As the first half of the Formula 1 season comes to an end, the beginning of the “silly season” is upon us. The first half of the season had many unexpected twists that added to the already exciting aspect of the sport. Let’s recap all the things that went down the first half of the season.
Aston Martin and Alonso Surprise Us All:
During the first race of the season in Bahrain, no team, yet alone any spectator expected the Aston Martin team to perform as well as they did. After all the fiasco that last year’s silly season caused, many were excited to see what the Aston Martin team had up their sleeves. The team surprised many fans of the sport and were the talk of the town when Alonso managed to secure a third place podium behind the two Red Bull drivers. The team had many news outlets and journalists stating that the new Aston Martin car was similar to one of the old designs of the Red Bull car. Even Red Bull’s own driver Sergio Perez went as far as to comment that there were three Red Bull cars on that podium that first race weekend in Bahrain. However, Alonso and the team managed to score podiums in Saudi Arabia, Australia, Miami, Monaco, and Canada.
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Although podiums were not achieved in every race, Alonso managed to remain in the top ten in the races where he did not score a podium. As what every team usually does, they take the summer break opportunity to rest and recharge for the second half of the season and we will be able to see what the Aston Martin team has in store for us after the break.
The Raging Bulls Become Unstoppable:
It is no secret that the Red Bull racing team started off great, especially after winning the World Driver’s Championship two years in a row with Max Verstappen and the Constructors Championship last year. The team has certainly asserted their dominance by winning every race this first half of the season. Whether it was because of Max or Checo, there was always a Red Bull driver standing on that top step of the podium. There were even those occasions where there was either a Red Bull 1, 2 or a Red Bull 1, 3. The season provided many milestones for the team and the drivers. The team was able to achieve their 100th win at the Canadian Grand Prix and recently at the Hungarian Grand Prix, they were able to break their own record of consecutive race wins during the Formula 1 season.
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There is no doubt that the raging bulls will try to dominate the second half of the season and go for the three-peat World Driver’s Championship with Max Verstappen, yet it is never too early to count out the other drivers and teams because who knows how the rest of the season will play out.
McLaren; The Underdogs of the Season:
At the beginning of the season, there were many doubts that surrounded the team after last year’s performance and many fans that were still not content with the idea of letting Daniel Ricciardo go so abruptly. During the first two races of the season, both F1 rookie Oscar Piastri and McLaren veteran Lando Norris were not able to finish in the top ten. However, things seemed to change during the Australian Grand Prix where both drivers were able to score points for the team. The thing about progress though is that it is not always linear because although the team was able to score points, up until the British Grand Prix scoring points was an inconsistent trip. It was as if the stars had suddenly aligned for the British driver and the British team at the British Grand Prix. McLaren had pulled the unthinkable that race weekend, not only were Lando Norris and Oscar Piastri able to qualify for second and third place, but Norris was also able to snag a second place podium along with Piastri finishing in fourth which was his best finish in this season so far. The team seemed to continue their streak when Norris scored a second place podium again in Hungary and Piastri finished in fifth place.The general consensus around their performances seem to allude that Lando Norris has future World Champion potential and Oscar Piastri is a shoe-in for F1's Rookie of the Year, but the season is not over yet and McLaren still have a lot to make up for.
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It seems as though McLaren have finally gotten it together as far as strategy and the way the car drives. Based on these new improvements, there is no doubt in my mind that McLaren will be the team to watch this second half of the season.
The Return of the “Honey Badger”:
Last year the F1 community was saddened to hear that Daniel Ricciardo would not have a seat for the 2023 season. Ricciardo is a driver who has always been loved by many because of his funny personality, his friendship with many drivers and most importantly, his talent. Ricciardo did not stray far from the paddock seeing as he returned “home” to the Red Bull team to play the role of third/reserve driver. It was the weekend of the British Grand Prix when Daniel had the chance to drive the RB19 and provide the team with important data as part of his role as a third/reserve driver. The team and Helmut Marko, the team’s advisor, had been so impressed with Ricciardo’s performance that he made one call and decided that Ricciardo would have a seat with their sister team at AlphaTauri for the rest of the season. Unfortunately, this meant that one of this year’s rookie Nyck De Vries, would be out of a seat and here would end his short lived Formula 1 season. It is not uncommon for drivers to be out of a seat during the middle of season and it is unfortunately part of the cutthroat reality of being an F1 driver. With Ricciardo’s return to the paddock this past weekend at the Hungarian Grand Prix, the paddock seemed to shine a bit brighter with the Aussie’s sunny personality. It seemed as if the Formula 1 driver had not lost his touch since his performance after a six month break put him in 13th place at the Hungarian Grand Prix.
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Although he was not able to score points, he was three places away from scoring points thus proving that the “honey badger” has always been ready to rise to the challenges he faces. As the season continues, Ricciardo is sure to be one of the drivers to be on the lookout for.
As the first half of the season comes to an end, there is no doubt that the unexpected surprises will continue. The break is used for drivers and teams to reset and come back stronger for the second half. Three weeks without Formula 1 seems like a lot to go without races for fans but the longer the wait, the better the expectations. So as the first half of the season comes to an end, let the summer break begin as well as the infamous “silly season.”