Formula 1 2020: Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel says Austrian GP double-header will be decided on slim margins
Four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel expects the Austrian GP, which will kick off the 2020 Formula 1 season, to be a tightly-contested affair.
Sebastian Vettel believes the back-to-back races in Austria at the start of the Formula One season will be decided on slim margins and his Ferrari team will need to fine-tune their racing strategy to remain competitive over two weeks.
Four-times world champion Vettel and team mate Charles Leclerc hit the track in Ferrari’s 2018 car, the SF71-H, earlier this week in a test at Mugello as the Scuderia stepped up their preparations for the 2020 campaign.
The season will kick off with the Austrian Grand Prix at the Red Bull Ring on 5 July, followed a week later by a second race at the same track, as part of an eight-race European leg.
“I have no experience heading back to the same track just a week after and having a second race, but I’ve been around for a while,” Vettel told Ferrari in an interview.
“I guess the level of perfection will be even higher the second weekend, the level of errors will be even smaller.
“I think there will be a chance to look at the race in particular, review the strategy and we get another chance just seven days after, so that’s a first, and we’ll see how we tackle that challenge.”
The eight races on the initial calendar will be held without fans present and in controlled conditions due to the novel coronavirus outbreak, which has killed over 493,000 people globally.
Vettel, who has already confirmed his departure from Ferrari at the end of the season, says racing in front of empty stands will be an unusual experience for all the drivers.
“I’ve never done it. I can’t really imagine how it will be,” the 32-year-old German said.
“I think it’s good to race. It’s good to get going but if I could choose, obviously I would race with fans.”
Formula 1 2021: Red Bull's Max Verstappen edges past Lewis Hamilton to claim pole ahead of Dutch Grand Prix
Roared on by the crowd, Verstappen, who trails Hamilton by three points in the title race, was just 0.038 seconds quicker than the Mercedes driver who joins him on the front row on the Zandvoort circuit's first race since 1985.
Lewis Hamilton, the 36-year-old seven-time champion, will have to contend with an much younger racing partner George Russell in a 'new age' formula following a radical regulations overhaul to create closer racing.
The 41-year-old Raikkonen, who is retiring from Formula One at the end of the season, tested positive following on-site testing at the Zandvoort track.