Three weeks of F1 racing to get the halted 2020 season back underway have come and gone as quickly as the cars themselves.
And with a semi-average Hungarian Grand Prix out of the way, it’s time to get into the talking points once more.
2022 can’t come soon enough
Remember 2003 and 2005? The two seasons in which the FIA brought in sweeping rule changes to halt the dominance of Ferrari? So worried were they for the state of the sport, that they had to bring in rules to change the dominance of one team.
It failed to work the first time, but worked well the second time. That goes to show that the sport, in what is arguably the most changeable sport when it comes to rules and regulations in the world, is capable of attempting to change things up to stop the dominance of one team.
Fast forward two decades later, and we are sitting in our seventh consecutive season of seeing the same team and same driver winning again and again. Three races in, and they haven’t even been challenged.
I hate to sound like a broken down record each week but for anyone who isn’t a Mercedes fan, it’s tedious and frustrating. We just exited by far the least exciting decade in the history of F1, and right now nothing feels different. And nothing will be different until 2022.
So once again we have to sit through the same result week in and week out, especially at a time when Mercedes seemingly have extended the gap even further.
If we are to say the 2022 season will start as planned on March 13th, we have 603 days to wait until hopefully we see the sport return to what it should be: exciting and competitive.
Red Bull show they’re geniuses and idiots at the same time
Wow. Red Bull. What can be said. Somehow they pull off the impossible in repairing a car that had no right to race and then get that car fixed enough that Max Verstappen can recover and finish in second place. An incredible achievement.
But somehow, on the other end of the spectrum, they do the ridiculous by seemingly drying Alex Albon’s grid slot, something clearly against the rules, which looks to see him face some form of punishment. As if Albon hasn’t had enough bad luck already.
I can’t recall a team having such a discrepancy between calls in a race in all my years watching F1. And it’s a shame for them, given their struggles all weekend, Albon’s fifth place mixed with Verstappen’s second are vital for them should at any point they capatilise on any mistakes Mercedes may make in the future.
It’s time for Stroll to start getting more credit
Bumping up my usual Lance Stroll/Nicholas Latifi watch up a few slots, because as the headline says, it’s really time for people to start noticing and appreciating Lance Stroll.
I’ve been championing him for years as far more than that rich kid who happens to have a rich daddy who bought a team and now he has a slot. And look at this weekend as proof of that.
In a week in which people have bemoaned the seemingly unfair future firing of Sergio Perez if Sebastian Vettel ends up at the team next year, Stroll dominated his teammate in all the sessions that counted and finished with an incredibly strong fourth place.
And after putting in a stonking lap to qualify third on Saturday and pulling off some more great overtaking moves on Sunday, Stroll once again proved his mentality and ability that needs to be taken more seriously.
Nicholas Latifi on the other hand showed some real promise over the weekend but had a disastrous race to finish in last spot. The Williams driver joined teammate George Russel into Q2 in an incredible performance by the team and then vaulted up as high as tenth place in the early parts of the race.
However a coming together with Carlos Sainz in the pit lane as well as a puncture hampered his race and there was no recovering for him. Despite this, he was announced as being signed on for 2021 alongside Russell, so it’s great to see he is been given more of a chance in what hopefully can turn into a long career.
Russell deserves to be in a better team
I’ve never really been on the hype train of George Russell but this year his performances have proven me wrong.
Two weekends in a row he has dragged his Williams deep into Q2. The Brit is definitely a driver to watch for the future. Having Mercedes’ backing could line him up as a possible replacement to Valtteri Bottas should the team decide to get rid of the Finn, or maybe even a staggered climb up the F1 ladder through some other midfield teams to reach that target.
I mentioned last race about Lando Norris being the most exciting driver on the grid, well Russell might just be the most promising consistent driver who lets his driving do the talking on track. It just adds to the fact that the young talent in the sport right now is putting the sport in a good position for the future.
Rock solid Ricciardo
Ricciardo might be nowhere near fighting for a win, or even for a podium. But there is no doubting his skill level when he can consistently get a car that is around the sixth best in the field to come home with consistent points finishes.
An eighth place doesn’t sound incredible, but excellent car management and great strategy calls during the race really added to another very strong and solid race for the West Australian.
There will forever be a ‘what if’ hanging around his career about his decision to leave Red Bull and go to Renault, in what will always be remembered as a failed move. But it’s a move that despite not having the results on paper, really shows the true skill level of the driver.
The ability to make a midfield team look better than they are can often be a better outcome than being a driver in a front-running car that has no challenges for years upon years upon years and never has the experience of being in a car that can’t challenge for wins.
And so while in hindsight it wasn’t the best move for Ricciardo in terms of results, it was a great move for him to show his worth as a driver. Perhaps it’s time for Lewis Hamilton to do something similar to prove his numerous doubters in the ‘GOAT’ category wrong.
It’s going to feel weird having no race next weekend, but everyone deserves a break some time. Bring on the next fortnight as we head off now to Silverstone.
This article was originally written for The Roar. You can read the published version here