With the Australian Grand Prix – the first Formula 1 race of the year – about a month away, the competition has been rocked by the news that the Chinese Grand Prix will be postponed or cancelled because of the coronavirus outbreak.
It comes just as the Constructors are unveiling their new cars for the 2020 season, with Mercedes and Ferrari favoured again and Lewis Hamilton going for a record-setting seventh world championship which would tie him with the great Michael Schumacher.
1. What happens to the Chinese Grand Prix?
The coronavirus crisis has forced the postponement of the Chinese Grand Prix, scheduled for April 19 in Shanghai. F1 executives will look at the possibility of slotting the race into another weekend, but there is every chance this year’s race will not be held. There are also concerns over the inaugural Vietnamese Grand Prix scheduled for April 5.
#F1 – 2020 FIA Formula 1 Chinese Grand Prix postponed due to novel coronavirus outbreak…1/7
— FIA (@fia) February 12, 2020
2. Are Vettel and Leclerc really equals at Ferrari?
Last season, Ferrari made it clear that Sebastian Vettel was the #1 driver and would be favoured over Charles Leclerc in any strategy decisions. But this year, things may have changed, with Ferrari boss Mattia Binotto saying, “They will be on the same level, they can both fight to be ahead. So let them race.” We’ll see how Vettel feels about that…
— Charles Leclerc (@Charles_Leclerc) February 11, 2020
3. Will Lewis Hamilton stay at Mercedes?
Six-time world champion Lewis Hamilton is out of contract at the end of the 2020 season, so there were bound to be rumours surrounding his future. But Mercedes boss Toto Wolff expects to open discussions with Hamilton and his camp soon and with Leclerc and Max Verstappen signing longer term deals with Ferrari and Red Bull respectively, it looks more and more likely that Hamilton will remain with Mercedes.
4. Is Daniel Ricciardo Back in the Wars?
Daniel Ricciardo had a notoriously competitive relationship with his fellow Red Bull driver Max Verstappen, but after a mellow year at Renault with Nico Hulkenberg, Ricciardo could find himself in yet another intra-team battle. New driver Esteban Ocon is a competitive beast and won’t be keen to defer automatically to the Australian. Renault Team Principal Cyril Abiteboul could have his hands full with the two drivers, especially if the 2020 car doesn’t show major improvement.
Bonjour de Paris for our Season Opener!
— Renault F1 Team (@RenaultF1Team) February 12, 2020
5. Is Netflix helping F1 crack the US market?
In a recent interview on a US chat show, Ricciardo praised the Netflix F1 reality show Drive to Survive for helping the sport break through the notoriously tough US market. The US is a NASCAR and Indy Car stronghold, but with the competition now owned by American firm Liberty Media, there has been more of a push stateside. The second season of Drive to Survive drops on Netflix at the end of this month.
What songs do Trevor and Formula 1 driver @DanielRicciardo sing in the car?
— The Daily Show (@TheDailyShow) February 4, 2020
F1 Drivers Championship Odds
$1.67 Lewis Hamilton
$5.50 Charles Leclerc
$6.00 Max Verstappen
$8.00 Sebastian Vettel
$8.50 Valtteri Bottas
$81.00 Alex Albon
$301.00 Daniel Ricciardo
F1 Constructors Championship Odds
$5.50 Red Bull Racing