The 2020 Formula One season was one of the most exciting seasons in a long time. Even though the top two spots in the standing remained the same as last year, the midfield battle in 2020 was the strongest it’s been in a few years. It was tough to guess who would be the best of the rest each race weekend, with a few races even ending without any Mercedes or Red Bull podium lock-outs.
Let’s take a look at three of the best races from the 2020 Formula One season.
3. Italian Grand Prix
The Italian Grand Prix looked like any other race in the turbo-hybrid era, with Lewis Hamilton running away with an easy victory. But it soon turned into one of the emotional races in F1 history, as Monza became where ex-Red Bull driver Gasly put his demons to rest a year after switching seats with current Red Bull driver Alex Albon.
The race was going as usual for pole-sitter Hamilton, till lap 20 when Haas driver Kevin Magnussen driver stopped his car right outside the pit-lane entry. This led to the safety car being called onto the track so that the safety marshalls could remove the Hass from the pit entry. The race stewards closed the pit lane until the car was cleared, but unfortunately, Mercedes overlooked that and called Hamilton into the pits. Hamilton was served a 10 second stop/go penalty. He did his penalty after the race was restarted on lap 28. When he came out of the pits, he was at the back of the pack.
With Hamilton at the back of the grid, the fight for P1 was wide open, with Gasly, Sainz and Stroll occupying the top three spots. Near the end of the race, Sainz was at P2, and even though he was in DRS range of Gasly, he couldn’t get past him. Neither driver had ever won an F1 Grand Prix in their career, and indeed, at the end of the race, that would change for at least one of the drivers.
Unfortunately for Sainz, he would be one who would fail to change that as Gasly held onto his lead to cross the line and secure AlphaTauri’s second-ever win in F1(both of them were at Monza) with Sainz only 0.415 seconds behind him. It was proper redemption for the Frenchman who was dropped by Red Bull just over a year ago.
If there was ever a rollercoaster of race in the 2020 F1 season, it was the Sakhir Grand Prix. There were two major talking points for this race. One was Mercedes stand-in, George Russell, who found himself in a Mercedes seat sooner than he had hoped because Hamilton had tested positive before the weekend and had to be quarantined.
Russell wasted no time proving himself to the rest of the grid by taking the lead from his teammate of the day, Valtteri Bottas. He would keep the lead till lap 62 when he would exit the pits with the Bottas’s tires, which meant that he had to go back into the pits for a new set of tyres. He rejoined the race in P5. He would make his way to P2 before disaster struck again. This time on lap 78, he would suffer a tyre puncture, which meant he had to pit again. When he exited the pits, he was p14. He finished the race at P9 and scored the first points of his career.
Russell was robbed from winning a Formula One race, which is somewhat of a rare opportunity. Still, he managed to show the world that he is one of the brightest young talents on the Formula One grid and a future world champion in the making.
On the other hand, Racing Point’s Sergio Perez didn’t waste the opportunity of winning a Formula One race after it fell right into his lap. Perez had an eventful first lap, in which he found himself at the back of the grid after colliding with Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc at turn 4. The Mexican driver would pit at the end of the lap for repairs and would rejoin at P18, behind everyone else in the race.
Perez would slowly make his way up the field and take P3 from Esteban Ocon on lap 58. Perez was given the lead when the Mercedes pit wall made mistakes while pitting Bottas and Russell on the same lap. He would hold onto the lead even when Russell was in his mirrors, trying his best to get past him. Perez finished the race P1 and made history by taking his first career F1 victory after the most attempts at it- 190.
On the podium with Perez would be two other midfield drivers, Esteban Ocon in P2 with his first career F1 podium and Perez’s teammate, Lance Stroll in P3.
Out of 17 races in 2020, it was hard to pick a definite winner, but the Turkish Grand Prix takes the top spot. The other two races on the list were great, but both were made great because of the involvement of Safety Cars; this race was a thriller even before the race began.
During qualifying on Saturday, Racing Point’s Lance Stroll shocked the grid by getting pole positions under rainy conditions. His teammate, Sergio Perez, got third, with Max Verstappen getting sandwiched between them in second. Eventual race-winner Lewis Hamilton qualified 6th.
Race day was still wet, but that didn’t stop Racing Point from having a dream start as they led the opening stages of the race 1-2 after Bottas and Verstappen spun in the first lap while Hamilton went off track a few times.
As the race went on, the track conditions kept changing while remaining wet on most parts of the track. Stroll, who was in the lead until his second pit stop on lap 36, started struggling as his tires never came alive throughout the rest of the race. His teammate, Perez, took the lead of the race and looked in prime position to win his first race. In the changing conditions, everyone continued to struggle, with the expectation of one driver, Hamilton.
The Briton, who had stopped for intermediates on lap 8, got to grips with the surface and produced one of the best wet-weather drivers of his career. He overtook Perez for the lead of the race on lap 36 and never looked back. He ended up winning the race by 31 seconds ahead of P2. Hamilton clinched his 7th World Drivers’ Championship by crossing the line, which brought him equal with Micheal Schumacher’s record total.
Even after Hamilton had crossed the line, there was racing left to be done, as Perez was battling it out with Charles Leclerc for P2 with Sebastian Vettel waiting patiently behind both of them for an opportunity to pass. An opportunity would present itself after Leclerc ran wide into turn nine, trying to overtake Perez. In two turns, he fell from P2 to p4 and crossed the line behind Perez and Vettel, who finished P2 and P3, respectively.