FB's Big Fat Review of the Year 2020

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Not my cup of cake
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I realised I had not yet put together my annual foray into character assassination and casual racism. So here it is, the thread you have all been waiting, my big fat review of 2020.

Where to start? I suppose it's appropriate that I'm late posting this as the season was late starting. In fact, because of "Kung Flu", we had to wait until July before Liberty Media managed to find enough dopey sods willing to put their own and their families lives at risk to make sure that some Americans, with bad facial hair, didn't lose a bundle on the F1 Franchise.

Low and behold, some bubble gum flavoured Euros managed to drag the Grand Prix circus to Austria for two races around the same track on consecutive weekends. Well this will be crap we all said (I did). I'll give it a try but we might as well give the titles to Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes now and go and do something more interesting. We had a new team, with Alpha Tauri joining the grid. But wait, this was a team we already new but the bloke in the factory had some found some new crayons to colour in the carbon fibre. Ah, it's another vehicle (vehicle, geddit?) to promote some crap being produced to make an Austrian billionaire even more wealthy.

But there were new drivers. Actually, one was some bloke who had a chance and hadn't been all that, and the other was some bloke with a rich dad who had decided to buy him a racing car. Unfortunately he bought him a Williams FW43 which in F1 terms is about as far from a racing car as you can get.

And, lo and behold, the drivers title in 2020 went to (at that time) plain, old Lewis Hamilton with Mercedes taking their 7th title in a row. But the season was much more complicated than that. The first race, to use a Yorkshire expression, was reet excitin'. There were lots of incidents, 3 safety cars and Lewis Hamilton given a late race penalty to put Lando Norris on the podium with old big 'ead himself taking the win and Charles the Clerk second. Quite a race, we all got over excited that F1 2020 would be something special. Oh did we come back to earth with a bump bigger than the meteor which hit Yosemite at the next race. Lewis simply wiped the floor with everyone and added yet another win at a different Grand Prix. Hey stats boys, that's right isn't it? The race had a different name after all. Regardless, it was a stinker. The only talking point was whether Racing Point would actually get found out for using last year's Mercedes.

The other thing which was a talking point after these first two races was just what a monster Ferrari had produced. Unfortunately this wasn't a Jenson Button, Brawn "monster", this was a Jenson Button Honda earth car "monster". Charles the Clerk tried his best, and got the occasional good result. Sebastian Vettel however, had been told by Ferrari that his breath smelled of cabbage, his mother was a gorilla and his dad shagged goats. Oh, and they didn't want him in their car next year. And you lot questioned his motivation! Half way through the year Seb signed to drive for a brand new team, Aston Martin. Oh, hang on, it was just another existing team being re-badged as a vehicle (vehicle, geddit? Still no?) to promote some crap to make a Canadian billionaire even more wealthy.

Hungary was another Mercedes benefit. The excitement here came from Haas running third and fourth in the early part of the race but the nasty stewards decided that the team had cheated by telling them to come in put on dry tyres on the way to the grid and this, apparently, was against the rules. I'll bear that in mind the next time I hear one of the engineers telling a driver to "box box" halfway through the race. Once again, we all wondered when Racing Point would be told that using last year's Mercedes was inappropriate, and Renault caught on to the idea and told the head teacher that RP had copied Merc's homework.

From Hungary the teams rolled across the Continent to Silverstone, which looked even colder, windier and less inviting with no fans sitting, shivering in the grandstands. Between the Hungarian and British races Sergio Perez decided to "pop home" to Mexico to say hello to his mum. Turns out someone in the Perez household had the 'Rona and generously shared it with Checo. This left Racing Point with a pink Mercedes but no driver. Ottma Shithousen got out his little black book and started to ring round. Luckily for us Paul di Resta had his phone on silent, so missed the call, and Hulkenberg comes before Sutil in Ottoman's contact list. So the last F1 driver to win Le Mans, without the result being fixed by the team, leapt on his space hopper and bounced across to Ze Island.
Silverstone was the first of 2020 where we had the drivers make a statement as part of the anti-racism, Black Lives Matter campaign. Before the race drivers were invited to "take a knee" to show there support for an important campaign. Most did. We also discovered that Lewis Hamilton is such a talented driver he didn't even need to have four working wheels on his car to win a race, drivng most of the last lap with a puncture. What of Nico Hulkenberg I hear you say? Well, Renault had yet another gripe to the headmaster about the Racing point actually being last year's Mercedes and this time, after being made to sit outside the office for an age, the head boy was sent out to say that he agreed and Racing Point would get the slipper. This was a little harsh on Nico Hulkenberg as his car didn't even make start.

Between 2nd and 9th of August someone decided to clean up and reformat the hard drives on Mercedes computers, but forgot to keep a back up. This meant that the team had no idea how to make the car work on some ever so slightly different tyres and Max Versatppen took them to school, taking his and Red Bull's first win of the season. They probably should have won one race in Austria, and the race the previous weekend at Silvestone, but Verstappen's ego had become so large is was slowing the car down. It needed Helmut Marko to take the young Dutchman (yeah right, he was born in Belgium, but don't tell the orange clad, beer swilling morons who follow him around the World that will you) to one side, take his nads in hand and squeeze until he sound like Barry Gibb to bring him back to earth. More of his Max and his ego later.

Spain was next. Went out, didn't watch it, don't care.

We went to Spa, it's a beautiful circuit, in a lovely part of the world which usually gives us an interesting race with some exciting moments. It didn't. The cars came home in pretty much the order they started on the grid. The only one who didn't was Alex Albon, and it was clear he was pretty much out of his depth at Red Bull.

Next to the "Temple of Speed" and the most bizarre result of the year. Not since Benetton has a company who makes woolly pullys won a Grand Prix, but step up Pierre Gasly in the Alpha Tauri to take his first win, the second ever for Minardi and the chance to give the middle finger to Helmut Marko, who didn't see as Pierre was standing on his blind side at the time.

We stayed in Italy for the next race, with a swift blat down the Autostrada to Mugello. It looked fantastic, with a lovely, long, start finish straight. An incident on the first lap bought out a safety car and when the race got going again the, so called, best drivers in the world, couldn't drive down the straight without running in to the back of one another and the race had to be stopped as they swept up bits of car. Valterri Bottas had been leading when the red flag came out, when the race restarted Lewis put him back in his place and even a second red flag didn't stop him from taking his 90th win.

We hopped from Italy to that bastion of international freedom and tolerance, Russia. The drivers were allowed to take the knee. Most did. Before the event many commented that this is a bogey race for Lewis Hamilton. What utter tosh I thought. He finished third. However, this had nothing to do with his ability as a driver, he was handed two, yes two, 5 second penalties for practicing his starts where he shouldn't. Bad boy! Valterri Bottas said some rude words over his pit radio on the slowing down lap to chastise his detractors. Like he would have won if Lewis hadn't been given two, yes two, penalties. Gimp.

Next up was Germany, but is wasn't really as this was Ze Eifel Grand Prix. A race round a tower then. Lewis overtook Valterri quite early on, when it was clear he was struggling to cope with the pressure Hamilton was applying, and he locked up his brakes. Lewis won, we all repeated the words Valterri had used to chastise his detractors at the previous race back to him, then his engine packed in. Nico Hulkenberg was back for this race as Lance Stroll now had the 'Rona. He won driver of the day. I'm sure he would rather have had a contract for 2021 but there were no takers for his services.

After a wait of 24 years we popped to Portugal and down to the Algarve to get some Autumn sun. MaX Verstappen and his ego said some rude things about Lance Stroll after the two had a bit of a contretemps during practice. I shan't repeat what he said but suffice to say the Mongolian Government weren't happy. Dickhead. The race was also made more exciting when race steward, Vitaly Petrov, showed what a modern man he is by criticising the Black Lives Matter movement and making some ill informed comments about homosexuality. He had to step down from the stewards role as karma stepped in to help us all out. In the race, Carlos Sainz led for a few laps, not something he is likely to experience next season when he's driving for Ferrari. In the end the natural order was restored and Lewis won, his 92nd race win, surpassing Michael Schumacher's record. Astonishing.

Back to Italy, off to Imola. Endless hours of crap about Ayrton Senna. Bottas took pole, in fact he was quite the whizz on a Saturday taking 5 poles through the season. Yeah, okay, Lewis won 10 but let's give the baby it's bottle. Lewis won (again).

On to the race of the season, Turkey. Firstly, let's all revel in the joy of seeing Max Verstappen sitting in a corner crying after Lance Stroll beat him to pole.

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Karma can be a bitch. The big blue box is used to carry his ego around. Just to reiterate, Lance Stroll took pole, a well deserved pole. At the start of the race he led brilliantly on a slippery, damp track. As the track dried he went backwards. We discovered later his car had been damaged. Lewis won, but this was no easy win. Hamilton has often declared a race to be his "best win ever", and we all groan and roll our eyes. This however, for me, really was his best win ever. His car control, pace and race craft in very testing conditions really showed why he is the greatest driver of his generation and, quite possibly, of all time. Oh, and both he and Mercedes won their titles at this event.

How could F1 follow Turkey? By popping across to another bastion of equality and free speech, Bahrain. Lewis won, again, but not before Romain Grosjean managed to argue with an armco barrier and make his car burst in to flames. Thankfully he got out with relatively superficial injuries, mainly due to that "stupid, ugly" halo. He would miss the next race, as would Lewis Hamilton as he had come down with the 'Rona.

Changes for round 2 in Bahrain. Firstly, the race would be on the "outer circuit", which was actually three straight lines and some wiggly bits. The lap time was less than a minute. Secondly, George Russell was moved up from Williams to Mercedes to replace Lewis. Jack Aitken was put in the Williams and Pietro Fittipaldi took Grosjean's seat at Haas. I sincerely hope it was a new chassis as the old one was a little barbecued. This race was Bottas' opportunity to show that he had what it takes in the best car on the grid and to put a bloke wearing boots a size too small to help him fit into a car built for someone 10cm shorter. Bottas took pole, not very convincingly though. In the race The Clerk and Verstappen tangled at the first corner putting them both out, Russell overtook Bottas early on and looked set to win until the Mercedes machine proceeded to cock things up in the most spectacular fashion, sending him out on Bottas' tyres, forcing an extra pit stop which resulted in him finishing 9th. So Bottas won then? Well no, as they had put his tyres on George's car Valterri limped home 8th on some very knackered rubber which left Sergio Perez as the winner, in the pink Mercedes. For 190 race Perez has driven round as a competent mid-fielder but probably little more. Now he is a race winner and Red Bull, having no one else left in their young driver programme that Helmut Marko hasn't pissed off, asked him to drive for them in 2021.

Lewis was back for the last race of the season in Abu Dhabi but clearly wasn't well. Max Verstappen took pole and won. Meh.

So what to make of 2020? For me it was a year that I grew a new respect for Lewis Hamilton. When he arrived he was very exciting. He then went through what I can only call the "dick head" phase, which all F1 drivers go through (some never get past this, yes Fernando I mean you) and then they come back to the sport. He dominated 2020 in a way which is incredibly unhealthy for the sport but he has now moved on to a different level, akin to Ed Moses or Michael Johnson, where you wonder just how much more he can achieve before he has had enough. I certainly don't expect him to hang around if Mercedes, or any other team, can't offer him a competitive car.

Let's see what 2021 brings us with Sir Lewis Hamilton possibly going for title number 8, assuming Mercedes agree to pay him.
 
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