18th December 2020
It’s been 23 unforgettable weeks since the green lights went out in Austria back in July. We’ve visited new tracks, welcomed maiden race winners and collectively held our breath witnessing Grosjean’s terrifying crash in Bahrain. In a year where Formula 1 celebrated its 70th anniversary, this one will truly be remembered as a season like no other.
When the Formula 1 season was postponed in March, it was hard to imagine how it could possibly restart this year. With coronavirus sweeping the globe, and everyone locked down at home, it didn’t seem realistic, yet Formula 1 achieved what at first seemed impossible by delivering 17 races across 12 countries in 6 months.
And what a season it has been.
Lewis Hamilton has taken the baton from the great Michael Schumacher by becoming Formula 1’s race win record holder and a seven-time Drivers’ World Champion. The Mercedes-AMG PETRONAS Formula One Team has rewritten the record books with a seventh consecutive Constructors’ World Championship, surpassing the Williams Racing team for the third-most victories in Formula 1.
COVID-19 saw three drivers and several F1 and team personnel taken out of action at various races during the season, but the show still went on. Pierre Gasly and Sergio Perez snatched their maiden race wins, Nico Hulkenberg made some star appearances, and the battle in the midfield was closer than ever with McLaren Racing coming out on top in the season finale in Abu Dhabi.
But this year, the action hasn’t just been focused on the racetrack; in 2020, the sport united like never before.
It started during the first lockdown with Project Pitlane, which saw several teams come together as part of a UK industry-wide effort to manufacture and deliver respiratory devices to support the national health services.
It continued through the revised budget cap, the new sporting and technical regulations, and the Concorde agreement, signed by all 10 Formula 1 teams.
And it was most visible across the #WeRaceAsOne campaign where drivers and teams came together at each race to express solidarity against acts of social injustice.
In the words of Ross Brawn, Formula 1’s Managing Director of Motorsport, looking back on the 2020 season on the F1 Nation podcast: “Formula 1 comes together and excels. I’m just really proud of what everyone was able to do this year because it seemed an almost impossible task…”
For the travelling circus, it’s been a challenging but ultimately rewarding and successful year. For those whose businesses reside in the sport but were unable to get on the ground – partners, sponsors and most media – it’s been an equally challenging and uncertain time.
A season in which plans were ripped up, revised and redrawn; repeatedly. A year where virtual solutions were adopted, working relationships became more remote, and new perspectives and strategies embraced.
So, what’s the outlook for 2021?
For the sport, a 23-race calendar, a new Formula 1 CEO, the departure of some familiar faces and the introduction of some new (and old!).
Likewise, a fresh battle to try and achieve a new sporting record with the elusive eighth World Championship for Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula 1 team and Lewis Hamilton.
For the world? There’s hopefully some light at the end of the tunnel with the roll-out of a COVID-19 vaccine, but we’ll have to wait and see how quickly that enables what we know and love to return to something resembling normal. Until then, it’s a well-earned off-season break for the Formula 1 family.
Photo credit: © LAT Images for Mercedes-Benz Grand Prix Ltd