Formula 1 2020: Hamilton vs Leclerc, Ocon vs Verstappen and other rivalries to look out for in upcoming season

  • The number 7 is the magic figure in the world of Formula 1. It’s the record number of titles won by Michael Schumacher, the very record Lewis Hamilton could match in the 2020 Formula 1 season.

  • It’s going to happen sooner or later. Hamilton’s successor will lead Formula 1 into a new era and in all probability, it will be either Max Verstappen or Charles Leclerc.

  • Collectively, these three represent the best of talent at the sharp end of the grid and a battle between them would be just what Formula 1 should be all about.

The number ‘7’ is the magic figure in the world of Formula 1. It’s the record number of titles won by Michael Schumacher, the very record Lewis Hamilton could match in the 2020 Formula 1 season. It’s safe to say that it would be Hamilton vs the rest when it comes to the championship. But apart from the title battle, here are some of the rivalries that will entertain us from March till November.

Lewis Hamilton vs Max Verstappen vs Charles Leclerc

It’s going to happen sooner or later. Hamilton’s successor will lead Formula 1 into a new era and in all probability, it will be either Max Verstappen or Charles Leclerc. However, before the change of guard, could Formula 1 witness a battle of epic proportions between these three drivers, their machines and their pit-wall? Up until now, we’ve been treated to battles between any two of these three – Hamilton vs Leclerc in Italy, Hamilton vs Verstappen in Hungary and Leclerc vs Verstappen in Austria. Collectively, these three represent the best of talent at the sharp end of the grid and a battle between them would be just what Formula 1 should be all about.

Alexander Albon vs Pierre Gasly vs Daniil Kvyat

The trio are in a unique rivalry, they are engaged in a battle of their own to either earn or retain their promotion to Red Bull Racing whilst also scoring points for their team (whichever it is they’re racing for!). After a mid-season swap between Gasly-Albon in 2019, could it be Kvyat’s turn to partner Max Verstappen at some point in 2020? At the moment, the thought of a Kvyat-Verstappen partnership might seem out of reach, but strange are the ways of Red Bull when it comes to experimenting with their driver pairing. And of course, Albon would be eager to score consistently alongside Verstappen to counter the threats from Gasly-Kvyat. Similarly, Gasly would be eager to undo the humiliation and defeat from last year. Finally, will Alpha Tauri undergo a line-up change once one of Red Bull’s juniors be ready for a promotion to Formula 1 in 2021?

Daniel Ricciardo vs Carlos Sainz Jr vs Sergio Perez

The Season 2 of Drive to Survive has captured the rivalry between Ricciardo and Sainz extremely well. It’s their quest to secure ‘best of the rest’ finishes for themselves and the team, a battle that Sainz unexpectedly won in 2019. However, in 2020, could the duo also be in the battle to replace Sebastian Vettel should he decide to depart from Ferrari at the end of this season? An outside rival in both battles would be Racing Point’s seasoned campaigner, Sergio Perez. It’s already been established that Racing Point have had a very satisfying performance in pre-season testing; couple that with Perez’s consistency and we are bound to see the Mexican driver score big points in 2020.

Lando Norris vs Carlos Sainz Jr

The Mclaren boys are probably the most-liked driver pairing in the paddock. They’re jovial, friendly and funny, not to mention fast and consistent. 2019 was Norris’ debut season in Formula 1, one in which he impressed with his drives and maturity. However, it was also a season where he spent observing and learning from Sainz. At the end, Sainz finished sixth in the Drivers’ Championship while Norris was a distant 11th. Could Norris turn up the heat and challenge Sainz in 2020? An intra-team battle would be a different storyline for the team and its fans; one that will also propel the team forward in the Constructors’ Championship. If the rivalry gets intense, will their days of fun and frolic be those of the past?

Romain Grosjean vs Kevin Magnussen

The hot-headed drivers of the Haas F1 Team are probably most-stubborn when it comes to racing each other on track. In 2019, we saw the two drivers unnecessarily ruin each other’s races time and again, costing Haas vital points in the Constructors’ Championship. Haas’ chassis troubles compounded the team and the drivers’ problems further. But in 2020, Grosjean-Magnussen might face another battle, one of Haas quitting the sport. Gene Haas, the team’s owner, has publicly expressed his desire to not continue if his team’s performances don’t improve early in the season. Will Grosjean-Magnussen be able to set their differences aside and team-up to help save the team from leaving the sport?

Esteban Ocon vs Max Verstappen

The two rivals from junior series clashed unceremoniously in the 2018 Brazilian Grand Prix, one that cost Max Verstappen a win. At the drivers’ pre-season photo-shoot for 2020, Formula 1 shared a picture of the two rivals shaking hands with each other, an indication that they had buried their animosity from Brazil? At the offset, Ocon’s Renault might not come in harm’s way to Verstappen's Red Bull. But that’s exactly what one assumed when they clashed back in 2018. Let’s hope that the two are able to deal with their rivalry with much maturity and stateliness as expected from a Formula 1 driver.

Lance Stroll vs Q1

Yes, we mean this in light humour. But the truth is that Lance Stroll suffered 14 eliminations in Q1 out of the 21 races contested in 2019, highest for any mid-field driver who wasn’t racing for Williams. Usually, one would offer his team-mate Sergio Perez’s performances to contrast Stroll’s, but that would be setting the bar too high for a comparison. Stroll has had flashes of brilliance, like his podium in Baku in his debut year (2017) in Formula 1 and finishing fourth in a chaotic German Grand Prix last year. However, the general belief is that he’s yet to deliver as consistently as a driver who has started 62 races and will enter his fourth full season in the sport in 2020. Given Racing Point’s pre-season testing form this season and that it will be Stroll’s second season with the team, here’s hoping that Stroll is able to shed off the image if there was any team on the grid that would hire him as a driver, it would be his father’s team – Racing Point. In fact, Racing Point would require Stroll to score consistently if they are aiming to topple Mclaren for the ‘best of the rest’ position in the Constructors’ Championship.

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Updated Date: Mar 10, 2020 11:00:31 IST


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