F1: Team by Team

Mercedes: 2020 Guide

Mercedes has been the team to beat in Formula One for six seasons, claiming both the World Drivers’ and World Constructors’ Championships in 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, and 2019.

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes’ champion driver in five of the last six seasons, blazed to his sixth World Championship last season, riding 11 wins to finish 87 points clear of second place – which happened to be Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas.

Looking to extend the Mercedes dynasty, technical director James Allison decided to up the ante in the offseason, giving the drivers an even more aggressive car for the 2020 Formula One campaign.

Mercedes’ Personnel Changes

The story of the offseason has been whether Lewis Hamilton will extend his contract with Mercedes, but the whole situation doesn’t appear to have mattered too much to the driver. He still has another year left on his deal, taking him to the end of the 2020 Formula One season, so, at the very least, he’ll be leading the line for Mercedes from the Australian Grand Prix onwards.

As Hamilton’s teammate for the last three seasons, Mercedes decided to stick with consistency over trying out reserve driver Esteban Ocon. The German team exercised their option to extend Valtteri Bottas’ deal for another year amid the 2019 F1 season, going for the same one-two punch in 2020 that finished first and second in 2019.

Mercedes’ Engine Changes for 2020

Mercedes’ engine division, High-Performance Powertrains, have invested in raising the operating temperature of the new engine to help lend an assist to the team working on improving the car’s cooling package.

Last season, Mercedes’ W10 car suffered from cooling issues which couldn’t be properly sorted out because of a limitation with its radiator capacity. This is what the team claimed to be the issue during the extremely hot Austrian Grand Prix, in which the weather hampered the car’s overall performance.

For 2020, though, Mercedes has an engine with increased operating temperature as well as an improved cooling package that should help them to avoid difficulties on high-temperature tracks.

Specification Changes to the Mercedes Car for 2020

The 2020 Formula One season will see Mercedes roll out the new W11 model, which is claimed to have hundreds of design changes to the W10, according to the team’s technical director. Perhaps the most interesting is Mercedes’ new dual-axis steering (DAS) system.

It has been a point of controversy in the F1 world, with the FIA already ruling that teams will only be allowed to run DAS until the end of the 2020 season. The new system is legal per the standing rules as it only changes the angle of the steering for the front wheels.

Along with DAS, the team behind W11 has altered the geometry to the rear suspension to allow for aerodynamic gains, has made an increase to its power output, and has tweaked the wheel design. The changes appear to be showing gains already, as Day 2 of preseason testing showed Mercedes as being the fastest at 324.3 km/h.

Mercedes’ Driver Profiles

The eyes of Mercedes fans and all other Formula One fans will be on Lewis Hamilton as he looks to extend his legacy in the upcoming Formula One campaign. Coming into the 2020 season, Hamilton is the reigning world champion and has 151 podiums, 3431 points, and six total world championships to his name.

Hamilton’s partner in crime is Valtteri Bottas, who has proven himself to be a strong and mostly selfless teammate to the driver who’s chasing history. Finishing third, fifth, and second in the world championship standings with Mercedes, the Finnish driver isn’t expected to usurp his teammate this year.

Stories to Watch Out for in 2020

The biggest stories of Mercedes and the 2020 Formula One season will undoubtedly revolve around Lewis Hamilton now that the team’s new DAS system has been granted for this year. As the leader of the Silver Arrows, few are looking past Hamilton for the Drivers’ Championship this season as you can get him at odds of 11/20 to claim another title.

Hamilton is hot on the heels of many incredible F1 records coming into this campaign and could take many of them. The biggest one is tying Michael Schumacher for the most championships, with the German legend out in front with seven and Hamilton sitting on six.

Along with that, Hamilton can stand with the most wins if he finishes atop the podium on eight occasions in 2020. With just five more podium finishes, Hamilton will edge ahead of Schumacher’s total of 155 podiums.

Hamilton could start off the season with a new record Down Under. If he clinches pole at the Australian Grand Prix, he will have more pole positions at a single Grand Prix than any other driver – edging ahead of the group of himself, Schumacher and his idol, Ayrton Senna, who all sit on eight.

Once again, Mercedes is the team to beat, and Hamilton looks set to claim the majority of the headlines in the 2020 Formula One season.

McLaren: 2020 Guide

McLaren was very impressive last season, climbing back up the standings to finish as the best of the rest. Spearheaded by two young and very talented drivers, McLaren was able to take a step forward having had time to adjust to the Renault engine.

Entering 2020, McLaren is, once again, a very exciting team to keep an eye on. While they likely won’t be able to compete for a top-three place in the World Constructors’ Championship, the new, aggressive approach with gung-ho talents at the wheel could prove to throw a spanner in the works in some races in this Formula One season.

McLaren’s Personnel Changes

McLaren bounced back last season with a lot of credit going to the now 25-year-old Carlos Sainz Jr and 20-year-old Lando Norris. Both shall be returning for McLaren this season with James Key, who joined the team in March 2019, remaining at the helm as the technical director.

McLaren’s Engine Changes for 2020

This season spells the concluding chapter between McLaren and Renault in their engine partnership. McLaren has suffered from engine troubles in recent years, with an abysmal run under Honda for three years forcing a late switch to Renault in 2018, which resulted in yet another lost season.

In 2019, though, Renault proved to be a viable partner for McLaren, helping the team to climb to an unlikely fourth in the World Constructors’ Championship.

The 2021 Formula One season will see McLaren pivot back to Mercedes for their engine, but technical director James Key believes that they’ll get plenty of power out of the Renault engine in their last season together. He says that Renault took a visible step forward last season and that they expect to be competitive this season.

Specification Changes to the McLaren Car for 2020

The new MCL35 model has evolved significantly from Key’s MCL34 car, with the nose being much more narrow and rear end pinched to try to achieve the maximum possible downforce. What that spells is McLaren wanting to be more aggressive on the track this year.

Along with a more outboard-loaded front wing, the car should deliver greater peak downforce, which can be more difficult for drivers to manage. As skilled as Sainz Jr and Norris have proven to be, this could mean trouble for the young drivers throughout the season. That said, Mercedes and Red Bull proved that you could get a decent amount of control from such designs.

Day 2 of preseason testing saw McLaren place fifth in top speed, behind Mercedes, Alfa Romeo, Red Bull, and Racing Point, at 315.5 km/h.

McLaren’s Driver Profiles

Leading the team, based on 2019 F1 performances, is Carlos Sainz Jr, who boasts 267 career points and a grid position high of fifth through his young career. Last season, the Spaniard clinched his first podium position, coming third with McLaren at the Brazilian Grand Prix.

Lando Norris is even greener than his teammate, having earned 49 points through his F1 career to date. Still only 20 years old, Norris’ highest race finish so far is sixth.

Stories to Watch Out For in 2020

McLaren will be looking to hold onto their best of the rest title of the 2019 F1 season, with progression across the board being the aim of the game.

The 2020 Formula One season will put a focus on Sainz Jr and Norris being consistent, developing their partnership, and attempting to climb the World Drivers’ Championship standings from their respective finishes of sixth and 11th last season.

McLaren will look to continue to push the car forward while the two young drivers strive to add some podium finishes to their CVs. Having finished 272 points adrift of third, McLaren will hope to close the gap this season.

They won’t be contending for the Constructors’ or Drivers’ crown, but further progress this season in the car and drivers will bode well for the future of the McLaren team.

Red Bull Racing: 2020 Guide

Since winning the World Championships in 2010, 2011, 2012, and 2013 with the dynamic duo of Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber, Red Bull Racing has given way to the new Mercedes dynasty and a now-resurgent Ferrari team.

Red Bull have endured engine troubles over the last few years, but that didn’t stop them from having enough in the tank to finish third in each of the last three seasons.

With Max Verstappen as the undisputed number one driver for a second season, Red Bull Racing aims to lay down a fully-fledged challenge to the tyrant Mercedes in the 2020 Formula One season.

Red Bull Racing’s Personnel Changes

The team’s incredibly talented 22-year-old Dutch talisman, Max Verstappen, has inked a deal through to 2023, with the hope being that he’ll lead Red Bull Racing as they build towards World Championship contention once again.

Verstappen’s wingman this season will be Alexander Albon, who stepped into car two during last season to replace Pierre Gasly. The racer isn’t being pressured to deliver results from the off this season, with the team just wanting to see improvements in his game as the season progresses.

Red Bull Racing’s Engine Changes for 2020

Red Bull ascended to the pinnacle of Formula One racing with Renault powering their cars, but the supplier’s lack of time devoted to the new hybrid engines saw Red Bull slip out of the picture. They switched to Honda last season, which the team has since put down as a rebuilding campaign with the new Honda power.

Now, however, there are high hopes for the increasingly powerful Honda engine to fling Red Bull Racing back into the upper echelons. The first year proved to be promising, but Honda has now had even more time to refine the engine within the Red Bull set-up.

Honda has developed a ‘party mode’ for the Red Bull’s RB16 alongside numerous other updates to give it a serious step up from its 2019 F1 showing. It is said that the new Honda engine has now eliminated the power deficit between Red Bull, Ferrari, and Mercedes.

Specification Changes to the Red Bull Racing Car for 2020

Aside from the engine upgrades, Red Bull Racing appears to be coming into the season with much of the same as last season.

The nose’s design has been tweaked slightly to cater to a more slotted opening, but other than that, the favoured aero concept remains in place, and the car appears to be very similar to the one which Red Bull finished with in Abu Dhabi.

Day 2 of preseason testing saw Red Bull’s top speed come in behind Mercedes, Alfa Romero, and, marginally, Racing Point. The Austrian-licensed team clocked in a top speed of 317.5 km/h.

Red Bull Racing’s Driver Profiles

Since moving into the Red Bull Racing ranks in 2016 to replace Daniil Kvyat, Verstappen has gone from strength to strength. The Belgium-born Dutchman’s rapid ascendency even convinced Daniel Ricciardo, who took over the top spot when Sebastian Vettel departed in 2015, to move on to a new team. Still only 22 years old, Verstappen already has 948 points, 31 podium finishes, and eight F1 wins to his name.

Alexander Albon was bumped into the Red Bull Racing team from Toro Rosso to replace Pierre Gasly last season, with the switch proving to be a wise move by the team. Taking his seat from the Belgian Grand Prix onwards, Albon only finished outside of the top-six once over the last nine races of the 2019 F1 season. He achieved a career-best finish of fourth last season and has accumulated 92 points to date.

Stories to Watch Out for in 2020

Red Bull Racing is certainly the dark horse of the 2020 Formula One season. If the improved Honda engine lives up the hype, Verstappen continues his fine racing, and Albon takes a few steps forward, Red Bull could be competing for the top spot. Many people believe that this might just be the year that Mercedes faces a stiff challenge from Red Bull, which is why you can get Verstappen at 5/1 to win the Drivers’ Championship.

In the team’s transition year to the Honda engine, last season, they started very slowly, not landing a pole or a victory in the first nine races. Verstappen has noted that a fast start is needed if the team is to move back up the standings: Mercedes will almost certainly get off to a winning start with Hamilton already presiding as the eight-time winner of the Australian Grand Prix (the first race on the 2020 F1 calendar).

Mercedes may lead the elite trio of Formula One on paper, but the bold racing of Verstappen in an even more powerful car could make it a much closer race than previously expected.

Ferrari: 2020 Guide

Kimi Räikkönen and Felipe Massa delivered Ferrari their last two World Constructors’ Championships way back in 2007 and 2008.

The most storied team in the history of Formula One has been put in the backseat by the likes of Red Bull Racing and Mercedes over the last decade, but fans sense that the Prancing Horse is nearing a return to the top.

This season, the team looks to find stability within its ranks, build on its almighty 2019 engine, and offer a car that can be driven with so much power.

Ferrari’s Personnel Changes

Finishing fourth and fifth in the 2019 World Drivers’ Championship standings, Ferrari is returning this season with the same duo of Charles Leclerc and Sebastian Vettel. The 22-year-old Monégasque is certainly the future of the team, having secured a deal until 2024, but something says that Vettel has to prove a point in this campaign.

Vettel, who won the Drivers’ Championship four times with Red Bull Racing, will be without a Formula One contract at the end of the season if all stays the same. The hot-headed German won eight podium finishes, one of which was a victory, last season, but Ferrari’s high expectations will demand more from the veteran if he wants a new deal.

Ferrari’s Engine Changes for 2020

Ferrari came into last season with the most powerful engine. It was mightily impressive, but the team has decided to overhaul their power unit as they see room to expand its potential. The team has changed the engine’s architecture and cylinder, with many other aspects also coming under review.

On Day 3 of testing, however, Vettel’s car came to a stop due to an engine problem. After being stripped and checked in Maranello, it was found that the issues weren’t structural but were due to the lubrication system. Ferrari has claimed that it’s not a cause for concern, but it’s certainly not the start that they wanted for their new engine.

Specification Changes to the Ferrari Car for 2020

Ferrari’s new SF1000 car looks eerily similar to the car that struggled to perform last season, but team boss Mattia Binotto has said that it’s completely different. After the problems that arose during last season, Ferrari has taken an aerodynamics-first approach with the SF1000, attempting to maximise downforce level with a slim and narrow body shape.

They also designed the new car while trying to keep the weight down as well as redesign the suspension system to enable it to be more adaptable on the track. Increased downforce and drag are what the Ferrari team has aimed for with its new challenger.

While a lot of changes will be made before the Australian Grand Prix, Ferrari has lagged behind the rest in testing. Quite surprisingly, the top speed clocked by Ferrari on Day 2 was 310.5 km/h, which only edged Haas.

Ferrari’s Driver Profiles

Leclerc’s first season for Ferrari in Formula One was nothing short of electric. Determined to be a challenger to everyone on the track, including teammate Sebastian Vettel, he became the second-youngest driver to qualify in pole in the F1 – doing so in his second race for Ferrari. The season saw him land ten podiums and two wins, and he’s still only 22 years old.

Seasoned veteran Vettel will be vying to remain relevant on a team that boasts the incredibly talented Leclerc. He finished 24 points back of his new teammate in 2019 and 173 points back of the top spot. The German has won the World Championship four times, sealed 2985 points, 120 podiums, and 53 race wins, but the 32-year-old is under pressure to perform this season.

Stories to Watch Out For in 2020

Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes are, as you would assume, the favourites to win their respective championships. However, many fans see Leclerc’s showing of last season as a sign of Ferrari putting an end to the Mercedes dynasty, which is why Leclerc is at 5/1 to win the Drivers’ Championship in 2020.

It’s clear to see that Ferrari wants to win the title this season. They’ve signed on a top young star, have a former champion battling for his job, have overhauled their leading engine in search for improvements, and have thrown a lot of money into their Formula One team.

The main story to watch is how Vettel responds to Ferrari effectively telling him to prove to them that he deserves to be on the team.

If any team is to usurp the dominance of Mercedes – not necessarily the team’s drivers – it looks to be Ferrari in the 2020 Formula One season.

Renault: 2020 Guide

After a few years of steady progress, the wheels came off for Renault at the start of what could have been an exciting new era for the team.

In a major coup for the F1 team, Renault managed to lure Daniel Ricciardo away from Red Bull Racing but finished the season in fifth – 54 points adrift of McLaren. To make matters worse, Renault supply McLaren’s engine.

Coming into the 2020 Formula One season, Renault’s goal is to reclaim the “best of the rest” spot (fourth in the World Constructors’ Championship).

Renault’s Personnel Changes

While Daniel Ricciardo is signed on for at least one more year with Renault, the Aussie star has made it clear that unless the car improves enough to allow him to compete for a podium place soon, he’ll look for another team at the end of 2020.

Ricciardo will, however, have a new teammate for the 2020 Formula One season, with Esteban Ocon replacing last year’s number two driver, Nico Hülkenberg. Ocon was Mercedes’ reserve driver last season and now joins Renault on a full-time contract.

Renault’s Engine Changes for 2020

Renault has already come out with some rather hefty claims about their new engine for the 2020 campaign. Engine boss Rémi Taffin has announced that the new power unit is only surpassed by Ferrari – meaning that, according to his claims, the Renault engine is more powerful that Mercedes and Honda.

The engine is claimed to be significantly more efficient now, and it has received the backing of Renault’s customer and competitor, McLaren. McLaren’s technical director, James Key, has hailed the French company for taking a very visible step forward in its F1 engine’s performance.

Specification Changes to the Renault Car for 2020

To the disappointment of many fans, Renault didn’t showcase a physical car at launch, instead opting to show the RS20 in the form of digital rendering teasers. Their reasons were fair – it’s a waste of money to present what is effectively a fake car – but race fans were made to wait for pre-season testing to finally see the new challenger.

The RS20’s biggest change has been to its nose, which has been altered to make it much, much more aggressive and able to bring about more downforce. Overall, the body seems to be tighter as well. As far as Day 2 testing results can go, Renault showed a better top speed than Ferrari, clocking in at 311.3 km/h. That said, Mercedes and Alfa Romeo dwarfed their foes at 324.3 km/h and 323.9 km/h, respectively.

Renault’s Driver Profiles

Daniel Ricciardo has been one of the most exciting Formula One drivers of the past few years – and not just because of his infamous ‘shoey’ podium celebration. The Australian has clinched 29 podium finishes, 1040 F1 points, and seven victories.

Frenchman Esteban Ocon is still relatively green in Formula One, being on the sidelines last season for Mercedes and only accumulating 136 points overall. He has, however, shown that he can put in some strong performances, having finished fifth twice in his career and boasting a grid position of third in the past.

Stories to Watch Out for in 2020

Despite the hefty claims about the new engine’s power and the fact that the team is going to be led by Daniel Ricciardo, none of us expect Renault to be contending alongside the elite three of Formula One in 2020.

Not only is Lewis Hamilton way ahead at 11/20 to the 5/1 of joint-second-favourites Charles Leclerc and Max Verstappen, but you can also get Ricciardo at 1000/1 to win the drivers’ title – emphasising that Renault is still a building team.

The main aim of this year for Renault is to reclaim fourth place in the Constructors’ Championship. McLaren convincingly took the “best of the rest” title last season while using the Renault engine, but team chief Cyril Abiteboul has stated that this year it is pivotal to reclaim that position.

Renault and McLaren look set to engage in an intriguing duel in the 2020 Formula One season, with the French team hoping to show enough that they can convince Ricciardo to stick around.

Haas F1 Team: 2020 Guide

Despite a chaotic pre-season in which Kevin Magnussen suffered a dramatic crash in testing, Haas are promising a much better season this time around than in 2019.

Happily, the Dane walked away scot-free from that collision in Barcelona, and the team’s principals are confident that teething issues with their vehicle will be ironed out in time for the Australian Grand Prix on March 15.

However, given what we saw of the team in 2019, a significant improvement is required if Haas are to prove competitive this time around.

Haas F1 Team Personnel Changes

Haas’ head honchos have chosen to go with Magnussen and Romain Grosjean as their drivers this term, despite rumours suggesting that one if not both were vulnerable to being replaced.

Magnussen, the team lead, finished sixth in the seasonal opener at the Australian Grand Prix in 2019, but that was as good as it got for a car that was called “bloody undriveable” by Grosjean after yet another disappointing finish.

The Frenchman recorded just three top-ten finishes in 2019 and was forced to take an early bath from seven races as the mechanical issues that dogged the vehicle reared their head once more.

Seventh at the German Grand Prix showed what Grosjean is capable of when things go right, but a season’s tally of just 28 Constructors’ Championship points reveals how far Haas are from competing on a regular basis.

Haas F1 Team Engine Changes for 2020

Haas have once again teamed up with Ferrari on the construction of their car, with the Italian firm providing their Ferrari 065 power unit to fire the new VF-20 engine to – hopefully from Haas’ perspective – improved performances.

We won’t know more about the VF-20 until we’re into the new season, but team principal Guenther Steiner believes that the new model is a throwback to their 2018 car – with which they finished fifth in the Constructors’ Championship ahead of McLaren.

The major flaw in the Haas VF-19 model appeared to be completely fallible to hot conditions, and while they worked hard on technical tweaks – including one ill-advised update ahead of the Spanish Grand Prix – nothing really seemed to stick.

Specification Changes to the Haas F1 Team Car for 2020

Prolonged periods of testing were unable to get to the bottom of why Haas were so poor in 2019.

The issue was a lack of downforce on the rear end of the car as it entered slow-speed corners from high-speed straights, and – eventually – the problem was attributed to windtunnel correlation.

The redesigned Haas VF-20 appears to have addressed that issue, with a triangular-shaped air intake being the key change from last year’s model. But will it make a difference?

They will, at least, benefit from the same Ferrari power unit, which is considered to be the best in Formula One.

Haas F1 Team Driver Profiles

In his maiden Formula One season with McLaren back in 2014, Kevin Magnussen looked like a driver with serious talent.

He gained 55 points in that campaign, and the Dane has only bettered that tally once – he notched 56 points in Haas’ halcyon year in 2018.

With considerable team changes expected throughout F1 at the end of this season, Magnussen may be eyeing a move to pastures new; however, he will need to rediscover his best form if he is to achieve that.

There were rumours that Romain Grosjean was set to be replaced by Nico Hülkenberg​​​​​​​ at the end of the 2019 season, but the Frenchman has clung on to his job after the German’s contract negotiations with Steiner reached an impasse.

The 33-year-old is a gifted driver – that much was obvious from his stint with the Lotus F1 team, where he won a combined 228 points in his first two seasons including seven podium finishes.

But he’s never really produced the goods for Haas, and unless the technical difficulties which beset the firm can be ironed out this could well be Grosjean’s final season with the outfit.

Stories to Watch Out For in 2020

Realistic betting odds of 2000/1 to win the Drivers’ Championship show just how far behind the curve Magnussen and Grosjean will be this season.

But, if the technical team’s off-season work has improved the problems that rendered them uncompetitive last term, then a challenge for fifth place with McLaren and Renault is a possibility.

Fans of longshot value might just have a flutter on Magnussen to record a podium finish at the Australian Grand Prix – he has recorded second and sixth-place finishes at this layout so far. 

Alfa Romeo Racing: 2020 Guide

After a lengthy hiatus from the sport, the Alfa Romeo brand returned to Formula One in 2019 for the first time in over three decades, courtesy of their sponsorship of the Sauber team.

It was an exploratory campaign for the new set-up, with a former Drivers’ Championship winner backed by a rookie in his first full season as an F1 driver.

The season started brightly, with Kimi Räikkönen getting in amongst the points consistently, but technical problems from the Belgian Grand Prix onwards – halted only by a fourth-place finish in Brazil which owed much to the Finnish driver’s brilliance – prevented Alfa Romeo from climbing any higher than eighth in the Constructors’ standings.

It was a rather suck-it-and-see season for Antonio Giovinazzi, who enjoyed plenty of success in Formula 3 before stepping up to the big time.

The Italian banked 14 points, including a campaign best of fifth in Brazil, and while he rarely troubled the top-ten there was only one race retirement – that at least shows the durability of this Sauber-built car. 

Alfa Romeo Racing Personnel Changes

It will be business as usual for Alfa Romeo, with Räikkönen and Giovinazzi continuing in their roles for the firm.

The main change has come behind the scenes, with Robert Kubica installed as the team’s reserve driver and his backer, PKN Orlen, taking on a commercial partnership. As such, the outfit has been rebranded Alfa Romeo Racing ORLEN for the 2020 season.

Alfa Romeo Racing Engine Changes for 2020

It stands as it was from a technical standpoint too, with the C39 car introduced for 2020 and thought to be a straightforward build based on last season’s spec.

Ferrari will once again supply their power unit, this time the reimagined 065, and Pirelli will be on tyre supply duties.

Specification Changes to the Alfa Romeo Racing Car for 2020

On the Sauber Group website, the engineers themselves describe the C39 as “largely unchanged compared to 2019”, with only minor changes to aerodynamics.

The front suspension has also been redesigned to allow for new brake ducts, while 3D printing has allowed for 143 individual parts to be additively manufactured, saving some 2% in weight.

Alfa Romeo Racing Driver Profiles

Nothing really needs to be written about Kimi Räikkönen, the former Drivers’ Championship victor who will become F1’s most prolific driver when he, presumably, overtakes Rubens Barrichello’s record for most Formula One starts this season.

The 40-year-old still has the hunger to succeed, and while not exactly backed by the technology of his Ferrari heyday he still produced seven top-10 finishes in his first ten races of 2019.

Standards slipped from thereon as the Alfa Romeo struggled in hot conditions, but it was proof positive that Räikkönen can still hang with the best despite his advancing years.

It was a steep learning curve for Giovinazzi in 2019, but not many drivers score 14 points in their maiden season and especially so as the clear ‘second’ driver for their team.

It will be interesting to see how he progresses in 2020.

Stories to Watch Out For in 2020

It’s foolhardy to get too carried away by testing and the traditional bullishness bore the new season, but there is evidence to suggest that Alfa Romeo will kick on in 2020.

In testing at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, the firm completed the fourth most laps, and by the end of the session, Räikkönen was the third-fastest driver.

Independent results also found that the C39 outperformed even Mercedes on high-speed corners, so no wonder Räikkönen commented that “I think we made a step forward compared to last year.”

The betting odds are instructive – the Finn is 750/1 to win the Drivers’ Championship, Giovinazzi is 2000/1, but there is no doubt that Alfa Romeo can build on their eighth-place finish of 2019.

Fans of individual race wagering may just have a flutter on Räikkönen recording a podium finish or two, and for that, the Grand Prix – where he has won and recorded six other podium finishes – is arguably the most likely venue.

AlphaTauri: 2020 Guide

The artist formerly known as Red Bull Toro Rosso Honda has been given a makeover, and in 2020 the same team but with a different name – AlphaTauri – will be part of the Formula One roster.

With Alexander Albon now on the books of Red Bull, Pierre Gasly has become a permanent main driver with the firm, and he will be joined at the wheel by Daniil Kvyat.

The 2019 season was a good one for AlphaTauri, with two podium finishes helping them to a very healthy sixth position in the Constructors’ Championship – just six points behind Renault in fifth.

Gasly has been a revelation in his short career so far, and in hindsight, it was something of a surprise that Red Bull let him leave halfway through the 2019 campaign – albeit, they got the outstanding Albon in return.

The 24-year-old finished second in Brazil courtesy of an outstanding drive, and if supported by a technically sound car this season holds plenty of promise for the Frenchman.

Despite being just 25, this will be Kvyat’s sixth full season as an F1 driver, and while the unassuming Russian hasn’t quite hit the heights of his seventh-place finish in the 2015 Drivers’ Championship with Red Bull, he is another who can thrive if given the right tools to work with.

AlphaTauri Personnel Changes

The only major change at AlphaTauri has been the new name, with Gasly and Kvyat​​​​​​​ committed for the whole season – unless the Red Bull’s head honchos decide to switch their drivers mid-season again, of course.

AlphaTauri Engine Changes for 2020

AlphaTauri will continue running the Honda engine – Honda RA620H to be precise – that has fired Red Bull’s vehicles since 2018.

Specification Changes to the AlphaTauri Car for 2020

The AT01 will once again run many of the same specs as the Red Bull car, incorporating some of their 2019 tech including a new rear suspension, gearbox and hydraulics.

AlphaTauri Driver Profiles

Pierre Gasly has taken the well-established route to F1 from karting and supercars, and he has consistently cashed in the points ever since for AlphaTauri and Red Bull.

Indeed, his potential saw him get a drive for the parent construction team in 2019, but struggles with the car – and an inability to support Max Verstappen in closing the gap on Lewis Hamilton & Co – saw him ‘demoted’ back to AlphaTauri for the remainder of the campaign.

That might just serve as the motivation Gasly needs. He’s a passionate driver who described his podium finish at the Brazilian Grand Prix – in which he held off Hamilton – as the “best day of his life”. He’ll be hoping to top that in 2020.

Daniil Kvyat​​​​​​​ has promised great things ever since becoming the youngest-ever points scorer at the 2014 Australia Grand Prix aged just 19.

He enjoyed two solid seasons with Red Bull, but a big crash at the Russian Grand Prix in 2016 saw him relegated to AlphaTauri.

Kvyat​​​​​​​ was in and out of the team for the next couple of years, replaced by Gasly initially and also Brendan Hartley, and the insinuation is that he isn’t wholly trusted by Red Bull chiefs – a notion cemented when they promoted Alexander Albon to the parent brand last season over the Russian.

He is another who has plenty to prove in 2020.

Stories to Watch Out For in 2020

The unique relationship between Red Bull and AlphaTauri means that the latter will always be ‘second-best’ when it comes to research and investment.

The franchise’s motorsport director, Helmut Marko, has upgraded AlphaTauri’s status from a ‘junior team’ to a ‘sister team’ to Red Bull, but that still means they will be feeding off scraps – new specs and insights can take as much as three months to filter from Red Bull to AlphaTauri.

So any ambitions they have of challenging for a top-four finish in the Constructors’ Championship will have to be put on hold – Red Bull are desperate to overhaul Ferrari in second.

The promise shown by Gasly and Kvyat will only go so far then, and while they are certainly capable of troubling the top six in numerous races, there will always be a ceiling to their performance level as a result of technical details above their heads.

And you do wonder how unsettling Marko’s mid-season roster changes are to his drivers – nobody can afford to rest on their laurels, but shouldn’t they be allowed the luxury of growing into their roles with the promise of a full season at the wheel?

Big things are expected from the Honda engine in 2020, but AlphaTauri look resigned to a mid-table finish once more.

Racing Point: 2020 Guide

Nicknamed the pink Mercedes given the eye-catching livery and heavy reliance on the German firm’s tech, Racing Point raised eyebrows in more ways than one in 2019.

Their cars stand out like a sore thumb on the track, and it’s no coincidence that Sergio Pérez and Lance Stroll also captured the imagination with some occasionally outstanding performances.

Pérez started the campaign very nicely before tailing off midway through, but a return to the American continent seemed to serve the Mexican well – he finished seventh on home soil, tenth at the US Grand Prix and eighth in Brazil to bank some much-needed points for his team.

As for Stroll, his surname is anything but apt if his fourth-place finish at Hockenheim is anything to go by. It may have been a season of frustration, by and large, for the Canadian, but reported improvements in the Racing Point car could finally give him the vehicle he needs to cash in on his undoubted talent.

Racing Point Personnel Changes

It’s as you were for Racing Point, with Pérez and Stroll retained for the 2020 campaign and no significant changes in the backroom staff either.

Racing Point Engine Changes for 2020

Racing Point have drawn criticism in the past for their reliance on Mercedes tech, rather than developing their own systems in-house, but their chiefs are adamant that is the quickest and most self-sufficient way in which they can enjoy prolonged success.

Specification Changes to the Racing Point Car for 2020

Once more, Racing Point will be wearing their ‘pink Mercedes’ moniker on their sleeves this season, and their new RP20 has an eerily similar spec to that of the German firm’s W10 model that conquered all in 2019.

Coincidence?

Racing Point Driver Profiles

After going very nicely in the GP2 series of 2010, Sergio Pérez was called up for his F1 debut with Sauber the following year.

In his second season, the Mexican really started to pull up some trees, and his three podium finishes were enough for McLaren to be convinced that he was the natural heir to Lewis Hamilton.

But his aggressive driving style rubbed colleagues, including Jenson Button, up the wrong way, and ‘Checo’ was transferred to Racing Point for the 2014 season.

And he has been here ever since, racking up six consecutive top-ten finishes in the Drivers’ Championship.

As for Lance Stroll, there have been occasional claims of nepotism given that Racing Point is part-owned by his father, Lawrence.

But the 21-year-old has shown glimpses of real talent first with Williams and now Racing Point, and if the car has improved this term then so, exponentially, will Stroll’s returns too.

A winner in various disciplines prior to his F1 career, the Canadian was a member of the Ferrari Academy for five years and, at the 2017 Azerbaijan Grand Prix, became the second-youngest driver in history to record a podium finish and the youngest to do so in their rookie season.

Stories to Watch Out For in 2020

After unveiling RP20, Racing Point’s team principal Otmar Szafnauer declared that his drivers would be “drinking water before the race and drinking champagne after” this season.

Formula One is a sport prone to baseless boasting, but early signs in testing suggest that the pink Mercedes could turn plenty of heads this season.

At the Barcelona-Catalunya track, Stroll and Pérez were fifth and sixth fastest respectively, and many pundits believe that the use of Mercedes’ successful template will yield plenty of dividends for Racing Point this term.

Williams: 2020 Guide

It would be an understatement to suggest that 2019 was a season of massive disappointment for Williams.

They picked up just one point in the Constructors’ Championship and were cut adrift by the field to pick up the dreaded wooden spoon.

It’s not as if the car was unreliable – they only suffered four retirements all season long, as you would expect from a Mercedes-powered vehicle, but they simply did not have the nous nor the technical craft to be competitive.

The fact that Robert Kubica’s tenth-place finish at the German Grand Prix was their season’s best effort speaks rather alarming volumes.

Williams Personnel Changes

While George Russell has been retained, Kubica has moved on to pastures new and will be replaced by Nicholas Latifi, who will be embarking on his first season as an F1 driver.

Williams Engine Changes for 2020

The Williams FW43 will run at much the same spec as the 2019 model, with the Mercedes M11 EQ Performance engine – the same used by Lewis Hamilton & Co – deployed once again.

Specification Changes to the Williams Car for 2020

The message from Williams’ design director Doug McKiernan has been that changes have been made to the specs of the car, although so far he’s been rather vague on what those are.

That said, new cooling efficiency systems have been trialled during testing, as well as a new braking set-up. The consensus is that the FW43 will be a lot lighter than last year’s model, too.

Williams Driver Profiles

George Russell is a former GP3 and FIA Formula 2 champion, which is, of course, a well-trodden path for young and emerging drivers of note.

You never quite know whether they will sink or swim in F1, and Russell’s maiden campaign at the wheel for Williams was largely one to forget.

But at 22 and heading into his second campaign, he is building experience and will be looking to bank his first F1 points in 2020.

As for Nicholas Latifi, this is very much a leap into the unknown. He has been a test driver for Renault and Racing Point in the past, but this is the first time that he will be at the helm in a competitive campaign.

The Canadian has enjoyed a decent career at the lower levels, finishing second in Formula 2 in 2019, but the jury has to remain out until we’ve seen how he handles the cut and thrust of a Grand Prix.

Stories to Watch Out For in 2020

It’s nice to be optimistic, but at Betsson we make both George Russell and Nicholas Latifi 2000/1 contenders for the Drivers’ Championship, and that tells you all you need to know.

At no point in 2019 did they offer any signs of a bright future, and it would take a remarkable overhaul of their operations in the off-season for that to change this time around.

Another season as the whipping boys is likely for the bargain basement operator of Formula One.