2020 British Grand Prix – Preview

Lewis Hamilton was at his dominant best at the Hungaroring to claim his eighth Hungarian Grand Prix victory, which equals Michael Schumacher’s record for most race wins at the same Grand Prix, with Schumacher’s eight coming at the French Grand Prix, and now Hamilton, who now has the championship lead, heads back home to his beloved Silverstone Circuit in Northamptonshire in the United Kingdom as he aims to join Schumacher as the only two drivers to win three different Grand Prix events at least seven times at the 2020 British Grand Prix, Round Four of the 2020 FIA Formula One World Championship.

Hamilton (63 points) leads the world championship for Mercedes by five points over his teammate Valtteri Bottas (58 points) after claiming the 2020 Hungarian Grand Prix in commanding fashion, claiming a Grand Prix hat-trick (pole position, win, and fastest lap) for the 16th time in his career, and only six behind Schumacher in this department in Formula One history.

However, what is more worrying for the opposition was how the 2020 Mercedes, especially in the hands of Hamilton, was performing through the medium and high speed corners at the Hungaroring, cornering like it was on rails, and the speed difference between Mercedes and everyone else was seemingly back to the good old days of 2014 to 2016, when the Mercedes was consistently one to one and a half seconds faster per lap anything else on the grid in the hands of Hamilton and Nico Rosberg back in those three years, and given the high speed and high downforce characteristics of Silverstone, it is hard to see Mercedes being beaten on merit this weekend, or the next, which will also be held at Silverstone for the 70th Anniversary Grand Prix.

However, Bottas will want to improve his performance after a poor race in Hungary, finishing third after a poor start, dropping to sixth after the opening lap, and in seventh position after five laps after most of the grid had a pit stop to change from intermediate tyres to slick tyres, only getting up into third on Lap 36, and if Hamilton, who had a huge lead, had not pitted for soft tyres in order to try and grab the point for having the fastest lap of the race (which Hamilton successfully achieved), Bottas would have most likely have been the last car on the lead lap at the Hungaroring.

Max Verstappen (33 points) is third in the championship for Red Bull Racing-Honda after a strong second-place finish in Hungary, but it almost never happened after sliding softly into the wall on the lap to the grid, and his team had to rush quickly to get a new front wing, and attempt to fix the small amounts of damage on the car in the minutes before race start.

However, despite the great drive from Verstappen, Red Bull’s car in 2020 is simply not good enough, in comparison to the Mercedes, and it is very hard in their current form to see them winning a lot of races, let alone seriously challenging for the world championship, in 2020.

Lando Norris (26 points) is still fourth in the standings for McLaren-Renault despite finishing 13th in Budapest, while Verstappen’s teammate Alexander Albon (22 points), and Sergio Pérez (22 points) for Racing Point-BWT Mercedes are fifth and sixth after the opening three races of 2020.

Charles Leclerc (18 points) follows for Ferrari in seventh position in the world championship despite not scoring points in each of the last two races, with Lance Stroll (18 points) for Racing Point-BWT Mercedes, Carlos Sainz Jr. (15 points) for McLaren-Renault, and Leclerc’s current teammate Sebastian Vettel (nine points) completing the Top 10 in the standings.

As far as the Constructors’ Championship is concerned, Mercedes (121 points) are a dominant 66 points ahead of Red Bull Racing-Honda (55 points), with McLaren-Renault (41 points) in third, just ahead of Racing Point-BWT Mercedes (40 points), who have underachieved to a degree so far in 2020 given the potential shown with their car.

Ferrari (27 points) are a very poor fifth in the world championship, and seemingly looking ahead to 2022, when there will a seismic change in the regulations, for their chance to return to glory.

Renault (12 points) are behind the Prancing Horse in sixth, followed by AlphaTauri-Honda (seven points), Alfa Romeo Racing-Ferrari (two points), and Haas-Ferrari (one point), with Williams-Mercedes (zero points) yet to get off the mark.

So, who is going to win the 2020 British Grand Prix?

Given the form that he has shown at both the Styrian Grand Prix, and the Hungarian Grand Prix, as well as his amazing record at Silverstone, Lewis Hamilton is in my mind at close to unbackable to claim his seventh British Grand Prix victory, and although there will be no crowds at Silverstone this year, you feel that Hamilton has got a very special performance in store for his British faithful, who like everyone around the world, have had a very difficult year in some way, shape, or form!

2020 Hungarian Grand Prix – Preview

Lewis Hamilton bounced back in magnificent style, claiming his 89th pole position in treacherous conditions by just over 1.2 seconds, before going on to win the inaugural Styrian Grand Prix for Mercedes, the 85th win of his career, his 152nd podium, to move himself within six of Michael Schumacher’s record of 91 race victories, and within three of his record of most podiums in Formula One of 155.

However, despite Hamilton’s victory at the Styrian Grand Prix, it is his teammate Valtteri Bottas who leads the championship as we head into the 2020 Hungarian Grand Prix, Round Three of the 2020 FIA Formula One World Championship.

Bottas (43 points) leads the world championship by six points over Hamilton (37 points) after finishing second at the Styrian Grand Prix, passing Max Verstappen with about five laps to go to finish 13.719 seconds behind Hamilton.

Lando Norris (26 points) is still third in the standings for McLaren-Renault after finishing an impressive fifth at the Red Bull Ring after starting ninth on the grid after receiving a three-place grid penalty for overtaking under yellow flags in the first practice session.

Charles Leclerc (18 points) is still fourth in the championship for Ferrari, but his second-place finish at the 2020 Austrian Grand Prix is now very much a distant memory after colliding at Turn Three on the opening lap with his teammate Sebastian Vettel, forcing both Ferrari’s to retire from the Styrian Grand Prix, the first two retirements of the Styrian Grand Prix.

Right now, Ferrari are not in a good place right now, most likely the fifth-fastest car on the grid, and the updates that they brought to their car last week didn’t seem to work. They will be hoping that they perform much better at the Hungaroring this weekend.

Sergio Pérez (16 points) is a strong fifth in the world championship for Racing Point-BWT Mercedes after finishing sixth in both of the first two races, but you feel like given the speed they have shown during the opening two race weekends that Racing Point-BWT Mercedes should be better-placed than what they are right now, so it is going to be interesting to see if they can take the battle to Mercedes and Red Bull Racing-Honda on a consistent basis throughout the course of 2020.

Max Verstappen (15 points) is up into sixth in the championship for Red Bull Racing-Honda after finishing third behind the two Mercedes at the Red Bull Ring to grab a much-needed 15 points after his retirement at the Austrian Grand Prix.

You feel that this weekend is huge for both Verstappen and Red Bull Racing-Honda in Hungary. If Verstappen is able to win the Hungarian Grand Prix, it could be a three-way fight for the 2020 world championship, but if he finishes behind the two Mercedes again this weekend, then Mercedes could run away with this condensed and shortened world championship!

Behind the Top Six, Carlos Sainz Jr. (13 points) is seventh in the standings for McLaren-Renault, followed by Verstappen’s teammate Alexander Albon (12 points) in eighth after Albon finished a distant fourth at the Styrian Grand Prix, with Pierre Gasly (six points) for AlphaTauri-Honda, and Lance Stroll (six points) for Racing Point-BWT Mercedes completing the Top 10 in the world championship.

As far as the Constructors’ Championship is concerned, Mercedes (80 points) lead by 41 points over McLaren-Renault (39 points), with Red Bull Racing-Honda (27 points) a further 12 points behind, followed by Racing Point-BWT Mercedes (22 points), Ferrari (19 points), Renault (eight points), AlphaTauri-Honda (seven points), and Alfa Romeo Racing-Ferrari (two points), with both Williams-Mercedes (zero points), and Haas-Ferrari (zero points) still yet to get off the mark!

So, who is going to win the 2020 Hungarian Grand Prix?

Although Max Verstappen and Red Bull Racing-Honda produced a great race with Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes last year at the Hungaroring, I feel that Red Bull Racing-Honda don’t have the same speed as they had last year, compared to the Mercedes, and I think the master of the Hungaroring, Lewis Hamilton, is going to win the Hungarian Grand Prix for the eighth time!

2020 Styrian Grand Prix – Preview

What a return! What a dramatic race! Only 13 cars were classified as finishers, with just 11 cars crossed the finishing line at the end in a race of great attrition, with all nine cars that didn’t cross the finish line retiring due to mechanical issues, and with a number of others right on the edge of their reliability limits.

Despite this, the racing was first class, Valtteri Bottas winning the 2020 Austrian Grand Prix from pole position in what was one of the best performances of his career so far, leading all 71 Laps of the race, while Lewis Hamilton after receiving a three-place grid penalty for going too fast under yellow flags in qualifying, moved up from fifth to second by Lap 11 following the retirement of  Max Verstappen due to electronic issues with his Red Bull Racing-Honda, pressured his teammate Bottas throughout the race while both Mercedes were battling gearbox issues, which were compounded to a degree by three safety car periods, the first on Lap 25 when Kevin Magnussen retired at Turn Two with brake issues for Haas-Ferrari, the second on Lap 50 when George Russell had to retire with a loss of fuel pressure in his Williams-Mercedes, and on Lap 54, the lap the second safety car period ended when Kimi Räikkönen of Alfa Romeo Racing-Ferrari lost his right-front wheel.

This was before Hamilton clashed with Verstappen’s teammate Alexander Albon on Lap 61 after Albon attempted to pass Hamilton around the outside of Turn Four, ending Albon’s hopes of a first podium in Formula One (although he retired (classified 13th) from the race on Lap 67 due to electronic issues), and Hamilton, who finished second on the track, received a five-second time penalty as a result.

This gave the opportunity for Charles Leclerc in a Ferrari that was no where near the quickest cars on merit during the weekend to pounce and grab a surprise second-place, while Lando Norris snatched his first podium in Formula One for McLaren-Renault by setting the fastest lap of the race on the final lap, beating Hamilton to third (after Hamilton’s time penalty) by 0.198 seconds!

That was just a small snapshot of the return of Formula One, which remains at the Red Bull Ring in Spielberg, Austria this weekend for the first-ever running of the Styrian Grand Prix, Round Two of the 2020 FIA Formula One World Championship.

Bottas (25 points) leads the championship for Mercedes by seven points over Ferrari’s Leclerc (18 points) after the opening round of 2020. Ferrari, despite finishing second through the efforts of Leclerc, were never in the hunt for the race victory. Leclerc just managed to scrape into the third period (Top 10) of qualifying on Saturday, while his teammate Sebastian Vettel (one point), who finished the opening race of 2020 in 10th after spinning and almost colliding with McLaren-Renault’s Carlos Sainz Jr., who incidentally will be replacing Vettel at Ferrari in 2021, on Lap 32 as the race resumed after the first safety car, just missed out on getting into the third period of qualifying.

Right now, Ferrari have the fifth-fastest car on paper, which is worse than expected, and are now going to bring updates to their car for the Styrian Grand Prix, instead of waiting for the following weekend at the Hungarian Grand Prix as they had originally intended. If the updates don’t work for Ferrari, then Leclerc’s second-place finish at the Austrian Grand Prix could well become a distant memory for the Prancing Horse.

Norris (16 points) is third in the standings for McLaren-Renault after becoming third-youngest driver in Formula One history to score a podium finish, while Hamilton (12 points) is fourth for Mercedes after his clash with Albon at Turn Four, which is the second time they have touched each other in the last three races after coming together last year in Brazil.

In my view, while the stewards were probably right to give Hamilton a five-second time penalty, I felt it was very close to a racing incident just because of the high degree of difficulty of making a pass around the outside of someone at Turn Four at the Red Bull Ring, especially around the outside of a six-time world champion.

If it had been Albon’s teammate Verstappen in that position rather than Albon, I think Verstappen would have made a successful pass around the outside of Hamilton due to the extra level of speed Verstappen has, thus the extra level of respect that Hamilton would have had for Verstappen due to his extra level of speed, and this extra level of respect is not the type of respect that you can earn over time!

It is the type of respect that you either born with, or not born with (relative to the opposition), and if Albon is going to be successful in his Formula One career, he is likely going to have to be done through greater hard work and grit, rather than going down the route of doing it via audaciousness and natural speed!

Carlos Sainz Jr. (10 points) is fifth in the world championship for McLaren-Renault, Sergio Pérez (eight points) is sixth for Racing Point-BWT Mercedes after receiving a five-second time penalty for speeding in the pit-lane, although that wouldn’t have moved him up any further, while Pierre Gasly (six points) for AlphaTauri-Honda, Esteban Ocon (four points) for Renault, Antonio Giovinazzi (two points) for Alfa Romeo Racing-Ferrari, and Vettel (one point) for Ferrari complete the points-scoring finishers, while Nicholas Latifi missed out on a points-scoring finish for Williams-Mercedes on his Formula One debut.

As for the other drivers who didn’t finish the race (that I haven’t mentioned), Daniel Ricciardo retired on Lap 17 for Renault due to overheating and cooling issues with his car, Lance Stroll was a casualty for Racing Point-BWT Mercedes three laps later with an engine issue, while Romain Grosjean (brakes) and Daniil Kvyat (suspension) retired on Lap 49 and Lap 69 for Haas-Ferrari and AlphaTauri-Honda respectively, with Kvyat classified in 12th.

As far as the Constructors’ Championship is concerned, Mercedes (37 points) lead by 11 points over McLaren-Renault (26 points), with Ferrari (19 points) a further seven points adrift, while Racing Point-BWT Mercedes (eight points), AlphaTauri-Honda (six points), Renault (four points), Alfa Romeo Racing-Ferrari (two points) all claimed points in a car-breaking grand prix, with Williams-Mercedes (zero points), Red Bull Racing-Honda (zero points), and Haas-Ferrari (zero points) yet to get off the mark.

So, who will win the inaugural Styrian Grand Prix?

If the conditions are cooler this weekend, particularly for race day, then you would expect a more predictable race, especially in terms of reliability, and likewise a more predictable final result. If Mercedes are reliable, they should finish first and second, and if that is the case, I tip Lewis Hamilton to bounce back to his very best this weekend!

However, if rain or car reliability (through failures or grid penalties) affects the weekend, then all bets will be off once again, but regardless of what happens, it should be another great race!

2020 Austrian Grand Prix – Preview

Friday the 13th! Friday March 13, 2020! A day we will never forget! A day where the world of sport, and the world itself changed … forever!

On the night of Thursday March 12, the night before what should have been the start of the race weekend of what should have been the opening round of the 2020 FIA Formula One World Championship, of what should have been the 2020 Australian Grand Prix at Albert Park in Melbourne, an employee from the McLaren F1 Team tested positive for COVID-19, and from there, the world changed quickly, leading to Friday the 13th, and the cancellation of the Australian Grand Prix!

Some drivers, allegedly, left Melbourne (and Australia) before the official announcement of the cancellation of the race weekend, and from there, the ripple effect was unprecedented!

After the announcement from Formula One, Cricket Australia made an announcement that the one day international at the Sydney Cricket Ground between Australia and New Zealand later on Friday the 13th would be played behind closed doors, and then within days, international borders across the world began to close, sporting competitions around the world started to shut down, Tokyo 2020 postponed until 2021, and many events cancelled for the first time since the Second World War, and sadly, the suffering being experienced by people around the world was unimaginable and still is in many parts around the world!

It came like the biggest tsunami we have never seen before, and has caused, and is still causing, so much damage on so many fronts, so many lives lost, so many livelihoods lost, and the tunnel at some points within the last three to four months, generically speaking, was darker than the night sky!

However, the light began to return! Football in Europe, led by the Bundesliga in Germany, and football in Asia, led by the K-League in South Korea, started the return of sport as a beacon of hope, quickly followed by the National Rugby League (NRL) and the Australian Football League (AFL) in Australia in particular as optimism grew, and now the return of sporting competition on the global stage!

The 20 best drivers, the 10 best teams return in the fastest cars on planet earth, fighting the good fight, a great battle, and all the challenges the world has faced in 2020, and leading the return of global sporting competition!

The new start of the 2020 FIA Formula One World Championship, the first time the world championship has started in Europe since 1966! It is the 2020 Austrian Grand Prix at the Red Bull Ring in Spielberg, Austria!

Going all the way back to pre-season testing back in February, which seems a lifetime ago, it appeared as though Lewis Hamilton, who is looking to equal Michael Schumacher’s record of seven world championships, and Mercedes are still very much the driver and team combination to beat with the bullet-proof reliability that has come to define their dominance of the sport since 2014.

The 2020 Mercedes looked to be about seven tenths of a second quicker than anything else seen in pre-season testing, and if that is the case, that should Hamilton the perfect platform to drive towards a seventh world championship, as well as surpassing other records held by Schumacher in Formula One, including most race victories (Schumacher: 91, Hamilton: 84), and most podium finishes (Schumacher: 155, Hamilton: 151). It would also give Hamilton, who has 88 pole positions, the best possible platform to launch towards becoming the first driver to claim 100 pole positions, if not by the end of 2020, certainly at some point during 2021, with all of this dependent on how many races take place in 2020.

In regards to who I think will challenge Mercedes in 2020, I think that Red Bull Racing-Honda is the best position to give Mercedes a huge fight, but if they are seven tenths off the pace as they were in pre-season testing, then it is going to be difficult for Max Verstappen to challenge for a first world championship, and become youngest-ever world champion in Formula One, and for Alexander Albon to challenge for podiums and race victories on a consistent basis.

As for Ferrari, it looked like that they were about 1.3 seconds away from Mercedes after pre-season testing, and closer to the midfield than they are to Red Bull Racing-Honda, with Team Principal Mattia Binotto admitting that Ferrari have had to redesign their car, and that updates won’t be ready until the 2020 Hungarian Grand Prix, which will be the third race of 2020, after the Austrian Grand Prix, and the Styrian Grand Prix!

If this is the case, then that is a very disappointing result, not only for Ferrari supporters, but also for Charles Leclerc, who is looking to build on his impressive first season with Ferrari with a season full of podiums, race victories, and a world championship challenge, and four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel, who is looking to rebound back to his best after a disappointing season by his standards in 2019, in which he had one race victory and a further eight podiums, although he only finished 24 points behind Leclerc in the championship.

As far as the midfield is concerned, Racing Point-BWT Mercedes with a Mercedes-inspired car from a technical point of view is leading the charge with Sergio Pérez and Lance Stroll, about 1.6 seconds behind Mercedes, followed by McLaren-Renault (+1.8 seconds) with Carlos Sainz Jr. and Lando Norris, AlphaTauri-Honda (+1.9 seconds), formerly known as Scuderia Toro Rosso-Honda, with Pierre Gasly and Daniil Kvyat, Alfa Romeo Racing-Ferrari (+2.1 seconds) with 2007 world champion Kimi Räikkönen and Antonio Giovinazzi, and Renault (+2.2 seconds) with Daniel Ricciardo and the returning Esteban Ocon.

And, behind the midfield and completing the grid for 2020 will be Haas-Ferrari (+2.7 seconds) with Kevin Magnussen and Romain Grosjean, and Williams-Mercedes (+2.8 seconds) with George Russell and 2019 Formula Two Championship runner-up Nicholas Latifi.

So, who is going to win the opening race of 2020?

Since Formula One returned to the Red Bull Ring, formerly known as the A1-Ring, back in 2014, the Austrian Grand Prix has been dominated by Mercedes (2014, 2015, 2016, 2017) and Red Bull (2018, 2019), with Max Verstappen winning in each of the last two seasons.

However, given the circumstances surrounding the 2020 Austrian Grand Prix, the return of Formula One, and the race taking place behind closed doors, the historical form guide almost goes out the window, and this weekend might see someone secure a surprise podium, or even a shock win, but as far as my prediction is concerned, I am going to tip the driver and car combination that I felt was the quickest in pre-season testing to win at the Red Bull Ring this weekend, and that is Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes!

2020 Australian Grand Prix – Preview

Welcome to a brand new year and decade in world motorsport, and to a brand new year and decade of Formula One, and after MotoGP (although Moto2 and Moto3 raced) was cancelled in Qatar due to the impact of coronavirus, our first real taste of the pinnacle level of motorsport comes at the 2020 Australian Grand Prix, Round One of the 2020 FIA Formula One World Championship, and after plenty of intrigue during pre-season testing, the main questions that are being asked (aside from technical issues) are: Is Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes still the driver and team combination to beat? And, can the likes of Red Bull Racing-Honda and Ferrari challenge Mercedes consistently in 2020?

In regards to the first question, based on the information that I have looked at from pre-season testing and my interpretation of it, Hamilton and Mercedes are still very much the driver and team combination to beat, and although they had some issues reliability wise on the penultimate day of pre-season testing, you would expect Mercedes to have the bullet-proof reliability that has come to define their dominance of the sport since 2014.

And, this is before we talk about how quick the car is!

In my view, the 2020 Mercedes is about seven tenths of a second quicker than anything else that was seen in pre-season testing, and if that is the case, that gives Hamilton the perfect platform to drive towards equalling Michael Schumacher’s record of seven world championships, as well as towards surpassing Schumacher’s records of most race victories (Schumacher: 91, Hamilton: 84), and most podium finishes (Schumacher: 155, Hamilton: 151) in Formula One.

It would also give Hamilton the best possible platform to launch towards becoming the first driver to claim 100 pole positions. With Hamilton currently on 88 pole positions for his career, and if I am right in thinking/interpreting that Mercedes have the advantage that they have, this is within reach in 2020.

And, given that Hamilton has taken pole position at Albert Park in each of the last six years, and in seven of the last eight, he could start this charge in Australia, and it could very well be a Mercedes front-row lockout with Valtteri Bottas joining the great champion and legend at the very front of the grid.

In regards to the second question, I think that Red Bull Racing-Honda is the best position to challenge Mercedes throughout the course of 2020, but if they are seven tenths off the pace, then it is going to be difficult for Max Verstappen to challenge for a first world championship, and become youngest-ever world champion in Formula One, and for Alexander Albon to challenge for podiums and race victories on a consistent basis.

As for Ferrari, I think they are about 1.3 seconds away from Mercedes, and closer to the midfield than they are to Red Bull Racing-Honda, and if that is the case, then it is a very disappointing result, not only for Ferrari supporters, but also for Charles Leclerc, who is looking to build on his impressive first season with Ferrari with a season full of podiums, race victories, and a world championship challenge, and four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel, who is looking to rebound back to his best after a disappointing season by his standards in 2019, in which he had one race victory and a further eight podiums, although he only finished 24 points behind Leclerc in the championship.

As far as the midfield is concerned, Racing Point-BWT Mercedes with a Mercedes-inspired car from a technical point of view is leading the charge with Sergio Pérez and Lance Stroll, about 1.6 seconds behind Mercedes, followed by McLaren-Renault (+1.8 seconds) with Carlos Sainz Jr. and Lando Norris, AlphaTauri-Honda (+1.9 seconds), formerly known as Scuderia Toro Rosso-Honda, with Pierre Gasly and Daniil Kvyat, Alfa Romeo Racing-Ferrari (+2.1 seconds) with 2007 world champion Kimi Räikkönen and Antonio Giovinazzi, and Renault (+2.2 seconds) with Daniel Ricciardo and the returning Esteban Ocon.

And, behind the midfield and completing the grid for 2020 will be Haas-Ferrari (+2.7 seconds) with Kevin Magnussen and Romain Grosjean, and Williams-Mercedes (+2.8 seconds) with George Russell and 2019 Formula Two Championship runner-up Nicholas Latifi.

So, who is going to win the opening race of 2020?

Based on the evidence that I have, and my interpretation of the evidence, I have good reason to believe that Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes are the combination to beat once again, and I think Hamilton will claim a seventh-straight pole position in Australia, which would equal Ayrton Senna’s record of most consecutive pole positions at the same Grand Prix (San Marino), and a ninth overall, which would be the most by a driver at any Grand Prix, and go onto claim his third Australian Grand Prix race victory!

Behind Hamilton, Valtteri Bottas will finish a comfortable second, while Max Verstappen will finish a distant third, with Alexander Albon, Charles Leclerc, and Sebastian Vettel in no particular order fighting for fourth, fifth, and sixth.

2019 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix – Preview

It was a masterful performance in an entertaining and chaotic 2019 Brazil Grand Prix by Max Verstappen at the Autódromo José Carlos Pace in São Paulo to claim his third race victory of the season, the eighth win of his career after starting from pole position for the second time, and while Verstappen produced one of the great drives in his young career to date, others had problems with Valtteri Bottas retiring from the race with an oil pressure issues on Lap 52, both Ferrari’s taking each other out with arguably the most innocuous collision in Formula One history, and Lewis Hamilton making a rare mistake in taking out Alexander Albon from podium contention for what would have been Albon’s first podium, and after Hamilton’s five-second penalty after the race allowed both Pierre Gasly and Carlos Sainz Jr. to claim their first podium’s in Formula One.

Now, the grid heads to the Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi for the 21st and final round of the 2019 FIA Formula One World Championship, the 2019 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

Hamilton (387 points), despite finishing seventh in Brazil after the five-second penalty for the collision with Albon, still extended his lead over his Mercedes teammate Bottas (314 points) to 73 points, and now has the opportunity to not only match his race victory tally in 2014 and 2018, as well as score 400 points or more for the second-straight season, but also finish every race of a season for the second time in his career.

Hamilton will also have the opportunity to equal his own record of most consecutive points finishes in Formula One history with 33-straight points finishes. Hamilton, coming into this weekend, has finished 65 of his last 66 races inside the points, with his retirement at the 2018 Austrian Grand Prix being the only race he hasn’t finished inside the points since the 2016 Malaysian Grand Prix, where his engine and ultimately his world championship hopes went up in flames after leading the race comfortably!

Bottas will also be looking to finish his season on a high, and prove to himself that he has the capabilities to challenge Hamilton in 2020!

Verstappen (260 points) moves up into third in the championship for Red Bull Racing-Honda, and will be battling for third-place in the standings this weekend with Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc (249 points), who surrendered third in the world championship to Verstappen after his collision with teammate Sebastian Vettel in Brazil.

For Verstappen to finish third in the 2019 FIA Formula One World Championship:

1. If Leclerc wins the race (with the fastest lap), Verstappen must finish in second.

2. If Leclerc wins the race (without the fastest lap), Verstappen must finish third or higher (with or without the fastest lap).

3. If Leclerc finishes second (with or without the fastest lap), Verstappen must finish sixth or higher (with or without the fastest lap).

4. If Leclerc finishes third (with the fastest lap), Verstappen must finish seventh or higher.

5. If Leclerc finishes third (without the fastest lap), Verstappen must finish eighth or higher (with or without the fastest lap).

6. If Leclerc finishes fourth (with the fastest lap), Verstappen must finish ninth or higher.

7. If Leclerc finishes fourth (without the fastest lap), Verstappen must finish 10th or higher (with the fastest lap if he finishes in 10th).

8. If Leclerc finishes fifth or lower (with or without the fastest lap).

Vettel (230 points) is fifth in the championship after losing his chance to finish third in the final standings after his race-ending collision with Leclerc in Brazil, but still has the opportunity to finish fourth in the world championship in front of his teammate if he can out-score Leclerc by 19/20 points in Abu Dhabi.

Behind the Top Five, there is the battle for sixth between Gasly (95 points) of Scuderia Toro Rosso-Honda, Sainz (95 points) of McLaren-Renault, and Albon (84 points) of Red Bull Racing-Honda, while Daniel Ricciardo (54 points) from Renault, and Sergio Pérez (46 points) from Racing Point-BWT Mercedes complete the Top 10, with Lando Norris (45 points) from McLaren-Renault, Kimi Räikkönen (43 points) from Alfa Romeo Racing-Ferrari, Nico Hülkenberg (37 points) from Renault, and Daniil Kvyat (35 points) from Scuderia Toro Rosso-Honda still a realistic chance of finishing the championship inside the Top 10 in the standings.

Looking at the Constructors’ Championship, Mercedes (701 points) will finish in first, ahead of Ferrari (479 points) in second, Red Bull Racing-Honda (391 points) in third, and McLaren-Renault (140 points) in fourth. The battle remains open though for fifth between Renault (91 points) and Scuderia Toro Rosso-Honda (83 points), as well as the fight for seventh between Racing Point-BWT Mercedes (67 points) and Alfa Romeo Racing-Ferrari (57 points). Haas-Ferrari (28 points) will likely finish in ninth, ahead of Williams-Mercedes (one point), who will finish in 10th, barring a minor miracle!

So, who will win the final race of 2019?

I feel like at a circuit which typically offers little shocks or surprises, that a dominant performance from Lewis Hamilton, especially given the race he had in Brazil, would be expected, but you cannot rule out Ferrari, or Max Verstappen from Red Bull Racing-Honda giving him a run for his money in the 2019 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix!

2019 Brazil Grand Prix – Preview

Lewis Hamilton claimed his sixth Formula One World Championship to move to within one of Michael Schumacher’s record of seven after finishing second behind his Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas at the 2019 United States Grand Prix, and will be looking to not only match and surpass his race victory tally in 2014 and 2018 over the course of the last two rounds of 2019, but also score 400 points or more for the second-straight season as the grid heads to the Autódromo José Carlos Pace in São Paulo in Brazil for the 2019 Brazil Grand Prix, Round 20 of the 2019 FIA Formula One World Championship.

Hamilton (381 points) leads by an insurmountable 67 points over Bottas (314 points) after a season which both him and his team have faced some challenges, the death of three-time world champion Niki Lauda, who was the non-executive chairman of Mercedes, and the surge of form towards the end of the season from Ferrari, but a year which Hamilton has confirmed his place as a legend of the sport.

He won Formula One’s 1000th race back at the Chinese Grand Prix in April, and in Monaco, produced arguably the best drive of his career, certainly one of the two best defensive drives of his career, along with the 2014 Bahrain Grand Prix, to win the Monaco Grand Prix for the third time, keeping Max Verstappen (who had a five-second penalty to be added), Sebastian Vettel, and Bottas behind him, and then we had the race-long battle between Hamilton and Verstappen at the Hungarian Grand Prix, with Hamilton and Mercedes taking a strategic gamble in switching to a two-stop strategy on Lap 48, and with a lack of challengers from behind, it worked with Hamilton catching and passing Verstappen with the best part of four laps to go to clinch a memorable victory.

However, Hamilton’s legendary career has had so many moments that we will remember forever, his first race victory in Canada back in 2007, his fourth race victory of his career in torrential rain at Fuji Speedway in Japan in 2007, his dominant victory in Australia in 2008 in scorching hot conditions, his first win in Monaco in 2008, his first win at the British Grand Prix in 2008 in extremely wet conditions, winning by over a minute from Nick Heidfeld, to his charge to victory at the 2008 German Grand Prix at Hockenheim, his first victory of the 2009 season in Hungary after McLaren managed to get back up to speed after a difficult start to 2009, his amazing drive in China in 2011 after almost being forced to start from the pit-lane due to a technical issue, then his first victory with Mercedes in Hungary in 2013, to a number of countless performances over the last six seasons that have left us all watching in awe!

The question for 2020 for Hamilton is, can he equal Schumacher’s record? Only time will tell with that one, but you wouldn’t bet against him, that is for sure!

For his teammate Bottas, he has only been outscored by two points by Hamilton over the last four races, and will be looking to beat him over the last two races to give himself a huge confidence boost heading into 2020.

Behind the two Mercedes drivers, there is a three-way battle for third in the championship between Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc (249 points), Max Verstappen (235 points) from Red Bull Racing-Honda, and Leclerc’s teammate in Vettel (230 points).

Leclerc has had a magnificent first season at Ferrari, winning both in Belgium and Italy, as well as taking seven pole positions, while Verstappen has been simply superb in dragging the Red Bull car to two race victories in Austria and Germany, as well as securing his first career pole position in Hungary, but Vettel hasn’t quite been at his best in 2019, with his only win this year so far coming at the Singapore Grand Prix.

Leclerc can claim third in the world championship this weekend if he outscores Verstappen by 13 points, and Vettel by eight points.

Behind the Top Five in the standings, Alexander Albon (84 points) has moved up to sixth in the championship for Red Bull Racing-Honda after finishing fifth at the Circuit of the Americas, and has now been officially confirmed as Verstappen’s teammate at Red Bull for 2020.

However, Carlos Sainz Jr. (80 points) for McLaren-Renault, and Pierre Gasly (77 points) for Scuderia Toro Rosso-Honda will be looking to challenge Albon for sixth in the standings over the course of the final two races of 2019.

Completing the Top 10 in the world championship are Renault’s Daniel Ricciardo (46 points), and Sergio Pérez (44 points) from Racing Point-BWT Mercedes.

Looking at the Constructors’ Championship, Mercedes (695 points) lead by 216 points over Ferrari (479 points) as they look to score 700 points in a season for the fourth time in the last six seasons, with Red Bull Racing-Honda (366 points) 113 points behind Ferrari, with both Ferrari and Red Bull locked into second and third respectively.

Behind the Top Three, McLaren-Renault (121 points) are on the verge of officially securing fourth in the championship, which would be their first Top Four finish in the Constructors’ Championship since 2012, when they finished third, with Renault (83 points) looking like finishing in fifth, a spot worse than in 2018.

Behind those two, Racing Point-BWT Mercedes (65 points) and Scuderia Toro Rosso-Honda (64 points) are in a titanic battle for sixth with only a point separating the two teams with two races remaining, while Alfa Romeo Racing-Ferrari (35 points) and Haas-Ferrari (28 points) are in a battle for eighth with Williams-Mercedes (one point) looking certain to finish 10th and last.

So, who is going to win the 2019 Brazil Grand Prix?

Mercedes have found some form in recent races, winning the last four, and you feel that a big weekend, and a huge performance is just around the corner from Lewis Hamilton to really put the icing on the cake celebrating his sixth world championship. I think he will win in Brazil for the third time, and end his eight race drought without a pole position in the process!

2019 United States Grand Prix – Preview

Despite expectations of not being as competitive compared to their rivals, Lewis Hamilton delivered Mercedes a wonderful victory at the 2019 Mexico Grand Prix, his 10th for the season, the 83rd of his career, and is now very much on the verge, if he wasn’t already, of becoming a six-time world champion as the grid heads to the Circuit of the Americas for the 2019 United States Grand Prix, Round 19 of the 2019 FIA Formula One World Championship.

Hamilton (363 points) leads the championship by 74 points over teammate Valtteri Bottas (289 points) after a brilliant drive at the Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez, with Mercedes outsmarting Ferrari on strategy to allow Hamilton to jump ahead of Sebastian Vettel in the battle for the win, and Bottas to move, and then stay ahead of Charles Leclerc in the fight for third.

With that result for Hamilton, he has an even better opportunity to move to within one of Michael Schumacher’s record of seven world championships this weekend if (and please note that you must finish inside the Top 10 in the race to claim a point for setting the fastest lap):

1. If Bottas wins the race (with the fastest lap), Hamilton must finish 8th or higher.

2. If Bottas wins the race (without the fastest lap), Hamilton must finish 9th (with the fastest lap if he finishes in 9th) or higher.

3. If Bottas finishes second or lower (with or without the fastest lap).

Behind the Top Two in the championship, Leclerc (236 points) sits in third in the standings for Ferrari, six points ahead of teammate Vettel (230 points) after finishing a disappointing fourth in the end at the Mexico Grand Prix after inheriting pole position from Red Bull Racing-Honda driver Max Verstappen, his seventh for the season, which means he cannot be overtaken for most pole positions in 2019, but Ferrari must review and rectify their inability to convert pole positions, and front row starts in victories in the last three races of 2019 if they are going to give themselves the best chance of success against Mercedes in 2020.

Verstappen (220 points) is fifth in the world championship after a disappointing Mexico Grand Prix after firstly being stripped of pole position after failing to adhere to the yellow flag after the Bottas accident, followed by a scruffy opening lap of the race, and then being forced to pit at the end of Lap Five after suffering a tyre puncture after the front wing of Bottas’ car made contact with the right rear tyre on Lap Four, but managed to fight his way back to finish in sixth.

The circumstances surrounding Verstappen being stripped of pole position, and the subsequent three-place grid penalty, will be something that he will learn from going forward, but the race stewards should have reported the incident earlier than they did, and quite possibly, both Verstappen and the race stewards should have taken into account that Verstappen would have still been on pole position even if that final lap wasn’t completed, and you would hope that both parties will learn from this experience going forward.

Behind Verstappen in the championship, there is a huge three-way battle for sixth between Pierre Gasly (77 points) from Scuderia Toro Rosso-Honda, Carlos Sainz Jr. (76 points) from McLaren-Renault, and Alexander Albon (74 points) from Red Bull Racing-Honda, although you sense that Albon will be the favourite to take sixth by the end of the season due to the superior car that he has underneath him, compared to the Toro Rosso and McLaren.

Racing Point-BWT Mercedes driver Sergio Pérez (43 points), and Renault driver Daniel Ricciardo (38 points) complete the Top 10 in the standings after both achieved points-scoring finishes in Mexico.

Looking at the Constructors’ Championship, Mercedes (652 points), who are just four points from surpassing their points tally of 2018 (655), and 17 points from surpassing their points tally of 2017 (668), lead by 186 points over Ferrari (466 points), with Ferrari being 125 points ahead of Red Bull Racing-Honda (341 points) with three races remaining.

Ferrari can claim second in the Constructors’ Championship for the third-straight season, and the fourth time in the last five years if Red Bull Racing-Honda don’t outscore Ferrari in the United States by 37 points or more.

Behind the Top Three, McLaren-Renault (111 points) are heading towards fourth in the championship, ahead of Renault (73 points), Scuderia Toro Rosso-Honda (64 points), and Racing Point-BWT Mercedes (64 points) battling for fifth, with Alfa Romeo Racing-Ferrari (35 points), Haas-Ferrari (28 points), and Williams-Mercedes (one point) rounding out the field.

So, who will win the 2019 United States Grand Prix?

This should be a great race, like last year, and while Ferrari have had the one lap speed advantage over Mercedes since the mid-season break, you sense it will be Mercedes with the fastest race car this weekend, and I think Lewis Hamilton will claim his sixth Formula One World Championship in style!

2019 Mexico Grand Prix – Preview

It was a magnificent, but more importantly a morale-boosting performance from Valtteri Bottas to claim the 2019 Japanese Grand Prix, his third race victory of the season, and is now the only driver that can challenge Lewis Hamilton for the 2019 championship, which means for the first time in Formula One history, a team, which in this case is Mercedes, will win six-consecutive driver and constructor championships after Mercedes claimed their sixth-straight Constructors’ Championship at Suzuka!

However, with Ferrari showing fantastic speed over one lap, and Red Bull Racing-Honda normally very strong at the Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez, there will be a lot of factors for Mercedes to deal with as we head into Round 18 of the 2019 FIA Formula One World Championship, the 2019 Mexico Grand Prix.

Hamilton (338 points) leads the championship by 64 points over his Mercedes’ teammate Bottas (274 points), the only driver that can challenge Hamilton for the world championship, and this weekend, Hamilton can move to within one of Michael Schumacher’s record of seven world championships if (and please note that you must finish inside the Top 10 in the race to claim a point for setting the fastest lap):

1. Hamilton wins the race (with the fastest lap), and Bottas finishes fourth or lower.

2. Hamilton wins the race (without the fastest lap), and Bottas finishes fifth or lower (with or without the fastest lap).

3. Hamilton finishes 2nd (with or without the fastest lap), and Bottas finishes eighth or lower (without the fastest lap).

4. Hamilton finishes 2nd (without the fastest lap), and Bottas finishes ninth or lower (with or without the fastest lap).

5. Hamilton finishes 3rd (with the fastest lap), and Bottas finishes ninth or lower.

6. Hamilton finishes 3rd (without the fastest lap), and Bottas finishes 10th or lower (without the fastest lap).

However, you sense it is going to be uphill struggle for Hamilton and Mercedes this weekend given the challenges they have had in recent times at high altitude in Mexico, which could very well mean that the championship goes onto the Circuit of the Americas the week after the Mexico Grand Prix.

Charles Leclerc (221 points) is third in the championship, and the best of the rest for Ferrari despite finishing the Japanese Grand Prix in seventh after fighting back through the field after colliding with Max Verstappen on the opening lap, forcing Leclerc to come into the pits to change his front wing.

Verstappen (212 points) is still fourth in the standings for Red Bull Racing-Honda despite having to retire from the race at Suzuka due to damage suffered to his car after the collision with Leclerc. Vettel (212 points) is now level on points with Verstappen for Ferrari after finishing second behind Bottas in Japan, but still trails Verstappen in the championship due to having more wins than Vettel (two wins to one).

Behind the Top Five in the world championship, Carlos Sainz Jr. (76 points) is sixth in the world championship for McLaren-Renault, followed by Pierre Gasly (75 points) and Alexander Albon (64 points) for Scuderia Toro Rosso-Honda, who will be changing their name to Scuderia Alpha Tauri-Honda in 2020, and Red Bull Racing-Honda respectively, while Sergio Pérez (37 points) for Racing Point-BWT Mercedes and Lando Norris (35 points) for McLaren-Renault complete the Top 10 in the standings following the disqualifications of both Renault drivers (Daniel Ricciardo and Nico Hülkenberg) from the 2019 Japanese Grand Prix after both cars were found to have had illegal pre-set, automated brake bias system after a protest by Racing Point-BWT Mercedes.

Looking at the Constructors’ Championship, Mercedes (612 points) have claimed their sixth-consecutive title, and have an unassailable 177-point lead over Ferrari (435 points), who have a 112-point lead over Red Bull Racing-Honda (323 points). Ferrari can claim second in the 2019 Constructors’ Championship this weekend if they outscore Red Bull Racing-Honda by 21 points or more.

Behind the Top Three, McLaren-Renault (111 points) have increased their grip on fourth, while Renault (68 points), after the disqualifications of both their cars from the 2019 Japanese Grand Prix, are slipping back into the clutches of Scuderia Toro Rosso-Honda (62 points), and Racing Point-BWT Mercedes (58 points), with Alfa Romeo Racing-Ferrari (35 points) and Haas-Ferrari (28 points) in a battle for eighth, while Williams-Mercedes (one point) look set to remain in last barring a minor miracle in the last four races.

So, who will win the 2019 Mexico Grand Prix?

Mercedes have a poor recent record at Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez due to the track characteristics in part, but more specifically the higher than usual altitude, which affects the usual cooling package of their car, meaning that they have to allow more air into the car to cool various components, including components within the power-unit, thus reducing the overall performance of the car.

With that being the case, I look towards both Ferrari and Red Bull Racing-Honda, and while Ferrari have shown a great upturn in form since the mid-season break generally, I am going to tip Max Verstappen to grab his third race victory of 2019, and place heavy pressure on Charles Leclerc in the battle for third in the world championship.

And, with that, the championship battle between Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas will continue onto the United States!

2019 Japanese Grand Prix – Preview

Mercedes rebounded in Russia, a place which they have always won at, with Lewis Hamilton winning in Sochi for the fourth time, claiming his ninth race victory of the season in a Mercedes one-two finish.

However, with Ferrari once again showing great speed in Sochi, and Red Bull Racing-Honda wanting to perform well in Honda’s own backyard, the 2019 Japanese Grand Prix at Suzuka, Round 17 of the 2019 FIA Formula One World Championship, is going to be interesting!

Hamilton (322 points) leads the championship by 73 points over teammate Valtteri Bottas (249 points) after taking advantage of the mechanical issues for Sebastian Vettel, and getting lucky with the virtual safety car (which turned into a full safety car) to overtake Vettel’s Ferrari teammate Charles Leclerc to take his 82nd career victory, with Bottas also finishing ahead of Leclerc.

Bottas needs to win the Japanese Grand Prix this weekend you feel to keep his slim championship hopes alive.

Leclerc (215 points) for Ferrari, and Max Verstappen (212 points) for Red Bull Racing-Honda are still in mathematical contention for the world championship, but are likely to be knocked out of contention this weekend, but Leclerc will be looking to continue Ferrari’s general upturn in form, while Verstappen will be looking to show off the brand new Honda power-unit, and take victory at the home circuit of Honda, which would be the first win for a Honda-powered car in Japan since Gerhard Berger for McLaren-Honda in 1991.

Meanwhile, Vettel (194 points) is out of contention for the 2019 championship, but will be looking to rebound after losing power with his power-unit in Russia, and challenge Leclerc and Verstappen for third in the standings.

Behind the Top Five, Pierre Gasly (69 points) is sixth in the championship for Scuderia Toro Rosso-Honda after starting the first 12 races of 2019 with Red Bull Racing-Honda, three points ahead of McLaren-Renault’s Carlos Sainz Jr. (66 points), with Alexander Albon (52 points) closing quickly in eighth since joining Red Bull Racing-Honda from Scuderia Toro Rosso-Honda, ahead of Lando Norris (35 points), the teammate of Sainz, while Daniel Ricciardo (34 points) remains inside the Top 10, just ahead of his Renault teammate Nico Hülkenberg (34 points) based on finishing fourth ahead of Hülkenberg at the Italian Grand Prix.

Looking at the Constructors’ Championship, Mercedes (571 points) lead by 162 points over Ferrari (409 points), and have a chance of clinching their sixth-straight Constructors’ Championship this weekend, which would equal Ferrari’s record for most consecutive Constructors’ Championships from 1999 to 2004 by out-scoring Ferrari by 14 points or more.

Red Bull Racing-Honda (311 points) have secured at worst third in the Constructors’ Championship, but are still a chance of claiming second, with McLaren-Renault (101 points) in a clear and comfortable fourth behind them.

Renault (68 points) are leading the battle for fifth ahead of Scuderia Toro Rosso-Honda (55 points) and Racing Point-BWT Mercedes (52 points), with Alfa Romeo Racing-Ferrari (35 points) and Haas-Ferrari (28 points) battling for eighth, with Williams-Mercedes (one point) still in 10th and last.

So, who will win the 2019 Japanese Grand Prix?

The weekend looks set to be affected by adverse weather conditions, and while Suzuka not in the direct path of Typhoon Hagibis at the moment, Saturday in particular looks set to be wet, and there could be a chance that qualifying might have to be postponed until Sunday morning, but regardless of whether that happens or not, Sunday looks set to be fine and sunny at Suzuka.

So, in terms of my prediction, I think Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes will be the ones to beat as he searches for his sixth victory in Japan to equal Michael Schumacher’s record at the Japanese Grand Prix, and his fifth at Suzuka, but it is set to be a tight fight between the Top Three teams on the grid.