Formula One starts its season in Austria this week, nearly four months later than planned due to the COVID-19 pandemic and against a very different backdrop.
The six-time world champion, Lewis Hamilton looks confident to equal Ferrari great Michael Schumacher’s record of seven while his Mercedes team are bidding for an unprecedented seventh successive drivers’ and constructors’ title double.
Hamilton needs just seven more wins to equal Schumacher’s record of 91 as his yet another milestone.
“It’s a really weird time in the world and the biggest challenge in my mind is not about the championship necessarily,” Hamilton said. “It’s not a normal year.”
There is also uncertainty about how many Grands Prix the season will hold with seven cancelled so far and more likely to follow.
Eight rounds, all in Europe and without spectators for the first time, feature on a provisional calendar but the sport still hopes to host 15-18 races, even if that means several circuits hosting two each.
Red bull, Ferrari look doughty
Max Verstappen and Red Bull are expected to challenge Mercedes, along with Ferrari and Racing Point in close pursuit.
Four-time champion Sebastian Vettel, who had earlier announced that this will be his final year with Ferrari, expressed his happiness with the prospect of getting back on the circuit after the long enforced break.
“We’ve been waiting now for quite a long time – and it has started to feel like a long time,” Vettel told Ferrari as per Sky Sports.
Sebastian Vettel has an uncertain future and will want to go out on a high in his last campaign for Ferrari.
Mercedes goes black
Mercedes dubbed the ‘Silver Arrows’, will race in an all-black livery in the 2020 Formula One championship to express solidarity against racism.
“Racism and discrimination have no place in our society, our sport or our team: this is a core belief at Mercedes,” Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff said in a statement.
“But having the right beliefs and the right mindset isn’t enough if we remain silent.
“We wish to use our voice and our global platform to speak up for respect and equality, and the Silver Arrow will race in black for the entire 2020 season to show our commitment to greater diversity within our team and our sport.”
Lewis Hamilton on racism, said : “It’s so important that we seize this moment and use it to educate ourselves whether you are an individual, brand or company to make real meaningful changes when it comes to ensuring equality and inclusivity.”
The 2020 season will kick off with the Austrian Grand Prix at the Red Bull Ring on July 5, followed a week later by a second race at the same track on July 12.