At long last, the 2020 Formula One season will begin on Sunday with the Austrian Grand Prix at the Red Bull Ring. F1 is the most popular motorsport in the world. Unlike other motorsport seasons that have begun, F1 got a full race weekend schedule with three practices and a qualifying session.
The course is 2.683 miles long with 10 turns. The race is scheduled for 71 laps, but has a two-hour time limit, like all F1 races.
Similar to our IndyCar season preview, this preview will not only talk about Sunday’s race but will give a rundown on the 20 drivers competing for the title this season. It will be broken up by team. Let’s get into it.
The class of the field for the last six years, Mercedes looks for their seventh championship in a row and fourth in a row with reigning champion Lewis Hamilton. Hamilton is a six-time champion and is seeking a record-tying seventh champion, which would match him with Michael Schumacher. At Red Bull, Hamilton has one win and an average finish of fifth. He will start second on Sunday.
It was Hamilton’s teammate Valtteri Bottas who won pole position for Sunday. Bottas was runner-up in last year’s championship battle to Hamilton. He has one win in six starts at Red Bull with an average finish of 6.7. He is seeking his first F1 championship.
Mercedes is also seeking their seventh consecutive Constructor’s Championship.
Red Bull Racing
Looking to dethrone Mercedes this year is the rising duo of youngsters Max Verstappen and Alexander Albon. The teammates finished third and eighth in last year’s championship, respectively, and finished third in the Constructor’s Championship.
Verstappen has won the last two Austrian Grands Prix, but will have his work cut out for him as he will need to overtake both Bottas and Hamilton for a third-consecutive win. He starts third on Sunday.
Albon finished 15th in his lone start at Austria, but showed top-five speed in practice and qualifying, and will be in strong contention to earn his first podium finish on Sunday. He will start fifth.
Once the premier team in F1, Ferrari has failed to win a Constructor’s Championship since 2008. However, the team does have hope with rising star and fan favorite Charles Leclerc, who finished fourth in last year’s championship. Four-time F1 champion Sebastian Vettel had his lowest championship result last season since 2014.
Leclerc scored a podium finish with a second-place run in last year’s Austrian Grand Prix while Vettel finished fourth.
The team had a disastrous qualifying effort on Saturday as Leclerc wound up seventh on the grid, while Vettel will start 11th.
Lando Norris and Carlos Sainz Jr. return for their second full-time season with McLaren.
Norris has been the surprise of the weekend as he was top-10 in all three practices and scored a top-five grid spot for Sunday. Norris is looking to improve from an 11th-place finish in the championship in 2019. He finished sixth in his lone start at Red Bull last year.
Sainz will start eighth on Sunday and is looking to crack the top-five in points after finishing sixth in the championship last year. Sainz has two top-10s in five starts at Red Bull with an average finish of 12.2.
McLaren finished fourth in last year’s Constructor’s Championship.
BWT Racing Point
Sergio Perez and Lance Stroll begin their second campaigns with Racing Point.
Perez took a tumble in last year’s championship by finishing 10th; his worst result since 2014. Perez has four top-10 finishes in six starts at Austria. He earned a nice sixth-place start on the grid for Sunday.
The 21-year-old Stroll bounced back to a 15th-place championship finish last year after stumbling from 12th to 18th in 2018. He showed top-10 speed in the final two practices of the weekend and earned a ninth-place start on the grid. However, he has finished 14th in his last two starts at Red Bull.
Daniel Ricciardo makes his second campaign for Renault while Esteban Ocon returns to F1 after a one-year hiatus.
While the team finished fifth in the Constructor’s Championship last season, Ricciardo had a disappointing ninth-place finish in the driver’s championship and did not have a single podium run, which was the first time he missed the podium since 2013. He will roll off 10th on Sunday.
Ocon has top-10 finishes in each of his two Austrian Grand Prix starts. This is his first season with Renault and he will have his work cut out for him as he rolls off 14th.
Now with AlphaTauri after Toro Rosso went defunct, Pierre Gasly looks to improve on his breakout season last year. While he didn’t score a podium finish, Gasly finished seventh in the championship, which was an eight-place improvement from 2018. Gasly finished seventh last year at Red Bull and will start 12th on Sunday.
Daniil Kyvat also comes from Toro Rosso. He scored one podium finish in 2019, but finished 13th in points due to three retirements. He has an average finish of 17.8 at Red Bull in five starts, which is worst among active drivers with more than one start at the course. He will roll off 13th on Sunday.
Veteran teammates Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen are seeking redemption after forgettable campaigns in 2019. However, the redemption may take a few races to find because neither driver showed speed in qualifying. Grosjean and Magnussen will start 15th and 16th, respectively, on Sunday.
Alfa Romeo Racing
Leaving Ferrari for Alfa Romeo did not bode well for long-time veteran Kimi Raikkonen in 2019 as he saw a nine-spot points drop off from a third-place finish in 2018. He is a legend of the sport, but it is most likely not going to show this season, if this weekend is any indication. Raikkonen will start 19th (second-to-last) on Sunday.
Antonio Giovinazzi makes his second campaign with Alfa Romeo. He only scored 14 points all of last season, but had a solid top-five run at Brazil in the second-to-last race of 2019. He finished 10th in last year’s Austrian Grand Prix, but to get up there, he will need to do it from the 18th starting spot.
Oh Williams. The backmarkers of F1. This team scored only one point in 2019, which came from Robert Kubica. Kubica is replaced by rookie Nicholas Latifi. Latifi will start last on Sunday.
George Russell runs his second season with Williams. He finished last in points in 2019 and did not have a top-10 finish. Russell, along with Latifi, showed little to no speed in practice or qualifying. However, Russell, at least, will start in front of both Alfa Romeo cars in 17th on Sunday.
|1st place||25 points|
|2nd place||18 points|
|3rd place||15 points|
|4th place||12 points|
|5th place||10 points|
|6th place||8 points|
|7th place||6 points|
|8th place||4 points|
|9th place||2 points|
|10th place||1 point|
If you are watching in the United States, coverage for the Austrian Grand Prix begins at 9:05 a.m. EST on ESPN.