On Sunday the curtain came down on the 2020 Formula 1 season in the now traditional season finale at the Yas Marina circuit in Abu Dhabi.
Not known for its ability to produce scintillating racing, the circuit built around a marina on the Yas Island once again gave us one of the more pedestrian Grands Prix of an – at times – harum scarum 2020 Formula 1 season.
World Champion Lewis Hamilton returned from his COVID-19 enforced absence which in turn meant that star of the Sakhir GP George Russell returned to his full time drive at Williams, once again partnering Nicholas Latifi for the team’s last chance to avoid finishing the season pointless for the first time in its 40+ year history.
There were no heroics this week from from George ‘Mr Saturday’ Russell in qualifying, bowing out in Q1 with 18th quickest time – team-mate Latifi two places back in 20th.
In a race almost completely devoid of action (a Yas Marina speciality), George battled with the Alfas and the Haas cars, and made his way to 15th at the chequered flag. Nicholas managed to stick with him for much of the race, coming home two places behind in 17th, with Alfa Romeo’s Giovinazzi – with whom Williams fought for much of the season.
“I’m proud of the season we’ve done here at Williams. The team have worked their socks off to make the most of it, it’s been a massive step forward and we have to be grateful for that. It’s still not where we want to be, but everyone is working really hard to improve the car.” George Russell told williamsf1.com
So while it wasn’t the points-scoring spectacular many of us hoped for, the team finishing bottom of the constructor’s championship for the third year on the bounce with a record low points haul, 2020 has been all about survival.
It looked, earlier in the season, as if Williams’ poor form of late, the skewed Formula 1 landscape and COVID-19, might just finish off the team for good. Thankfully though, a buyer was found and Dorilton Capital were able to allay some of our worries, at least in the short term.
Formula 1 too looked like it was in for an incredibly difficult 12 months, as first one, then two, then more Grand Prix were cancelled as the pandemic took hold, globally. As June approached, we should have been a third of the way into the season, and yet an F1 car had not turned a wheel in anger.
At that point, you’d have been forgiven for thinking that 2020 was a write off, and that the next time we’d see a car on track would be 2021 or beyond.
But somehow, Liberty and F1 managed to get the show on the road. At great expense, and through a great deal of ambitious, meticulous and at times creative planning, rigorous testing and other COVID mitigating processes, they managed to execute 17 Grand Prix, with only a handful of COVID cases.
But the condensed season has been a gruelling one for those involved, and so when the chequered flag came down on Sunday, it was with some sense of relief that the year was done, and we could look ahead to some normality returning next year (fingers crossed!)
What the future holds for Williams we don’t yet know. Dorilton have the cash and seemingly the ambition to make the future bright, and so here’s hoping that 2020 was the start of the comeback.