By: Myanna Wedes
Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas have had the dream start to the 2020 Formula One Grand Prix season. There were fears out there that we would not have a season and the beauty of the hard work paying off has resulted in two excellent grand prix events. Bottas won the season opener which was chaotic whilst Hamilton showcased true class and talent with a wet qualifying and outclassing his rivals on Sunday.
Bottas – Austria Race One: “Winning an F1 race is never easy, but today was particularly challenging. There were so many things going on in the race and it would have been quite easy to make a small mistake and lose it all. When the Safety Car came out the last time, I was thinking ‘Come on! Again!?’ I guess it was my chance to really master the restarts here. When you’re in the lead, you want things to be constant and trouble-free, but today felt more like dodging bullets, though things were never out of control. I could build a good margin in the first stint and look after the car and the tyres to make sure that we could stick to our planned strategy. In the second stint, there was more pressure, particularly after all the Safety Cars. We faced some reliability concerns during the race, which put quite a bit of pressure on us, but luckily we made it to the end with both cars. I think we’ve shown that we have a good package. We need to get on top of the reliability issues, but I have no doubts that our team can solve those. I’m looking forward to another race here next weekend.”
Hamilton – Austria Race One: “The team did a really great job today and so did Valtteri. I drove my heart out in the race, I did everything I could – but it was just one of those weekends. There are lots of areas where I can improve. I didn’t do a great job in Qualifying yesterday and there’s only me to blame; then this morning was very unusual to get called up right before the race, but I just tried to keep my head down and drive hard. The scenario with Alex felt more like a racing incident to me. The time penalty meant that I lost the podium, but it is what it is. The car felt great, although reliability was a real issue for us today. But at least we finished, so we’ll take those points. Obviously it’s a loss from a potential 1-2, but I’ll try to recover those in the coming races. Ultimately, this was not a good weekend for me, but it could be worse – I’ll take what I’ve got, try to learn from it and be better next time.
You could say there was some controversy during race one between Hamilton and Bottas due to poor choices in terms of strategy and the final points challenge with Lando Norris beating Hamilton and taking away third place. Regardless of the errors that may have been made, the team came out on top with a finish that demonstrated their strength after not being on track for such an extended period of time.
Driver of the last lap was definitely Norris who charged with strength and bagged his first ever podium finish for McLaren. It was a real show of character and growth for the young British driver and a reason to watch him for the future.
The second race in Styria was one of perfection for Hamilton with a pole qualifying lap that even surprised the field. Hamilton had his heart in his mouth at one stage when the car flicked out in the wet with aquaplaning hard to manage. If you recall Ayrton Senna in the wet, you will see how talented the two drivers are in contrast to generations, technology and style of driving.
Lewis scored his 85th victory of his Formula One career which is a nice way to exit Austria and then enter Hungary for the next round. Winning at this event for Hamilton is important because he classifies it as one of the weaker circuits to race on and the improvements that have been carried out by the team is vital to the overall success in 2020.
Hamilton – Styria Race Two: “This has tended to be one of my weaker tracks, so I am over the moon to have a performance like this today – so, so happy. This feels like a long time coming since the final race of last year and it is a great step forward to come back from a difficult first weekend. The team did a fantastic job with the strategy and then it was about keeping it together, staying off the kerbs and bringing it home. I tried to get the fastest lap towards the end, but I had 40-lap old Mediums, so it was going to be difficult against someone on new, fresh rubber. A big thank you to my team and everyone back at the factories, they have done a brilliant job. I think it’s easy to lose focus and determination, but I don’t ever see that with this team. We know there’s a long way to go and it’s a challenge for everyone, but this is a step forward, for sure.”
Bottas – Styria Race Two: “Starting fourth, I think today was all about damage limitation and we managed to maximise everything available to us. Yesterday wasn’t ideal so that’s why it wasn’t 25 points today, but we still scored some good points, the car performance was great and I’m still leading the Championship, so it’s not too bad. I had a good battle with Max, I had quite a bit more pace than him at the end as we extended the first stint to create a tyre offset, but racing closely is always fun and it was good to get the pass done. It’s been an encouraging first couple of races so I’m looking forward to next weekend.
A new benchmark must be set at the Hungarian Grand Prix because every result will make a difference to how the Championship plays out. No round is guaranteed due to the pandemic/epidemic of COVID-19. The drivers, team personnel, mechanics, staff and more have done a spectacular job in keeping everyone safe with loads of testing taking place.