- Verstappen Dominance
- Strategic excellence and resilience
- Notable Races and Achievements
Driver of the Year
Max Verstappen was in a league of his own; he was unavoidable, nearly flawless, intimidatingly fast, and nearly impossible to ignore. On the path to a third championship, he has amassed records that speak for themselves. Achieved nineteenth victories in 22 races, finished on the podium in twenty-one, and led ten consecutive races before becoming the first driver to do so for an entire season.
They do not, however, convey the entire story. Through amassing them, Verstappen showcased his comprehensive nature as a driver. Although the vehicle was remarkable, Verstappen utilized it with consummate skill and consistency. An examination of the performance of his teammate Sergio Pérez in the identical equipment reveals that the 26-year-old was functioning on an entirely different plane.
There were phenomenal drives, including a comeback from fifteenth to second place in Saudi Arabia, ninth to victory in Miami (a triumph that undoubtedly broke Pérez, who had begun from pole position), sixth in Spa, and a masterclass at Zandvoort despite duress and challenging conditions. Although Verstappen’s preeminence may have diminished the season’s dramatic tension at the front, it is impossible to begrudge his performance.
Team of the Year
An encouraging resurgence occurred in the midfield, first for Aston Martin and then for McLaren, both producing seasons to remember. Not only for their explosive start but also for infusing Fernando Alonso with a welcome sense of fun. Equally captivating was McLaren’s ascent from failure in Bahrain to the possibility of winning races in the latter part of the season. However, it is Red Bull that deserves the praise.
The RB19 was an exceptional automobile, and the team supported it with unparalleled operational and strategic performance. While it is true that possessing a clear tempo advantage can provide a sense of comfort, that comfort must not be misconstrued as a cause for complacency. On numerous weekends, they arrived only to discover that the vehicle was underperforming on specific courses. Monaco was a circuit where Verstappen was sure he would collide during practice.
However, they persevered through it repeatedly, and by race day, it had regained its indomitable nature. Having won Monaco, Verstappen has established Red Bull as the standard against which all others are now measured.
Race of the Year
The race in Singapore, which concluded Red Bull’s unblemished season with the victory of Carlos Sainz, was particularly noteworthy. In the absence of Verstappen, Marina Bay presented an exciting contest demonstrating how competitive the racing could become in the absence of Red Bull. It came to a thrilling conclusion, with Lewis Hamilton, Sainz, Lando Norris, and George Russell contending for the victory.
Nevertheless, Formula One’s return to Las Vegas proved to be the pinnacle of excitement. The weekend had an already disastrous beginning, as it commenced with the abandonment of practice and was subsequently evacuated behind closed doors following Sainz’s vehicle colliding with a loose drain cover. The situation could not have been more dire. Despite this, it eventually turned around.
The circuit considered a dud, was a racing powerhouse, with cars and drivers able to compete with diving passes and cars two and three abreast. It performed exceedingly well and, as F1 had anticipated, appeared magnificent under the Strip’s illumination. Undoubtedly, the sport has reached its showcase race in the United States, characterized by glitz, glamour, and excitement. This raises the inquiry: In light of this, what is the future of the Miami Grand Prix?
Reentry of the Year
With an abysmally sluggish vehicle, McLaren was staring down a lengthy season following the inaugural race in Bahrain. Although the team had previously acknowledged falling short of pre-season aerodynamic goals, Lando Norris’s seventeenth-place finish in the race still dealt a severe setback. Andrea Stella, the new team principal, maintained an exceptionally composed demeanor.
The team was 137 points behind Aston Martin in the constructors’ standings and sixth in the order before the Austrian Grand Prix, when their eagerly awaited enhancements were installed and revolutionized the vehicle. Norris and Oscar Piastri entered the race unexpectedly and subsequently finished in several podium positions; they occasionally posed a threat to Red Bull and surpassed Aston for fourth place in the championship. Observing it was riveting, and there is more to come.
They have now made the new wind tunnel and simulator available online, and their CEO, Zak Brown, has made additional predictions for the upcoming season. At the season’s conclusion, he stated, “I would be disappointed if we were not contending for race wins at the forefront of the field.”
A rejuvenated Fernando Alonso was a delight to observe, mainly due to a few of his audacious passing maneuvers. He was immediately and mesmerizingly decisive. At Bahrain, he engaged in a wheel-to-wheel battle with Lewis Hamilton, exchanging positions with the British driver until turn 10 marked his breakthrough.
The initial sequence of passes demonstrated he had kept his verve. However, what stood out was Charles Leclerc’s persistent struggle with his obstinate Ferrari at each opportunity. He executed a daring maneuver in Japan at turn one by circumnavigating George Russell with pinnacle precision. Concluding the performance, the decisive move was when he passed Pérez on the last circuit in Las Vegas. Leclerc, rushing down the Strip at maximum speed, had one last opportunity before the checkered flag.
Demonstrating tremendous determination, he applied the brakes belatedly, slid onto the inside line at turn 14, and narrowly retained control of the vehicle through turns 15 and 16 to secure the position. His resolve and brilliance shone brightly for numerous instances, well beyond when Verstappen was cruising towards the flag.
Greatest Level Up
In contemporary Formula One, where testing is scarce, the competition for rookies is more complex than ever, as Nyck de Vries discovered when AlphaTauri dismissed him after only ten races. On the contrary, Oscar Piastri’s debut could not have been more promising. The 22-year-old Australian rapidly adapted to challenging conditions, considering the abysmal vehicle McLaren delivered at the start of the season. Piastri diligently persevered until he obtained the enhanced model, at which point he demonstrated his prowess.
He won the sprint race in Qatar, but more significantly, he consistently maintained proximity to his considerably more experienced teammate Norris, an outstanding accomplishment on tracks he was unfamiliar with. According to Piastri’s race engineer, Tom Stallard, the combination of his “calm and intense” demeanor will propel him to great heights.
Both his debut podium finish in Japan and Qatar came from immaculate performances that belied his age. If McLaren fulfills its potential for this year, Piastri will be a formidable force in 2024 as a member of one of the grid’s top driver lineups.
Most Severe Regret
The fact that Verstappen was not challenged, even though dominating the entire season, cannot be overlooked. The performance of teammate Pérez, whose initial triumphs in Jeddah and Baku were subsequently disproven, was dreadful. His qualifying errors and performance rendered his season inconsequential and his seat uncertain. His lack of success was exacerbated by the failure of both Mercedes and Ferrari to challenge Red Bull.
The expectation that they would accomplish this soon after the initial race vanished. After qualifying in the first round at Bahrain, Mercedes acknowledged their design philosophy was erroneous. In contrast, it quickly became apparent that Ferrari’s vehicle was fast for a single lap but could have improved on tires and lacked speed in race conditions.
Red Bull was astounded that their competitors had not performed better. A significant divide existed between them, persisting even after Red Bull ceased car development. Without a silver bullet, both teams encountered difficulties crossing the finish line. It was, at best, unsatisfactory fare, and the sport desperately needs them to improve.