Another Formula 1 season is in the record books and Wikipedia pages. I don’t know how this happened. I don’t know where the time has gone. Only Rolex knows.
That was a timekeeper joke, for those of you playing along at home. Gonna be a long post
if you don’t laugh.
It feels like just yesterday they were in Melbourne, Australia doing laps around Albert Park and Haas had their two drivers in P4 and P5, and everyone was like, “Crikey, those lads are gonna be competitive this year!” and Haas was like, “Blimey gosh darn fiddlesticks, we done did it now!” and in the span of two laps, both cars had to retire from the race because they were released from the pits with loose wheels.
Oh Haas, you comic relief, you.
I recently learned the proper way to pronounce “Melbourne” is “Mel-bin”. Impress your friends.
It was a fun season, but a bit underwhelming. There were hardly any races where rain was a factor. I was disappointed by that because I love rain races. Inject those into my veins.
I’m not talking about light pitter patters of spit falling from the sky. I’m talking about torrential downpours. Break out the old school monsoon tires!
This season brought in a few changes. For starters, the cars had a halo on them. The halo was a safety precaution put in place so the driver’s head would be protected.
I don’t think there’s anyone who thinks the cars look better with them, but I’m not going to sit here and say, “Let the drivers get hit in the head by flying objects, and let them scrape pavement if the car rolls over.”
My fear with the halo was always – how does the driver get out if the car is upside down? And we saw that transpire in the final race of the season yesterday in Abu Dhabi.
Nico Hulkenberg’s car did a barrel roll before coming to a stop upside down, against a barricade. He was fine and told his team over the radio that he was hanging there like a cow.
Do cows hang upside down? I’ve been thinking about it all day. I remember in the movie “Barnyard” some annoying kids would go “Cow tipping” and the cows would end up on their backs. I’m just going to assume that Hulkenberg got his simile from that movie.
His car flipped over on the first lap and I let out an audible, “Woah!” Later on, my Dad joined me to watch the race and since I always record it, he asks me to rewind to the first lap or any incidents in the race.
So I go back to the start, telling him something happened. We get to the barrel roll and he goes, “Woah!”
We have an expansive vocabulary while watching sports.
Anyway, Hulkenberg was stuck. He couldn’t just crawl out of the car – the halo is too much of a detriment. He had to wait until a baker’s-dozen-worth of race marshals came over, put out the fire at the rear of his car, and flipped him over.
This was relatively easy, but I can’t help but feel like it’s a message from the Formula 1 Gods that something like this will happen again and it won’t be so simple.
Get it? Formula 1 Gods…Halo….the jokes are subtle today.
What if Hulkenberg had been injured? What if he were unresponsive? What if the fire had spread to the cockpit before anyone could reach him?
That’s a pretty terrifying possibility. He might as well be handcuffed under water.
The halo will save lives, but if a driver can’t urgently escape from their car in case of emergency, that’s a problem. I don’t know what the solution is, but I’m sure someone is working on it.
So that’s the halo.
Before moving on, I just want to say the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix is one of my favourites. I love the track – it was always a joy to race in the video game.
I also like that it takes place at night. The cars looks better at night. Sports, in general, look better at night.
I just wish this race could be in the middle of the season because so much overtaking happens and we don’t always get that on other tracks. The championship is normally determined before the last race (except two years ago) and it’s a shame this race turns into a mere exhibition.
Yes, I realize the race schedule is predominantly determined by weather conditions and sending the drivers to Abu Dhabi in July would be like putting a slice of pizza in the microwave for 18 minutes.
Another change this year was the width of the tires.
It was one of the reasons why overtaking was so difficult. The other being the whole aerodynamic thing – the whole aerodynamic thing; brilliant verbiage – where the closer a car is to the one in front, the harder it is to pass due to “dirty air”.
These are things far beyond my basic level of expertise, but apparently the problems are being fixed for next year so the cars can do what they’re supposed to do on a race track – pass each other. We’ll see.
Even if there are more overtakes next year, there is such a gap between the top three teams and everyone else.
Mercedes, Ferrari, and Red Bull are at the top of the pecking order. You’ve got Force India, Renault, Haas, McLaren, and Sauber somewhere in the middle. And then Toro Rosso and Williams at the back.
For such historic teams, McLaren and Williams should be better.
Toro Rosso is essentially a developmental team for Red Bull, so there’s that.
Mercedes has won the Constructors’ Championship (awarded to the team with the most points) in each of the last five season.
Before that, Red Bull won it four years in a row.
This isn’t a sport that is big on parity. That’s always bothered me a little bit because I’m left to wonder if a driver is actually that good, or if it’s just the car they’re driving.
If you took a Williams driver and put them in a Mercedes, would they be competing for a spot on the podium on a consistent basis? Probably.
Yeah, it takes an abundance of skill and athleticism (believe it or not) to drive these cars, but the best driver in the world can’t make a tricycle go faster than a horse. Weird analogy, but go with it.
So that aspect grinds my gears a bit. I’d love if every car were somehow made equal and all 20 drivers could battle it out. That would be the most dramatic season in Formula 1 history…as I channel my inner Chris Harrison.
To close, I’d like to take a page out of Ted Kravitz’s notebook, so to speak. Ted Kravitz is the pit lane reporter for Sky Sports F1 and after every race he walks through the pit lane with his little notebook and says a few things about each driver. I think it’s brilliant, so I’m going to steal the idea.
Here are my thoughts on each team and driver. In brackets I’ll list where each team and driver finished in the standings.
MERCEDES (1) – Constructors’ Championship
They win too much. That being said, I do enjoy the interviews with Niki Lauda (Legend of F1) and hope he can return next season.
Lewis Hamilton (1) – Drivers’ Championship
He wins too much, but I also think he’s mentally stronger than everyone else on the grid.
Valtteri Bottas (5)
I always feel bad for the drivers who are second fiddle on their team. His race is normally compromised in order to ensure Hamilton can finish higher and maximize points.
They started the season strong and then lost their pace. For the last two years, Mercedes has come out of the summer break guns blazing and Ferrari looks shell shocked.
Sebastian Vettel (2)
Vettel and Hamilton have won 8 of the last 9 Drivers’ Championships. Vettel’s flaw may be that he cares too much and when he feels Hamilton running away with the championship, he drives with extra urgency. And that additional urgency leads to things like breaking the weighbridge in Brazil (long story, don’t ask).
Kimi Raikkonen (3)
Kimi has been in an F1 car for over half my life. Either I’m old, or he has longevity. He mumbles a lot and often looks like he doesn’t care to be there, but yet there he is. He’s moving over to Sauber next season.
RED BULL (3)
I’ve never even taken a sip of Red Bull, but this team is probably my favourite along with Ferrari. They’re the alternative to what’s cool and popular and that vibes with me. Good Lord, I just used the word “vibes” in a blog post.
Max Verstappen (4)
He has a big future and I hope he can realize it without going to Ferrari or Mercedes. I like his gusto.
Daniel Ricciardo (6)
Can someone get this man a car that will finish a race? He’s too good to have been parked on the side of the road so often this year. He’s off to Renault, so I guess that means no more shoeys on the podium?
A “shoey” is when he takes off his shoe, pours champagne in it, and drinks it because how else would you celebrate a top 3 finish?
They finished fourth, but arrived two weeks later – that’s my analogy on how big the gap is from third.
Nico Hulkenberg (7)
The best of the rest.
Carlos Sainz (10)
Like Hulkenberg, he’s held back because of the car he drives.
They’re a team that gets Ferrari’s hand-me-down’s. Next year they’ll probably have this year’s Ferrari.
Kevin Magnussen (9)
Again, if it weren’t for the car he drives, he’d be higher on the grid.
Romain Grosjean (14)
Not to be confused with the salad, you can find Grosjean anywhere between 7-15 on any given Sunday.
I was a Ferrari fan growing up and always saw McLaren as a respectable villain with a lineup of Hakkinen and Coulthard.
Fernando Alonso (11)
He drove his final F1 race yesterday, for now at least. He is the thread that connected the Schumacher era with the current one. When he won the championship with Renault in 2005 and 2006, it was the first time I found myself cheering for someone other than Ferrari. He always got the most out of his car, no matter how poor it was.
Stoffel Vandoorne (16)
When Alonso is your teammate, you’re going to be overshadowed. He’s moving to Formula E next year.
FORCE INDIA (7)
I thought they could make an attempt at challenging Red Bull this year, but they had their own set of issues and it never happened. Surprisingly, I am a fan of the pink cars. Sadly they’ll be gone next season, as they’re getting a new name and colours.
Sergio Perez (8)
Stop me if you’ve heard this before – if it weren’t for his car, he’d be higher on the grid. With a reliable car, he’s capable of a top 10 finish every time.
Esteban Ocon (12)
He doesn’t get along well with Max Verstappen. He doesn’t have a seat next season. Really tall.
They receive their engines from Ferrari and starting next season, they’ll receive a driver as well – Kimi Raikkonen – in exchange for Charles Leclerc. No draft picks are involved in the deal.
Charles Leclerc (13)
I am all in on this kid’s potential. I can’t wait to see him with Ferrari next year. Leclerc versus Verstappen is the next era of Formula 1.
Marcus Ericsson (17)
I just realized we have the same birthday, except he’s older by a year. He’s off to IndyCar next year.
TORO ROSSO (9)
For the longest time, I didn’t realize “Toro Rosso” is Italian for “Red Bull” which makes sense because they act as the developmental system for the senior team – Red Bull. Silly Paul.
Pierre Gasly (15)
I’m nervous about his move up to Red Bull. Gasly (23) and Verstappen (21) will be a combined 44-years-old when the season starts next year.
Brandon Hartley (19)
How in the world is he 29-years-old?
Oy, they deserve better than this, but somebody has to come in last.
Lance Stroll (18)
He’s the only Canadian on the grid and the first one since Jacques Villeneuve. Let’s just say I was a bigger fan of Villeneuve. Stroll is moving over to Force India next season because his Dad bought the team.
Sergey Sirotkin (20)
He recored 1 championship point in his rookie season. He won’t get another shot, as Williams is bringing in Robert Kubica and George Russell next year. Russell is 20-years-old.
And that’s it! Next year promises a lot of changes – I’m already excited.
Netflix filmed behind-the-scenes footage of this entire season and I can’t wait for that to come out. I think it’ll help introduce Formula 1 to a brand new audience while giving fans something they’ve never seen before.
Thank you for reading!
Until next season, I bid you a vroom vroom!