We're just a few weeks away from another Formula 1 season. In fact, things have kicked off during the winter season (in Europe) at the Circuit de Catalunya in Barcelona Spain in preparation for the first round in Australia. As such, we saw the reveal of the much-awaited car’s each team will be fielding this year.
Sure, some have retained much of their iconic liveries and design but others have opted to change them to further fit a new team “Philosophy” or title sponsor as is often the case in F1. After all, looking the part is only part of the equation, the majority of the changes are subtle and more often technical rather than aesthetic.
Without further ado, Let's take a look and see the 2020 contenders shall we? Oh, and before we begin, do note that this list is based on where each team finished in the constructors' standings last season.
Being the team to beat since the dawn of the hybrid era Mercedes-Benz saw little reason to “fix what ain’t broke” just slightly updating last years title-winning car by adding a little touch of red to the airbox to highlight a new partnership with INEOS (no relation to the Japanese oil company Eneos), a chemical company that already has a wide portfolio in other sporting disciplines.
Don’t let the reserved approach fool you though, the W11 is already stirring up controversy (and fear) with its new steering system. Only time will tell if the W11 joins its predecessors as another dominant car. On the flip side, will other teams be able to knock off Mercedes-Benz’s position as a dominant force over the sport? So far, it might be more of the previous than the latter.
Suffice it to say Ferrari hasn’t really changed the way its cars look, it’s because there’s probably nothing more iconic than a red Ferrari F1 car. A casual first glance at the new SF1000 is “Deja vu” inducing retaining much of it’s look from last year, but after the technical analysis during its launch Team Boss Mattia Binotto assures that it boasts a lot of “extreme” design concepts that they hope will help topple Mercedes-Benz off their perch along with 4-time world champion Sebastian Vettel and Charles Leclerc at the helm.
This is the confidence Ferrari needs after an inconsistent campaign last year, more so after being heavily challenged by the next team on this list.
Redbull is no stranger to success as it enjoyed some in the early part of the decade, and is widely considered a “renegade” team. That's thanks to the team's dynamic and envelope-pushing ideas courtesy of technical design wunderkind Adrian Newey. After struggling with reliability issues with Renault, Red Bull Racing has silenced the critics by making the Honda power unit not just work, but also be successful. With Honda committed to the team, Redbull is eager to bounce back and reclaim the top spot with drivers Max Verstappen and Alex Albon.
Boasting the same design cues as last year’s car with an iconic Redbull design livery executed in a matte finish. It’s also important to note that this is the final year Redbull will have a partnership with Aston Martin, as Lawrence Stroll of the Racing Point team(formerly Force India) has taken a majority share in the brand and will take the brand with him to his team in 2021.
Speaking of resurgence 2019 was a year in which we saw the Mclaren team regain some of the form its been known for, with a multitude top 10 finishes. Looking to capitalize on last year's big gains, Team boss Zak Brown has been keen to point out that there is no room for complacency a message echoed by his team and drivers Carlos Sainz and Lando Norris.
It’s also worth noting that this Mclarens last year to be powered by a Renault engine, as for 2021 they’ll be switching back to Mercedes-Benz power units to reclaim more of its former glory. Here's to hoping the team will get back to their McLaren-Mercedes level in the new decade.
If there’s one team that took steps backward last season was Renault. Having revamped their driver line-up this year with the addition of Esteban Ocon and keeping veteran Daniel Riccardo, Team boss Cyril Abiteboul says the new RS20 is a culmination of 3-4 years of developmental work and says this car is their biggest step so far.
But 2020 is crucial for the French squad. Renault’s lack of pace in the past few years has actually led senior company officials to question their continued involvement in the sport. Even after all these years, the team has yet to score a podium. Coupled with the massive Carlos Ghosn scandal that broke out, Renault has a lot to prove to justify its participation in F1.
Alpha Tauri AT01
Is this a new team? Nope. Alpha Tauri is actually the team formerly known as Scuderia Torro Rosso. Being a part of the Redbull umbrella, they opted to take on the name Alpha Tauri for 2020 onwards to reflect Redbull’s new clothing brand. Not only that, it looks like they came out with the most eye-catching livery so far.
Alpha Tauri, when they were still called ToroRosso, had an impressive season last year and they are looking to keep that momentum for 2020. Bolstered by Redbull reserve drivers Pierre Gasly and Daniil Kvyat the team is looking to capitalize on last year's performance as they did finish with a couple of podiums. Alpha Tauri is widely known as Red Bull's "number two" team and it’ll be interesting to see if their new look is matched with a leap in performance as well.
Racing Point RP20
Another car riddled with controversy is the RP20 with contenders labeling it a copycat of last year's Mercedes-Benz W10. This fact was not disputed by the team as they openly have a very close partnership with engine partner Mercedes-Benz. Apart from the technical changes they’ve also retained the pink and white livery as they strengthen their ties with Title Partner BWT (Austrian water treatment company).
Racing Points move to adapt technologies from Mercedes is a smart one, given the fact that they’re keen to establish themselves as a true contender ever since the new management/ownership takeover from last year that saw Lawrence Stroll (who also took a big share in Aston Martin cars) take the reigns from the embattled former owner Vijay Mallya, that saw the former’s son Lance take a drivers spot alongside veteran racer Sergio Perez.
Alfa Romeo C39
Alfa Romeo is to Ferrari what Alpha Tauri is to Redbull, serving as Ferrari’s developmental team they’ve been fortunate to use that relationship to their advantage garnering decent results in the past few seasons. Keeping much of the same in terms of looks apart from a new sponsorship from Orlen (Polish Oil Company). However, team Boss Fredrick Vasseur took a more pessimistic tone during the C39’s launch focusing on just improving their car in the hopes of climbing the standings this year.
The team will be fielding Kimi Raikkonen and Antonio Giovinazzi this year along with a newly named reserve driver in Robert Kubica.
2019 was a forgettable season for the lone American team on the grid. It was marred by a scandalous partnership with Rich energy drinks ended early in the season and the team never really gained traction as they languish in the back of the pack sometimes befuddled by their lack of pace. The team is ready to move past last year as they go back to their roots in terms of their livery, adorned in the more familiar red, black and white colorway.
It will be interesting to see how their drivers will get along this year too. Do remember that Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen both had had their fair share of internal team battles, which may have caused even more friction in the team. Still powered by Ferrari, HAAS is keen to bring back their performance levels from their first season where they raked in points in their competition debut.
Last on this list is Williams, the longest-lasting privateer team in F1. A team that has been constantly financially embattled for the last few seasons, they are eager to keep the fight alive and hopefully see more improvement this year with the FW43. The car retains some of its looks from last year but has added a touch of red highlighting the team's partnership with Rokit (telecommunications) to freshen up its looks. In terms of development they were quick to point out that while improvements have been made, no drastic gains are to be expected.
Driving for the team this year are young guns George Russel and Nicholas Latifi, ever eager to make their presence felt in F1.
While it’s always exciting when the upcoming F1 season nears, it's important to note that 2020 is regarded as the last year for the current specifications of F1 cars; as next year will bring big regulation changes in the hope of shaking things up and to lessen the disparity between the top and bottom teams. Nonetheless, this being the pinnacle of motorsports, no amount of “give” will occur between teams.
The first round of the 2020 Formula 1 kicks of on March 15 at the Albert Park Grand Prix Circuit, in Melbourne, Australia.