F1 2020 predictions: Will Lewis Hamilton match Michael Schumacher title haul? Big Debate

Lewis Hamilton has Michael Schumacher’s F1 records in his sights as the reigning champion comes into the 2020 season off the back of winning a sixth World Drivers’ Championship last year. The Mercedes talisman is just seven race wins short of Schumacher’s haul of 91 and another title would see him move alongside the German as the most successful driver ever at the top level of motorsport.

Hamilton’s Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas has aspirations of writing his own name in the history books too, though, while Red Bull’s Max Verstappen and Ferrari duo Charles Leclerc and Sebastian Vettel want to end the Silver Arrows’ reign of dominance in F1.

A number of teams are hopeful of upsetting the established order in F1, with Racing Point’s impressive performance in pre-season testing back in February leading some to suggest they’ve leapt ahead of Ferrari.

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At the other end of the spectrum are Haas, whose owner admitted – even before the coronavirus pandemic even hit – that he could pull the plug on the operation if they aren’t competitive in the opening races of 2020.

Express Sport are on hand to predict how the 2020 F1 season will unfold.

Neil Squires

World Drivers’ Championship winnerLewis Hamilton

A shorter season levels the playing field but Lewis Hamilton not only has the best car in the black Mercedes but also a serious motivational carrot dangling in front of him with Michael Schumacher’s record of seven drivers’ championships within reach. If that does not keep him hungry nothing will.

World Constructors’ Championship winnerMercedes

This is the last season before the F1 budget cap comes into force and the deep pockets and technical expertise at Mercedes should keep them out in front. They will not only have Lewis Hamilton’s points in the bank but also those of a capable wingman in Valtteri Bottas.

Surprise package for the season aheadRacing Point

The pink panther Sergio Perez looks good to help the artist formerly known as Force India take the best of the rest award behind the big three.

Biggest disappointment for the season aheadIts length

The impact of coronavirus has savaged the original schedule. But on the bright side Silverstone does have two races, albeit with no fans.

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World Drivers’ Championship winnerLewis Hamilton

The British driver is likely to be pushed all the way by Max Verstappen but should just about have enough in the tank of his Mercedes to clinch his record-equalling seventh title.

World Constructors’ Championship winnerMercedes

Red Bull are nearer to Mercedes than Mercedes were to them in the year before they took over as top dogs again in 2014. However, that took the seismic change of bringing Lewis Hamilton on board – I am not sure Red Bull’s newly-improved Honda engine is enough to slingshot themselves in front. Hamilton will be looking to start the season strong enough to carry him home against the Max Verstappen-led challenge from Red Bull.

Surprise package for the season aheadRacing Point

Racing Point’s technical strength will see them crowned ‘best of the rest’ ahead of McLaren’s better drivers. However, after some impressive pre-season testing, expect to see Sergio Perez and Lance Stroll making themselves known on a few early podiums in those ‘pink Mercedes’.

Biggest disappointment for the season aheadFerrari

F1 needs a strong Ferrari but for the signs are that we will not get the three-way tug-of-war for points that we all hope for.

Gideon Brooks

World Drivers’ Championship winnerCharles Leclerc

Ferrari need to come back with a decent car after being forced into a hasty redesign but if they can Charles Leclerc can contend. The Monaco-born Leclerc put his car on pole seven times out of 21 last season and while he only converted twice he may do better this time round. Could take few runs to get competitive but 8-1 is tempting.

World Constructors’ Championship winnerMercedes

Mercedes are as short as 2-9 to land a seventh straight constructors’ trophy and all logic suggests they will land it again.

Surprise package for the season aheadRacing Point

Sergio Perez’s Racing Point car looked consistent and quick in practice earlier this year so take either the Mexican or team-mate Lance Stroll to land a podium or two in the ‘early’ part of the season.

Biggest disappointment for the season aheadSebastian Vettel

Sebastian Vettel will be replaced by Carlos Sainz next season and looks a fading force in F1. It would be a shame if the four-time champion was to become an also-ran after the career he has enjoyed but that may play out this season.

James Benson

World Drivers’ Championship winnerLewis Hamilton

History beckons for the Brit and he’ll grasp the opportunity to equal the achievements of Michael Schumacher with both hands. Lewis Hamilton has the perfect team-mate in Valtteri Bottas and the Finn will help fend off Max Verstappen and Charles Leclerc on his off days – which, admittedly, are very rare and less likely to happen in a shorter season.

World Constructors’ Championship winnerMercedes

Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff admitted in the second series of Drive to Survive that recruiting Bottas to partner Hamilton was a calculated decision and it’d be wise to expect the pairing to do the business again this year. Their combination, with the addition of the new W11 car, is the best in F1 and they’ll be clear winners ahead of second-place Ferrari. Alex Albon isn’t ready yet to pick up enough points to help Verstappen carry Red Bull above the Italians.

Surprise package for the season aheadRacing Point

Lawrence Stroll’s investment will pay dividends and see Racing Point overtake their midfield rivals to claim fourth in the World Constructors’ Championship. Sergio Perez is an underrated talent and will drive the wheels off his ‘pink Mercedes’. McLaren will drop a place as a result, with Renault to slide down to sixth.

Biggest disappointment for the season aheadDaniel Ricciardo

It’ll be a close run thing between Daniel Ricciardo and Sebastian Vettel, who’s facing his first winless season since 2016, but the Renault driver takes it. It will take some remarkable fortune for Ricciardo to get on the podium this year. He would have been better off staying at Red Bull in 2019 and playing second fiddle to Max Verstappen.

Stuart Ballard

World Drivers’ Championship winnerLewis Hamilton

There is some quiet confidence coming from the Red Bull camp about their RB16 but Lewis Hamilton still remains the man to beat and it looks likely he could be on course for world title No 7. Mercedes have quite literally reinvented the wheel with their brand new dual-axis steering system (DAS) which has even earned praise from their rivals. Hamilton’s proven his ability to adapt in every scenario he has faced in his career and he will be the master on the track once again.

World Constructors’ Championship winnerMercedes

Similarly to the reason above but I also expect a closer challenge from Valtteri Bottas this year. He trailed off last season after a promising start and after three years with Mercedes, the Finn will no doubt be extra motivated to prove his worth. Red Bull will be up there but that all depends on Alex Albon’s development.

Surprise package for the season aheadSebastian Vettel

This might not be the biggest hot take but I’m going to go with Sebastian Vettel. Charles Leclerc’s emergence at Ferrari last year cast Vettel aside and the German has surprisingly already been written off this year in some predictions. I’m backing him to recover his status as the No 1 driver at Ferrari.

Biggest disappointment for the season aheadCrowdless Grands Prix

The circumstances are understandable, of course, but it’s still part of the package to see the grid packed out before the race, the stands packed during and the frenzy to get on the track to celebrate the drivers on the podium. It’s all going to feel a bit strange.

Uche Amako

World Drivers’ Championship winnerLewis Hamilton

After pre-season testing, it was clear Mercedes were still the team to beat. And a near four-month delay to the season doesn’t change that. Lewis Hamilton has used the break to admirably fight for racial justice in and out of the sport. He’s now able to do what he does best again and there will be no greater motivation than the chance to equal Michael Schumacher’s record of seven world titles.

World Constructors’ Championship winnerMercedes

But much will depend on how often Valterri Bottas can stay in touch with Lewis Hamilton and not get caught up in a battle with the Ferrari and Red Bull for podium places.

Surprise package for the season aheadMcLaren and Lando Norris

Although Carlos Sainz and Lando Norris clearly have a strong camaraderie, the young British driver might be quietly seething at how his team-mate has got a big move to Ferrari already secured. Expect Norris to come out firing from the outset and show why he is good enough to drive for a championship contender.

Austrian Grand Prix

The F1 calendar is only partially scheduled but expect the season opener at the Red Bull Ring to create plenty of thrills and spills.

Biggest disappointment for the season aheadSebastian Vettel and Ferrari

Will this be the German’s swansong from the sport? Dumped in favour of younger talent, Sebastian Vettel’s time at Ferrari will be looked at with deep regret. So many missed opportunities due to costly, unforced errors. Charles Leclerc is the main man now and Vettel is powerless to stop it.

Spanish Grand Prix

With few clear overtaking points, qualifying well is always crucial for a race that rarely excites beyond the opening laps.

Luke Gardener

World Drivers’ Championship winnerLewis Hamilton

I just can’t go for anyone else. Mercedes were impressive way back in testing and he has enhanced his reputation during with the fight for diversity in F1 in recent weeks. Lewis Hamilton will be on a mission to equal Michael Schumacher’s record for the most drivers’ championships won and I don’t see Valtteri Bottas stopping him. The Brit will be more determined than ever and, as long as Mercedes are reliable, I think it could be over earlier than ever in 2020, even with fewer races.

World Constructors’ Championship winnerMercedes

Mercedes look to have made another step forward compared to their rivals in the winter if testing months ago was anything to go by. The dual-axis steering system (DAS) designed by the Silver Arrows shows the sort of innovation which has made F1 famous over the years. And with Lewis Hamilton being the best driver on the grid I don’t see Ferrari – who most think have gone backwards – or Red Bull stopping them.

Surprise package for the season aheadAlex Albon

Everyone is talking about Max Verstappen as the lead Red Bull driver and the man who could stop Lewis Hamilton equalling Michael Schumacher’s record. But don’t count out Alex Albon who was mightily impressive when he was thrown into the car midway through 2019 after Pierre Gasly’s troubles. In eight of his nine Red Bull races he has finished in the top six and he would have been second in Brazil if it wasn’t for Hamilton’s shunt costing him his first podium. I expect Albon to push Verstappen close and even beat him in races to the surprise of many in the 2020 F1 season.

Biggest disappointment for the season aheadSebastian Vettel

I’m predicting more of the same for Sebastian Vettel at Ferrari this season. He is leaving the team at the end of the year and will be replaced by Carlos Sainz. It seems like a long time ago Vettel was dominating the sport and being crowned world champion year after year. His motivation will be questioned this year and I think he could sadly leave the sport with a bit of a whimper.

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