[I Don’t Get F1 Theme by Ray Tsao]
Hey guys! My name is Malena Ramnath and I’m your host here at “I Don’t Get F1.” Just like everyone else this past year, I got caught up in the craze that is Formula One thanks to Netflix’s hit show Drive to Survive. However, I know literally nothing about the sport beyond the hot guys, that I like Ferrari and it’s a race. So I decided to start this podcast as a way of recapping the races and researching the different technical aspects of the sport that aren’t mentioned in Drive to Survive during the 2022 season, alongside the timing of the races. While I’m learning, you guys can listen in and see if there was anything I missed or if there is anything helpful from my journey to get to know the sport better for you! So although we had summer break at both school and in F1, there are definitely races that I missed out on recapping in between, so I’ll try to give a very general summary of what was missed and then go on to tell you guys about the last two races that have happened: Monza and Singapore.
So since Imola, what’s gone down? In terms of the drivers and constructors standings, the big disappointment – for me, a Ferrari fan, at least – was the Ferrari standing. At the start of the season they already lacked in pace in the straights compared to Red Bull, and despite closing that gap, they failed massively in the strategy department with pitting and tires. Essentially, they pit at the wrong times and put the wrong tires on, and this makes the driver lose positions in the race. This has kept Leclerc far from the potential championship, with Verstappen racking up wins. As it stands, Verstappen could finish second to Leclerc at every race from here on out and still win the championship. Ferrari remains second in the constructor’s standings, but is readily being challenged by Mercedes which, after the Monza race, was mere points off of overtaking it. This has been a surprise due to the Mercedes’ cars failures, and can largely be accredited to George Russell’s prowess as a driver. Singapore corrected the gap slightly, but if I were Ferrari I might stop focusing on the wins but rather start focusing on defending my second place. In the midfield, Mclaren and Alpine are neck and neck for fourth and fifth. Williams sits at the bottom as usual, and for AlphaTauri, Alfa Romeo, Haas and Aston Martin, it’s anyone’s game in the rest of the points.
The other big drama that comes in this game is the summer break driver announcements for the next year. A lot of times over the summer, teams will announce which drivers are still under contract with them, and the musical chairs for the coveted 20 seats begins. The teams that are not changing until 2024 are Red Bull and Ferrari. Mercedes, Alfa Romeo and Aston Martin are also remaining the same and extended contracts for at least another year to keep their driver pairings the same through the 2023 season. Ricciardo announced that he would be leaving McLaren but did not indicate an alternative team move, suggesting that this long time veteran and fan favorite may find himself out of a seat, which would be really really shocking. Still, the biggest drama came in a domino effect when Vettel, former world champion and one of the biggest names in F1 announced his retirement, and that Fernando Alonso would be taking his place at Aston Martin leaving an open seat at Alpine. Alpine then announced that their reserve driver with an incredible record Oscar Piastri would be taking his place, but Oscar quickly tweeted that this announcement was premature and done without his consent. Taking the issue to the Contract Recognition Board, Piastri was released from his Alpine contract and resigned to take Ricciardo’s seat at McLaren, thus welcoming a new face into F1. The open seat at Alpine may actually go to Pierre Gasly, as AlphaTauri team principal Helmut Marko suggested that he may be released from his contract to go drive for the French manufacturer. The last thing to watch for in the 2023 driver line up is the new face of Nyck de Vries, who is driving as Williams’ reserve at Monza and scored points on his F1 debut in a – let’s face it – terrible car. There are suspicions that he may fill Gasly’s seat at AlphaTauri, and that rumors will be put to rest after the next race in Japan.
Ok, that was a lot of information and all the stuff we missed more or less. But, let’s talk about the races. So Monza happened on the weekend of the ninth of September and is a big deal for Ferrari’s tifosi in Italy. Qualifying saw a TON of grid penalties – which is when drivers lose position in the starting line up because their cars’ mechanisms didn’t meet regulations or they broke a rule during the race. Perez and Verstappen were both forced to drop 10 and five places respectively and Sainz ended up at the back of the grid. Leclerc got pole, setting up hopes that he might win a race and bring it home for the fans. Although Sainz had a great recovery throughout the race that brought him from 18th to fourth – which the fans were loving – Leclerc faced frustrating strategy choices behind safety cars that brought him into second place with Verstappen in first, and Russell in third. Russell is making a huge effort for Mercedes, as mentioned before. The only other losers of this race worth mentioning are Ricciardo, who wanted a win where he had secured one in 2021 at Monza but ended up not finishing when his engine went out, and Haas, who failed to score points yet again.
So now let’s talk about Singapore. Singapore is actually a race near and dear to my heart as I actually graduated high school from Singapore and have been to the grand prix twice. It is one of the few night circuits, and is also a road circuit, so it cuts right through the city and is honestly stunning and always ends with fireworks. This year, the road was slightly wet but not fully during monsoon season, so many of the cars struggled on intermediate tires, and there were a LOT of lock ups and spinning out. Albon, Ocon, Tsunoda, Latifi, Alonso and Zhou all either had car failures or drove into the barriers and didn’t finish the race. Verstappen had a grid penalty and sunk in the positions from the start. He then had a particularly frustrating race that ended with him in seventh after spinning out at one point thanks to a wheel lock up. However, he didn’t seem too rattled as he is very far ahead in the driver standings, as I mentioned before. His teammate Perez had a great showing on the other hand, proving his worth compared to his legendary partner by maintaining his original pole position and finishing in first under a safety car yellow flag. The yellow flag comes out when a car crashes into the barriers so the driver and car need to be removed, and it means that everyone else in the race has to slow their pace and you can’t overtake anyone. Leclerc bemoaned the yellow flag as lasting too long after the track was cleared as he finished in second place. Perez is the first driver since Vettel in 2011 to win both Monaco and Singapore in the same year, which is impressive given how those circuits are notorious for being difficult to race on. However, there still was a Ferrari 2-3 as Sainz came in third, taking a bite out of Red Bull’s constructor’s lead and distancing themselves from Mercedes by 66 points. While Norris and Riccardo scored a win for McLaren over rivals Alpine by finishing in fourth and fifth, Hamilton locked up and crashed into the barriers, causing him to settle for a frustrating ninth. Hamilton actually only has a few races left to win in order to maintain a streak of winning a Grand Prix in every year he’s raced in F1. The final loser was Gasly – my favorite – who, despite finishing in the points, blamed a poor strategy decision of boxing early for finishing in 10th rather than sixth.
Alrighty gang, that is all I’ve got for you guys today, that’s our recap of Singapore and Monza, as well as everything that happened over the summer break, but thank you so much for listening and I hope you guys got to learn more about what went on. I am looking forward to the Suzuka race in Japan coming up soon, and will be back on the podcast then! This has been “I Don’t Get F1” brought to you by me and NBN Audio! Thanks guys, talk soon, byeeeeee!
[I Don’t Get F1 Theme by Ray Tsao]