By Blaise Ogutu
Ever since the season kicked off 5 months ago in Bahrain, the F1 campaign has been a constant slugfest between Red Bull and Ferrari. Back and forth throughout 12 races, all the winners have either come from the Italian team or the team run by the energy drinks company. In the drivers’ championship, the battle seems to be going Max Verstappen’s way with seven wins out of twelve compared to his counterpart Charles Leclerc with only three wins this season. The other two race winners have also been Red Bull and Ferrari drivers in the form of Sergio Perez and Carlos Sainz.
For a team that was believed to have the best package on the grid in terms of performance and reliability, Ferrari have often found themselves throwing away race wins with poor strategies and surprisingly engine malfunctions. Something their fans have grown accustomed to since 2018 with Sebastian Vettel.
Behind all this Ferrari-Red Bull battle is 8-time constructors champion Mercedes who had a torrid time finding form in the earlier races but have since improved on their consistency. For many races, the team struggled to come to terms with the new regulations and the one thing hurting their title defence challenges was the cars ‘porpoising.’ Recently that has seemed to be water under the bridge but their pace is still ways off the top two sides.
Their drivers have also had different stories to tell. Multiple world champion Lewis Hamilton struggled to get in sync with the machinery as he posted some of his worst ever finishes this season. In Italy, at the Emilia Romagna GP, Hamilton finished in a measly 13-place but has since bounced back. His teammate George Russell has looked more comfortable than Lewis consistent top five finishes throughout the season.
The rest of the grid looks far detached from the top three teams with Renault Alpine in fourth place 177 points behind Mercedes. They are followed by McLaren who have been a disappointing outfit this season. Touted as one of the teams to break the Red Bull-Mercedes dominance of previous years, the team has drastically dropped as they can’t get veteran driver Daniel Ricciardo to put in performances that match his teammate Lando Norris. Alfa Romeo and Haas follow in sixth and seventh place and both teams would be proud of their performances this season. Haas have had Mick Schumacher and Kevin Magnussen consistently getting point finishes, which helped lift the team in the standings.
The three remaining teams are Alpha Tauri, Aston Martin and Williams. Alpha Tauri are also another disappointing outfit performing way below their standards as a mid-table team. Aston Martin have also had their issues with reliability and with the announcement of Sebastian Vettel’s retirement, they have to find a new driver for next season. Williams haven’t had their luck in quite a while and it isn’t changing with the kind of finishes their two drivers are posting.