Formula 1

Vallteri Bottas’ tremendous drive gets him a podium in the first race of 2020 season

While Bottas' performance was impeccable, Hamilton's clash with Albon saw him penalized. Leclerc and Norris finish 2nd and 3rd respectively.

Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas finished P1 for the first race of the 2020 F1 season. He is off to a great start in the rather unusual 2020 F1 season. Bottas beat Hamilton in qualifying by twelve thousandth of a second. Talk about time is money! Post that, Hamilton had received a grid penalty for avoiding the yellow flag in qualifying due to Bottas’ skidding on his final lap. Ferrari on the other hand had a disappointing qualifying session yesterday with Leclerc finishing P7 and 4 time world champion not making it to Q3 at number 11.

The race was a true showcase of how certain strong midfield teams have geared up (Pun intended). McLaren gave a breathtaking performance with Norris not only finishing at the podium but, remaining in the top 5 for almost the entirety of the race. In fact, Norris gave a hell of a run to Leclerc’s Ferrari but was overtaken by the end. A late surge for Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc after a difficult weekend for Ferrari saw him climb to P3 by the chequered flag.

Lewis’ 5-second penalty pushed Leclerc to P2 and Norris to P3 securing Norris’ first podium. Seems like Bottas and Norris are off to a great start in 2020 which is an achievement considering how this year has been for 95% of the world. Norris’ teammate and future Ferrari driver Carlos Sainz finished 5 right behind penalized Lewis Hamilton who was at P4. The race was a rather fun one to watch and it MUST have cheered up the F1 fans because these races were becoming rather boring with Mercedes dominance. It was still a Mercedes at P1 but, that was very very well deserved.

Racing point’s Sergio Perez also drove amazingly well too. For the entirety of the race, Perez was almost consistently battling RedBull, Ferrari and Mclaren and it was so satisfying to see mid-field teams actually being able to catch up to the top 5 and challenge them. Just by the end of the race, Norris raced past Perez who then ended up at a respectable P6. The race also saw a crazy 9 DNFs. Yes! NINE.

It was a nightmare race for Red Bull’s Max Verstappen who experienced a loss of power after just 11 of the 71 laps, costing him a chance of shooting for a third straight win at the Red Bull Ring – all while team mate Alex Albon appeared to suffer a similar problem just two laps from the end. Vettel spun off on the restart after Magnussen’s’ lap 26 DNF. Carlos Sainz attacked Charles Leclerc for P6 but was found clipped by Sebastian Vettel as he tried to take advantage. Unfortunately, in a very Vettel fashion, the Ferrari driver spun off.

Both Mercedes drivers were warned about sensor issues, and told to stay off the kerbs, due to their gearbox concerns. Bottas was told he was in “worse shape than the other car”. Romain Grosjean with brake issues and George Russell retired with 20 laps to go. Russell’s retirement caused a second safety car due to being forced to pull off the track. The restart lasted a matter of seconds only as Kimi Raikkonen’s Alfa Romeo lost its right-front wheel on the penultimate corner calling out a 3rd safety car. Albon had grabbed P3 from perez by this point.

With 10 laps to go and Hamilton ready to attack Bottas, the freshly-tyred Alex Albon attacked Hamilton which caused a spin for the Redbull. This led to a 5-second penalty for Hamilton pushing him from P2 to P4. At the chequered flag, Hamilton was just half a second behind his teammate Bottas.

Hamilton’s aggression or “defense” led to a lot of fan theories and statements on social media. Although, I still believe it was fair racing and Albon needs to learn patience with his very little experience. But, all eyes on the man of the race Valtteri Bottas. Bottas drove tremendously well. He was clear and ahead of the entire crowd and drama behind him consistently. Not only that, Hamilton was neither able to catch him in qualifying nor during the 3 race restarts due to the safety cars.

Like last year’s season’s first race, Bottas has zoomed past everyone. Although, we wouldn’t want to see last season repeat itself where Bottas lasts only for the first race of the season but would rather see this competitive racing go on for the entire season.

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Prakhar K.

Editor-in-chief and 4-wheel fanatic

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