Last night (5/7) Hanoi time, the first race of the 2020 F1 season officially started in Austria, nearly 5 months behind the original schedule. Earlier, 10 races were postponed or cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic, including the race in Hanoi, Vietnam.
The long-awaited 5 months of waiting for fans were rewarded with the thrilling and captivating first race that just took place in Austria. The leading position was maintained throughout the 71 laps, but the rest was an intense competition. Only 11 out of 20 drivers completed the 71 laps of the Red Bull Ring track.
Taking advantage of starting in the first position, Valtteri Bottas maintained his lead throughout the 71 laps to finish in first place. At times, the two Mercedes drivers, Bottas and Hamilton, were more than 10 seconds ahead of the third-placed driver. However, the continuous appearance of the safety car helped the drivers in the back group to shorten the distance.
The tension escalated in lap 61 when Hamilton and Albon collided. In Albon’s overtaking effort, Hamilton showed impatience as he entered the corner and cut across Albon’s path, causing the Thai driver’s car to spin and retire afterwards. For this mistake, race stewards penalized the reigning world champion with a 5-second penalty.
The determination was also pushed to the limit after this collision and Hamilton’s penalty. Taking advantage of the chaos in the front group, Ferrari’s young driver, Charles Leclerc, continuously accelerated and climbed to the third position, closely chasing the two Mercedes drivers. With Hamilton being penalized 5 seconds while having a considerable gap behind Bottas, the Ferrari driver maintained a safe distance until the end of the last lap and naturally secured the second position overall.
The biggest surprise of this race was the McLaren drivers, especially Lando Norris. The 20-year-old McLaren driver performed impressively in the qualifying session and secured the 4th starting position. He maintained stability until the final laps and then made a spectacular breakthrough. In the 71st lap, Lando Norris used all his abilities to achieve the fastest lap while also shortening the distance to Hamilton to less than 5 seconds, just enough to take the 3rd position overall due to Hamilton’s 5-second penalty for the collision with Albon.
Carlos Sainz of McLaren also had an impressive debut when he finished 5th overall after Hamilton. The other Ferrari driver, Vettel, only finished in 10th position, bringing 1 point to Ferrari. This is considered the most forgettable race stage for Aston Martin. Both drivers of the team had to retire due to engine problems and collisions, leaving them empty-handed on the opening day.
At the end of stage 1, Mercedes is leading the race with a total of 37 points, McLaren ranks 2nd with 26 points, while Ferrari only has 19 points after stage 1. The second race of the F1 2020 season will still take place at the Red Bull Ring this weekend, promising an equally thrilling race as stage 1.