As we approach Silverstone, we thought it would be a good time to take stock of the year so far and brand the teams with some semi-arbitrary titles and accolades. Being World Constructors’ Champion is great, but who is ATRL’s biggest mid-season winner?
The Big Winners: Red Bull Racing
The success Red Bull has experienced so far this season is fantastic. Max Verstappen has dominated so far, sending Red Bull to the top of the rankings with 286 points, 44 ahead of Mercedes nipping at their ankles. The red and blue team has benefitted from the stability of points that new acquisition Sergio Perez has brought. Whilst there have been a couple of unfortunate moments, including Verstappen’s DNF at Baku and Perez’s P11 at Imola, the team has been stoically consistent in grabbing points and keeping the Silver Arrows at bay. Red Bull has also wiped the floor with the DHL Fastest Pit Stop awards, recording the fastest times at seven of the nine 2021 GPs so far. It will be interesting to see if Red Bull keeps up their winning streak at Silverstone. So far, the tracks where Mercedes have been slow have been street circuits and low-speed tracks. Silverstone, in comparison, is a true highspeed circuit. Verstappen won there last year, will Hamilton let him have P1 again?
The Big Losers: Mercedes
Despite the fact that Mercedes is second, only 44 points behind Red Bull and 101 ahead of McLaren, they perhaps feel the greatest disappointment of any team on the grid. The stakes are so much higher, they are chasing after all-time world records to cement their legacy. Lewis Hamilton is only one race win off Michael Schumacher’s 100 race record. Eight Drivers Championships would put Hamilton firmly ahead of Schumacher after equalizing in 2020. From a team perspective, to win eight consecutive World Constructors’ Championships would be an outstanding achievement, even though Mercedes already holds the record for most consecutive titles. All in all, Mercedes want to win as much this year as any before. To see their closest rivals pushing past them feels like a loss. At the pinnacle of this sport, second is as good as last.
(Upper-)Midfield Darkhorse: McLaren
Perhaps ‘Darkhorse’ is a slightly inaccurate term, we all knew that McLaren would be competitive this season, but perhaps not as competitive as they have been. With three podiums this season for Lando Norris, there have been plenty of reasons to celebrate for the papaya team. Less success has come for Daniel Ricciardo, who seems to still be working out which buttons do what on the steering wheel. Nevertheless, the speed of the MCL35M down the straights has shown more than enough promise to bring excitement in McLaren’s battle for third with the Scuderia Ferrari. Perhaps one could argue that as a team, they need to do more to support Ricciardo, but at this point in the season, it does not appear that they have given up on him. Team boss Andreas Seidl has voiced his disappointment at how long it has taken the Aussie to adapt to the new car and team, although Ricciardo so far has done his job in achieving enough points to keep McLaren in third place.
Midfield Muppet: Alpine
When looking at the Pepsi blue team, it is tempting to adopt the British hands-on-hips stance and utterance of a concerned ‘What’s going on here, then?’ Alpine has all the components to achieve success. They have got two fantastic drivers in two-time World Champion Fernando Alonso and Esteban Ocon (who some would even promote to the second Merc seat). In the previous three years, they have finished 5th twice and 4th once in the Constructors’ Championship. They even finished the 2020 season with a second-place podium, bringing positive momentum to the 2021 season. So far, the boys in light blue have struggled. Alpine is currently in 7th place, having retired three times so far. Only two races, Imola and Portimão saw both drivers score points. Ocon has been especially unfortunate, with his highest finish being P7. Overall, Alpine feels unsure of its path. The team has the ability to take the fight to mid-field teams like Aston Martin and Alpha Tauri but is hesitant to do so.
The Best Backmarker: Williams
Now, Williams may have zero points, but they have experienced a number of highs this season. They achieved P12 at Paul Ricard and P11 at the Austrian GP with George Russell. The British driver has maintained a 100% success rate at breaking into Q2 and even managed a Q3 at Austria 2.0. Even Nicolas Latifi is showing some improvement from last season, reaching Q2 at Imola and consistently finishing ahead of the Haas cars. Their season has by no means been perfect, there have been a number of DNFs as a result of crashes and car unreliability. Williams is unrelentless in their push towards achieving points this season. They may not have the raw machinery to reach the top, but their positive attitude and commitment to a single point is remarkable.
The Dishaaster: Haas F1 Team
The Russo-American team really is at the bottom of the pile. They took a big risk with two rookies, especially two rookies driving a car that has not been developed significantly since last year. Their first race saw both drivers struggle to keep the car on the track, let alone finish the race in a competitive position. Mick Schumacher has had a little more success than his teammate, finishing P13 in Azerbaijan. Admittedly, this was due to a large number of DNFs. Russia’s Nikita Mazepin, however, has been consistently behind the main pack of drivers, sometimes finishing 20 seconds behind his own teammate. It feels like there isn’t much that Haas can do to bring any success to 2021. Whereas Williams are finding a way forward, Haas remains decidedly last, relying on the misfortunes of other teams.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
One of Ellie’s earliest memories growing up is watching formula 1 on television with her Dad. She recently graduated the University of Manchester studying Latin and English Literature. Currently, she is interning full time for a major British news publication as a junior editor. Ellie is particularly interested in the marketing and management side of motorsports. She also spends her time singing in choirs and visiting the latest London art exhibitions! You can find her on twitter at @zephyrellie.
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