After the whirlwind of emotions that Pierre Gasly’s victory at Monza last week created, Formula 1 now moves on to uncharted territory at Mugello for the 2020 Tuscan Grand Prix, the ninth race of the 2020 championship.
The unbelievably fast Mugello Circuit will host a Grand Prix for the first time in history and it should provide us with some extraordinary scenes as we see the 2020 beasts go round the 5.245-km track.
The Formula 1 Pirelli Gran Premio Della Toscana Ferrari 1000 2020 is the official name of the race. The Autodromo Internazionale del Mugello is located in Scarperia e San Piero, in the Tuscany region, which gives name to this Grand Prix, the first that was not part of the original 2020 F1 calendar.
Mercedes comes off of their worst race since the 2019 Brazilian Grand Prix and, surely, one of its worst since 2014 because the team threw away what seemed to be a sure victory for Lewis Hamilton, who was the fastest driver of the Grand Prix both at the front and in traffic.
Apart from the result of last weekend’s race, the restriction on engine modes at least created a more lineal race regarding overtaking. Since drivers could not change the engine mode for the race, overtaking was more difficult, but it was nice to see better cars finding it harder to overtake, even with DRS. Of course, the complexity of overtaking was further enhanced by a train of cars having DRS at the same time. At other tracks, that might not be the case.
Red Bull desperately needs a strong weekend after their suspect performance at Monza and the reliability issues of Max Verstappen’s car. No points for the team for the second time of the year means they have not taken advantage of Mercedes’ bad afternoon in Italy.
Was Honda the main casualty of the technical directive on engine modes? It might be too early to decide since we already saw them have suspect weekends before in the 2020 season: at Hungary, Verstappen was able to secure P2 in the race due to a strong start with a wet track but the Red Bull car had a dismal Saturday on that weekend.
Ferrari will celebrate their 1000th Grand Prix this weekend and the team will have new colors on their SF1000 to resemble their first F1 car, the Ferrari 125S. Also, Charles Leclerc and Sebastian Vettel will wear new race suits, matching the car’s livery.
Ferrari will be able to honor their 1000th Grand Prix at a track owned by the brand and also in front of fans, as the Tuscan Grand Prix will be the first race of 2020 with a crowd in the stands, though a small one (about 3000 fans).
Racing Point’s current situation
Though the scandal around their ‘Pink Mercedes’ has faded, Racing Point is now involved in another hot topic, as Sergio Pérez announced he is leaving the team at the season’s end just hours after the publication of an interview of Otmar Szafnauer, RP’s Team Principal, saying the team had already announced their lineup for 2021 ‘two years ago’ and that there was ‘nothing more to confirm’, according to Auto Motor und Sport. According to AMus, Szafnauer also said that they intended to honor the contracts of their drivers.
Pérez, on his side, said that he has no plan B as of yet in a Social Media announcement in which he revealed his departure from the team. He has been with the team since 2014 and has achieved five podiums with them (when the squad was named as Force India). Vettel is to replace the Mexican driver for 2021 and beyond, barring any surprises.
The fight for P3 in the Constructors’ Championship heats up
With Gasly’s and AlphaTauri’s unforgettable win at the Italian Grand Prix and Lance Stroll’s podium for Racing Point, now six of the ten teams have achieved podium finishes. Regarding the battle for the third spot in the World Constructors’ Championship, McLaren had a 2-4 at Italy and is now 16 points ahead of Racing Point.
Renault, on their side, underachieved at Monza and are 27 points adrift the Woking-based team. Meanwhile, Ferrari’s two races in a row without points and AlphaTauri’s victory means the Faenza squad is just 14 points behind the Maranello-based team for sixth in the WCC.
Williams’ and their steps towards a new era
Williams Racing had their last race with the involvement of the Williams family last week at Monza. Simon Roberts, who was the team’s Managing Director since June, is the Acting Team Principal now.
Roberts has lots of experience, having worked at McLaren for 17 years mainly as Operations Director and then Chief Operating Officer and with Force India in 2009.
2020 Tuscan GP Facts & Figures
The race on Sunday will be the first at the Mugello Circuit in Formula 1 history. This will be the second race of the year in Italy, which will host more than one Grand Prix in a single season for the first time since 2006 (the San Marino Grand Prix took place at Imola that year).
Mugello will be the fourth track in Italy to hold a Formula 1 Grand Prix, after Monza, Imola and Pescara. The Tuscan Grand Prix will be the fourth different Grand Prix held in Italy, after the Italian, Pescara and San Marino Grands Prix.
Having two consecutive races at Italy is not a new sight since the 1957 Pescara Grand Prix was followed by the 1957 Italian Grand Prix at Monza.
The last time the same country hosted two different Grands Prix was in 2012 when Spain held the Spanish (at Barcelona) and European (at Valencia) Grands Prix. Also, the last country to host consecutive races in different venues was Australia, which hosted the last race of 1995 at Adelaide and the first of 1996 at Melbourne.
Consecutive races at the same country and in the same season last occurred in 1995, with Japan hosting the Pacific and Japanese Grands Prix, at the TI Circuit in Aida and Suzuka, respectively.
Prior to that occurrence in Japan in 1995, the USA hosted two races in a row in 1984, at Detroit and Dallas.
A country has hosted two straight Grands Prix at different venues five times in F1 history:
Italy in 1957 (Pescara and Monza)
The USA at the end of 1980 and the start of 1981 (Watkins Glen and Long Beach)
The USA in 1984 (Detroit and Dallas)
Japan in 1995 (Aida and Suzuka)
Australia at the end of 1995 and the start of 1996 (Adelaide and Melbourne)
Out of those five races, the same driver won the two GPs four times: Stirling Moss at Italy, Alan Jones at the USA (1980-1981), Michael Schumacher in Japan and Damon Hill in Australia. This would be great news for Gasly and AlphaTauri, though a second straight win seems like a dream.
The Tuscan Grand Prix will be the 99th Formula 1 Grand Prix held at Italy, with the Italian Grand Prix being held 71 times, followed by the San Marino Grand Prix (26 times) and the Pescara Grand Prix (held once, in 1957).
Also, the ‘Tuscan’ Grand Prix will be the fourth different title for a race held in Italy, after the three mentioned (Italian, San Marino and Pescara). Only the USA has given F1 more different GP titles (six, including the Indianapolis 500 from 1950 to 1960). Of course, this stat does not include the honorific title of the European Grand Prix given yearly to one round in Europe (Italy received the honorary title three times during that span).
Autodromo Internazionale del Mugello
The track is new in the official F1 calendar, but it is known by the Formula 1 paddock, since it has hosted various testing programs, including Ferrari’s test earlier in the year at their own track.
The 5.245 km course is best known for hosting the Italian motorcycle Grand Prix, but this time, we will see 59 laps of pure speed at the 15-corner circuit. The current Formula 1 cars should be able to lap the circuit with great speed, as the track has an old school nature with many flowing corners. Most of the turns of the layout are medium to high-speed, which should make Q3 quite fun.
Of course, the racing is still a doubt, as Turn 1 might be the only real place for overtaking, and the single DRS zone planned for the weekend is a testament to that. However, strategies are unknown at the moment and if we get to see cars on different strategies on Sunday and very dissimilar tyre life, then overtaking around the fast corners can occur, which would look lovely.
The track is very technical and demands lots of precision from the drivers. Many high-speed chicanes are the order of the day at Mugello and the entry of the first part will normally dictate if the second turn will be made successfully. The main straight is 1.141 km long, but the most expected part of the lap according to some simulations is the complex that goes from Turn 6 (Casanova) to Turn 9 (Arrabbiata 2).
That section is expected to be taken flat-out, especially in qualifying and the estimated speed in each of those four corners are between 260 and 270 km/h, according to Mercedes.
The speeds would demand a lot from the drivers on a physical standpoint.
2020 Tuscan Grand Prix – Tyres
The dry tyres for the 2020 Tuscan Grand Prix will be the C1 as P Zero White hard, C2 as P Zero Yellow Medium, and C3 as P Zero Red soft.
The tyre choice for this race is Pirelli’s hardest, given the unknown aspects of the Mugello track and, as Pirelli explained in their own preview, “the selection has been made to cover any unforeseen circumstances”.
Pirelli’s head of F1 and car racing, Mario Isola, talked a bit about the challenges of the new track for F1 and how Mugello was part of Pirelli’s current F1 adventure in the beginning: “Mugello is a fantastic addition to the World Championship calendar with a particular significance for Pirelli, as it’s where we first ran our Formula 1 tyres back in August 2010, just two months after our agreement was announced to supply the sport from 2011 onwards. It’s a spectacular and very fast circuit that will definitely place big demands on tyres, which is why we have selected the hardest compounds”.
“As with any new venue, Mugello represents a bit of an unknown for most of the drivers and an entirely clean sheet of paper when it comes to strategy. Free practice will be particularly crucial to collect as much data as possible, and we’re likely to see teams splitting their programmes to gain as much information as they can about every tyre under all circumstances”.
This year, teams are not allowed to select their tyre allocation, as Pirelli will get to decide the allocation for each race. For the Tuscan round, Pirelli will give each driver two sets of hard tyres, three sets of mediums, and eight sets of soft tyres.
The minimum starting pressures for the tyres will be 25.0 PSI (front) and 20.5 PSI (rear).
2020 Tuscan Grand Prix Weather Forecast
Friday, Sep 11th – FP1 & FP2
Conditions: Sunny intervals, t-storm
Max. temperature: 29°C
Chance of rain: 51%
Saturday, Sep 12th – FP3 & Qualifying
Conditions: Partly sunny, t-storm; warm
Max. temperature: 31°C
Chance of rain: 51%
Sunday, Sep 13th – Race
Conditions: Mostly sunny and very warm
Max. temperature: 31°C
Chance of rain: 2%
Who will be on the 2020 Tuscan Grand Prix Podium?
If there is rain on Saturday, we might have a mixed grid for a hot and difficult race on Sunday. Overtaking probably will not be easy at this track, thus a great qualifying would be key to obtain the desired result.
Of course, we can always see unexpected things, like a red-flag period which would change the entire picture of the Grand Prix, but we cannot really make predictions based on such variables.
We would bet for Hamilton to bring his entire skill set for Saturday, while Red Bull must have a strong outing on Sunday after a torrid result at Monza. Among other teams, a fast-flowing circuit could be beneficial for Racing Point, which car has shown tremendous pace on tracks with several corners like the Hungaroring or the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, though Spa wasn’t great for them. Lance Stroll and the departing Pérez might have a great car on their hands this weekend if the team gets the setup right.
McLaren looked like the second force last week, though in a very different and unique track, and was on pace to have a double podium finish for the first time since 2014. Should we disregard them from the fight for a podium this weekend? Probably not, Carlos Sainz and Lando Norris are two drivers who already know what it’s like to achieve a podium and the team is showing tremendous growth.
Also, Renault was tremendous in Spa-Francorchamps and Mugello has a long straight and many high-speed corners, like the Belgian track, can Daniel Ricciardo and Esteban Ocon reach the top-5? Probably.
Can Gasly pull off another miracle? Unlikely, but his form in last week’s race was not a one-off. The newest Grand Prix-winner is having a great 2020, outscoring his teammate Daniil Kvyat 43 to 4 and scoring points in five of the eight races of the season, including his emotional win at Monza. He has been the Driver of the Day in the last two races and the streak might continue at another home race for AlphaTauri. He might have another top-6 or top-7 result and it would be a great outing for him.
We might not get the crazy result of last week, but the uncertainty of a new track and the tremendous challenges it can bring might give us a fantastic race. Let us expect a strong Red Bull comeback and a straight fight between the championship leader and Verstappen, who desperately needs a big result.
A strategical battle between Mercedes and Red Bull at a flowing track? We saw that in the 2019 Hungarian Grand Prix and it could well happen again, this time at Mugello. We’ll see.
The prediction for the top three of the 2020 Tuscan Grand Prix is 1. Lewis Hamilton, 2. Max Verstappen, 3. Lando Norris.
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