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Jeddah - Yasmine El Tohamy - ABU DHABI: After 22 races, the 10 teams who started in Bahrain have experienced mixed fortunes.
All except Red Bull Racing, of course. But for some of the others, what looked like early-season promise has melted away, while others who started less-than-optimally have found performance and points as the calendar has unfolded.
Aston Martin flew out of the traps in the first six races, with Fernando Alonso’s five podiums seeming to signal a change in fortunes for the Silverstone-based outfit. The next eight races, however, saw them slipping slightly as the season moved to tracks that rewarded more efficient aero packages.
Formula 1 car development is a constant battle, and despite bringing upgrades throughout the season, by the time Abu Dhabi has rolled around, Alonso is down to fifth in the driver’s standings, and the team is facing a fourth-place constructor’s showdown at Yas Marina Circuit with McLaren.
On the other side of the coin is McLaren. Following a comparatively poor start with 17 points from the first eight races, the papaya team has scored consistently since Austria and currently sits on 284 points – 11 ahead of Aston Martin.
Key highlights of the season have included a sprint victory for Oscar Piastri in Qatar (currently P9 in the driver’s standings), as well as six second-place finishes for Lando Norris, who is now only five points behind Carlos Sainz and Alonso – both on 200 points in fourth and fifth place, respectively.
Despite Mercedes’ second-place spot in the constructor’s title, the Brackley team’s performances have proven uneven over the 22 races to date. Even with one of the strongest driver line-ups on the grid, its W14E package has been one of the most inconsistent – with seven-time F1 World Champion Lewis Hamilton calling it “the hardest car” he had “ever driven to get right.”
Although, apart from a did not finish in Qatar, and disqualification in Austin, Hamilton has not finished outside the top 10 all season, putting him in P3 on the 2023 leaderboard.
His teammate, George Russell has fared less well, and is currently in P8, following four DNFs and a couple of forgettable performances (with Zandvoort in the Netherlands being a particular low point).
Having one of the fastest cars and strongest qualifiers on the grid has not massively impacted Ferrari’s fortunes.
None of Charles Leclerc’s five pole positions have been converted to wins in 2023, and his teammate Sainz has the only non-Red Bull win of the season, putting the Spaniard in fourth, while Leclerc sits in seventh in the driver’s table. They trail Mercedes by only four points going into the season finale and will be hoping that their recent improved fortunes hold out for the final race.
Thanks to the steady hand of James Vowles on the tiller at Williams, and increased investment, its showing in 2023 has been an improvement on last year’s 10th-place finish. Alex Albon has carried most of the load as rookie Logan Sargeant continues to search for a consistent run of form.
Currently in seventh, the Grove team has recently added Paddy Fry to its technical department and things should look even rosier in 2024.
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