Although F1’s competitive order has been rather more static than ideal over the last few seasons of Mercedes domination, there have been significant changes within the pack. Here, we look specifically at the losses and gains made by each team last season compared to 2019 – and the technical reasons driving those changes.
In the accompanying data the comparisons are taken from the seven tracks which overlap between the two seasons and at which the same tyre compounds were used in both years. On this basis, seven of the 10 teams were faster in 2020 than in ’19. The three which were slower were all Ferrari-powered, thereby highlighting perhaps the biggest story of last season: the swingeing performance penalty imposed upon the Ferrari power unit by the FIA’s technical directives.
Ferrari lost 0.65sec-worth of lap time and this was a very significant part of why Mercedes increased its advantage over the next-fastest from 0.15 to 0.7sec. But not the only one. Even referencing only itself, Mercedes made big gains with the W11. On the seven tracks at which comparison is possible, it was 0.44sec faster than its predecessor – and that gap is understated because, for the Merc at least, the Barcelona track was slower in the searing summer heat of the 2020 event than in the early spring of the 2019 race. Mercedes was even less able than usual to keep the softest tyre from overheating before the end of the qualifying laps.