2020 F1 world championship turned out to be an ecstatic season for Formula 1 fans, as the year was filled with unexpected teams making their way to the podiums. There were teams getting new owners, teams that returned to race wins, and double-podium finishes.
It was a season that had mixed emotions. On one side, Mercedes lifted the cup while on the other side of the standings, there were Williams, who never got going and ended the season with 0 points. So, how did the season turn out for each of 2020’s F1 teams?
The top-field battle reduced from a three-way battle to a two-way battle coming into the 2020 season. Although there were some battles between Mercedes and Red Bull at times, it was never as frequent as an F1 fan would have hoped for. Mercedes’s dominance was quite evident throughout the season.
It reached an extent where F1 fans started showing relief whenever Mercedes messed up or got struck by misfortune.
Let’s start with the best team first, Mercedes. The hype kindled when Mercedes introduced the controversial DAS into the sport. Consequently, that turned everyone’s attention onto them, as everyone expected some serious pace from Mercedes.
Unsurprisingly, the German team lived up to the expectations. They never let their shield down as they absolutely dominated the top step for the first four races.
Although some unfortunate moments pulled Mercedes from securing certain race victories, they still stood out as the best team of the 2020 season.
Behind Mercedes, Red Bull Racing were undeniably the second-best team on the grid. Amidst serious domination by Mercedes, the Austrian-outfit found themselves on the top step a couple of times, once in Silverstone, and then later in Abu Dhabi – all thanks to Max Verstappen.
They were clueless about how to get themselves closer to their rival teams, as Red Bull mostly had a rather lonely season, with no threats from behind, or opportunities from ahead.
One might assume that the mid-field teams ended up far behind the top two teams. Well, that’s not really true.
In 2020, the mid-field comprised of five teams, McLaren, Racing Point, Renault, AlphaTauri, and finally, Ferrari, surprisingly. P3 in the constructor’s table witnessed an opening after Ferrari fell victim to a vigorous loss in pace early in the season.
Hence, the trio of McLaren, Racing Point, and Renault were in a constant fight for the crucial position on the constructor’s table. The battle turned out to be a nail-biting one, as the trio took the fight to the very last race in Abu Dhabi.
Let’s focus on Racing Point first. It was a roller-coaster ride for the Pink Panthers. The Barcelona testing witnessed Racing Point show glimpses of their outright pace.
Consequently, the team looked like they could finally live the dream of fighting for the top 3. The Stroll-owned team commanded P3 for a while.
However, they missed out on the position to McLaren despite securing their first-ever double podium finish, and simultaneously their first-ever race win as well at Sakhir Grand Prix. However, considering their poor performance in 2019, Racing Point wouldn’t beat themselves up for ending up in P4.
They could have secured the P3 if not for the penalty early in the season after Renault called upon the FIA to check Racing Point’s brake ducts. Apparently, the ducts were copied from Mercedes. Hence, FIA handed the pink team a penalty of 15 championship points.
McLaren were pretty silent throughout the season. They reached the headlines early in the season when Lando Norris secured his first F1 podium, but the talks just subsided after that.
However, despite not scoring podiums, they occasionally kept chipping in some points. In the end, those points helped them significantly. It all paid off, as McLaren stole P3 from Racing Point at the very final race of the season. McLaren were part of the top three for the first time since 2012.
Renault certainly deserved more than P5 in the constructors’ table. They had P3 under control for a handful of race weekends. Unfortunately, a series of poor scoring weekends pulled the team down to P5, ultimately diminishing their hopes of securing the ‘best of the rest’ tag.
Still, one accomplishment that Renault cherished is that the team returned to podium finishes after a rather long wait. The French team ended the season by securing an applaudable three podiums.
Shocking to see Ferrari lurking amongst the mid-field, isn’t it?
Well, unfortunately, to legalize their 2020 car, Ferrari had to tweak their engines a bit, which cost them over 30 horsepower. As a result, they just weren’t able to shine through the 2020 season.
Yes, Ferrari secured three podiums over the season, but considering their breath-taking history, those three podiums never looked like an accomplishment. Overall, the team managed to just cruise away from their only threat, AlphaTauri, as Ferrari finished the season in a rather disappointing P6.
Toro Rosso found a refreshing start to the season, as the team raced by a different name, Scuderia AlphaTauri. Despite getting a new name, the team had their usual F1 season, with occasional top 10 finishes.
However, there was one time when the team stole the limelight from pretty much everyone. Pierre Gasly crossed the line in P1 at Italian Grand Prix, as AlphaTauri hailed their first win in their very first season. The last time the team (Toro Rosso) celebrated a win was at the very same circuit in 2008.
Overall, a decent season for AlphaTauri despite finishing in P7, considering they enjoyed a win and a triple-digit points finish.
Well, last season, there was just one team under the list of bottom-field battle, and that was Williams. However, this season, more teams joined the party.
Apart from Williams, the other two teams are Ferrari-powered, as they fell victim to Ferrari engines’ recent fall in performance.
Alfa Romeo took a drastic hit to their performances, as they, too, were running with a Ferrari engine underneath. Following a strong 2019 season, Alfa Romeo looked to be fast enough to join the mid-field battle.
Unfortunately, it just wasn’t meant to be. The team did lead the bottom-field and were always ready to pounce on any chances they got from the mistakes made by the teams ahead. However, they never received too many chances as Alfa Romeo managed a measly eight points in the entire season.
It was almost another regular year for Haas, where they looked strong in the first half of the season and disappeared in the second half. Only this time, they couldn’t shine in the first half either.
Kevin Magnussen partially pulled Haas out of misery at Hungarian Grand Prix, after the team took a gamble and went for slick tires, while the other teams raced with intermediates.
Apart from that, Haas never grabbed anyone’s attention through the season, as they signed off scoring just three points.
Well, Williams never opened their account through the season, scoring 0 points. But was Williams’ season as bad as it sounds? The answer is a big ‘no.’
The team have been through misery over the last couple of years, as they were frequently lapped and never had the pace to fight even for the top 18. However, this year ended their incredibly poor run. Williams finally managed to catch up with the other F1 teams and even got themselves into Q2 quite a lot of times.
The only sad news for Williams was that the Williams family no longer own the racing team. Instead, Dorilton Capitals took over the team’s functioning mid-way through the season. The Williams family bid adieu to Formula 1 after the Italian Grand Prix.
Overall, the difference between the top-field, mid-field, and the bottom-field was very distinct in 2020. However, it might not be the case, come 2021. There are many aspects to look at; Williams waking up and joining the mid-field battle.
Ferrari will be supplying newly designed engines to their works team and customer teams. McLaren will bring out Mercedes-powered cars from 2021. Racing Point/Aston Martin will get token-free components from Mercedes W11. Red Bull will finally hold two strong, experienced drivers under them.
Considering the above points, it would be cruel to predict a similar season to 2020 next year. With more race weekends and drastic changes within teams, a major re-shuffling definitely will take place. Let’s hope that 2021 delivers a competitive F1 season.