And now, a true story. I manage a bookie, full-time. A guy came into my shop wanting to put £1,000 on Lewis Hamilton to win the 2020 World Title. I told him the odds were 8/15 (For every £15 risked, you win £15+8, so £23 is your return), and he walked out saying: “Nah, not worth it”. And I said; “You’re right, and you’re talking to a guy who blogs this shit in his spare time.”

Because in shocking news, risking £1,000 for £533 profit you won’t get till November, didn’t sound particularly appealing to the gentleman.  

By the time this goes out, the next time a wheel is turned in anger in F1 will be FP1 in Australia. And I’m sitting here, already a frustrated F1 fan clinging onto hope, once again asking that a radical technical regulation shift calls forth the chaotic grid reshuffle we’re all hoping for. Like Bernie Sanders on the Internet, only with even more dread that we probably know what’s going to happen next.

With those regulation changes coming in 2021, this already feels like F1 2019.2 (the patch), and testing, didn’t help alleviate a lot of those concerns. Let’s weigh this all up for a moment.

That beloved toe. (Angle)

One month ago, Racefans dropped a report saying Mercedes was about to quit. Since then, they’ve signed a massive new sponsor, reportedly on the same level as their title deal with Petronas. They’ve reassured their fans they have no intention of quitting the sport they’ve dominated for the last six years. Oh, and they’ve developed a new steering system called DAS (Dual-Axis steering) that should give Mercs better control over tyre temperature on straights by pulling the steering wheel to change the toe, like a fighter pilot. 

Every rational head out there is saying that this is an over-reaction. DAS won’t be the gamechanger that’ll lead them to clean sweeping the season. (Which, given COVID-19, might only be 12 rounds by November), but it’s what it represents that shines with me.

Let’s be real here, only the most devout silver surfer isn’t a bit sick of Mercedes dominance by now. And if anything, they’ve doubled down and flexed their muscles over a field already begging for mercy. The field has caught up since 2014. So of course, James Allison, metaphorically, gets the wooden spoon out of the drawer. And if you’re in a black household like mine, you know what happens next. 

By the time we get to the summer break, DAS will be the poster-boy for a probable 7th year of Mercs taking names. When in reality, this is modus operandi of a team that has everything in the right place. An amazing principal, one of the sport’s best modern technical minds, a brilliant lead driver, a teammate who’s an excellent accidental #2, and all the resources in the world to keep hammering home their advantage. On any level, scary.

More pain in the red camp.

Ferrari hasn’t exactly helped matters either. They’re not even trying to reverse psychology or sandbag this… they’re kinda screwed and the SF1000 looks like a non-starter. Sebastian claimed the rear of the 2020 car was a lot better… before a spin during the test as the car dug in hard into the kerb in Catalunya. They’ve already blown through an engine and their reaction to DAS? “Well, we could have developed it, but we weren’t sure of the rules.”

YOU’RE FERRARI. You take money just for being here. You have a technical veto, and now they want to play by the rules? They sound like every jilted ex-boyfriend when they see their old flame has done better for themselves while they utter: “They were crazy!”, to anyone willing to listen. It’s not a great look. 

I would be excited for Red Bull, but they’re quickly becoming the embodiment of the pain I already suffer as a Manchester United fan in their pre-season misadventures. Why? Because around every August I always tell myself: “Maybe THIS will be the year they put it all together!”

They then proceed to win three races a year, are often not criticised for another below-par season for a team of their resource level and standard, and the cycle repeats itself in March. I don’t know how they keep away with it. They’ve been the same team for six years, ran through Sebastian Vettel, Daniel Ricciardo, Danill Kyvat and Pierre Gasly, and because they’re the home of the Dutch Bandit, the team gets a pass. I can’t be the only one that’s noticed this!

Red Bull’s already admitted it’s not got Mercs speed yet. And in all honesty, their RB16 looked like a real handful on track already. I fear Verstappen’s gonna have to drive out of its skin for Red Bull to make an impression beyond their average of F1’s bronze medalists. 

What else do we have here? Well, McLaren’s got everyone now drinking their kool-aid without question to the point where when I was saying Carlos was front of the queue for a Big 6 seat, I was told he should stay… which I found crazy. 

Shoutout to Aldas for the… alarming thumbnail.

And now, I love that Racing Point has essentially done the smart thing in buying some Mercs parts off the shelf. Look kids, it’s the Mercedes W10 of last year!

Only for Haas to complain. When they did the exact same thing last year with Ferrari. I love F1 politics. Everyone’s memories are short, and teams have no problem look like hypocrites if it means bending the rules to win. It’s hilarious. Because as Cam Buckley, M101 co-host beautifully put on our Discord server:

“Doing something that meets the letter of the rules while laughing in the face of the spirit is what F1 is all about” 

Truer words are rarely spoken. We need him on cricket panels to debate the “Mankad” rule, immediately. 

Oh and as a breaking news topic as I write this right now: Turns out Ferrari’s 2019 power unit was under investigation and they and the FIA have an agreement to keep what happened under wraps. Now, there’s a chance this could be to avoid rivals copying what they had. But it’s not a good sign that this was kept under wraps, AND the timing of it, 3 weeks before the season starts, is suspicious.

Lewis Hamilton becoming a genuinely altruistic woke figure in the midst of splitting the Laureus award and wanting to use his platform for the rights of the underprivileged in life is about the only wholesomeness in F1 right now that resonates with me right now. Well, wholesomeness that isn’t branded Orange and done to death, anyway.

This could be a long season, boys and girls. Let the games begin in a fortnights time.