'Twas a season to be jolly and then the world stopped because of a virus. As much as we fear cybercrime, human nature is still and will always be in charge.
The whole world stopped which included Formula One.
Pre-season testing was over and the teams were readying themselves for FP1 down under. Then a Mclaren staff member was positively tested for COVID-19 and the bosses and organisers and the FIA and F1 had to make a very quick decision as to whether run the Australian F1 event or not. After much consultation, the race was postponed and subsequently cancelled.
What was in March 2020. Teams were not allowed to work on cars and the mandatory 2-week break usually taken in the Northern Hemisphere Summer Months was implemented.
This means that very little work has been done on the 2020 Spec cars and we need to go back and see what happened in Winter testing.
Mercedes were superb as to be expected and they introduced us to the DAS ( Dual Access Steering) system, Remember that? Tech expert Mark Hughes explains it thus: "If the mechanism works as assumed, the [effect of deploying the device will mean the] tyres will be heated more evenly across their width as they run fully upright, but the benefits of toe-out can still be deployed into the corner. It will be of particular benefit on circuits with long straights.
The vastly impressive and surprise package was the Racing Point F1 car. Looking strikingly similar to the Mercedes of 2019 many an eye was raised about it nevertheless the team got on with testing and they were super quick. their best time was only 3tenths slower than RBR but they were on the C3 tyre. There was plenty of fun and games at testing.
Many suspected sand-bagging from the various teams after what happened back at testing in 2019. For some, this may be true but for others, there was plenty of head-scratching and by this, I mean at Scuderia Ferrari. The 2020 F1000 (named because Ferrari will celebrate their 10000 race appearance) seems to be a bit of a lemon. After the shenanigans of 2019 and the protests about the Ferrari engine, just yesterday the FIA announced 4 new rules about F1 engines :
1. Updated energy sensor: the FIA wants to get more control over how much power is used by the ERS.
2. Oil consumption in the engine: In 2019 a maximum of 0.6 litres of oil per 100 kilometres was still allowed in the engine, will be halved to 0.3 litres.
3. New fuel flow meter installed in the F1 cars. Red Bull and Mercedes had shown the FIA that there was a loophole in the law, which at times allow you to demand more power from the engine
4. Fuel consumption will have even stricter controls.
The Scuderia had some kind of wizardry which gave them a bunch of power and not lose much fuel consumption. Having said that it was not proven that the Ferrari team ran an illegal car. Many will argue that the FIA let them off the hook. What a load of nonsense. The FIA cannot afford to be anything but impartial in its mandate of motoring and motor-racing. another point to consider is that Ferrari's tricks might well be something very ingenious and it is their intellectual property at stake and they, therefore, didn't want their secrets to let out the bag.
Whatever it is is now irrelevant and the maths boffins at Maranello seem to have done some poor arithmetic regarding the F1000 as it was slow and twitchy around Barcelona when Winter testing took place. This was not sand-bagging. This was a disaster. That simple. Team principle Mattia Binotto who summarily dismissed Sebastian Vettel before the season has even started has stated that he does NOT believe that the team will be the quickest in Austria and he feels that the team needs at least three races to understand where they are. Well, Mr B, there are ONLY 8 races, losing 3 is really not an option. This could be the suckiest way ever for a driver to leave a team. On the other hand, Mercedes Boss Toto Wolff is not buying it. He is adamant that Ferrari did not show their pace in Barcelona. In under three weeks, we will have an idea when F1 fires up at the stunning Red Bull Ring in Austria.
Forget the driver market which has gone tilt over the lockdown period. Here is a brief rundown though : Sebastian Vettel has been kicked out by Ferrari, Carlos Sainz will replace Vettel at Ferrari, Daniel ricciardo will replace Sainz at Mclaren which leaves a seat open at Renault for 2021. It could be Vettel, Bottas, Alonso or AN Other... and then it could leave the door open for Vettel to join Lewis Hamilton at Mercedes..... Anyway, lets forget that.
The focus has to be on 2020. We have a spectator-less season to "enjoy" and a title needs to be won.
So I reckon the fight will be between Lewis Hamilton, Valtteri Bottas and Max Verstappen.