After one thousand individual penalties (yes, 1,000) were handed out over the weekend, and Max Verstappen had romped to another victory (this time a double with the sprint format), F1 fans had plentiful amounts of reject action to discuss following the Austrian Grand Prix.
George Russell and Zhou Guanyu, the only drivers to not fall afoul of track limits rules, are the only ones who escape our Reject of the Race Award this time out!
Indeed, every other driver (and partly even the stewards themselves) get the award for this event. ‘Farcical’ is a clichéd term that gets thrown around a lot, but when just about every one of the 20 best drivers on Earth are hit with a penalty, not necessarily right after their infringement (sometimes a day later), for being unable to keep their car between the white lines on a racing circuit – well, the audience could have been treated to a better presentation.
When it turned out that there were no less than 1,200 offences committed during the race (yes, you read that correctly), the FIA had to take their drastic action in the day or two following, when they rounded up every single offence from every driver and applied five-second time penalties accordingly. Some penalties had already been handed out in the race, such as notably to Lewis Hamilton who had an off-colour weekend that required radio intervention from Toto Wolff, who sternly told him “We know the car is bad. Drive it”. Hamilton became the centre of attention regarding these track limit infringements, and started trying to tattle on his opponents as a way of getting even.
The worst offender was Esteban Ocon, who racked up a whopping 30 seconds worth of time penalties, meaning that in 71 laps he broke the rules ten times. Yuki Tsunoda and Alex Albon also managed an impressive 9 and 8 infringements respectively. The only drivers to have avoided any infringements, who were competent enough to keep their car on track, were George Russell and Zhou Guanyu, and for that reason they are the only drivers to escape our Reject of the Race award this time out.
All of this totally overshadowed any of the minor action occurring on track itself. Yuki Tsunoda would have swept up this award on any other day, after colliding with an Alpine at the first turn when he was absolutely far too zealous at the race start. He then overshot another corner and found himself in the gravel a few turns later. Any race is important as the next, but when rumours are starting to brew of Sergio Perez’s potential drop by Red Bull, Yuki needs to look impressive so that he doesn’t get overlooked by any potential Ricciardos. He may be safe against an unimpressive Nyck de Vries, but that isn’t saying much.
Lewis Hamilton, whom we’ve already mentioned, was likewise guilty of misdemeanours and for driving below his ability. He also made some rather petulant comments pre-race lobbying for the end of dominating teams and drivers. While he was the most broadcasted whiner of the 20 drivers, he was not the only one. Carlos Sainz Jr. also spent half the race trying to get Perez penalised in the exact same way. It’s clear that no team is good two weekends in a row in 2023 (aside from Red Bull), and it appears to be showing in the competitive attitudes Hamilton, Sainz et al. are bringing to the Sundays when Verstappen just runs away with it.
The final candidate was, as always, Haas. What new can one say about them? They qualified well, or at least Nico Hulkenberg did, and then it was all for nought in the end when they finished P19 and the other retired. They seem to be a team that can operate quite successfully in a very limited capacity. They can qualify, but they can’t do more than a few laps in anger before they are trailing at the rear, and the Austrian Grand Prix was a perfect example of that. It’s going to be yet another year of this, folks: enjoy!
Lando Norris, for his brilliantly fought podium place, wins Infinite Improbability Drive of the Race!
Teams hyping their upgrades is just part of the Formula 1 game. However, with McLaren’s greatly promised upgrades coming in for Austria, it was astonishing to see just how quickly they worked. Lando Norris especially took the field by storm, and in his apparently eternal underdog status, could give the audience something to root for. Teammate Oscar Piastri did not receive the upgrades yet, and it showed when he spent much of Sunday in P15, floundering as McLaren have so often done with the backmarkers this year.
For Norris to then take the car home to fourth place (after the inordinate number of penalties applied everywhere), was some positive news indeed. While one must be cautious after freak results, there is serious competition for that fifth place in the championship, and Alpine will need to up their own pace after faltering following their strong opening few rounds.
Ferrari get a lot of stick in this community, so it is always worth doing a shout-out to their strategy team and drivers (well, except Sainz on Sunday and Charles on Saturday), for leading a not-insignificant portion of the early race, and having the competence to get their drivers to a 2-4 across the line. If only they had the competence to keep the car on the track!
|REJECT OF THE RACE||INFINITE IMPROBABILITY DRIVE OF THE RACE|
|Everyone except George Russell and Zhou Guanyu||13 (54%)||Lando Norris||17 (77%)|
|Yuki Tsunoda||5 (21%)||Ferrari for not being rubbish||3 (14%)|
|Lewis Hamilton||3 (13%)||George Russell & Zhou Guanyu||2 (9%)|
|Number of votes: 24||Number of votes: 22|
Disclaimer: The ROTR and IIDOTR awards are purely for fun purposes.
The IIDOTR is a democratically-decided award, based on the assumption that, at any moment in time, there is a non-zero probability that even the slowest, most inexperienced and least reliable of underdogs might win the race. That under every rock, there might be a gold nugget. This is the award for that first podium that we all celebrate, for the overtake no-one was expecting, for the underdog’s first win. This is the award, in short, for the driver or team that makes you go “Woah! Where did THAT come from?!”.
The ROTR is a medal of dishonour that celebrates the most noteworthy failure of a Grand Prix weekend, based on expectations heading into the weekend and general performance. That one brainfade, the silliest mistake or the most patent nonsense going on, all that is what being the ROTR is all about.
2023 Grand Prix Rejects Awards
2023 Season Preview
2023 Bahrain Grand Prix
2023 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix
2023 Azerbaijan and Miami Grands Prix
2023 Monaco Grand Prix
2023 Spanish Grand Prix
2023 Canadian Grand Prix