Formula 1 Mid Season Review
by Sandy Auston.
Over the last few weeks, I’ve been putting together a little mid-season F1 review since there hasn’t been much racing going on, and I thought you might like to have a debate to see if you agreed with my synopsis.
In my opinion this year’s season to this point, has been one of the best in a long time (excluding Spa but the qualifying was great!). We haven’t seen a battle for a title that was this close and got fans in such an uproar since 2016 when Hamilton went toe to toe with Rosberg. So, with that lets get cracking with this review.
In order to give my review some quantifiable aspect, I’ve went through all the current teams and rated each driver with a 1-5 score with a little rational as to why I’ve came to this score. Disclosure! these are my opinion so please feel free to agree or disagree. Let the mashing begin!
I did this review pre–Dutch GP so there will be a few things that I’ve not mentioned such as Bottas moving to Alfa, Raikkonen announcing his retirement and George finally telling the world that he will be driving for Mercedes next year.
Let’s start with Hamilton. For many Hamilton is very much a marmite figure (you either love him or hate him) but over the past few years he couldn’t do anything wrong and has been the diamond in everyone’s eye, but this year the shine has come off slightly in my opinion.
It started with his little off-track antics at Imola, the magic brakes at Baku and the completely wrong tyre choice at Hungry (which was in part the teams fault) and Silverstone, but we won’t go too much into that. But the long and short of it is that if Hamilton wants to make the record books again this year he can’t afford these hick -ups, especially when Red Bull are on par with Mercedes.
These things aside Hamilton has still been able to pull off some amazing drives and is still proving his doubters wrong, although the Silverstone incident certainly got people riled, but hey fans were crying out for action, and he’s delivered. All I can say is if he keeps going the way he is were in for a hell of title battle.
4.5 / 5
Very much the epitome of a second driver / No 2 in my view, but I think one of my biggest criticisms that Bottas brings to himself is that he’s not taking the title fight to Lewis like Nico did, but as you guys mentioned he is very much a “servant” to the team which Mercedes wanted after the incidents with Nico back in 2016, but you would at least expect him to be further up the drivers’ standings.
In my opinion I get the sense that Bottas has almost checked out and this was confirmed when has openly criticised the team over the radio saying nobody was listening to him. Another factor is that considering that there is going to be a fight for that second seat at Mercedes next year Bottas really isn’t getting the best out of the car (even after being with the team for years) and then you have George Russell who is putting the Williams in Q3! (P2 a t Spa) nearly every weekend!
And we will finish off with his unfortunate / face palm crash in Hungary, which really did put the cat among the pigeons and set a whole section of fans into meltdown. By far not Bottas’s finest season.
2.5 / 5
Well, what can I say the guy is driving the wheel off that Red Bull. Many question his driving style (and Silverstone brought out the lovers and haters) but in my opinion he’s not put a wheel wrong and if it hadn’t been for the big tyre blow out at Baku and Bottas kindly taking out half the field in Hungary he would have been cruising away with the championship. It’s kind of hard to really say much more about Verstappen other than he’s in the shape of his life this season and if he keeps driving the way he is and keeps the car on the black stuff he’s certainly my number one contender for the championship
When I heard that Perez was getting the boot from Racing Point last year, I thought it would be the end of the road for him. Considering the results and performances he got out the car last season it would have been a real shame to lose him from the grid, but money talks in this sport and there was no chance that Stroll would be moving anytime soon.
But thankfully for Perez Red Bull seen his potential and snapped him up! But my biggest concern was that with this amazing opportunity would come extreme pressure especially when your every move is judged against that of Max. The second seat at Red Bull has seen more bums than a toilet seat and it wouldn’t be out of the question that if the results didn’t come in this year for Perez he would be another driver in a long list to get moved on very quickly, although with the recent announcement that he has signed another contract for next year he must have proven himself enough.
The first half of the season has been a bit of a mixed bag for Sergio but his win at Baku certainly helped his case but following on from this thing haven’t really gone to plan and there seems to be an increased deficit (in performance & time) between him and max but to be fair it is his first season with the team.
Carlos is exactly the type of guy you want in your team. Considering the ups and down’s Ferrari have had over the over the past few seasons Carlos is getting to grips with the car and dynamics of the team very quickly and is certainly providing solid results for the team in a somewhat underperforming Ferrari. Although he is still behind Leclerc in overall pace, he is certainly making up for this in consistency.
This consistency will be key for Ferrari over the next few years particularly with the new regulations coming into play and I think Calos will play a big part in the team for some time.
3.5 / 5
Charles is still proving to the world why he is worthy of that number one seat at Ferrari, with his pole positions at Monaco and Baku it is clear that he is squeezing every ounce of performance out of his car which is great to watch.
Although it’s not been all sweetness and light for Charles and there has been a few mistakes along the way. The main one that everyone will remember is that after he amazingly stuck his Ferrari on P1 at Monaco, he then went and took a little detour into the barrier on the way back to the garage which irrepealably damaged his car and resulted in him having to retire and ultimately robbing him of a home win, which would have been something for the history books.
Even with his few mistakes this season Charles is still proving to be a solid bet for a future world champion.
3.5 / 5
Mr Norris is absolutely flying this year and the performances that he is getting out of the McLaren are exceptional. In terms of who I would vote for my driver of the year it’s no secret that Lando is definitely in my top 3. There is a variety of reasons why I came to this conclusion but to put it simply his shear race pace and driving skill along with a consistent haul of points and podiums, it’s hard to deny that he’s one of the best drivers this season. Like Max it’s hard to really say much more than that expect I see a bright future for Lando in F1 (World Champion contender? / Mercedes?)
Old Honey Badger has had a shocker of a year so far which is something that I don’t like to see. With all the new driver / team combos this year you would expect a little bit of a slow start but considering the results that Lando is achieving in the McLaren, Ricardo is languishing painfully in the middle of the pack which isn’t what you expect from someone of his calibre. There has been some speculation as to why there has been such a steep drop in form, and many have said Ricardo’s not warming to the team environment well, which Lando has hinted at in a few interviews. There have been some signs that things are starting to pick up but is it too little too late?
In terms of driver who I’ve never rated very highly Stroll was defiantly up there (until a particular HAAS driver came onboard) but he’s defiantly started to prove his doubters and myself wrong. In a whole he’s still very much bang average but there are some glimmers of hope for Sir Lancelot and considering that Vettle is his teammate he’s been keeping himself honest. This year there hasn’t been terribly much to write home about (except his Goldberg spear into Leclerc at Hungary) but he has scored points and that’s what matters.
With his dad bankrolling the team he’s going to be with us for some time, but if he’s going to achieve anything in the sport other than being “that fella whose dad owns the team” he will need to start delivering better than 8th place.
If you had asked me last year what I thought about Seb’s F1 career I would have been using words and phrases like “Past It”, “Done and “Over the Hill” and his relationship with the sport seemed to be at an all time low. When it was announced that he would be driving for Aston Martin I got slightly nervous as in my eyes it would undoubtedly mean we would never see him at the front of the grid or podium again. How wrong I was! His 5th place in Monaco, 2nd place at Baku and the controversial 2nd place at Hungary (disqualified after failure to provide a fuel sample) things seem to be on the up for Vettel.
Vettel still has a lot to give, and this year has proven that. With the new regulation coming into place next year, I’ll be keen to see how Vettel performs, but undoubtably his knowledge and talent will be invaluable to the team.
The French man has been performing amazingly and is delivering results, which for a team such as AlphaTuri is exactly what they need. Gasly is punching well above his weight and is always in the mix both on a Saturday and Sunday. Gasly is continuing to prove many wrong in terms of could he sustain a high-end seat in F1 after getting the boot from RedBull. Pierre is definitely in a great place at the moment, and I have high hoped for him for the second half of the season and next year.
Now before I get into things with Yuki I have to say this young man has amazed me! Not for his driving but his linguistic skills! For someone whose first language isn’t English the wee man can swear like an absolute trooper and would hold himself well in any Ayrshire pub on a Saturday night! But that’s not going to save this sinking ship!
I had hoped for great things from Yuki this year after some great performances in F2 but sadly that’s not been the case. Yuki has been in the barrier more times this year I care to remember and often just fades into the background on race day. If Yuki is going to hold his seat for next year, he seriously needs to up his performances especially with his teammate showing the world what can be done with an AlphaTauri.
Ocon is the perfect example of a driver that has matured over the years and has certainly been bringing some excitement to the midfield this year. His win at Hungary made for some exciting viewing and being able to hold off Vettel for most of the race was something to behold. Ocon has been solid over the year and is certainly proving his worth to the team.
I truly believe having Alonso next to him in the garage is bringing a great deal of inspiration and belief which is coming through in his driving.
When Alonso announced his return to F1, it certainly caused excitement with nearly all of the F1 fraternity but for me this also came with some trepidation as I didn’t want to see Alonso become a shadow of his former self. At the start of the season things looked a bit shaky but as the season’s progressed all I can say is wow! His battle with Hamilton at Hungary was a masterclass in driving which has continued to date. I think the combination that Alpine have in Alonso and Ocon is proving to be an unmitigated success!
I hope Alonso stick around for a little longer because as with Vettel, Alonso is showing that he still has it! Even at 40!
Giovinazzi is a driver I didn’t know too much about when he came into F1 and he is still a driver I know very little about. In terms of performance, he has been mediocre to say the least and like Yuki Tsunoda has faded into the background on most race weekends. Now with so many young drivers looking for a seat in f1 Giovinazzi is certainly in a precarious position, especially if he doesn’t provide results. Now it’s not all bad, his qualifying pace has been good in comparison to Raikkonen but on a race day there is very little to discuss.
For someone that will potentially retire next year Raikkonen still has some fight in him and in comparison, to Giovinazzi is still performing well. But the problem with Raikkonen is his qualifying pace and it’s not unusual to see him go out in Q1 and combined with some silly mistakes on track it’s not all adding up. I really get the feeling were not seeing the true Kimi this year and he’s simply counting down his final season in f1.
In terms of performance Latifi has been overshadowed for most of the season by Russell and hasn’t delivered much in terms of results until he scored the team’s first points in Hungary. Latifi has been if anything consistent and is starting to find his pace on race day, but in comparison to Russell on a Saturday he can’t even get close. I’m still not convinced that we will see Latifi in F1 long term but in regards to his year to date he is by far not the worst driver on the grid.
It’s no lie that I think Russell is one of the best talents out there and this has been on show throughout this year (and last).
Now they don’t call Russell “Mr Saturday” for nothing, his qualifying pace this year has been amazing, and he is definitely pushing the Williams for everything that it’s worth, BUT this seems to go out of the window on a Sunday and almost always results in Russell dropping several places after a few laps (except in Spa) and this is where Russell lets himself down, but hey it’s not all his fault. But that aside Williams are having one of there better seasons in a long time and the more points that Russell and Latifi can rack up is only a good thing.
Looking to next year I’m almost 100% sure that Russell will be in a Mercedes and if this is the case, we will see Russell on the top step of the podium very shorty.
It’s hard to look at Mick and not think of his dad which has led to many having the default opinion that he should just automatically be the best driver in the field. Now before I give my opinion, I have to say it would be extremally hard for any driver to achieve anything significant in a HAAS, so you could say that Mick has done....Ok. But Mick’s lack in performance isn’t simply down to an underperforming car and he has had a few moments in the barrier, which you could put down as being rookie mistakes, but as he is fresh into F1 this year with a team that falls short on all aspects, its’s hard to judge Mick too harshly. Considering the performances of all the new drivers this year he is by far not the worst.
I look forward to seeing Mick develop and grow within the sport and only time can tell if he can truly live up to the Schumacher name.
And finally, we get to Mazepin. Now where do we start with this? Ironically, I’ll probably talk about the lowest ranked driver on the grid more than any other.
Before he even set foot in an F1 car, Mazepin was a controversial figure in motorsport. In the lower formula’s he caused more than his fair share of accidents and controversies, which resulted in many questioning why he even got a seat in a F1 car. Ohh that’s right his dad bought the team, now he’s not the only person on the grid that had his seat bank rolled but at least Sir Lancelot showed some pace unlike Mazepin.
Before the season even kicked off Mazepin put the whole of F1 under the spotlight and not in a good way. I am of course referring to the video that appeared on his Instagram of him allegedly groping a woman and we will leave it at that. Now this set the scene for a massive backlash against Mazepin and the HAAS team as a whole. The F1 community and the wider world was in an uproar, and it even spawned the hashtag #wesaynotomazepin. Social media was rife with petitions, protests, and campaigns to remove Mazepin from F1 and HAAS really were on damage limitation at this point.
As we moved to the actual racing HAAS really were hoping that once wheels started turning that we could actually focus on the racing.... Wrong! As soon a Mazepin got on track he created a new name for himself Mazespin, and that’s not just a cute play on words, within a few laps of being on track Mazepin sent his car straight into the barriers and that was pretty much the race report for most of the first half of the season along with consistently being half a second down on Mick. Mazepin has also made it his mission to single handily piss off most of the drivers paddock in as many creative ways as possible from ignoring blue flags, holding up everyone in qualifying and probably the most dangerous things he has done so far, swerving into the path of Mick at Baku at 150mph and that hasn’t been an isolated incident either.
There were some signs of personal development from Mazepin at Monaco and he soundly beat Mick through the entire weekend, and he did get the fastest lap at Spa although you can’t really give that can you? but other than that he has been soundly holding up the rear of the pack. Like Stroll I don’t see Mazepin disappearing anytime soon and as long as the money keeps flowing, he will have a seat.
0.5 / 5