The Formula One season has not yet begun, February marks the beginning of pre-season launches. A few days later pre-season testing has begun. Testing is highly restricted these days, limited to a total of 5 days. In years gone by testing was unlimited. To account for this deficit the majority of testing has moved from the real world and onto advanced AI-driven computer simulations. But there is still no substitute to real-world testing because real-world testing can reveal hidden flaws.
As of now, nearly all teams have revealed their 2020 pre-season spec cars. What has been revealed so far is not what you will see in Australia, when the F1 Season officially kicks off on March 15. Those 5 days of testing will condense current thinking and allow elbow room for development. We expect Mercedes to be the leaders with a narrow performance edge over Ferrari and Red Bull.
When an F1 team has shown a dominant phase, that phase is always unsustainable as much as it is cyclical. A decline is always innevitable. Can Mercedes sustain a performance advantage for another year? If Honda supply Red Bull with an engine that is not too far away from Mercedes or Ferrari in terms of performance then it’s game on for Red Bull and Verstappen.
Red Bull’s secret weapon, isn’t Max Verstappen or Honda, it’s Adrian Newey the acclaimed Formula 1 genius designer. Newey’s Midas touch has won multiple championships for the various constructors he has worked for. Luckily for Red Bull, they have a driver in Verstappen who can deliver.
Ferrari is always there or thereabout. The Vettel vs Leclerc battle will continue for a second season. Ferrari has always designated a number 1 driver, will they choose the experienced Vettel or the younger Leclerc. Vettel is Ferrari’s marketing vehicle, however, from all accounts, it appears Ferrari will favor Leclerc. But don’t expect Vettel to lay down without putting up a fight, a fight for his future at Ferrari.
McLaren has changed engine partners, it’s back to Mercedes power. We don’t expect too many fireworks from a team that is living off past glories. They have two very capable drivers in Carlos Sainz and Lando Norris. But with all the state of the art resources at their disposal can they make McLaren great again?
The Mid-field teams will once again fall into line and follow a familiar pattern. Toro Rosso is re-branded Alpha Tauri, Racing Point will continue under pink livery before re-branding as Aston Martin in 2021. Hass will start strongly then fade and Williams surely can improve upon last year’s performance which was the worst in their highly decorated history.
Alfa Romeo is in good hands with the veteran Kimi Raikkonen and Renault could be a dark horse… could. I expect the top three will remain Mercedes, Ferrari, Red Bull. The fourth-fastest team will be between Renault and McLaren.