What. A. Race. -2020 Sakhir Grand Prix Race Review and Recap

The Formula One circus got ready for its second race in Bahrain and the penultimate race of this 2020 season at this week’s Sakhir Grand Prix, and what a race it was. With a wild news week leading into it, whether it was the mid-week driver switches or the continuing conversation about the wild race last week at the same circuit, this race was bound to be a break from the usual. 

A wild Saturday qualifying on the Bahrain outer track set up an exciting starting grid for Sunday’s race, Bottas taking pole with his new teammate a quarter of a tenth behind, the weekend was pointing favorably in the newcomer’s direction. His session also gave viewers a glimpse at the kind of blistering speed and sub 60 second lap times we were to expect from the 2.2-mile-long track.

Right from lights out, George Russell was on for a good one and took the lead from Valtteri Bottas in only a few corners. While the Russell pulled ahead, a four-way battle for second place waged on for a few corners until Leclerc in the Ferrari lunged into T4 and took Sergio Perez and Max Verstappen with him, The Mexican escaped into the pits while LeClerc and Verstappen were out of the race in the wall.

The first lap collision brought out the safety car and the yellow lights led the field until Lap 7. In the lead and in control of the restart, Russell sped away to a comfortable lead while his teammate and Carlos Sainz in the McLaren had a wonderful battle for runner up, in the end, Bottas retained the position.

The grid began to settle in for the 87 lap race and the Mercedes grew their lead from the rest of the grid. As has been the norm this season, the midfield refused to quiet down as Perez made his way from the back of the grid and through the field after the first lap incident, putting together some spectacular overtakes.

The pit stop strategy game was one to look forward to with the unique challenge presented to the teams given the short lap times of the Bahrain outer circuit. The average pitstop will take 23 seconds, but with a lap time of 57 seconds, that’s almost half the lap. The mid-field was also incredibly bunched up this race making a pitstop cost a lot more places than usual.

With that in mind, the pit stop battle started in the backfield with the Haas, Alfas, and Williams all pitting, causing the midfield to join in shortly after. While the tire shuffle happened behind them the Mercs continued to extend their stints on their starting mediums but it would not last long as they pitted a few laps after everyone else, George blinking first followed by Valtteri four laps later. 

After a little power scare with Russell after his pitstop was solved quite quickly, the race reached a little over half distance and the grid settled once again with Russell in the lead from his teammate by nearly eight seconds. Then a Virtual Saftey Car is called to recover the stricken Williams of Nicholas Latifi at Turns 2 and 3 after a mechanical failure. The VSC gave a few midfield teams time to switch over to a two-stop, letting Vettel and Norris get away with the pit stop but the VSC ended too quickly and left Riccardio and Sainz caught out and losing a few more places than anticipated.

After a few laps of calm, the yellows flags are waved once again on the pit straight as Jack Aitken, the driver filling in for George at Williams, goes off and loses his front wong in the process. The front wing debris from the Williams brings out the safety car once and again and this is where the race really kicks off.

The race leaders call in both their cars to the pits in a double stack pit stop, but because of an apparent radio failure on Georges’s side of the garage, the crew fits Bottas’s tires onto Georges’s car. With Bottas pulling in right after George leaves, the pit crew is left confused and ends up taking off and putting back on his old hards. I must not forget about the break fire on the front left just to put a nice cherry on top of Mercedes’s second annual catastrophic pitstop failure when they are being followed by the Netflix crew filming “Drive to Survive” season 3. If it wasn’t already tough to watch, Mercedes had to call in George after one lap to switch tires becuase it is against the regulations to run a set of tires that are not your own. After the race, they received a €20,000 fine for the mishap.

After this year’s Constructors Champions biff the pit stop, the door is wide open for the midfield runners to take over, specifically, Perez, and Stroll in the Racing Points who take first and third with Renaults Estaban Ocon taking second on lap 64. The Mercedes follow with Bottas in fourth and George in fifth on the safety car restart.

When the Saftey car goes into the pits, Perez storms away with the lead, not much pressure from the cars following. On lap 71 George puts on one of the best moves of the race maybe the season, on his teammate to grab fourth and wastes no time taking care of Stroll and Ocon. Now within 3 seconds of the Mexican, this race is Georges for the taking. 

Then it all falls apart.

On lap 79, George’s race engineer comes on the radio and delivers the worst news a driver could get when they are this close to their first world championship point, first podium, and almost surely first win in Formula One. “Left rear Puncture,” said Bonno, breaking the hearts of millions.

After a glimmer of hope appeared when Crofty on the Sky Sports commentary misattributes the radio message to Bottas, it was confirmed when the number 63 Mercedes made its way into the pits for the third time this race and get fitted for a new set of soft tires.

As George’s name dropped down the timing column all the way down to fifteenth place, not even in the points, the hearts of Formula One fans across the world did as well. But the race is not over, Sergio Perez is still growing his lead and is on track to net his first win in Formula One. 

While the race comes to its final laps, George is tearing his way through the midfield in an attempt to get in the top 10 and score a point at least. While he moves up, his teammate is getting ambushed by the midfield and dropping places like it’s his job. They meet in the middle and finish the race at ninth for George and eight for Bottas. 

In the end, while it wasn’t who was expected going into the final 20 laps, we had a new winner in Formula One, Sergio Perez. The same Sergio Perez who saved Racing Point from folding in 2018, saving the jobs of everyone around him and insuring the future of the team. The same Sergio Perez who signed a 3-year contract last year only for it to be thrown out and gets dropped by his team for next season. The same Sergio Perez who is in very real danger of not racing next year is a race winner.

This is one of the greatest races I’ve ever seen, now I haven’t been following Formula One for the longest time, only the last 2 years really. Despite that, I have had the pleasure of witnessing some modern classics, and this is right up there with the best of them. It was exhilarating from start to finish and never took a breath for too long. It had a good fight for the lead and an excellent fight for the midfield places all throughout the race. It was a great collection of fantastic overtakes all around the track and Perex ut in one of the best drives of his career and it fell great to finally see his hard work pay off.

Races like these are what I love about this often times weird but wonderful sport. The racing itself is fantastic, but that level of entertainment is further propelled by the storylines and character arcs almost that we see from off track. When the character and personality of the drivers are displayed in their racing, this sport is at its best and that is exactly what we saw today.

The results and performances from the Sakhir Grand Prix will leave a lot up for discussion in the coming weeks and we could have a very full news week ahead of the final race of the season. 

Hamilton tested positive and Haas filling seats. News rundown 12/1

It’s been a big day in the world of Formula One news and I thought I would write up a quick post to talk about it.

The biggest news broke this morning with Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes announcing that Lewis tested positive and wouldn’t able to compete in this weekend’s Grand Prix. Aside from the amazing stat of this being the first race weekend without Lewis sence he joined the sport in 2007, this brings up the question of who will replace the champion this weekend.

The choices for his replacement are the Mercedes reserve driver, Stoffel Vandoorne, who is currently testing with the Mercedes formula E team but will travel to Bahrain afterwords. Vandoorne hasn’t raced in F1 senses his dreadful years with McLaren in 2016-2018 but proved his talent by finishing 2nd in the FE championship and winning the final race. 

Another option for the seat is Mercedes junior driver and current Williams driver, George Russell. A fan favorite for the seat, Russell came into the Williams seat in 2019 after winning F2 in 2018. He has not found the same success in the backmarker team, having yet to finish in the points in F1 but has stayed undefeated against his teammate in Qualifying after 35 races. Also, a favorite for the Mercedes seat when the top team decides to drop one of their current drivers, a race weekend for Russell would be a fantastic audition for the young driver in the top car.

The third most likely candidate for the seat is Nico Hulkenberg. Hulk as started three races this year for the Racing Point team after both their drivers tested positive and were unable to race. After losing his race seat and Reanult after the 2019 season, Hulk has been without a seat this year but has proved him worthy by scoring points in each of his three starts this season.

I personally think Mercedes would be smart to give Russel the drive but I think Williams might get in the way of it. If Mercedes really wants Russell I’m sure they can find a plan that Williams would see fit to loan over their star. If Russel does move to Merc for a race I think the Williams seat would be Vandoornes for the taking.

The other big news for the day is the announcement from Haas that they signed Russian Formula 2 driver, Nikita Mazepin to fill one of their seats for next season. The Russian has scored 2 wins, 5 podiums and 3rd place in the Hitech headed into the final race of the season this weekend in Bahrain. A long talked about player in the driver market, Mazepin tested for Force India and Mercedes in the past and received favorable praise from the teams. Aside from his on-track performance, Mazepin will also bring a considerable amount of money for the team, money they desperately need to get themselves out of the backfield rut they’ve found themselves in.

Finally, it was announced that after his wreck on Sunday, Roman Grosjean will not participate in the Sakhir Grand Prix this weekend and will be replaced by Haas reserve driver, Pietro Fittipaldi. Grosjean will also stay in the hospital for an extra day to help treat the burns he sustained.

A tough day in Bahrain

Well, that was scary. This review took me a little while to sit down and write, usually, I get it done right after the race but this time around I needed a little bit I digest what I had witnessed. I’m sure a lot of other fans had to do the same after that incident. I wish Roman the best and I am eternally grateful for those who worked in the past to make this sport as safe as it is.

A pretty uneventful Saturday left us with the usual three at the front of the grid on Sunday with Hamilton leading the charge teammate in tow with Verstappen in third to start the 2020 Bahrain Grand Prix. 

As the race kicked off the front half of the grid started their usual shifting up and down with a rough start from Valtteri dropping down a few places while the midfield had a few scuffles through the first two turns. As the grid left turn three a massive explosion rang of the barrier and the race was red-flagged immediately.

As the drivers made their way to the pits the confusion was evident throughout the commentary team and the driver radios. As more information came out, we learned it was Roman Grosjean in the Haas that hit the barrier, and his car was torn in half, rupturing the fuel cell and causing a massive fireball he luckily escaped.

From my perspective, I was fully convinced I just witnessed a man die. Nowadays in Formula One, we can watch a crash and know there is a very good chance everyone will walk away uninjured. This one was different, there was a feeling in my chest that this one was different and we had just lost a driver. But, the brave men in the medical car were not far behind with their fire extinguishers and were able to help the driver out of the wreck and evaluate him.

Luckily, the Marshalls and the Medical Team came to the rescue and we can talk about this crash today with a sense of optimism and relief in the systems in place. 

As the red flag period continued more news was released and the broadcasts were assured that Grosjean was ok and the replays continued as the commentary team tried to figure out what happened along with the fans. In the end, it was deduced that after brief contact with Kvyats front wing, Grosjean lost control and went head-on into the metal barriers. As his car pierced the barrier, the halo crash structure protecting his head, wedged in the barrier and protected Grosjean from almost certain death. The momentum from the angel of the impact, broke the back half of the car off, exposing the fuel cell, and igniting the fire. In the span of 18 seconds, Roman was able to free himself from his cockpit and find the hand of Dr. Ian Roberts who helped him out of the inferno and into the medical car.

This crash is without a doubt the most terrifying thing ever seen on live television, and they showed it on repeat for about an hour. 

In an interview with Ziggo, Renault diver Daniel Riccardo said, “The way the incident of Grosjean was broadcast over and over, the replays over and over, it was completely disrespectful and inconsiderate for his family, for all of our families watching.” and I couldn’t agree more. I understand the need for review and to inform the public, as well as the need to fill time during a red flag, but to me, it felt excessive. I couldn’t help but think about Roman’s wife and kids watching live and worrying about the condition of their loved one while a constant replay of such a traumatic event runs on the TV. I’m glad I got to see what happened, but tone it down a bit.

After nearly an hour red-flag period, while the marshalls replaced the barrier, the race was to restart on the grid. Not even a lap after the restart, Lance Stroll pulled a Hulkenberg and flipped upside down after contact with Kyvat. Not the most terrifying crash, quite a tame one actually, but scary nonetheless and didn’t help with the eerie feeling on track after the incident in the morning.

A safety car was released and the next few laps were under the yellow lights. Bottas pitted for hards after a puncture was detected, emerging the pit lane in P16 and after that, he was in for a tough one. Also in for a tough one was Seb Vettel, getting on the radio saying “This car is undrivable” as well as laying into his teammate for not giving him space on the restart.

Lewis and Max took their usual positions at the front of the grid with a pretty hefty margin followed by Checo in third. The real fight was in the mid-field with good battles between the teammates at Reanult as well as the boys in orange at McLaren. With third place in the constructors still in contention, Racing point, Renault and McLaren have their work cut out for them these last few races and that hunger for points was palpable.  A quiet day in the backfield besides the obvious, Haas, Alfa, Alpha, and Williams slotted into their usual positions.

As a (thankfully) kind of boring race after the Stroll incident came to an end, it seemed like Checo was on track for his second podium in as many races, but then came the fire. It became clear that Checo had a problem when smoke started billowing out the back of his Mercedes power-unit, followed by flames. Those flames were put out by the marshalls on track, but retrieving the car took a little too long and the race ended under the safety car. 

After inheriting the podium from Checo, Albon scored his second podium of the season behind his teammate in second and the World Champion Hamilton on the top. 

The 2020 Bahrain Grand Prix was a good race, but it will forever be remembered as the race where a driver should have died. The race where we saw years of safety innovation payoff. The race where all the hard work put in by people like Dr. Sid Watkins, Charlie Whiting, and the countless people who worked to make this sport safe and enjoyable get put to the test. Because of them, we get to remember this day as a happy one and, not a somber one. 

My favorite Formula One Content creators

When I was originally trying to learn about this sport more, the first thing I did was search on Spotify for podcasts about Formula One. Since then, I regularly listen to a lot of podcasts about the sport. I also found a lot of good information and content from many different content creators on YouTube whose whole channels are dedicated to F1.

As a new fan, these creators really helped me understand the sometimes confusing world of Formula One and Motorsport in general. I thought I would share some of my favorites for anyone who is new to the sport and looking for some extra content to get into.

Podcasts:

3 Legs 4 Wheels, https://3legs4wheels.com/

3 Legs 4 Wheels was the very first F1 focused podcast I listened to and it is still one I anticipate every single week. The presenters, Sian, Paul, Chris, Dan, and Lee provide a weekly look into the news of the week as well as race reviews and previews and insight as long time fans of the sport. Their friendly vibe and comedic personalities are what really got me hooked in the beginning and I have been a fan ever since. 

WTF1 Podcast, https://wtf1.com/ 

WTF1 has always been one of the bigger “Amature” Formula One YouTube channels and blogs in the field and they deserve all the success they garnered over their past decade in the industry. Outside of their normal video content, they also have a podcast where they provide race reviews and previews after a race weekend. The presenters, Matt Gallagher, founder Tom Bellingham, and new addition Katy Fairman run through the news of the week and provide their insights on the race that week. The WTF1 podcast is a must-listen for any fan looking for a fun time listening to some very smart race fans talk about the sport.

Out Lap F1 Podcast, https://outlapf1.com/

The newest addition to my weekly podcasts, the Out Lap F1 podcast is a fantastic change of pace for anyone looking for a different perspective on the sport. Presenters James, John, and Andy break the usual European mold of most F1 podcasts and preset the show from my home city of Chicago. Their nice midwest accents and American perspective on the sport set them apart from other podcasts you may listen to on the subject. They also sometimes have a rotating cast of other presenters who come in to do different segments throughout the show to make it one of the most interesting podcasts I listen to. Anyone looking for a different perspective on the sport, check out Out Lap F1, you won’t be disappointed.

F1 Strategy Report, http://www.f1strategyreport.com/

For fans of the more strategic side of the sport, Motorsport Journalist, Michael Lamonto provides a shorter podcast discussing the strategic elements of that week’s race as well as a preview of the week before. With a rotating second host seat always filled by various journalists in the paddock, you can always expect to learn something new from an episode. If you looking for a more manageable and informative podcast, the F1 Strategy Report is just what you need.

Beyond the Grid  

Created from Formula One themselves, Beyond the Grid is a much different affair than the previously mentioned shows. Host and long-time journalist in the paddock, Tom Clarkson interviews a different figure from Formulas One’s rich past as well as the present. Having guests like Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel as well as the great Murry Walker as just some of the almost 100 interviews this show is a must-listen for any fan of the sport. Supported by Clarcksons’s fantastic interview skills and interesting guests, the quality of this show is unmatched and I make sure to always find time to tune in.

Paddock Pass

Another Formula One produced pod, Paddock Pass made its transition from YouTube videos on the Formula One channel last season to a Spotify exclusive podcast this season. Featuring Will Buxton as he interviews various drivers on the grid in short snippets on media day, Paddock Pass is a great way for fans to get in the race week mindset and hear the driver’s expectations for the weekend. Anyone who loves to hear from the drivers will love Paddock Pass for its variety of voices and insights into the driver’s mind.

YouTube Channels:

Chain Bear F1, https://www.youtube.com/chainbearf1

Anyone new to the sport and looking for any information about just about anything related to Formula One, Chain Bear is the place to go. His unique presentation and his understanding of the topics at hand make his videos very informative and interesting to watch. He covers anything from track design to technical regulations in very simple terms so the average viewer can watch and understand. Chain Bear is definitely a channel to follow for new and old fans alike, with his presentation and knowledge, you are bound to learn something new.

F1/E Reviews, https://www.youtube.com/F1Reviews 

Formula one can sometimes be a confusing and overwhelming thing to follow, and I found it helps to follow a creator that can gather all the information and present it in a very clear way, and that’s what F1/E Review is all about. With session review after practice, qualifying, and the race, Dan from F1/E Reviews gathers all the headlines and storylines going into and throughout the weekend and discusses them in 10-15 minute videos. He also covers transfer talk and other major news in the world of F1, as well as Formula E. Anyone looking for knowledgeable insight and well put together videos, should check out Dan over at F1/E Reviews.

Cranky Yankee F1, https://www.youtube.com/crankyyankeef1 

Cranky Yankee F1 is a channel that strays from the weekly race review format of video and provides more long-form story videos around 20-40 minutes. Covering topics such as the exciting 2012 season, the Hamilton vs Rosberg duel and many many more, Cranky Yankee knows how to tell a good story. With very high production quality and engaging subject matter, Cranky Yankee is definitely one to check out if you are looking for a little Formula One history lesson.

Formula One, https://www.youtube.com/F1

The official Formula One youtube channel is a great source for Formula One content. Top 10 videos, session highlights, news updates, and interviews, this channel has it all. My favorite weekly content from them has to be the Weekend Warmup featuring journalist, Will Buxton, and Lawrence Barretto walking through the paddock and give a quick rundown of all the headlines and expectations for every team that weekend. In the past 3 years, Liberty Media has really revamped F1s online presence and the youtube channel is a great showing of that. This channel is a must-follow for fans of the sport new and old because of their great content and unmatched access to the drivers and teams.

A wild weekend at Istanbul Park – 2020 Turkish Grand Prix

In its first Formula One race weekend since 2011, Istanbul Park did not waste its opportunity to make an impact in the minds of fans new and old. 

Grip issues in Free Practice telegraphed a dominant weekend for Red Bull, Max Verstappen leading all three practice sessions, and an unusually difficult weekend for the 2020 Constructors Champions, Mercedes. The newly resurfaced track made the Friday running interesting, to say the least, with cars slipping ad sliding all over the circuit, predicting quali the next day proved difficult.  

In an attempt to put some rubber on the circuit before Saturday running, road cars were seen lapping the track as seen in a tweet by Mclaren garage tech Lee Mathurin. But in the end, the laps were for nothing as rain fell on the circuit during FP3, saturating the track before qualifying.  Q1 started on time but with seven minutes left in the session, the red flag flew due to the conditions. 

When the sessions started back up the rain was the main focus and the drivers struggled to get temperature and grip from the full wets, casing a lot of offs and spins, including Grosjean being beached in the gravel leading to a second red flag in Q1. This time the session was resumed quickly so the drives could get the last flying laps in. When the chequered flag dropped it was the Hasses, the Williams, and Kyvat done for the day. 

At the end of Q1 Latifi in the Williams pulled into the gravel leading to double waved yellows and the crane being pulled out to retrieve the car between the sessions. When Q2 began the crane was still on the circuit retrieving the beached Williams, calling into question Race Directors Michael Masi’s decision to start the session despite marshalls being on the track. It is important to point out that this is the second week in a row marshalls have been on track while running commenced. Last week being the Lance Stroll incident where he tried to un lap under the Safety Car while marshalls were near meters from Stroll on track. Q2 ended with the Mclarens, Ferraris and Gastly left behind.

The 10 car shootout of Q3 was looking in the favor of the Racing Points with Perez on provisional pole with a few minutes left but in the end, it was his teammate, Lance Stroll who took Pole followed by Verstappen with Checo in third.

After an exciting qualifying, the race on Sunday was bound to be exciting. The major storylines were Lewis Hamilton starting from 6th with a very good shot at finishing up his historic seventh World Championship title and Stroll starting from pole for the very first time.

On the way to the grid on Sunday, Giovanazzi and Russel had shunts leaving their pit crews with some work to do on the grid and an overnight rebuild of Gastlys Alpha Tauri sent him to the back of the pack to start the race.

On the opening lap, Stroll used his position well and retained the lead and leaves behind the chaos of a wet first lap. Behind the Canadian, the Renaults make some light contact causing Ocon to spin and Bottas to follow in reaction, while Verstappen stalls the lights out and drops back a few places and Vettel shoots from P11 to P4.  After a spin midway through the opening lap, Hamilton drops to sixth while Vettel and the Red Bulls fill in the gaps ahead.

Due to the conditions, almost the whole grid started on the full wets except the Williams, who also started from the pitlane, but by lap 6 the green intermediates seemed tempting, LeClerc and Bottas being the first to switch causing the rest of the grid to follow suit. 

In a commanding lead Stoll drove 10 sec ahead of his teammate in P2, Checo was in his own fight with a quick Verstappen on his tail. After a slow exit off turn 10 by Checo, Verstappen got a little too close and went into a dramatic spin, requiring a pit stop for new tires putting him back out on track at P8.

At a half distance, it was the Racing Points with Strolls lead slowly dwindling to his teammate in P2, followed by Albon in the Red Bull with Hamilton and Vettel in tow. After a rough start, Bottas was running in P17 after a third spin.

At this point in the Grand Prix, the track was at an awkward spot where it was a little too dry for the Intermediate tires but still too wet for the slicks.

After a stop for a new set of Inters, Stroll gave away the lead to his teammate, who then lost it to Hamilton a few turns later as Stoll came back out in P8. Leclerc took P3 from Verstappen a few laps later as he dipped into the pits for new inters. Vettel follows in P4 with Albon, Sainz and Verstappen followed behind.

Nearing the end of the race, Hamiton and Checo were content on their almost 50 lap old Intermediate tires, Hamilton even going against the team’s order to pit for a new pair with 4 laps left and a chance of rain on the last lap. After the race, a picture of Hamilton’s tires released by Mercades shows how he wore down the tread of the inters effectively making himself a set of slick tires as the track dried up. 

On lap 58/58 Hamilton crossed the line a Seven-time Formula One World Champion, tying the record set by Michael Schumacher. While he crossed the line the battle for P2 raged on a few turns from the end when Checo took the place and LeClerc locked up at turn 12, giving Vettel the right of way to claim P3 and a well deserved top-three finish for the German. Giving us a final Podium of Hamilton, Perez, and winner of the last Turkish Grand Prix Sebastian Vettel. 

Overall this year’s Turkish Grand Prix is one for the history books, a mixture of interesting strategy, high stakes, and changing conditions all come together to put on one hell of a show for fans around the world and will go down as another highlight in an already fantastic 2020 season.

A brief introduction

Hello! My name is Mikey McGuire and I’m a senior in high school. I plan to go to college and study journalism to pursue my dream career in motorsport journalism.

I’ve wanted to be a journalist for a while now, originally I wanted to go into the field to make documentaries, but over the past year or so my ambitions have changed slightly.

I started watching Formula One in the middle of the 2019 season after watching the Netflix documentary about the sport, “Drive to Survive.” The first race I tuned in for was the 2019 Canadian Grand Prix and after that banger of a race, I was hooked. Something about the beautiful circuit and the drama on the track between Seb and Lewis had me absolutely enthralled.

To understand more about the sport, I started watching different F1 related channels on Youtube and reading from F1 publications like “The Race” and “Autosport”. I immediately knew that this was the field I wanted to go into and becoming a motorsport journalist has been my goal ever since.

Another passion of mine is music and writing about it, I plan to write reviews on different albums and write on music, in general, every once in a while.

I’ve been writing for my school’s newspaper this school year and have been the online editor for the website associated with the paper. I started this blog as a way to hone my skills as a writer and reporter as well as grow my skills maintaining a webpage. This blog is also a great way for me to archive and builds a portfolio of work I can use to show potential employers.

I hope you enjoy the blog and don’t be afraid to let me know what you think of the page using the contacts on the contact page.