This F1 preview Australia 2020 takes a look at the season-opener of the new Formula One season. Our regular contributor, Nick van der Meulen, brings us his thoughts.

At last…F1 2020 is ready to kick-off! Or is it? The teams have arrived in Melbourne and are ready to rumble after the Australian government decreed that the Australian Grand Prix will go ahead despite the fears of the CoVid-19 outbreak. While focus was on the teams based in Italy in this regard, news has emerged that two Haas team members and one from McLaren have shown symptoms of the virus and are in self-isolation, awaiting their test results. Both teams are based in England. Ferrari, in the meantime, has reported that all team members are present and correct…

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COVID-19 (also referred to as Coronavirus) has played havoc with international sports schedules and F1 is no exception: F1 powers-that-be Formula One has postponed the Chinese Grand Prix scheduled for April, while the Bahrain Grand Prix will run sans spectators in ten days’ time.

Testing times

Official testing took place a couple of weeks ago and, while one can normally ascertain an idea of the pecking order, the 2020 pre-season test left a number of pundits scratching their heads. Mercedes remains the class of the field so far, but Red Bull Racing and Ferrari produced more low-key performances and Racing Point produced a fast car which is a spitting image of Mercedes’ championship-winning machine from last season: to the point (excuse the pun) of the paddock referring to it as the “Pink Mercedes” (or Tracing Point – Ed).

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McLaren-Renault and Team Renault were also impressive but expressed concern over the “Pink Mercedes” churning the water with regard to who’s where in the mid-field. Williams-Mercedes improved markedly over last season’s dismal performance, yet, the team is downplaying their testing results, expecting to be at the tail end of the field, albeit within striking distance of other teams…

Read Nick’s predictions for the season going forward.

Outside forces

To make a potentially long story short: health issues are going to determine the season’s running. When it does run, it will be normal service resumed – as for 2019. Lewis Hamilton will be galloping towards his seventh world championship, while teammate Valtteri Bottas will valiantly attempt to stop him. He will have his good days where he is unstoppable but will be hard-pressed to be as consistent as his illustrious (dare we say legendary) teammate. Learn why a South African champion thinks Lewis Hamilton is one of the greatest F1 drivers of all time.

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Max Verstappen (Red Bull Racing) will be a contender for victory, while the Ferraris of Sebastian Vettel and Charles Leclerc will be in hot pursuit. One of the hanging questions is how Red Bull’s second driver, Alex Albon, will perform? The remaining teams will be trading blows to be “best of the rest” and it promises to be an intense battle again in 2020.

F1 is back – we hope. Sandbagging and coyness will finally be dropped on Saturday for qualifying and fans will have a taste of what to expect for Sunday…bring it on.