Aston Martin Red Bull Racing were the only thorn in Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team’s side during the 2020 FIA Formula 1 World Championship. Yet again, we saw Mercedes run away with the championship, but Red Bull always put up a fight, especially the powerhouse that is Max Verstappen.
Scuderia Ferrari was looking like they would be the only team to trouble Red Bull for second spot in the Constructors’, but they were nowhere to be seen throughout the whole year, leaving the season as a two-horse race.
Although the year looks impressive on paper for the energy drinks team, they still didn’t quite have the power to dethrone Mercedes.
Red Bull came second in the championship for the first time since 2016. For three years in a row, the team didn’t quite have the power to edge out Ferrari to take the silver medal. However, this year saw an unseasonably bad year for Ferrari, finishing sixth and having none of their drivers’ in the top six in the Drivers’ Championship. This left the window open for Red Bull to take the second spot quite easily. There was some competition from BWT Racing Point Formula One Team early in the year but nothing Red Bull couldn’t handle.
Verstappen came third in the Drivers’ Championship for the season year running but this time, he was much closer to second-placed Valtteri Bottas. Just nine points separated the two come the chequered flag at Abu Dhabi. Verstappen will have his eyes on second spot or even greater next year.
At Abu Dhabi, Red Bull showed they had the outright pace to beat Mercedes, with Verstappen taking pole and cruising himself to his second win of the year. He looked unnerved all weekend, despite him jokingly taking the third-place seat before the race, and showed he is just getting stronger and stronger.
… And The Lows
At the beginning of 2020, Red Bull confirmed they would be sticking with Alexander Albon for the season, in the hope he could bring them more trophies. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case. It took Albon until the Tuscan Grand Prix mid-way through the season to gain his first podium with a third-place finish. He rarely placed higher than the likes of Sergio Pèrez, Daniel Ricciardo and Carlos Sainz Jr. and eventually finishing seventh in the Drivers’ Championship. Many believed Red Bull still had faith in the Thai driver, however, they have decided to switch him out for 2021 in favour of Pèrez, who was without a seat.
Unfortunately, 2020 was another season where retirements hindered the team. Out of the seventeen races, Verstappen had to retire from five. Although, not always were they car issues. At the Sakhir Grand Prix, Verstappen became a victim of a Charles Leclerc incident when the Monegasque driver hit Pèrez, leaving Verstappen no choice but to go wide and unfortunately colliding with the barrier. Italy also seemed to be a thorn in his side, with the Dutch driver not completing any of the three races held in the country.
Over the course of seventeen races, not once did Albon have a better qualifying than Verstappen. In fact, the highest he qualified all year was fourth and often found himself starting halfway down the grid, additional disappointments to Albon’s year.
Verstappen, on the other hand, was on fire. He gained himself a pole position right at the tail end of the year and qualified third a whopping ten times. There were only three occasions all year that Verstappen didn’t qualify in the top three, the Hungarian, 70th Anniversary and the Italian Grand Prix.
The race battle wasn’t a close affair either. Albon only had four results stronger than Verstappen all year and those were only due to Verstappen retiring. Not once did Albon beat his team-mate on outright pace.
In terms of podiums, Verstappen often found himself with the glory. He gained three third place finishes, six second and two wins. Albon walked away with two third place podiums.
At the end of the season, Albon finished with 105 points where Verstappen gained over double the amount on 213. Verstappen continued to reign supreme at Red Bull.
What to look for in 2021
Red Bull have a new member in Pèrez. The Mexican driver had been rumoured to join the team after he was let go by Racing Point. It took till after the season had ended for the team to announce the news. Albon will still continue to be part of the team as reserve and development driver.
Pérez has proven himself over the years and he deserves to be in a top car. Will he be able to match up to the power of Verstappen? I hope so. It would really spice up the championship.
Aston Martin have taken over Racing Point, forming their own team, meaning they won’t be part of Red Bull from 2021. Also, Honda announced they would be leaving the team, citing they have focusses elsewhere. 2021 will be Honda’s last year.