F1ntastic welcomes you fantastic F1 fans to the 2020 Season Opener News Roundup Part 2! Part 1 of the 2020 Season Opener News Roundup news all about heartfelt messages from Ferrari and some SICK new liveries. There is so much hype and there are so so many pieces of news heading into the season opener. So, there are two parts to the 2020 Season Opener News Roundup. Part 2 includes news about:
- Mercedes, their warning to rivals about upgrades, and what upgrades they will bring to Austria.
- Max Verstappen’s focusses for the 2020 season.
- McLaren’s plans for the 2020 season and how they will manage their recent loan.
- McLaren’s recent livery change.
1. Mercedes and Their Upgrades
The Silver Arrows – they won every single drivers’ and constructors’ championship since the start of the turbo-hybrid era in 2014. Mercedes showed their plans to continue their dominance at pre-season testing at Barcelona in February. Their drivers put in both the fastest time and the most laps of any team at testing. Mercedes also introduced the DAS system. I can assure you, there are plenty of memes on that. It seemed like Mercedes was going to be the fastest team on the grid in 2020 as well. Then, the coronavirus pandemic came, races were cancelled and postponed, and the annual F1 factory shutdown came early. However, F1 is finally returning on July 5, and Mercedes want to dominate the revised season, right? So, they are bringing in some upgrades on their cars, and have warned their rivals, that they are coming.
Mercedes Warn Their Rivals & Confirm ‘A Chunk’ of Upgrades for Austria
The defending champions confirmed that they are coming to Austria with a chunk of new upgrades, ready to fend off anyone who tries to take their crown. Mercedes Technical Chief James Allison confirmed in a video Mercedes posted that Mercedes made a lot of progress on the W11 since winter testing.
“We haven’t yet done a single race, but actually quite a lot of time has passed since we launched this car. And if you imagine where the launch car was and the car that would’ve gone to Australia, that was frozen around about Christmas so there was the whole of January, the whole of February, March – all making the car quicker in the wind tunnel and also in the design departments.”
Mercedes have been working on a lot of ways to improve the car and to keep making it go faster. However, they also have to apply and execute those ideas. The main aim is to keep Mercedes the fastest team on the grid.
“So our challenge now is to make sure that that quarter of a year of development can get off the drawing boards and onto the car as swiftly as possible. We hope to have a chunk of that for the first race in Austria, and the season that follows will of course take as much of the development as fast as we can get it onto the car in turn.”
With the revised season opener coming closer and closer by the minute, Mercedes are definitely under pressure. They need to make sure all the systems are running fine, and back up to speed. They need to fit in the upgrades and make sure that they are ahead of the pack. Mercedes need to make sure that the W11 is the same blistering quick car that it was at the end of winter testing, and possibly faster.
Mercedes to Bring Reliability Upgrades For Austria
While Mercedes was looking incredibly strong in winter testing at Barcelona, they did have one weakness. Reliability. Reliability in their power unit. The Mercedes cars ground to a halt multiple times during testing, and the same thing happened to the Williams cars. This didn’t allow Williams to put in as many laps as the other teams. Williams is a customer of Mercedes, as the Williams cars use Mercedes engines. Mercedes’s rivals Ferrari are bringing the same engines to Austria as they did to Australia in March. However, Honda has decided to bring a new specification power unit with performance and reliability improvements.
The engine spec used in Austria is very critical. The Technical Regulations for this season dictate the specification a team races in the opening Grand Prix will largely be frozen for the remainder of the season. This means that there are limitations to what upgrades and improvements the teams bring to the rest of the races in the season. Engine manufacturers are limited to one performance upgrade to the MGU-K, energy store and control electronics, or for reliability reasons, providing they get approval from the FIA.
As mentioned before, Mercedes have been working very hard both before and after the mandatory factory shutdown. They have been strengthening and altering the power unit so that it is more reliable. Prior to winter testing, Mercedes were trying to catch the performance-setting Ferrari engine, but then reliability issues came up.
Mercedes are now ready, with a new spec engine to defend the crowns of the Silver Arrows. Mercedes customers Racing Point and Williams will also run this spec engine at Austria this weekend. Hopefully, it is good enough for the Silver Arrows to hold off Max Verstappen’s threat. That threat is considerably large, seeing that he has won the last 2 races at the Red Bull Ring. However, I’m not sure an Austrian hat-trick is his priority…
2. Max Verstappen Not Focused On Austria Hat-trick, But 2020 Title
The 22-year-old Dutchman has taken victory at the Red Bull Ring for 2 years in a row (2018-2019). You would think that he would be aiming for an Austrian hat-trick, especially since the 2020 season opens there. However, with an unclear second half of the season, Verstappen has bigger hopes than just race hat-tricks. He wants to become the youngest-ever Formula 1 World Champion.
Up until 2018, Red Bull had been far away from a win at their home race, apart from in 2016, when Verstappen finished in second place. In 2018, Verstappen took advantage of both the Mercedes cars retiring and finally brought Red Bull a win at their home track. 2019, was a masterclass. Verstappen qualified in 2nd for the 2019 Austrian Grand Prix but had a terrible start. He had dropped down to 8th place by Turn 2. Then, he made his way by overtaking multiple drivers, to take the lead in a controversial overtake from Charles Leclerc 3 laps before the end of the race. Verstappen now has a chance to make 2 Red Bull home wins 3 in a row. However, that isn’t his priority.
“I would prefer to win a championship!” admitted Verstappen. “I don’t really think about a hat-trick, the most important thing for me is to have a competitive car and perform at my best.
“I never consider myself the favourite,” he added, “because actually when you look at the track it’s not even our best track – but last year, of course, it was very warm. We were really good with keeping the engine cooling down. So I don’t expect it to be an easy win, I think Mercedes again will be very strong. Who knows where Ferrari will be as well, so no, it will be a very hard and tough battle again to win that race, but we’re going to try.”
If Verstappen takes the hat-trick this weekend, he can take on the Styrian Grand Prix with full force. The Styrian Grand Prix is the second part of the double-header at Austria and takes place at the Red Bull Ring as well. Want to learn more about the first half of the 2020 season? Check out our post about it! Verstappen can win the Styrian Grand Prix if he attacks it with full force and good momentum from winning the Austrian Grand Prix. This will give him a good chance of winning the 2020 World Title.
Sebastian Vettel won his first world title in 2010 at the age of 23 years and 134 days. Max Verstappen turns 23 years old on the 30th of September this year. 134 days after that is the 11th of February 2021. This means that this year is the only chance Verstappen has to break Vettel’s record.
Verstappen has been learning a lot in the past few years in Formula 1. But he believes that all the lessons he learned with Red Bull’s first year with Honda last year are very important. Verstappen thinks they will help him snatch the crown from the Silver Arrows.
“Mercedes are still the ones to beat,” Verstappen admitted, “because they have been the dominant team for so long now. They are still very strong and will be hard to beat but as a team we learnt a lot over the last year and I really think that we are stronger.
“We’ve got some good races coming up this season so I will of course try to close that gap and hopefully we can make it difficult for them. It will be a good challenge to try and beat them… One thing I know for sure is that we will do everything we can to fight for it.”
As mentioned in the previous piece of news, the Honda power unit will arrive in Austria with some upgrades. Also, the RB16, the 2020 Red Bull Formula 1 car, will come to Austria with some aerodynamic upgrades. These were spotted when Verstappen’s teammate Alex Albon took the RB16 for a drive at Silverstone. However, as written in the news above, Mercedes have confirmed, “a chunk” of upgrades for the W11 will be coming to Austria.
3. McLaren On How They Will Manage Recent Loan
McLaren was in some financial trouble. They were considering a partial sale of their Formula 1 team. McLaren Group also dropped 1,200 staff because of the impacts of the pandemic, and the McLaren team restructuring due to the 2021 Formula 1 budget cap. Then, luckily, McLaren secured a £150m loan from the National Bank of Bahrain. Now that McLaren has been refinanced, they can spend the money on restarting large projects. However, McLaren Team Principal Andreas Seidl said that the British Team have to be cautious about how they spend the money that they have.
McLaren had started spending money on large infrastructural projects, like a new wind tunnel, so that they can get back to the front of the field. They are still in a rebuilding process, as McLaren was a top team a decade ago. McLaren had made some really good progress after securing 4th in the constructors’ championship last year. However, there is still more work to be done. The team’s large projects were stopped due to the pandemic hitting business hard. This means the loan may help them restart those projects again. However, these projects may not restart too soon. The second half of this season is very unclear, so teams don’t know what kind of revenue they will receive. So, Seidl said that McLaren won’t be restarting anything that requires large expenditure just yet.
“At the beginning of this crisis we simply had to put on hold all the infrastructure projects we were working on,” said Seidl during a video call with media on Tuesday. “Even now, not knowing exactly how the income will look like during this year, we are still cautious there, and simply have to wait until we have the green light there again.
“As you can imagine I’m pushing hard to get these different infrastructure measures in place again as quickly as possible. We all know this will be key in our journey back to the front in Formula 1 as we have a deficit there compared to the top teams. I’m quite optimistic once we are through this crisis we get back on track with our infrastructure as well.”
The last few months had been tough for McLaren, and Seidl also said: “with me and Zak [Brown, CEO] having detailed knowledge of what was going on, there was never a doubt of McLaren not being on the grid next year.”
McLaren is under a financial strain, but they are still going to improve their cars’ performance, as they have to begin the ‘best of the rest’ defence. So they are going to put upgrades on the MCL35 for Austria and the subsequent races. McLaren is also going to have to keep some money aside for next year, as they have to adapt their 2021 car to be able to run a Mercedes engine. McLaren is switching from a Renault to a Mercedes engine for 2021. Let me know in the comments below if you want me to write more about that. Coming back to 2020, let’s talk about McLaren’s livery change.
4. McLaren Update 2020 Car Livery In Support of Formula 1’s #WeRaceAsOne Campaign.
Part 1 of the 2020 Season Opener News Roundup talked about Mercedes and Williams changing their liveries. This part 2020 Season Opener News Roundup talks about McLaren changing their livery! McLaren recently revealed that they will change the MCL35’s livery in support of Formula 1’s new campaign #WeRaceAsOne. This campaign is about unity and inclusion and is against things like racism. Let me know in the comments below if you want me to write a post about it.
The changes to the original livery of the MCL35 is not as drastic as the changes to the Mercedes and Williams liveries. However, these small changes are much more meaningful than you think. The rainbow colours have been added to the top of the halo, and the outside of the blue section of the side of the car, as shown in the images below.
“We fully support Formula 1 on the #WeRaceAsOne campaign as we return to racing,” said McLaren CEO Zak Brown.
“Formula 1 and McLaren have a truly worldwide audience, and we recognise that our return to the track is a huge opportunity for our sport to make an impact at a global level, helping those most affected by the Covid-19 crisis and standing together against the blight of racism, as we work steadfastly to build an even stronger culture of diversity, inclusion and equality in our team and our sport,” he added.
McLaren said that the rainbow on their cars are there as “a universal symbol of unity, solidarity and hope, while recognising those key workers putting their lives at risk to save others.”
There is a range of special merchandise that McLaren will sell, and all profits will be donated to the #WeRaceAsOne campaign and charities around the world that help people recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.
It is great to see that another Formula 1 team is promoting diversity and inclusion, and is donating to charity. This is a great way to show people the struggle for racial equality and to support racial equality. Mercedes changed their silver livery to an all-black livery for the same reasons, and I wrote about it in Part 1 of the 2020 Season Opener News Roundup, so check that out.
This is the end of Part 2 of the 2020 Season Opener News Roundup, and the end of the entire 2020 Season Opener News Roundup! I have enjoyed writing about all this news, and I hope you have enjoyed reading the news roundup as well. Stay on the lookout for new posts, and of course, stay safe.