The coronavirus scare is still out there, but the Australian Grand Prix is set to kick off in what should be a fun season of F1 racing.
Everyone will be focused at Albert Park where the top constructors are keen on building some momentum especially since there is considerable uncertainty over just how many races might be postponed due to the ongoing pandemic.
In fact, several crew members from various teams have undergone testing to check on whether they’ve contracted the coronavirus or not as a precaution prior to the event.
Hopefully, no one will be confirmed positive with the coronavirus especially since the Australian Grand Prix committee indicated that there will be “no chance” of having a spectator ban at Albert Park.
Together with SBOTOP, let’s take a look at the preview ahead of this much-awaited event.
Who will emerge as the dark horse?
Red Bull quickly come into mind when asked on who can be the dark horse in Albert Park. Led by Max Verstappen, Red Bull clearly have their sights set on beating the Silver Arrows.
They started off the pre-season by signing their top dog Max Verstappen to a contract extension that would last up until 2023. Despite being linked to a possible transfer to Mercedes, the Belgian-Dutch driver stood pat with the constructor that made him a star last season.
Verstappen is about to get around £12-M annually, and every penny should already be worth it given his upside. Last year, the 22-year-old sensation finished third at the F1 World Championship standings behind the likes of Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton.
He is expected to do more of the same this year. However, Red Bull would still need to figure out on who will be their No. 2 driver behind Verstappen. Alex Albon may have had an impressive debut last season, but he would need to be better to be even compared to Max Verstappen.
Verstappen finished third in last year’s edition of this race, so a win could be well within reach for this young upstart. He is considered as a huge threat to either Valtteri Bottas or Lewis Hamilton in this race.
Ferrari looking to shake off distractions
From getting legal action threats over their engines to the coronavirus spread in their home country, it’s safe to say that the Scuderia did not have a great pre-season.
In fact, during one of their pre-season testings, team principal Mattia Binotto admitted that Ferrari’s rivals were better and faster.
“Looking at the picture relative to ourselves, I think we are not as fast as they are. I’m not optimistic as last year. The others are faster than us at the moment I believe,” said Binotto.
Ferrari had their early testing woes when Sebastian Vettel’s car stopped on track because of an engine issue due to a “non-structural problem with the lubrication system.” But later on, the team indicated that it is a mild concern.
Whether the concern is actually genuine or whether Ferrari are simply playing reverse psychology here like how Mercedes do it, chances are that they won’t be doing so well in Albert Park.
Sebastian Vettel is their only chance to win since he’s done it three times already while Charles Leclerc has never finished higher than fifth in the said race.
Can Valtteri Bottas do a repeat of last year?
Valtteri Bottas shocked everyone when he won this event a year ago. And with the way the Silver Arrows have been doing well in the pre-season, he and Lewis Hamilton are primed to have a one-two finish.
Mercedes made headlines in our Australian Grand Prix 2020 news recently when they introduced their dual-axis steering system (DAS) to the public. Other than the usual left and right steering functions of the steering wheel, the driver can opt to pull or push it for a much smoother control of the vehicle.
However, they experienced some problems on their engine during pre-season testing. There was one instance where Lewis Hamilton came to a halt and all Mercedes-powered cars had to turn down their engines to avoid further mishaps.
It’s good thing for them though that they’ve already experienced these problems early on in order to fix it just in time for Sunday.
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