In a remarkably protest-free British Grand Prix weekend, there were gasps of surprise as Max Verstappen won his sixth consecutive race since Miami. At Grand Prix Rejects we aspire to provide wisdom on everything rejectful!
Ferrari win Reject of the Race one year on from winning the British Grand Prix itself!
Much of the race itself on Sunday was decided in the strategy departments. Each team seemed to be able to run their tyres differently from one another, and there was a genuine difference in endurance and speed depending on the tyre and the constructor. For example, Lando Norris took an excellent podium in spite of what looked like a poor call by McLaren to end the race on hard tyres. However, when he was able to brilliantly hold off Lewis Hamilton for second, he was congratulated left, right and centre.
Now Ferrari, on the other hand, don’t often make good strategy calls. They’re more renowned for their drivers correcting their engineering departments on what would be best, or for announcing publicly that they don’t even know what strategy they’re on! At Silverstone, they were somewhere more towards the former and occasionally towards the latter. When the race-changing safety car came out, Carlos Sainz Jr. was just about the only driver who stayed out without pitting, meaning that he was a sitting duck against just about everyone in town. Notably Alex Albon passed him at the old Turn 1, as he asked “what was Plan B again?” All this meant that Leclerc and Sainz, who had at least been decent in qualifying trim (even if their actual execution in Q2 briefly made them a laughing stock), had no pace on Sunday, and ended with a mighty 9th and 10th place between them.
One positive thing 2023 has over many recent seasons is the changing pecking order away from the front. We don’t necessarily know who will be best of the rest when we get to qualifying, and after a distant, but nevertheless real second place in Austria, Ferrari went right back to their vintage selves and threw another race away. For that they earn an almost-nostalgic Reject of the Race award.
The biggest highlight, or lowlight, of the race was when Lance Stroll made a bizarre passing manoeuvre on Pierre Gasly. The latter maintained his position into the final complex, before being punted in the side by the Canadian, who had almost his whole car off the track. Not giving himself enough room, Lance knocked Gasly’s suspension and forced Alpine into a double retirement after Esteban Ocon’s earlier mechanical problems. We shall try not to repeat ourselves too heavily in these reports, but Stroll’s season has been lacklustre even in spite of his injuries, and even in the context of his own F1 career. Here, now that Aston Martin’s initial push seems definitely to have stalled now, any hope of Stroll getting a podium seems to have long flown out the window. He now looks in danger of sitting behind Alpine as well as a resurgent McLaren in the standings.
Sergio Perez, whose championship chances too have flown out of the figurative window, marked his fifth consecutive failure to reach Q3 this year. While teammate Verstappen recorded pole on all of those Saturdays, Sergio again failed to meet what was demanded of him, and from a distant 15th place on the starting grid he was able to snatch a sixth in the closing stages. Again, when looking at the standings, he faces opposition for that coveted runner-up position from just about everyone in the top five teams: Hamilton, Russell, Alonso could all potentially do it, while McLaren’s new lease of life just adds more threat and more people for the Mexican to have to pass.
A note on Alpine. The commentary around them discussed the heightened potential for a fifth-position scrap that in the end lasted one race! McLaren’s haul of 30 points put them ahead of Alpine immediately, with the French team recording a double DNF and feeling absolutely miserable about themselves.
A final rejectful shout-out to Brad Pitt’s new film, featuring a geriatric driver returning from a thirty-year absence in Formula 1 (is it Michael Andretti?) to show the young-uns how to do it. Pitt and the filming entourage turned up for some laps around the circuit, as the Liberty Media representatives in the paddock rubbed their hands together. Expect a review when we are treated to the film’s release!
McLaren, for turning their season around in two easy races, win Infinite Improbability Drive of the Race!
Things change so quickly, and for a long time we were lamenting the state of affairs when assessing Lando Norris’ unfortunate attachment to a struggling team apparently until the heat death of the universe. He is a very talented driver when he is able to show it, and with a strong second place at Silverstone having actually led the race on merit for the first couple of laps was one hell of an illustration. Oscar Piastri is just as promising as a future star, and he actually went and unrejectified himself in spite of serious opposition from Russell’s Mercedes in the final stint. An excellent weekend from McLaren, and they are now the fifth best team in Formula 1. Can they bridge the gap to the woeful Ferrari and really seal the deal in the WCC, and with Aston Martin effectively a one-car team, could 3rd be a realistic target?
Our final shout-out goes to Alex Albon, because we couldn’t do a 2023 race report without a positive mention to his performance. His overtake on Sainz was Sato-esque and he remains probably the strongest driver in the lower half of the field.
|REJECT OF THE RACE||INFINITE IMPROBABILITY DRIVE OF THE RACE|
|Ferrari||11 (48%)||McLaren||17 (89%)|
|Lance Stroll||5 (22%)||Alex Albon||1 (5%)|
|Brad Pitt’s film||4 (17%)||Williams||1 (5%)|
|Number of votes: 23||Number of votes: 19|
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
2023 Austrian Grand Prix