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Formula One mid-season (ish)

Cathy Roush

Volume 48 Issue 17

Sep 9, 2023

Mid-Season Formula One report by Cathy Roush. Expert analysis of where Ferrari stands so far this season.

    While I enjoy watching the races, I would hardly call myself an expert. I’m usually texting with one or two friends and lamenting the current season’s woes for my favorite team while they bemoan their own team’s season.

    I asked Bob Varsha for this report but I’m happy to report his health has greatly improved and he’s back at work on several projects. We wanted about 1,500 words, and he said, “just type Max Verstappen 750 times and there’s your article”.

    Let’s get that elephant out of the room – 2023 is proving a repeat of 2022 for Red Bull.

    I liken my opinion of Max Verstappen to Nick Saban. I must respect each of them for their success, but it comes at the expense of ‘my’ team.

    The statistics I present in the following text are pretty much ‘at the break’. I updated a few facts after the races in Zandvoort and Monza; we had to print a little early due to Labor Day.

    Red Bull has proved dominant with their team, their equipment, and their drivers. They lead the constructor’s championship with a whopping 583 points.

    Mad Max has won 12 of the 14 races this year and has 364 points towards the driver’s championship; his teammate, Sergio Perez, won the other two races – but that was before May. Perez has 219 points, scoring in all races save Monaco.

    With his victory in Zandvoort in front of the Orange Army, Verstappen matched Sebastien Vettel’s all-time successive victory record of nine in a row. Winning at Monza he has broken that record. Carlos Sainz was on pole in Monza and fought valiantly to maintain position; Max started second and the rest is history.

    Checo started on pole in Saudia Arabia and Miami and went on to win in Saudi Arabia and placed second in Miami. He also won in Azerbaijan, all races early in the season. The only race he finished outside the top ten was in Monaco. The other races he finished sixth or better.

    He can claim the fastest pit stop this year; at Hungary his car was only stationary for 1.98 seconds. So that’s something.

    Verstappen has had the pole position in eight races, winning all. He started ninth in Miami and won; started second beside Hamilton in Hungary and won; and sixth in Belgium and won.

    Second is Mercedes with 273 constructors’ points. Lewis Hamilton has been on pole once this season, in Hungary where he finished fourth, but also finished on the podium three times.

    He finished in the top ten all fourteen races, eighth in Austria but sixth or better in all other races and has earned himself 164 points. Hamilton won no races in 2022, last winning at Saudia Arabia in December 2021 – before that dramatic race in Abu Dhabi – and recently had his contract extended through 2025.

    Hamilton’s co-driver George Russell has been on the podium only once this year, finishing third in Spain.

    A misstep in Monaco caused him to finish fifth when he was so close to another podium. Succumbing to engine failure in Australia, and crashing in Canada, he has earned 109 points.



    Third is Ferrari with 228 points. Ferrari and Formula One are inseparable, Ferrari is the only team to have competed in every season since the world championship began. They are the most successful and decorated team.  Can you guess who I root for?

    Sadly for the Tifosi, Ferrari have not really challenged for the title in years. Mercedes and Red Bull superiority have ‘us’ a perennial bridesmaid since 2008.

    Ferrari and Charles LeClerc finished second in the championships last year, but LeClerc had a rough start to this season, with two DNF in the first three races at Bahrain and Australia, and a third last week in The Netherlands.

    He was on pole in Azerbaijan and Belgium, finishing third both races, and has scored points in all but four races (the three DNF and Spain).

    Carlos Sainz has points in all but two races, Australia finishing 12th and a DNF in Belgium.

    Add to that questionable strategic moves and at times poor pit stops this year doesn’t look to change that standing. We have been promised a brand-new car in 2024.

    Fourth in points is the Aston Martin team at 217 points. When Vettel announced his retirement in 2022, Fernando Alonso would become Lance Stroll’s teammate for Aston Martin.

    This has proved to be a successful move, as Alonso has made the podium eight times. The team’s success in 2023 is owed to Alonso; he has also finished in the top ten in all thirteen races and has 170 points.

    Stroll suffered a pre-season injury which delayed his initial progress, and DNF two races, Saudi Arabia and Monaco. Still, he has scored points in seven of the thirteen races and has 47 points at the break.

    Lance admits Fernando is faster … which could be explained by Alonso’s experience. A former champion in 2005 and 2006, he is the oldest driver on the circuit in 2023.

    Next is McLaren with 115 points. A venerable team through the decades with eight constructors’ championships, the team claims the youngest driver this season in Oscar Piastri.

    Replacing Daniel Ricciardo on the team for 2023, Piastri has earned points in five races, finishing fourth in Great Britain, fifth in Hungary and ninth in Netherlands.

    Lando Norris, the youngest ever British Formula 1 driver, has been on the podium twice, finishing second at Great Britain and Hungary. Unfortunately, his celebrations at Hungary broke the winner’s trophy. He also finished fourth in Austria, sixth in Australia, seventh in Netherlands and eighth at Monza.

    Alpine is next with 73 points. Formerly named Renault, the team was rebranded in 2021, finishing fifth and then fourth in 2022, when Alonso was on board. They sported pink livery for the first three races – a color not often seen in Formula One!

    Alpine will have a new Team Principal and Sporting Director when racing restarts this year, having parted ways with Otmar Szafnauer and Alan Permane at the break. Both positions will be filled from personnel within the organization.

    In his first year with the team, Pierre Gasly earned points in seven of the fourteen races, with three DNF. His best finish was third in Zandvoort. Esteban Ocon is in his third year with the team.  He scored a podium at Monaco, and has also earned points in seven of the fourteen races, with four DNF.

    There is quite a gap to Williams in seventh with 21 points. A venerable team in the past right up there with Ferrari and McLaren, the team was sold in 2020 and has yet to return to glory.

    Alex Albon has 21 points, coming off a seventh-place finish in both Canada and Monza, eighth at both Great Britain and Netherlands, and tenth in Bahrain. He also DNF two races, Saudia Arabia and Australia. He and the team are already working on next year’s car, with no upgrades planned for the rest of 2023.

    Teammate Logan Sargent has earned no points this season, with four DNF and five races where he was lapped. He is one of three rookies this season, and the only American driver in Formula One.

    Haas has eleven points. Currently the only United States entry in the field, this young team scored points in three of the first five races.

    Nico Hulkenberg holds the dubious distinction of having the most Formula One starts without a podium – no doubt due in part to his revolving door resume. He has performed well in qualifying this year, but only finished in the points in Australia, coming seventh.

    The race in Canada proved dismal for the team with Hulkenberg starting in fifth but going down a “one-way street in the wrong direction”. The only race he DNF was in Austria, suffering engine failure.

    His teammate Kevin Magnussen contributed points by finishing tenth in Saudi Arabia and Miami. Per reports, both drivers have been retained by Haas for the 2024 season.

    Alfa Romeo is ninth with ten points. Starting off the year in Bahrain, Valtteri Bottas finished in eighth place but that has been the highlight of this team’s season. He has earned points in three races, the other being Canada and Monza, finishing in tenth at both.


    Zhou Guanyu’s contribution to points was a ninth place in Spain. Each driver showed promise in Budapest, where Zhou started fifth and Bottas seventh; unfortunately, neither finished in the points.

    AlphaTauri brings up the rear, with only three points. Nyck de Vries’ success in F2 and Formula E has not transitioned into Formula One yet.

    The third rookie this season, after two DNF and being lapped in five more races, in July he was replaced by Daniel Ricciardo, unseated at the beginning of the season. At that time, de Vries and Logan Sargent were the only drivers to have scored no points.

    Qualifying for The Netherlands, Ricciardo broke his hand and has been replaced by Liam Lawson for the foreseeable future.

    Yuki Tsonoda has finished tenth in three races this year, Australia, Azerbaijan and Belgium, earning the teams’ points.

    The 2023 season is one race shorter than originally planned because unprecedented rainfall in May caused devastating floods in Imola cancelling the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix.

    I bring that up because, with all of the statistics presented above, and because I’m a number’s chick, I wanted to know how quickly Verstappen might be named champion.

    At the halfway point in the season it is extremely unlikely anyone but he will be crowned.

    Technically it is mathematically possible for Verstappen to win in Singapore – the race slated for September 17.

    That’s very soon and still leaves the season with seven races. But everything I’ve read online supports Japan on September 24 is more likely, based on his rate of success towards the break.


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