will always be adhered to but wherever people must move out of their bubble they have to adhere to the strict rules.

5. Because of social distancing and PPE some jobs will take longer than usual. Teams have been given certain permissions in this regard


Pirelli Tyres

1. Standard allocation of tyres for all teams

2. 2 hard compounds

3. 3 medium compounds

4. 8 soft compounds

Communications with stewards, debriefs may be held in a room big enough or outside or via video conferencing

No driver parade for now

Drivers might be interviewed outside their garages in that time allocation

Grid Procedure

The drivers will have time on the grid as per usual. Instead of 40 minutes from when the pitlane opens to assemble it is now 30 minutes.

Ate the 3-minute board only 8 people are allowed around each car.

There will be no Podium celebration – there will be an on the grid celebration but it’s a secret. Perhaps the top 3 drivers stand in front of their cars?

There is a very strict FIA code of conduct

All team members cannot socialise with other teams and must always try and stay within their own bubbles unless essential to be somewhere else.

TV Graphics

We can expect a whole host of new TV graphics this season as well.

I do hope it doesn’t turn the whole race into a graphics game but some of the ideas seem great. We should be able to establish which cars and drivers have better set-up’s going into various corners etc. Will it show who the slower guys are and why? This could be detrimental to some. I look forward to analysing these new ideas.

2020 Formula 1 Austrian Grand Prix session timings

F1 is sticking to its traditional format of two free practice sessions lasting 90 minutes each on Friday, followed by an additional practice session running for one hour on Saturday morning.

The Q1, Q2 and Q3 knockout-style qualifying format is also being retained on Saturday afternoon to decide the grid for the 71-lap Austrian Grand Prix on Sunday. The Formula 2, Formula 3 and Porsche Supercup series are all acting as support classes to the F1 Austrian GP.

Friday 3rd July 2020

Free Practice 1: 10:00am-11:30am BST (11:00am-12:30pm local) Free Practice 2: 2:00pm-3:30pm BST (3:00pm-4:30pm local)

Saturday 4th July 2020

Free Practice 3: 11:00am-12:00pm BST (12:00pm-1:00pm local) Qualifying: 2:00pm-3:00pm BST (3:00pm-4:00pm local)

Sunday 5th July 2020

Race: 2:10pm BST (3:10pm local)

What will the teams bring to Austria?

This is where the fun and games begin. What updates will the teams bring and what strategy will they adopt if this season only lands up being 8 races long?

The only data we have is from winter testing. That’s it. In a short summary we can deduce that Mercedes is still the team to beat. Red Bull Racing look stronger than last season and Ferrari look to be quite a way off the mark.

The biggest surprise from winter testing was the Racing Point. The car looked suspiciously like the 2019 Mercedes but regardless of that the times it set during testing were hugely impressive and perhaps significant.

If you look back at the 2019 Austrian F1 race you should recall that Max Verstappen drove a mighty race to beat Charles Leclerc in a great battle. The Mercedes cars were a bit off the pace which means we could well be in for two spectacular races this weekend and next weekend.

We can expect similar wings and end plates to what we saw in 2019 with respect to the 2020 technical specs.

So where will the changes really come from?

Engine mostly. Honda say they have an updated engine for this race for Red Bull and for Alpha Tauri. So do Ferrari and Ferrari are rumoured to have a new gearbox as well. Ferrari have denied this and we have no word from HAAS or Alfa Romeo in this regard. It seems more likely to bring a major upgrade to the Hungarian GP

Mercedes have not given anything away but there will be significant differences to their car compared to what we saw in Australia and at winter testing. Mercedes does not let up and with a new sleek black livery they are as hungry as ever.

Renault is another team to have confirmed it will have significant upgrades, introducing components that were scheduled to be introduced in three races earlier in the season.

Most of the “mid-field” (and it’s still sad to include Renault there at this stage) in my opinion have very little to lose. It’s a shorted season so just go for it. That’s what I would strategise and hopefully get the drivers and team to execute.

Of course, all the teams will have aerodynamic bits on their cars as they have done hours of simulations on each circuit with each tyre to try and find the optimum set-up configuration.

The one team that worries me the most is HAAS. Steiner has said development has been frozen due to the financial impact of this season. With Liberty having guaranteed F1 2.6bn dollars to keep on racing I am very hopeful that F1 will ensure that no teams are lost in the short term.

By contrast, Williams will be introducing new parts despite its uncertain financial situation. Likewise, McLaren has hinted it will have parts, although team principal Andreas Seidl rightly did distinguish between a desire for new parts with the manufacturing demand. With Mclaren having now secured most of its future with the help of the Bank of Bahrain one will believe that there are many relieved workers at Woking.

What Seidl says makes perfect sense. We have 6 races in 7 weeks so if you introduce something new you had better ensure you have many spares in the event of accidents and damage. The turnaround time does not lend itself to experimentation.

This is a compromise between being aggressive and being sensible.

Knee’s down

Formula 1 drivers could take a knee on the grid before Sunday's season-opening Austrian Grand Prix to show solidarity with protests against racial injustice around the world.

Prior to the start of the opening round of Premier League football matches this month, players took a knee at kick off in a show of solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement.

Will the F1 drivers follow suit?

According to Lando Norris some of the drivers are already discussing it.

McLaren F1 chief Andreas Seidl said the team would support its drivers should they wish to take a knee before the race.

Mercedes has unveiled a new, black livery for the 2020 Formula 1 season as part of a new campaign to fight racism.

The reigning constructors' champion team announced the new look for the Mercedes W11 car on Monday ahead of this weekend's season opener in Austria.

The new black livery base retains the green trim of title sponsor Petronas, the red elements of principal partner INEOS, and the speckled star design on the engine cover. The car will also run with 'End Racism' written on the Halo.

Drivers Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas will race in black overalls through 2020 and will also adjust their helmet designs accordingly.

Alex Zanardi

Alex Zanardi remains in a “serious” condition after surgeons operated on his brain for a second time.

In a statement issued by the Santa Maria alle Scotte hospital in Siena, Italy, doctors decided to operate after carrying out a CT scan.

“The diagnostic examination showed an evolution of the patient’s state, making it necessary to resort to a second neurosurgery,” the hospital announced on Monday.

After the 2.5-hour operation, the former F1 driver remains “stable from the cardio-respiratory and metabolic point of view, and serious from the neurological point of view”.

“The prognosis remains confidential,” the hospital added.

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