2024 Racing Season


Two races down, twenty-two to go and while it’s business as usual at the sharp end of the grid, F1 never suffers from a shortage of drama and intrigue.  As I mentioned in my season preview, 2024 is The Year Of The Silly Season and as we’ve witnessed in just a quick fortnight, things are downright silly out there!  

What is going on at Red Bull?  As a fellow buzzard stated last week, this has all the makings of a season of Succession. In Bahrain, we had Jos publicly stating that Horner had to go or else the team would implode and was seen multiple times huddling around Toto Wolff.  And then there was the anonymously leaked email detailing the allegations made against Horner by a female employee of the team that arrived to select media and F1 team personnel during a live practice session.  My hope is that Marko didn’t realize the Netflix cameras were following him when he snuck through the garage to the hospitality center to send The Anonymous Email.  After a perfect weekend on the track for RBR, it was reported that Horner had the support of the Thai board members who possess 51% of the voting rights in the company, in addition to the current sponsors, business affiliates and team personnel.  Advantage Horner.  A week later in Saudi it felt like the news of Marko’s demise was imminent until Max, who had been doing an admirable job of toeing the company line, dropped the bomb and said if Marko goes, he goes.  So who is going to go and what is the better option for the team moving forward?

Who would you rather see go?:

A. Horner, Newey, Ford and a few blue chip sponsors.

B. Max, Marko, and Jos.

If you chose A, skip ahead to 2026 when the team is in disarray trying to come to grips with a new rules package with an 80+ year old leader at the helm. (hmm, sounds a bit like the country on my passport).  Max is pissed, Jos is pissed, and civil war ensues.

If you chose B, skip ahead to watching Lando Norris and Carlos Sainz battle it out for the championship in the 2025 Newey designed car while Max is bringing home a bunch of 4th’s in the Mercedes.  

And in other news, how about Ollie Bearman!  From the category of, You Couldn’t Make This Stuff Up, comes Bearman, an 18 year old Brit who received the shock call up of a lifetime.  For those who don’t follow this sport closely, Bearman is a hot shit prospect who looked destined for F1 after finishing 3rd as a 17 year old in his inaugural F2 campaign last year.  But the thought of an 18 year old getting called up to drive for Ferrari a few hours before FP3 on an incredibly demanding street circuit with the world watching is beyond comprehension.    

I’ve been trying to think of the American sport equivalent and it would be like a Triple A pitcher getting called up to the Yankees (at 18 years old!) and starting the following day AND going 7 innings and allowing 2 runs.  Or a kid getting the call up from the Lakers G league team and finding that Anthony Davis is out that night and he’s up on the board as the starting center.  Suddenly the kid finds himself setting picks for LeBron and finishing around the rim like a veteran.  It’s essentially unheard of!  

As the lights went out, I was locked in on row 6 with both hands ready to cover my eyes.  Bearman made a clean start and aggressively placed his nose up the inside of Tsunoda multiple times on the first lap.  I kept waiting to see a red car go careening into the barriers with carbon fiber and wheels flying everywhere, but Bearman wisely didn’t force the issue and used the DRS to his advantage to slip on by.  Every time the cameras zoomed in on Mr. Bearman in the Ferrari garage, he looked like he was on the verge of passing out.  It was great stuff, and for a final exam in this 48hr F1 driver crash course, The Bear (can’t wait for the bad nicknames) had to soak up the pressure of Norris and Hamilton closing quickly on softs over the final laps.  My first thought was to text out to a few friends that Ferrari signed the wrong Brit for 2025, but I thought better of it.  Regardless, what a cool story and I’m officially on the Bearman Bandwagon for ‘25.  Do the right thing Gene!

In fact, here is a new idea to spice up the show:  At every race after FP2, a blind draw is held to see which team has to run their 3rd driver for the rest of the weekend.  The team can choose which driver to replace and is no longer eligible to be chosen if they have already used the 3rd driver twice.  So 20 races per year, we will get the Bearman scenario.  There is a big logjam of talent waiting in the wings so who knows, maybe one of these 3rd drivers is the next Schumacher. 

In the season preview, BEV had a bunch of questions for each team.  After two races, I think we have our answers:

Red Bull – Will Perez buckle under the pressure of being the perfect #2?  So far he looks like the perfect #2.  As long as Red Bull have a car that is 20+ seconds better than the rest, Perez is perfect.  What happens though if it’s only a 10 second gap?  Will there be an exodus if Horner is forced to resign?  TBD  Did they get too greedy in coming up with a unique new design rather than sticking with an evolution of the old 22 out of 23 race winning warhorse?  No, they nailed it!

Mercedes – At what point do they start to phase out Lewis and put all of their energies and development bits into Russell’s side of the garage?  Looks like Lewis has already phased himself out with another car not capable of getting near a win. Who the heck are they going to sign? Ask Jos.   Do they have the engineering staff in place to regain the upper hand come 2026?  I’m starting to think the answer is No.  They had their incredible 8 year run but this is now three years where they can’t get close to a Red Bull with no end in sight.

Ferrari – Have they found a solution for their long run tire woes?  It seems like they are in a much better place with the tires at the moment.  Same as above regarding Hamilton, at what point do they phase out Sainz?  They got Bearman baby!  After pulling off the Hamilton signing coup, can Fred Vasseur assemble the technical team to return Ferrari to glory?  If Red Bull blows up, there will be a lot of key personnel there for the taking.

McLaren – Will they start the year on competitive footing to make a run at second in the constructors race?  They look much better than last year, but still have a ways to go to surpass Ferrari. Will Piastri make the 2nd year leap and give Norris a real fight for inter team superiority? The leap seems real.  He outqualified and beat Lando in Saudi. I’m still calling it advantage Lando, but let’s see what the next few races have in store.  Can Zak Brown set the record for most blue chip sponsors on the side of a car?  Why yes, of course.

Aston Martin – Will Lawrence Stroll be able to accept being a 5th place team or will he tire of mediocrity and cut bait?  TBD.  Can Lance close the massive gap to Alonso?  No, and his early crash out of the points in Saudi won’t help his reputation much.  And if not, does he keep his seat as long as pops owns the team?  Get Drugovich in there!

Alpine – Who will emerge as the victor in the Ocon v Gasly battle?  Who cares, this team is fighting for survival.  Who is now managing this team and will they last a season?  Seems like everyone quit after they saw the car on track in Bahrain.  Is the Renault board still all in on F1 knowing they could sell the team for a massive sum?  Heads will be rolling, again.

VCARB – Can Danny Ric get the upper hand on year 4 Yuki? Nope.  Yuki owns D. Ric.  Will this be the surprise team who claim a fighting 5th in the constructors championship?  Sadly, no, 6th is their best case scenario.  

Stake – Will the Sauber gang do anything noteworthy this year?  Not unless you consider wheels not coming off during pitstops as noteworthy.

Williams – Will Sargeant become a respectable F1 driver this season in year 2? Not looking good. Is James Vowles the man to lead Williams back into the hunt for race wins?  Seems like a smart engineer, so maybe not wins but respectability.  Can the team retain Albon if they show significant gains?  If he doesn’t go to RBR, he’s probably stuck at Williams.

Haas – When will Gene give up the fight and sell? (Andretti-Cadillac anyone?).  Kudos to Haas for winning the coveted 10th place prize in Saudi.  Hire Bearman.

See you next month with more F1 insanity.

2024 Racing Season

F1 2024

(Editors note- As I was getting ready to publish, the news that Horner is keeping his job went public. Some of the content below covers what a post Horner Red Bull would have looked like.)

The 2024 F1 season is officially here and fans the world over are anxiously waiting to find out………Who will Mercedes hire to replace Lewis, will Checo keep his Red Bull seat, where will Sainz land, will Horner get sacked at Red Bull for inappropriate behavior, can Lewis and Ferrari win in ‘25??  Yes, 2024 is officially the year of The Silly Season.  Barring some really bizarre circumstances, it’s a foregone conclusion that Max will cruise to a 4th world title so let’s just crown the champ now and get into the good gossip!

I have to confess, I will still attempt to watch every single lap of every race, Max domination or not, but I’m more excited for the game of musical chairs that is about to take place than spending 100+ hours on the couch watching Max look like he’s on a Sunday drive along the coast.  F1 has always been part sport, part soap opera, and this season is shaping up to be a Netflix directors fantasy.  I spent the better part of an hour last night watching the sad plight of Nyck de Vries in his failed Alpha Tauri rookie season in the latest Drive To Survive episode 2, so can you imagine how dramatic it will feel when the heavyweights start swapping around?  Move over Kardashians!  Similar to what the NBA is experiencing at the moment, the actual race broadcast numbers will likely decline drastically due to the predictable outcomes over 24 races, but social engagement through the various platforms should go through the roof when some spicy news hits the wire.  Is there a media insider who breaks the news before the teams announce it?  I want Ted Kravitz dropping Twitter (X) bombs.

To recap, this all got started when Lewis Hamilton shocked the world and announced that after 10 years and 6 world titles with Mercedes, he was trading his silver overalls at the end of the year for the red of Ferrari in 2025.  Interesting side note, after Ferrari announced the signing, their stock price jumped 12%, adding $10 billion in market cap.  Do you think Lewis deserves a raise?  On top of this, Red Bull has very publicly stated that Perez must improve his performance over the second part of last year or he is out.  Can you imagine, a Mercedes and a Red Bull seat up for grabs at the same time?  

This thought calls for a fantasy timeout:  The worst case scenario is that Sainz signs with Mercedes and Perez does enough to keep his seat at Red Bull.  This would crush dreams and put the silly season to rest in seconds.  However, let’s say that Sainz does decide that he is the man to spearhead the Audi F1 project into the future and Perez buckles under the Red Bull pressure, then, oh yes, we would be looking at full scale change of epic proportions.

Under this scenario, here is how I envision it all playing out:  

Two things that seem solid for ‘25 is Ferrari will have Hamilton and Leclerc and McLaren will have Norris and Piastri. From there, let’s get crazy.

Mercedes – Toto smiles that devilish grin and mutters “Fuck You Lewis” under his breath as he signs Fernando Alonso to a two year deal to team up with George Russell.

Red Bull does a deep dive into its past drivers Sainz, Danny Ric, Gasly and Albon and comes to the conclusion that it’s none other than Sainz who they have been missing all these years.  Max, now firmly confident in his place within the team, green lights the move for Carlos to come home.  

Aston Martin – Lawrence Stroll, feeling the strain of world domination slipping from his fingers, signs Pierre Gasly to replace Alsono and tells son Lance that ‘25 will be his last year before moving into management to make way for Honda’s golden boy, Yuki Tsunoda.  

Alpine- Fading into irrelevance, Alpine do the sensible thing and promote academy driver Jack Doohan to team with Ocon.

Visa Cash App RB (VCARB): After finding that Yuki is going with Honda to Aston in ‘26, VCARB promote Liam Lawson to team with the always smiling Danny Ric, forming a Down Under super team.

Sauber-Stake-Audi:  Planning for the future, Audi start working behind the scenes and pry Alex Albon out of his Williams contract while signing Nico Hulkenberg to be their initial guys to launch their assault on the F1 world championship.

Williams:  Seeing the value in Checo as a development driver and North American sponsor magnate, Williams bring in Perez to be the benchmark for young Kimi Antonelli, on loan from Toto for two years.  

Haas – Picking last after all the moves have been made, Haas go with Ferrari academy driver Ollie Bearman to team with the veteran Kevin Magnussen.  

In this world, Bottas, Zhou, and Logan Sargeant are left without seats while Yuki spends ‘25 on the sidelines.  Will this happen?  No way, but I’d love to see it.  

So, back to this business of F1 racing, 2024 style.  We know that Max will be the champ and could conceivably win another 20+ races, but after that, there is a fascinating eight man battle shaping up for second.  Ferrari, Mercedes, McLaren, Perez and Alonso all fighting to fill out the podium will be my focus for the season.  Even if Max is some twenty seconds up the road, the thought of drivers and teams of this caliber duking it out should make for fun tv.  In fact, I’m hoping that Oracle will be left disappointed with their tv exposure figures because the world feed director will spend the majority of the show riveted to this pack of eight.  Max can watch from the trackside screens like the rest of us if he wants to feel involved.   

Why will it be so close (for second, of course)?  This is year 3 of rules stability and the word of the day that you will likely see thrown around is Convergence.  The teams have all had three years to copy each other, hence bringing about convergence from top to bottom, and with zero driver turnover this past year, the engineers have hopefully been able to take the drivers feedback and come up with solutions that plagued their ‘23 cars.  The Ferrari should be nicer to its tires, the Mercedes more predictable on turn in, the McLarens better mid corner and the Aston faster in a straight line.  It’s just too bad that Red Bull appear to have come up with a revolutionary design that has measurably improved upon the all conquering RB19. 

Either way,  It will be exciting to watch these guys go into Q2 and Q3 with zero margin for error and then get after it on Sundays.  And if racing for 10th place is your thing, then you are in for a big year!  The 8-pack plus Max equals 9, so we should have the rest of the grid scratching and clawing for that elusive single point awarded to 10th.  (Note – If this sounds boring and you enjoy watching racing to see dramatic finishes for victory, then I recommend watching Moto3 motorcycle racing or go visit your local dirt or kart track.)

Now it’s time for Bulseyeview Wants To Know brought to you by The Onion | America’s Finest News Source:

Red Bull – Will Perez buckle under the pressure of being the perfect #2?  Will there be an exodus if Horner is forced to resign?  Did they get too greedy in coming up with a unique new design rather than sticking with an evolution of the old 22 out of 23 race winning warhorse?  

Mercedes – At what point do they start to phase out Lewis and put all of their energies and development bits into Russell’s side of the garage?  Who the heck are they going to sign?  Do they have the engineering staff in place to regain the upper hand come 2026?

Ferrari – Have they found a solution for their long run tire woes?  Same as above regarding Hamilton, at what point do they phase out Sainz?  After pulling off the Hamilton signing coup, can Fred Vasseur assemble the technical team to return Ferrari to glory?

McLaren – Will they start the year on competitive footing to make a run at second in the constructors race?  Will Piastri make the 2nd year leap and give Norris a real fight for inter team superiority? Can Zak Brown set the record for most blue chip sponsors on the side of a car?

Aston Martin – Will Lawrence Stroll be able to accept being a 5th place team or will he tire of mediocrity and cut bait?  Can Lance close the massive gap to Alonso?  And if not, does he keep his seat as long as pops owns the team?

Alpine – Who will emerge as the victor in the Ocon v Gasly battle?  Who is now managing this team and will they last a season?  Is the Renault board still all in on F1 knowing they could sell the team for a massive sum?

VCARB – Can Danny Ric get the upper hand on year 4 Yuki?  Will this be the surprise team who claim a fighting 5th in the constructors championship?  

Stake – Will the Sauber gang do anything noteworthy this year?

Williams – Will Sargeant become a respectable F1 driver this season in year 2?  Is James Vowles the man to lead Williams back into the hunt for race wins?  Can the team retain Albon if they show significant gains?

Haas – When will Gene give up the fight and sell? (Andretti-Cadillac anyone?).  

With that, here is a Bold Claim:

Horner gets fired, causing Adrian Newey to rethink his place within the team and the world at large.  He’s conquered the world with Williams, McLaren and Red Bull, but there is one team outside of England who is the grandest of them all.  They just signed Lewis Hamilton.  Winter and spring in Italy are lovely.  The food and wine in the region is excellent.  The cycling and motorcycling is about perfect.  Maybe, this would be a fun chapter to close out a glorious F1 career?

Fast Forward to 2029:  After Verstappen easily won the ‘24 and ‘25 titles, the Adrian Newey penned ‘26 Ferrari came out and decimated the field, allowing Lewis Hamilton to win his coveted 8th WDC.  Struggling to get anywhere near the pace of the Ferrari in the Red Bull-Ford entry, team Verstappen forced their way out of Red Bull and into the arms of Vasseur to partner Hamilton.  (And cue to the Prost v Senna ‘88 documentary).  In ‘27, Max reasserted his dominance to win his 6th title with little resistance from Hamilton.  In ‘28, Lewis dug deep and used canny old man Niki Lauda style tricks to get into the head of Max, who made a series of bizarre driving errors, allowing Hamilton to steal #9 and retire as the GOAT.  

(Note – The GOAT designation didn’t last long because starting in ‘29, Google F1 entered their AI designed car piloted by Lighting Bigsby, the best AI pilot the world has ever seen, and won an astonishing 734 races in a row without ever making a single mistake. The podium celebrations became slightly awkward but Google remedied it by placing a cute robot into the cockpit who would then go up to the podium and was capable of spraying champagne.  Google even came up with their own company anthem that accompanied each win).

Should I send this idea to the Brad Pitt movie team to save them from making another version of Driven?

Here are the picks:

Verstappen – 19 wins

Perez – 2 wins

Leclerc – 1 win

Russell – 1 win


Sainz – 1 win




Danny Ric











Do yourself a favor and check out the MotoGP Ducati wars and don’t forget to support your local Indycar series.  Here’s to a safe and exciting season!

2023 Racing Season

F1 ’23 RECAP

F1 2023 has been relegated to the history books and 30 years from now when I ask my AI companion to tell me in great detail about the ‘23 F1 season, my companion will gaze at me as only a lovable robot buddy can and provide a simple one word answer:  Verstappen.  To that response I will say, “Ah yes, the Verstappen years indeed.  Now buddy, would you be kind enough to draw my bath and prepare my sleeping chamber.”

The RB19 in the hands of Verstappen was utterly dominant and will undoubtedly keep the rest of the paddock up late into the wee hours throughout the winter trying to uncover the secret. What was the secret?  What sort of aero wizardry did Adrian Newey discover that made the car so kind to its rubber, so fast on the straights, so stable in the fast corners, slow corners and on the brakes?  How did Max make it look like a Sunday drive in the park and win 19/22 races while the rest of the field struggled?   I’m envisioning a private room at the Red Bull holiday party deep in the Tyrolean mountains where the top brass and Max are all raising a glass of fine Veltliner and toasting to The Secret.  Meanwhile, Sergio Perez is in the lobby area having an awkward conversation with an admin staffer who has consumed too many Red Bull-vodkas.  

The season got off to an ominous start in Bahrain when it was quickly evident that neither Mercedes nor Ferrari had created a Red Bull beater and in fact, Red Bull had widened the gap. Max led Perez home by 11 seconds, while that old wily Alonso was the surprise of the weekend in his Aston Martin debut, scoring a podium +38 secs to Max.  Sainz was the lead Ferrari in 4th, +48 secs back and Hamilton led the Merc charge in 5th, +50 seconds back.  Sadly after just this lone race, it was obvious that the Red Bull advantage was insurmountable. 

The next race in Saudi Arabia provided a little extra drama when Max had mechanical issues in qualifying and was forced to start 15th, while Checo was on pole.  In the race Perez had a relatively easy time of it, beating Max to the flag by 5 seconds.  It was business as usual in Australia where Max took the win with Perez a messy 5th.  If you want to say that there was a turning point in the season, you have to look at the 4th race in Baku.  Perez arrived looking like the street maestro and flat out beat Max.  He out-qualified him, he won the sprint on Saturday and he won the race on Sunday.  Afterwards, Checo was talking about the drivers championship like he was in it to win it.  Meanwhile, no doubt fuming on the inside, Max claimed that he spent the race messing with his settings and discovered something that he later on admitted propelled him for the rest of the season.  Did he unlock the secret?  Whatever he learned about the RB19 in Baku, he suddenly became a party of one, winning 17 of the final 18 races and setting all sorts of records in the process.  

For those of you who have been around for a while, think about this:  19 wins in 1 season is only one less than 2- time world champion Mika Hakkinen achieved in his career.  It’s mind boggling stuff.  

So is it time to anoint Max as the GOAT?  It’s an interesting thought, but I think I need to see Max switch teams and win again before crowning him.  During my time following this circus religiously, Prost*, Piquet, Schumacher and Hamilton have all won titles driving for more than one team.  Alonso came extremely close, Vettel came reasonably close, and I’m sure Senna would have won multiple titles at Williams had he survived, but I need confirmation that this isn’t another example of Vettel exploiting a Newey design masterstroke.  Remember, at one point Vettel won 4 titles in a row and was looking like he belonged in the discussion, until he was first beaten by Danny Ric at the beginning of the hybrid era within the team and then became a quick driver prone to making horrible mistakes at Ferrari.  I think Max may just be the guy, but he’s not better than Senna or Prost in my eyes until he goes to a competitor, crushes more teammates and wins more titles.  

*The little professor was darn close to winning titles for 4 different teams.  In ‘83 he led the championship in a Renault until the final race, when a DNF handed the title to Piquet in the surging Brabham BMW.  Prost then took the fight to Senna for Ferrari in ‘90 until the infamous Senna Suzuka payback ended that championship in the turn one gravel trap.  

That said, here are a few categories that rank the current crop of 20 drivers based on what I saw this year.  This does not reflect the fact that some of these guys are young and may still be getting better.  

Max Class

Max Verstappen- Complete package.  Crazy quick, ultra competitive, loves driving, doesn’t feel pressure……I could go on and on.

Genius but Human

Hamilton- Amazing feel, may not be quite as motivated racing for second in his twilight years.

Leclerc- One lap wonder, great race craft, might not be mentally ready to take on Max. And hallelujah to that.  I like my Ferrari drivers quick and overly passionate.

Alonso- Relentless, fast, smart, usually leaves a team on bad terms after 3-4 seasons.


Norris- Massive talent waiting for the car to give him that first win.  Made too many mistakes in qualifying late in the year when he had the second best package.

Russell- Put in his place by Hamilton this year, Russell is a big talent and seems like a confident, team leader in waiting.

Sainz- Brilliant drives in Singapore and Monza, quick and experienced, good teammate.  

Really Good

Piastri- Fought through a really tough beginning to the season and emerged as the golden child.  Great kid, super quick, needs to learn how to manage the tires in order to threaten Norris.

Gasly- Quick, tough, experienced.  With all the administrative chaos at Alpine this year he kept his head down and got on with it.  Welcome to driving for the French National team!

Albon- The man who finished 3rd to Russell and Norris in the 2018 F2 championship looks like a rock steady driver who will have a long career at Williams.  

Ocon- See comments for Gasly above.  This guy is a fighter who matched Alonso at Alpine.

Liam Lawson- Got thrown into the deep end after the Danny Ric injury at Zandvoort and made the most of his big break.  Essentially matched Tsunoda right of the box and scored points in Singapore, while finishing 11th in Italy and Japan.  

Pretty Good

Perez- Brilliant start to the year unraveled quickly starting in Monaco.  He incredibly failed to reach Q3 eight times over the season and seemed to be crushed by the relentless speed of Max.  Throughout the chaos, he still emerged 2nd in the drivers standings.

Yuki- He’s now a legitimately quick, experienced driver who has earned a 4th season in the merciless Red Bull camp.  Give him a decent car and look out.

Hulkenberg- Returned after a couple of years away playing with his kids and was startlingly quick in the Haas.  Sadly, the tire eating Haas chassis left him fighting for scraps on Sundays.


Stroll- Hard to call P10 in the drivers standings average for young Stroll but seeing that his teammate was 4th and 132 points ahead makes you realize that he had a pretty great package at his disposal.  What is Aston to do if they have aspirations of climbing the constructors standings?

Bottas- Fun guy, bad car.  What can you do?  He doesn’t seem to have much on Zhou which I would like to see if I’m evaluating him for a drive when the team becomes Audi.  

Magnussen- Out qualified by Hulk 15-7 and outscored 9-3.  

Danny Ric- Great to see him back, but other than a nice weekend in Texas, he seemed to have a difficult time matching Yuki.  I know he’s marketing gold, but put Lawson in the seat!

Guanyu- Alfa (Sauber) is like a ghost team out there but the record shows that Z recorded 6 points.  His head to head with Bottas was 7-15 in qualifying, 10-12 in the races, and 6-10 in points.  

DeVries- Got the ‘ol Tost chop rather quickly but didn’t seem like he was making a complete fool of himself.


Logan Sargeant- Tough to beat up on a rookie driver in a Williams, but that was a poor season.  Shocking that he’s back for another.  LS left a lot of expensive body work and parts in the tire barriers and guardrails of F1 circuits around the globe.  Out qualified 22-0 and outscored 27-1 by Albon. 

Time For A Rant

There are too many races.  It was amazing to see Drive to Survive propel the sport into the global mainstream, but now Liberty Media are starting to look downright greedy.  I understand that they are in the business of creating wealth for their shareholders, but I feel like they’ve reached the oversaturation point and people are going to start losing interest, especially with Max likely dominating again in ‘24.  It’s hard to tell a great story when all 24 chapters are very predictable and you can see the obvious outcome from a mile away.  Enough with these jetlagged drivers and teams going through the motions week in and week out.  I’m waiting for the day that Lewis Hamilton says, “Hola Mexico” to the fans in Brazil.  Back in the days of 16 races, each one felt like a crucial event towards crowning a champion and the waiting part for the next one generated even more buzz.  (at least that’s how the world felt to me pre internet – lol)

So Liberty Media, I took the liberty to pare your schedule down to 18 races.  Out are the majority of what I refer to as the Paddock Club grands prix, where the circuits and stands are totally devoid of any real soul, but the teams are hard at work entertaining high net worth individuals with the hope of receiving large checks in the form of sponsorship.  Do we really need 4 races in the F1 rabid Persian Gulf region? (I can just hear Zak Brown protesting now)  Therefore, with apologies to all who are affected, the following GP’s have been canceled for ‘24: Saudi Arabia, Miami, Imola, Baku, Qatar and Abu Dhabi.  (Zak Brown has now blacked out standing up and face planted on the ‘93 MP4/8 in the McLaren showroom)

This leaves the following schedule for the Max Domination Tour ‘24:


















Vegas – Yes, Vegas is so silly and outrageous it has to stay and become the finale, just to really mix things up.

Here are a few final awards to close out the season:

I’m tempted to just say, “Red Bull, well done, take ‘em all home and that’s a wrap, thanks for coming and see you next year.”  But there has to be a few other things to praise so I’ll try to get creative here.

The OpenAI In Season Development Award

McLaren started the year looking like one of the worst cars on the grid by the final race they were arguably the second best team.  Think about this, after the first 8 rounds they had a total of 17 points and they finished the year with 302.  I did a little calculating and if you total constructors points from Austria through Abu Dhabi, here are the totals:

Red Bull – 539

McLaren – 285

Ferrari – 284

Mercedes – 242

In Lando Norris and Oscar Piastri they have an amazing young driver lineup, Zak Brown is a sponsor magnet and they just upped their Mercedes engine deal until 2030. Exciting times ahead for the papaya cars.  

The Grecian Formula Legends Award

It was great to see Fernando Alonso get his hands on a good car again to remind us that he is a master of his craft.  While Ferrari, Merc and McLaren all started the year struggling, Aston Martin came out of the blocks with a well balanced car that Alonso took to 6 podiums in the first 8 races.  Unfortunately, Aston were not able to develop their package as quickly as the teams around them, but Alonso closed the year with an amazing battle with Perez for a podium in Brazil and then passed Yuki Tsunoda on the very last lap in Abu Dhabi for 7th to secure 4th overall in the drivers standings.  

The Ayrton Senna Foundation One Lap Wonder Award:

Sorry Max, The recipient of the ASFOLWA this year is Charles Leclerc. (pan to crowd and see a visibly shaken Max table).  Leclerc, by virtue of his 5 poles, gets the award for always being able to pull out an impressive flier when it counts.  In fact, if you look at pole positions as a whole, Red Bull only beat Ferrari by a score of 14-7.  

The Apprentice Team Chaos Award

Alpine, no surprise, wins the 2023 award for team chaos.  When Alpine CEO and F1 newbie Laurent Rossi went public with the manufacturers intention to be title contenders after 100 races, I’m sure there were more than a few smirks from their rivals up and down the pitlane.  Fast forward a couple of years and after losing Alpine reserve driver Oscar Piastri to McLaren and Alonso to Aston Martin, suddenly we were told that they may need 120 races.  It was clear from the beginning of this year that they were going to have a very difficult time matching the 4th in the constructors that they achieved in ‘22 and after both cars crashed out of solid points paying positions and ended up totalled against the turn 2 wall in Melbourne, Rossi lost it and called the team amateurish.  Needless to say, these comments didn’t go over well with the Renault board and within a few months Rossi was sacked, team principal Otmar Szafnauer was out, and sporting director Alan Premane, a 30+ year employee of the team dating back to the Benetton days, was sent packing as well.  In the end, Alpine finished a lonely 6th in the constructors championship with Gasly and Ocon each getting one podium.  

Final Thought:  Would Liberty Media and FOM just please allow this Andretti-Cadillac entry already?  In my opinion it’s a win all the way around.  If they are a complete disaster and only last 3-5 years, then you have collected their $200m and everyone gets to say, I told you so, and feel all high and mighty.  If they become a solid midpack team with a GM motor and an American driver, then they are adding real value to the TV/social media world.  And in some crazy scenario that they become title contenders with an America vs the world attitude, F1 views and clicks will get pushed into the stratosphere.  Let’s Make America Great Again!  

Happy Holidays

2023 Racing Season

F1 2023

Greetings Racefans!  Who is ready for some exciting Formula 1?  I know I am.  I can’t wait to see if Jos Verstappen can win the drivers championship, the constructors championship and the Indy 500.  It’s going to be awesome to see Lewis Hamilton in that silver Mercedes speed through the corners.  I’m predicting that Mr Hamilton wins his 3rd championship.  And what about Gunther Steiner?  That guy is crazy.  How many times is he going to say, “Fucking Hulkenberg!” this season?  Speaking of Fucking Hulkenberg, how does that German guy have a ride again while Danny is a spectator?  We all love Danny, so why no Danny at Haas?  Danny won in the McLaren and the Arrows, so why not the Haas?  I say, “Fuck you Steiner!”  Bring back Danny Ric.  Geez, I’m excited.  I mean, Binotto got his ass fired, so now we get to watch Freddy Vasseur making excuses for those morons in red who can’t decide what tires to use.  And what about Horner and Toto?  I say get those two guys on the track and let them battle it out!  My money is on the big old Austrian oida, even if Horner raced in 14 F3000 races across the 1997-98 seasons.  This is fun!  No one has asked me to write about F1 yet.  Now it’s time to talk Botttaasss Bitch……..

Okay, Okay I’m going to stop this right here.  I confess, I thought I could save a ton of time by enlisting a chatbot to write the season preview, but this is getting a little too sideways.  I attempted to download ChatGPT but didn’t have any luck so I instead went with the “other” chatbot. I think it’s safe to say the good folks over at Google need to stop gathering information from racing site comment sections and online forums and put a little more emphasis on old Autosport articles.  More Nigel Roebuck, less Indydude69.  That said, I am loving this little Chatbot’s style and I am intrigued with where he was going with Bottaasss.  But for something as important as the season preview, I figure I better take the reins back and provide some more restrained and hopefully insightful human thoughts as we embark upon another season.

So the 2023 world champion is……

First, before I crown the champion (hint- rhymes with wax), I need to mention a few tweaks that may slightly alter the status quo.  There are only a handful of people on this earth capable of understanding both the technical and legal rule books that govern F1, so I will try to briefly explain in layman’s terms:

-Porpoising sucks so the 2023 cars will incorporate higher floor edges and have a new set of diffuser rules to play with.

-Going against the traditional F1 ethos of “may the best team win” (again and again and again), there is a new balance of power, sliding scale allotment of wind tunnel and CFD time permitted based on finishing order in the past championship.  So, Williams, being last in the ‘22 championship, will be permitted the most wind tunnel time while Red Bull, due to finishing first, will be allowed the least amount of time in the windtunnel.  Time will tell if it makes a difference.

-There are new DRS zones being added and a few DRS zones being shortened. (Insert straight face emoji)  I wish the rules committee would do a more in depth study of the DRS zones at each circuit and come up with a solution that allows the cars to arrive at the braking zone at the exact same time, or introduce a defense button that can be deployed a few meters after the following car opens its wing so the lead car at least has a fighting chance.  This current DRS system is too easy!  And bring back V-10’s!

If the lone preseason 3-day test at the Bahrain international circuit is anything to go by, Red Bull appear to be a step ahead of Ferrari and Mercedes, Aston may become the new darlings of the midfield unless Alpine have something to say about that, and McLaren are in the shit, again!  The rest are fighting for scraps.   

For a little more in depth look, it’s time for a quick run through the field brought to you by Sunoco Fuel.

Red Bull – In ‘21 it came down to the Masi decision. In ‘22 you could argue that the cost cap breach gave Max the unfair advantage.  Will ‘23 be a straightforward Max walk in the park?  The simple answer is: Yes! The championship core is back together and I see no reason why Max won’t repeat as drivers champion.  They will have to overcome the aforementioned balance of power wind tunnel development disadvantage plus the 10% additional windtunnel reduction penalty due to the ‘21 cost cap breach, but this team is led by the most valuable player in the history of F1, Adrian Newey, and has an all time great behind the wheel.  At this point, these guys are racing into the history books.  Whether they repeat as constructors’ champions will come down to the man known as Checo. At the beginning of ‘22, it appeared that Perez had closed the gap to Max, but as the season progressed and Max was able to find the RB18’s sweet spot, Checo was left in the dust.  This season will be a huge opportunity for Perez to cement his legacy as a top flight driver.  Beating the two red and black cars will be no easy feat, so if Red Bull can pull off the double, Checo will be the unsung hero.

Ferrari – Ferrari, I love you.  But please, find a way to make that rubber last!  The Scuderia have a quick car, an ace in Leclerc and a very good second driver in Saniz, so now is the time to capitalize and win a bunch of races.  Mattia Binotto took the fall for last season’s endless parade of tactical errors, so it will be fascinating to see if they correct their issues under the new leadership of Fred Vasseur.  Mr Vasseur is a battle tested racing lifer, but he will need to have his loyal soldiers in the key spots before he can invoke real change in this tragicomedy.  F1 is always a better place when Ferrari are in the hunt so my dream is a three team battle royal with RBR and Mercedes.  

Mercedes – After 8 straight constructors titles, last year was a bit of a shock to see Mercedes mystified by the W13, but it was no surprise to see them keep digging and eventually win a race.  For ‘23, they will likely take over the primary role as Red Bull hunters, but it’s the battle for superiority within the team that should make for great drama.  There is no denying that Russell is a force, and the final tally last year read Russell 275 points (1 win) to Hamilton’s 240 points (no wins), but if you look a little closer I think Lewis still has the edge.  Like Max, Hamilton has that little bit of extra magic that only a small handful of people possess at the top of professional sport and I’m expecting to see a motivated champion fighting to prove that he’s still The Man.  His legacy is on the line.  Since his debut season in 2007, Hamilton has only been out-scored by a teammate 3 times. (Button 2011, Rosberg 2016, Russell 2022).  If Russell were to beat Lewis again this season in a straight fight, there would be a seismic shift within the team and Lewis would be looking at the end.  I don’t think he’s ready for the end.  Damn this is going to be good!

Alpine – France’s National F1 team seems to be a well managed outfit with two quick drivers, yet 4th in the championship seems to be their ceiling.  I just don’t see how this team will be capable of taking the fight to Red Bull, Mercedes or Ferrari anytime soon and car manufacturers typically run out of patience when shareholders start griping about cutting costs.  Andretti-Cadillac powered by Renault anyone?  Gone for ‘23 is the polarizing yet often brilliant Fernando Alonso and in his place is Pierre Gasly.  It will be interesting to see how Gasly performs now that he’s finally able to shed his Red Bull wings.  To add a little spice to the mix, word on the street is Gasly and Ocon are not the best of friends.  Two French drivers aiming for top dog status in a French team invokes feelings of passion, romance & violence.  To the winner goes the spoils, to the loser, death!  

McLaren – I think it’s common knowledge that Zak Brown is the best in the business at signing on sponsors, and he’s proven to be so adept at signing drivers that at one point late last year he had the following drivers on the books for McLaren’s F1 and Indycar teams: Lando Norris, Danny Ric, Oscar Piastri, Colton Herta, Pato O’Ward, Alex Palou, Alex Rossi, Felix Rosenqvist and lord knows who else?  He even has Kyle Larson signed to race for McLaren in the 2024 Indy 500.  But, the one area where he may be lacking is finding and employing the right minds to lead McLaren back to glory.  2022 was a pretty miserable year and now McLaren are squarely back in the Formula 1.5 category looking at a massive, seemingly insurmountable gap to the top 3 teams.   In Lando they have a proven driver who looks ready to graduate to a top flight team.  In Piastri they have a rookie with an impeccable junior career resume who is tipped to be big time.  I can’t wait for this battle.  If Piastri comes out of the gate quicker than Lando, then it’s safe to say that he’s a surefire future world champion and Lando will forever be stuck in the midfield.  So much is at stake. I guess that’s why they call it, “Drive to Survive.”

Alfa Romeo– For the next three years, this Swiss based team will be cruising around in the midfield while gearing up to transform into the mighty Audi works squad.  Look out world when that happens!  For now, let’s just enjoy Valtteri Bottas for all his Finnishness and his Chinese teammate Zhou.  An oddball pairing if there ever was, Bottas is still capable of a banger lap when the settings are to his liking.  He reminds me of Jarno Trulli:  Blindingly quick when everything is just right, very mediocre when things are not right.  I’m also expecting Zhou in year two to be solid and consistently quick.  Last year he may have had the worst reliability luck in the 20 car field so he had barely any points to show for it, but his qualifying head to head with Bottas was 8-14 so he’s definitely not a wanker.  Go Zhou.  A competitive Chinese driver in a works Audi F1 car sounds like money raining down into the Liberty coffers.  (Stock tip of the day: Liberty Media F1 Group – NASDAQ – Symbol: FWONA)

Aston Martin – Lawrence Stroll has told anyone willing to listen that he’s building up a war machine capable of world dominance, it’s just not ready to happen in 2023.  Call it supply chain and covid delays.  But by golly when he’s ready, he’s going to paint the world green.  In all honesty, taking on Alonso may lead to Lance’s downfall and a lot of door slamming in the team trailers, but I’m expecting the 41 year old Spanish wonder driver to be in the hunt for the mythical F1.5 drivers title, also known as 7th place.  Stroll Sr does seem to be assembling a solid crew of engineers and this team has a history of overperforming (think Checo winning in the pink Force India), so I’m expecting a significant jump up over last year’s disappointing 55 total constructors points.  

Haas – By doing the right thing and dumping Moneybags Mazespin and bringing back the loveable K-Mag, Haas immediately jumped back to respectability in ‘22 and had a few decent weekends to show for it.  As is almost customary, they came out of the gate fast (in Bahrain, MAG qualified P7 and SHU P12), but by the end of the year they were circulating at the back.  I know that F1 is bloody difficult, but they need to reevaluate the people in charge of in-season development and spend their money wisely.  Go Cost Cap!  For ‘23 Gunther has replaced the up and down Mick Schumacher with the hopefully reliable hands of Nico Hulkenberg.  The Hulk has always been a steady, quick driver in midfield cars so it will be interesting to see how he stacks up with Magnussen.  At 30 and 35 years of age respectively, these two will be the old dogs on the grid.  

Alpha Tauri – Arguably, the most amazing piece of information coming into the ‘23 season is that Yuki Tsunoda is getting a 3rd year to prove to this team, famous for firing its drivers, that he’s worthy of taking the Perez Red Bull seat in the next year or two.  I’m all for Yuki, but he must have friends in high places to keep Trump, I mean Tost, from uttering his favorite words: “You’re Fired!”  Paired with Yuki will be the intriguing Nyck de Vries.  It’s been a long and winding road for the ‘19 F2 champion and ‘21 FE champion, but de Vries brings a ton of knowledge of the inner workings at Mercedes and knows how to pedal a race car.  He should be a great asset to the RBR family and once again, this is likely a win or go home intersquad teammate battle.  You can say that F1 is boring on the track, but man it’s cutthroat and requires humans to dig deep.  I love it!

Williams– Is there anyone for Williams to beat this year?  Albon did a nice job hanging around the top 10 on multiple occasions last year looks to be in his prime, but can the team take the next step?  Just leaping the Haas and Alpha T teams would feel like winning the Super Bowl for the second most successful team in the sports history.  For those of you new to this, Williams has 9 constructors titles and 7 drivers titles!  But F1, like life, never stands still and now Williams find themselves at the back.  Hoping to avoid being at the very back of the grid will be American rookie Logan Sargeant.  Not an easy task, but LS has shown some flashes of speed in the junior categories and I think he will gain more respect than his predecessor, Nicolas Latifi.  That said, it will be a minor miracle if he can survive the next couple of seasons and earn a contract somewhere else up the grid. Go USA.  

Armed with that knowledge, now it’s time for some BOLD PREDICTIONS!

-Max achieves the unthinkable, essentially the equivalent of tossing a perfect game, and wins all 23 races.  And you might as well throw in 23 poles and 23 fastest laps. 

-F1 learns how fickle the American sporting public can be and sees its ratings plunge to pre Drive to Survive levels due to the predictability of the Max parade.  This causes most American companies to pull their sponsorship deals.  The tech bros also quit buying million dollar suites and the predominant appearance of the typical fan at the 2024 Miami GP is a shirtless male in a Speedo with crooked teeth, cigarette hanging out and a Fosters oil drum can in hand.  To compound this misery for Liberty and F1, the new Netflix series produced by the Drive to Survive folks about the PGA Tour turns golf into the next big thing.  Suddenly for $900,000, you can get a cabana hosted by Paris Hilton on the 18th fairway of the Phoenix Open with hot tubs, unlimited locally sourced organic food and beverage, a state of the art virtual golf simulator, a shaman, yoga mats, meditation chamber and of course, 5G wifi.  

-The FIA and F1 hold a press conference in Manhattan to announce the 11th and 12th teams to the grid and lo and behold, it’s Penske-Porsche and Ganassi-Honda.  Michael Andretti then makes a $1 billion dollar offer for Alpha Tauri but Helmet Marko counters back at $6 billion.  Sadly, some things aren’t meant to be.  

-Felipe Drugovich subs for the injured Lance Stroll in Bahrain and finishes an amazing 5th place.  Lance returns for Saudi Arabia and finishes 16th and one lap down.  Lawrence Stroll then shocks the paddock by sitting his son for the remainder of the year.  It’s not without personal repercussions as Mrs. Stroll files for divorce and claims that her settlement money from the split will go towards getting Lance back in F1.  

-One unlucky Dutch fan is killed and three others are hospitalized after ingesting too much orange smoke omitted from smoke bombs in the grandstands at Zandvoort while celebrating Max’s 3rd straight victory on home soil.

-One down and out team principle will become tabloid fodder after its revealed that following the Vegas GP, he hosted an all night coke fueled party in his suite attended by expensive call girls, wealthy degenerate gamblers and Ted Kravitz.

I’ve seen the future and I can tell you that the following will be your 2023 finishing order from top to bottom:

Verstappen – 15 wins

Perez – 2 wins

Hamilton – 3 wins

Leclerc – 2 wins

Russell – 1 win
















Here’s to hoping that my premonition of the Max Army painting the world orange doesn’t come to fruition and we are instead treated to a season long three team mega fight for the championship with the midfield only separated by a couple of tenths.  With 23 races on the books, that equates to something like 138 hours of sitting in front of the tube listening to the good folks at Sky Sports, so for the Love of God, make it exciting!  I wish I was going to be attending one of these 23 GP’s, but this new surge in popularity has made things difficult for the common fan and to be honest, I’ve seen the mountaintop and it ain’t Vegas or Miami.  

Don’t forget to support your local Indycar series.  This year is looking to be fantastic.

2022 Racing Season

The Latest Of The Late Recaps

(Editors note – I started this post way back in the year 2022, a few weeks after the Abu Dhabi finale, but struggled mightily to complete it. It was Nigel Mansell in the ’95 McLaren bad. Bad enough where I was wondering if I’m even capable of writing more than a text message ever again. However, with the realization that the ’23 season is now less than two weeks away, I’m experiencing a little charge of buzzard energy, so I wanted to float this out there for no reason before turning to a ’23 season preview.) 

So where were we?  Ah yes, when I last posted, we were heading into the ‘22 season summer break lamenting the woes of Leclerc and Ferrari.  By my inexact calculations, Leclerc and Max should have been about dead even if Ferrari (and Leclerc) had their shit together.  Unfortunately, for all fans of close competition, Red Bull managed to shed some weight from the RB18 over the summer break, thus allowing the genius engineers the freedom to shift some of the ballast around, thus dialing out the understeer that was hampering Max, thus freeing the Dutch prodigy to go out and decimate the rest of the field.  

BEV (Bulseyeview)™: I thought the summer break was a mandatory shutdown of all operations so the overworked employees could reintroduce themselves to their kids and unwind for a few days?  Why does it always seem like one team finds a few tenths over the break?  The FIA has the cost cap accounting police, so I think it’s time to start a summer break watchdog group aimed at preventing a team from gaining an unfair advantage.  If Red Bull can be fined millions and have their ‘23 windtunnel time reduced by 10% for giving the gang at the track a few too many ham sandwiches and giving the folks at the factory too many paid sick days, then we need penalties for summer break infractions.  My proposal is simple yet likely effective: If the appointed Summer Break Group hands down a guilty verdict to a team for engaging in unlawful performance enhancement work over the break, then said team will suffer the indignity of losing their right to bring their swanky paddock club pop up media/entertainment center to the next three races and will instead only be allotted one 20×20 pop up canopy tent, 30 folding chairs, two charcoal Webber grills and eight Coleman coolers to entertain their esteemed guests at the track.  That’s right, each guilty party is going back to 1980!

Moving along, there isn’t a whole lot else to say about the ‘22 season from Spa through the finale in Abu Dhabi.  Max dominated in a manner reminiscent of Schumacher in ‘04 and Vettel in 2013, surpassing the two German legends in the process to tally a record 15 wins for the year.*  Red Bull looked every part the perfect racing team, keeping their cost cap woes from affecting their on track performance and winning the constructors title by a whopping 205 points.  (For reference, Mercedes won the constructors titles by a larger margin in 2014,15,16,19 and 20). 

*Schumacher still has the best single season winning percentage, bagging 72% of the races (13 of 18) in ‘04 vs Max’s 68% clip in ‘22 (15 of 22).  And just because you are likely curious what Nigel Mansell did in ‘92, “Our Nige” won 9 of 16 for a 56% win ratio.  

So before I officially put the ‘22 season to rest, it is interesting to note that the one race where Mercedes suddenly found enough pace to be on equal footing with the Red Bull Team, the champions seemed to come apart at the seams.  The Brazilian GP had pretty much everything you can hope for over a GP weekend:

-A shock Magnussen pole after a 1 lap, slick track qualifying session.

-A Saturday sprint race where Red Bull selected the wrong compound and Max got slapped around by Russell, Sainz and Hamilton.

-A Sunday where Max and Lewis reverted back to their ‘21 ways’ and made contact fighting for the same patch of road in the lovely downhill Senna ‘S’ complex.  Both had their races compromised, Max took the penalty.

-A first time GP winner in Russell.

-A complete Red Bull late race meltdown where Max refused to allow Checo through in order to help his cause for securing P2 in the drivers championship, and then publicly scolded the team on the radio for even having the nerve to ask such a vile question.

Max:  “Don’t ask me again, I told you guys I have my reasons!”  

To which Checo replied over the public airwaves: “He showed who he really is.”

BEV (Bulseyeview)™:  Reasons??  Will we ever find out the official reasons?  The press ran with the story that it was retaliation for Checo’s questionable qualifying crash at Monaco which gave him pole and ruined Max’s flier.  But I’d like to dig a little deeper.  I’m thinking that rather than a specific ontrack moment that embittered the young king, it was more an accumulation of simple workplace issues that plague co-workers the world over.  I’m throwing darts here, but maybe Checo parked in Max’s spot at the factory on a rainy day, or farted in the simulator just before Max was due to get in the seat, or condescendingly pointed out that Max wasn’t pronouncing Acque Minerali correctly in a debriefing at Imola, or acted a little too happy after winning a Premier League bet, or grabbed the last coffee in the team center and didn’t tell anyone to make more.  It is the little things that eventually lead to a “I have my reasons!” outburst.

Whatever the reasons, Checo left Brazil all even with LeClerc rather than up 2pts, and then was beaten by the Ferrari ace in the finale to finish 3rd overall.  My hope is that someday it all comes out in the Checo biography titled, “Toro Furioso”.

Bring on ’23!

2022 Racing Season

99 Ways To Lose A Championship: The Charles Leclerc Story

With the F1 teams enjoying their much deserved summer break, I’m struggling to recall all the on track action and paddock drama that has taken place since FP1 in Bahrain, so in the name of posterity, I think it’s time for a quick recap.  Maybe it’s something about attempting to filter through thousands of bits of information on my phone daily, or aging into my 50’s, or contracting a nasty case of Covid that left me with a severe case of Mystery Brain in June, but man oh man, I’m feeling a little challenged upstairs these days.  


So with a little help from my friends Google and Wiki, let’s dive in.  


When I sat down and started thinking about the season to date, my intention wasn’t to write solely about the misery that Leclerc has suffered, but as you are about to see, it’s impossible to avoid.  Beating Max in a Red Bull is like defeating the computer in the final level of a video game, one mistake and you are toast! 


Bahrain: As the clock wound down to 0.00 to close out the first qualifying session at the Bahrain International Circuit, I was left sitting there in silence with my eyes as wide as saucers.  Finally, the mystery surrounding these new ground effect cars, multi years in the making, was laid bare to the rabid F1 public under the lights in the middle eastern desert.  Ferrari were quickest!  Leclerc was on pole with Sainz lining up 3rd.  Red Bull were right there with a P2 for Max and P4 for Checo.   Mercedes, the mighty 8-straight champion constructor, were 5th (HAM) and 9th (RUS) on the grid.  It was hard to believe that Toto’s Army weren’t sandbagging in testing, but the stopwatch never lies.  Valteri Bottas, dumped by Mercedes in favor of George Russell, was 6th for Alfa Romeo and lining up alongside his former teammate, Sir Lewis Hamilton. Kevin Magnussen, fresh off a year of banging around the USA in a 600hp Cadillac DPi, was 7th in a Haas.  Sadly, it was clear that Alpine, McLaren and Aston were still midfield teams.  No team had made the miracle leap like Brawn GP pulled off in 2009, when they discovered a genius loophole in the radical new regulations at the time.


The race the following day quickly proved that the new cars could follow each other more closely than the previous eight years without destroying their tires in the dirty air.  Hallelujah, the new regs worked!  And to prove this point, Max passed Leclerc three times for the lead into turn 1, only to be overtaken by Leclerc all three times with some beautiful DRS assisted moves in the next set of corners.  Somewhere Ross Brawn had a big smile on his face.  It was clean racing that didn’t have the same cutthroat sense of urgency that Max and Lewis exhibited just a few months prior.  As Leclerc cruised to an easy victory, he looked like his time was now and he was going to be the man to take the fight to Max for the ‘22 crown.  The Monagasque was feeling so good late in the race that he actually made a joke over the radio to the Ferrari pitwall that the engine was losing power!*  To help his cause even further, both Red Bulls ground to a halt in the final laps, handing Ferrari a 1-2 and a healthy head start in the championship races.  Mercedes, clearly suffering from a lack of pace, nevertheless finished 3-4, Magnussen was a brilliant 5th and Bottas brought it home in P6.  


*Could Leclerc’s multitude of issues be some sort of karmic retribution for his engine joke in Bahrain? 


Leclerc 26 – Max 0

(Leclerc 0 – Max -18)  I’m going to keep an approximate tally of points lost due to driver error, mechanical DNF, or team strategic blunders.  Sorry Ferrari! 


Saudi Arabia:  Oh Saudi Arabia.  Someone should make a full length movie about this weekend.  Where to start?  I know, how about terrorist missiles leveling a nearby Aaramco oil depot at some point during FP1.  Call me crazy, but if I’m a high profile athlete participating in an event where there are hostile missile strikes taking place 8 miles from the venue, I’m getting the F out of there.  Perhaps that’s just my narrow Western view of terrorism?  Are there subtle nuances when it comes to missile strikes? 


After that eventful Friday on track, the teams and drivers held a 4.5 hour meeting that went late into the night over whether the race weekend should be continued or not.  What I would have given to be a fly on the wall!  Hopefully Netflix got their cameras in there.  Here is my version of how it went down:


Saudi Race Security:  Gentlemen, I can assure you that you have nothing to fear.

Seb Vettel:  How can you be so sure?  We are talking about missiles 8 miles from the track.

Saudi Race Security:  In our part of the world, these are what we call friendly reminder missiles from the Houthi rebels.  They are not meant to harm people.

Lewis Hamilton:  What makes you think they won’t decide to launch an unfriendly attack?

Saudi Race Security:  Well Mr Hamilton, for one, the Houthi Rebels are actually big F1 fans after watching Drive to Survive.

Max:  That’s a bunch of BS and we all know it!

Saudi Race Security:  If you don’t believe me Mr Verstappen, would a cell phone call to rebels base make you feel more at ease?

Max:  Sure whatever


The phone rings 4 times and is answered on speaker:


Houthi Rebels Secret Base:  Hello?

Saudi Race Security:  Hi this is Eman at the grand prix circuit.  I have all of the teams and drivers on speaker.  They want reassurances that there will be no more missile strikes.

Houthi Rebels Secret Base:  Yes of course.  The strike earlier today was just a run of the mill friendly reminder missile.  We can’t wait to watch the GP on Sunday.  Is Estaban Ocon there?  He is my favorite driver.

Esteban Ocon: Hi Rebel Commander.  (grins all around)  I will have my people get you guys some signed hats.

Houthi Rebels Secret Base:  That would be much appreciated Mr Ocon.  

Saudi Race Security:  Any other questions?

Stefano Domenicalli:  Grazie Mille.  How do you say in English – The show must always take place! The race is on and I want to thank our promoters and the Houthi Rebels.

Saudi Race Security:  That is a most wise decision indeed Mr Domenicalli.


On Saturday, Sergio Perez drove an inch perfect lap around the blindingly quick street circuit to beat the Ferrari’s and claim his first ever pole position.  It was clear that with the new regs, Sergio had closed the gap to team leader Max.  


The following day produced one of the most entertaining GP’s I’ve ever watched in 41 years.  Checo converted his pole into the lead and looked to be controlling the race until he was Latified on lap 15.  Due to stopping just before the pace car came out, he was hosed and came out in 4th.  This set up a duel for the ages between Leclerc and Max that involved actually slowing down into the final corner to let the other car pass on purpose before the DRS detection line to thus gain the DRS advantage down the long front straight.  Lewis and Max very clumsily attempted this game a few months earlier during the inaugural Saudi race, but Leclerc and Max made it an art form.  I never thought I’d see an F1 race where the car in front moves over to let another pass (without silly team orders of course), but this game of “No, After You” played out multiple times over the final quarter of the race.   It was great stuff and in the end, Max came out victorious by just half a second over Leclerc. 


Leclerc 45 – Max 25

(Leclerc 0 – Max -18)


Australia:  F1 returned to Melbourne after a two year absence to a massive sold out crowd on a slightly revamped circuit.  Leclerc put in a masterful performance while his teammate took himself out on lap 1 with an out braking move reminiscent of a Skip Barber debutante fresh out of karting.  More importantly, Max suffered another mechanical DNF.  After 3 rounds, it was already looking like a Leclerc runaway.


Leclerc 71 – Max 25

(Leclerc 0 – Max -36)


Before I continue on with this recap, I need to bring up the early season buzzword for 2022:  Porpoising.  No, it’s not a dance move or a kinky sex act, but rather the word used to describe F1 cars bouncing up and down, sometimes violently, as the air directed underneath the floor builds up pressure and suddenly releases it.  Every team was suffering from porpoising to some degree with the new aero regulations, but none worse than Mercedes.  The Mercedes W13 looked downright miserable to drive.  How Hamilton and Russell could keep the car on the road while riding a bucking horse was a testament to their skill.  The Ferrari looked like a porpoise gone wild at Sea World on the straights, but seemed to settle when the drivers came off the throttle into the braking zones and remained calm for a smooth application of power mid corner.  The Red Bull, designed by that Newey character, looked to be the best of the field in the porpoising game.


San Marino:  Max took an unpopular slick track race win in front of the Tifosi while Leclerc made an unforced spin across the grass, but recovered to 6th.  The points deficit was still quite large, but maybe we were seeing a chink in Leclerc’s highly emotional psyche?


Leclerc 86 – Max 59

(Leclerc -7 – Max -36)

Miami:  The track that Netflix built hosted the inaugural Miami GP in the Dolphins stadium parking lot 30 mins from Miami.  Tickets sold out in minutes and folks were shelling out obscene dollars for the hospitality packages.  ESPN was covering the race like it was a Jan 1 Bowl Game and I think the drivers were honestly shocked with the love they were receiving in the states with the likes of LeBron James and Michael Jordan clamoring to be part of the scene.  The track itself was decent for a parking lot design, but it’s still a parking lot track with the turn 14-15 chicane ranking right up there with the worst corners ever created by man. (cool idea for a future coffee table book – Lamest street track corners ever, with big photos and comments from drivers and fans alike)  Road America anyone?  Max and Leclerc put on another entertaining battle for the sun drenched buzzards, with Max prevailing over the Ferrari ace.  Game on for the title.


Leclerc 104 – Max 85

(Leclerc -7 – Max -36)


Spain:  Leclerc had the race well in hand until the Ferrari suffered an engine failure.  Max took advantage of the Ferrari DNF to take the win.  This was only the first mechanical for Leclerc, but the alarm bells were now ringing full time in Maranello.  Max had already clawed back out of a deep hole to lead the drivers race, Red Bull were in the lead in the constructors battle, and the pressure was squarely on the Scuderia to capitalize on having the quickest car.  Behind this race at the front, George Russell was driving the wheels off that porpoise happy W13.  Over the first six races he had six top-5’s and two podiums, while his more decorated teammate was struggling to come to terms with a car not capable of winning. 


Leclerc 104 – Max 110

(Leclerc -32 – Max -36) 


Monaco:  Leclerc had his home GP under control on a wet track until Ferrari made a horrible tire strategy call, turning a win into a 4th place.  For once, someone other than Max was able to capitalize on the Ferrari blunder and Checo took a well deserved victory around the Principality.  I love Monaco, but this circuit looks like a kart track with these current F1 cars.  


Leclerc 116 – Max 125

(Leclerc -45 – Max -36)


Baku:  Leclerc was leading when, you guessed it, more engine failure and misery for Ferrari.  Max led home a RBR 1-2.  Russell beat Hamilton across the line in a Merc 3-4.  


Leclerc 116 – Max 150

(Leclerc -63 – Max -36)


Canada:  It was great to see Montreal back after a two year absence.  After a few too many power unit failures, Ferrari elected to replace Leclerc’s engine and he started at the back.  Sainz took up the lead Ferrari challenge and seemed to regain his lost form, but couldn’t find a way by the Red Bull in the long DRS zones and shaded the Dutchman across the line by just .9 of a second.  On the subject of back on form, Lewis Hamilton looked like Lewis Hamilton again and brought the W13 home in 3rd ahead of Russell in 4th.  Maybe he was finally getting fed up with the social media world having a field day with the 7 timer taking a beating from his younger teammate?   Leclerc may have had a shot at the podium but a slow tire stop cost him crucial track position as he was fighting through the field, and he had to settle for P5.  Long Live Circuit Gilles Villeneuve!


Leclerc 126 – Max 175

(Leclerc -63 – Max -36)


Silverstone:  After watching 6 of the first 9 races being run on temporary circuits, it was nice to see the cars back on a proper track in front of a sold out hard core crowd.  The race got off to an inauspicious start after Russell and Zhou tangled in the braking zone for the first corner and Zhou was launched into a barrel roll, miraculously coming to rest in the small gap between the tire barrier and the fence.  After a few tense minutes waiting, it was a big relief to see the Chinese rookie emerge unscathed.   When the race resumed Max found his way past pole-man Sainz and looked to have everything under control until a piece of Yuki Tsunoda’s bodywork got lodged in his floor, causing him to lose about a second per lap.  Suddenly, remarkably, it looked like Leclerc’s day, until it didn’t.   It’s almost hard to believe that I’m writing this, but yet again, Leclerc had control of the race until Ocon ground to halt on lap 39 of 52.  Inexplicably, Ferrari kept their lead man out while all behind him came in for fresh rubber for the final 13 lap shootout.  As expected, Leclerc was a sitting duck when they went green and was quickly pushed into second by Sainz.  Leclerc then engaged in an epic 3-way battle with Hamilton and Perez that was as good as F1 racing gets, highlighted by going side by side with Lewis around the outside of Copse flat out on old rubber.  Seeing three different makes fighting for the podium was my dream come true.  At the flag, it was cool to see Carlos Sainz become the 112th GP winner in his 150th start.  


Leclerc 138 – Max 181

(Leclerc -76 – Max -36)  note- I’m not docking points from Max for the bodywork in the floor job as I’m calling it just plain old bad luck, not human or machine error.  


Austria:  Leclerc passed Max three times in the race to take the victory.  Hamilton led home Russell in a Merc 3-4, the 3rd podium on the trot for the 7 timer.  Ferrari being Ferrari, Sainz ground to a halt while in contention for second place late in the race and Leclerc had a throttle issue in the closing stages that left everyone holding their breath and waiting for the worst.  It almost felt like a movie where the pilot is forced to land a hobbled plane while the control tower can only sit there and offer encouragement.  They don’t do things easily in Maranello.  


Leclerc 170 – Max 208

(Leclerc -76 – Max -36)


France:  I’m now becoming angry as I write this, but yes, Leclerc had the race under control until he flat out lost the rear end and spun into the tires.  Game and championship over!  Max led home a Mercedes 2-3 with the runner-up Hamilton earning a 4th straight podium.  After Leclerc offed himself, the Ferrari pitwall decided that Sainz needed a dose of shit strategy and magically turned a podium into 5th place.


Leclerc  170 – Max 233

(Leclerc -101 – Max -36)


Hungary:  Somebody make this stop!  Why Ferrari???  Leclerc was leading when Ferrari made the wrong tire choice, sending him out there on the hards when it was abundantly clear, even to people sitting in their living rooms, that the hards were the wrong choice.  Did they see the damn Alpines?  No surprise then that Leclerc dropped like a rock to finish 6th.  Max started 10th, did a 360 spin and still won.  Lewis yet again led Russell home in a Merc 2-3.  Somebody should really piss Lewis off and refer to him as Mr Podium when they resume racing at Spa next week.  


Leclerc 178 – Max 258

(Leclerc -118 – Max -36)


So here we are, sitting on the beach, sipping Corona’s and just livin’ the fine life.  If you do the math, in a perfect world we would be looking at approximately Leclerc 296 to Max 294 with nine rounds still to run.  Instead, Max will now have one long Orange Army victory parade before officially being crowned champion after the Abu Dhabi finale in November.  But there is still hope for intrigue and excitement.   With the pressure off, maybe Leclerc will rip off a nice win streak while Max encounters more reliability issues?  Maybe Mercedes finds the final few tenths needed to make this a mega three way fight?  We are bound to have one wet shocker.  One can hope.


I had initially planned to segue to the silly season right about now,  but I feel like I’ve taken up enough of your time.  You have links to click on and a buddy going on a political text rant.  I’m sure there is a fresh Paige Spirinac link begging for your attention.  That said, I’m already looking forward to the season ending recap to touch on Vettel, Alonso, Zak Brown, Piastri, Danny Ric, Vegas, Porsche, Audi, Andretti Autosport, and anything else that can and will happen between now and then.  This is F1 after all.  


Remember to support your local Indycar series.  We’re down to 3 races left with the 40+ year old duo of Will Power and Scott Dixon fighting to hold off these young whippersnappers.  Old guys rule!  Just don’t ask this old guy to recall the name of a person, place or thing. 

2022 Racing Season

F1 ’22 Preview

(Editors note- This piece was turned in for publishing before the author watched FP1 and FP2 for the upcoming Bahrain GP.  The author has already changed many of his opinions that you will read below, but is too lazy to edit the article.  Enjoy the Bulseyeviewpoints from 3/17/22!)


F1 2022 is coming like a Mercedes W12 in a slipstream with the DRS wide open.  The timing couldn’t be worse for this languorous blogger.  Lets’ just say that life has gotten in the way of a detailed analysis for the upcoming season, so this will instead be more like a freestyle rap. 


Speaking of rapping, I’d like my legal department to look into writing a F1 themed hip hop inspired Broadway play titled HAMILTON, LEWIS.  


First scene intro:

Have you heard about the man named Hamilton

He’s a 7 time F1 world champion

Signed by McLaren when he was ten

He was lured by Niki to drive the Benz…….. All right you get the gist.  I like it.  F-Netflix, we are going to Broadway baby!


So, what are we looking at for ‘22?  Other than the same power units, it’s basically a brand new formula.  Forget Hamilton-Larbalestier* and Max, ‘22 is the year of the engineer.  Which team has been able to interpret a brand new set of rules and produce a championship caliber car?  Nail this design out of the box and you will be in good shape for years to come.  Fail and it could spell doom.  (Jesus I feel like Will Buxton doing commentary on Drive to Survive.)  


(*Yes, Lewis is trying to change his name to Hamilton-Larbalestier)


Mercedes – Sidepods?  Who needs sidepods?  The W13 certainly wins the unique design concept award.  Both Hamilton-Larbalestier and Russell seemed to be struggling with the handling of this updated package in Bahrain, but look out when they go to low fuel and turn up the engine on Saturday.  Remember, it was just a few months back when Hamilton was driving by folks on the straight in Sao Paulo like they were driving stock cars.  And how about this driver pairing?  Incredible.  Lewis gunning for revenge and 8 titles, Russell poised to show the world that he’s one of the best.  So much at stake here.  Prediction – Russell gives Hamilton-Larbalestier a tougher time than Bottas and actually beats him on pace a couple of times, but the consistent brilliance of Lewis will be too much for Mr Saturday and Russell will be playing the role of Bottas by Silverstone.  Lewis P2, George P3.


Red Bull – World Champion Max Verstappen looks ready to defend his title and start rapidly climbing the pantheon of all time greats.  As brilliant as Max is though, Red Bull CTO Adrian Newey is even more decorated.  He’s got 10 constructors titles to prove it.  As I stated above, this is the year of the engineer, so look for Newey and gang to flex their prodigious brain power and produce a car capable of winning both the drivers and constructors titles.  The questions I have are 1. Can Red Bull improve upon the power unit without the might of Honda behind them and 2. Is Perez now fully comfortable and ready to outperform Russell to achieve both titles?  Prediction – Max beats Lewis to the title in another closely fought championship and Perez becomes more competitive, but Mercedes wins a 9th constructors title in a row.  Max P1, Perez P5.  


Ferrari – The Scuderia looked quick and reliable in testing so is this the miracle that the Tifosi have been hoping for?  Leclerc and Sainz are a class driver pairing and I’d like nothing more than seeing the red cars battling Merc and RBR for wins.  The more the merrier.   However, this isn’t the days of Schumi, Ross, Rory and Todt.  I have my doubts that this current management group could actually defeat Toto or Horner over the course of 20+ races when the pressure is ramped up, development is vital, and race strategy is crucial to ultimate success.  Prediction – Ferrari runs a closer 3rd and wins two races.  Leclerc P4 and Sainz P6.   


McLaren – The Woking crew were tough to read in testing.  Lando was quick in Barcelona but struggled with brake issues in Bahrain.  Danny Ric missed the second test with Covid so the lack of seat time could put him on the back foot to start the season.  Prediction – McLaren will start the year on a lonely 4th place island, but will eventually catch the red cars to make for some great racing.  Lando will continue to have the edge over D Ric in raw pace, but the new aero regs will allow Danny to show his wheel to wheel prowess again.  Danny got his shock win last year in Monza, this year Lando will pull off another shocker.  Lando P7, Danny P8.  


Alpine – I feel like this team is always one boardroom meeting away from getting axed by the Renault bean counters so the race is on to become relevant in F1 on Sundays and sell some damn Clio’s on Mondays.  They have brought in a whole new crew of management, some experienced such as team principal Otmar Szafnauer, but they have chosen to make F1 newcomer Laurent Rossi the CEO.  Will he survive to see ‘23?.   On the bright side, they have retained their excellent driver lineup of Alonso and Ocon.  Last year ALO had a rough start after being out of the cockpit for two years and nearly getting killed by a lady leaving the supermarket while training on the bike.  This year ALO hits the ground running and should be a midfield beast.  Ocon is also in his prime now and should keep the Spaniard honest.  Prediction – Alonso scores a couple of podiums and takes Danny Ric’s seat at McLaren.  Ocon does a solid job and is joined by Gasly in ‘23 to form the French super team.  ALO P9, Ocon P11.


Alpha Tauri – Our little team formerly known as Minardi is all grown up now and firmly ensconced in the midfield.  Gasly is an established vet who is going to extract the maximum from the car.  Yuki is still the great unknown.  Based on his performance last year, I’m shocked he made the cut for year two.  The Red Bull driver academy is notorious for being the equivalent of the TV show Survivor, so I’m wondering if Yuki’s people have some dirt on Franz Tost?  We’ll see.  Prediction: Gasly continues to impress and mix it up at the front of the midpack while Yuki improves, but ultimately loses his seat to Norwegian sensation Dennis Hauger for ‘23.  Gasly P10, Tsunoda P16.  


Aston Martin – Eventually Mr. Stroll’s investment in people and facilities will likely start paying dividends, but I think ‘22 will be another transition year for the team as they continue to load up on engineering talent and build a state of the art facility.  And let’s be honest, Vettel and Stroll aren’t going to get it done in this loaded midfield.  Prediction- Seb has a handful of nice days and a handful of Seb Spin moments while Lance drives around like The Green Ghost.  Will Sr ever fire Jr?  Vettel P12, Stroll P15  


Williams – The loss of Russell will likely be a huge blow for Williams.  Albon has some big shoes to fill and while Latifi is improving, he’s not the guy to lead you to the promised land.  So two average drivers in a small team with a brand new design.  Prediction:  Blahh.  Albon P19, Latifi P20


Alfa Romeo – For some reason I’m getting a feeling that Bottas is going to be one of the surprise performers of the year.  He’s got pace and now he will have an entire team backing him up as the number 1.  Give Bottas some confidence and he might be strutting around telling his critics to F-Off again.  For rookie teammate Zhou, the goal is to get the miles in, keep it off the walls and make sure that the Chinese Yuan are being wired to Switzerland on the 1st and 15th of each month.  Having Bottas as a measuring stick will be a great way to determine if Mr Zhou has a future in this business.  Prediction-  I’m seeing multiple Q3’s and the occasional 8-10th place finish among the Alpine’s and Alpha Tauri’s for Bottas while Zhou will be busy racing the Williams boys.  Bottas P13, Zhou P18


Haas- I’ll admit it, I hated the Mazespin-Shumacher Russian backed crap wagon that we saw last year and hoped that Haas was going to pull the plug to put this American project out of its misery.  However, Schumacher and K-Mag in a car capable of fighting in the midfield suddenly sounds pretty cool.  Well done Mr Haas for making a tough decision and making your team infinitely cooler.  Prediction – Schumacher won the F3 title in year two and the F2 title in year two so it’s a bit far-fetched to see this trend continue, but he’s going to impress.  Magnussen is going to have his hands full keeping up with Schumi Jr but it’s comforting to know that both of those cars will be given a proper thrashing.  Schumi P14, K-Mag P17


So there we have it.  If it’s anything close to ‘21 we are in for a real treat.   I can attest that F1 racing is still alive and well in the US after waiting for two hours to pre-order tickets to the Austin GP, only to get on the site and find out that the grandstands were completely sold out.  So there are now two USGP’s for ‘22 and both are already sold out.  Thanks a lot Netflix!  What’s next, an American entry with heavyweight backing and a fast American driver?  I feel like I’m being priced out of my neighborhood.  


Bold Predictions:

-Lewis starts slow, gets Covid again, loses motivation and gets clobbered by Russell.  Lewis then goes on a 3 month bender, adds 75lbs and shows up in ‘23 looking like a bloated washed up rock star with a bald head on top and dreads on the side.

– Lewis starts strong, clobbers Russell and George becomes an entitled little diva crying foul play and claiming the team likes Lewis better.  Toto sacks him after the summer break. 

-Putin decides to lob missiles at the track that replaces his personal Sochi GP, starting WWIII and ending the ‘22 season prematurely.  At the time of the bombings, Max was ahead of Lewis by 1pt and was declared the champion by the FIA.  In the midst of WWIII, the British again go bananas on social media and plan their own all British F1 series.  

-Ferrari win the first ten races and it’s then discovered that nothing on their car is legal, yet the stewards never flagged any issues.  

-The new race control group starts penalizing drivers for “aggressive behavior unbecoming of a gentleman behind the wheel” and hands out an average of 17 drive through penalties per race.  Magnussen is handed down the most drive throughs for the season and sets a record with 9 drive throughs in a single race.  

-Michael Andretti gets awarded the 11th team slot, pays the $200m entry fee, hires personnel, builds a factory out, leases a Renault powerplant, flies the equipment out to the first race, only to find that his investors were indicted for running a crypto pyramid scheme and were all behind bars.  Poor Colton Herta and Kyle Kirkwood never even get to leave the garage for FP1. 


Well Let’s Do This!

2021 Racing Season

F1 ’21 Recap!

Seeing that it’s already Jan 10, 2022, I think I’ve had enough time to process the final lap at Abu Dhabi on Dec 12, and I’m ready to comment on what was truly a remarkable season in so many ways.  But before discussing the Hollywood like ending that still has social media abuzz, I need to give thanks to the following for keeping me enthralled over 22 weekends during these bizarre times that we live in:


ESPN- Yes, I have many gripes with the direction of “The Sports Leader” these days, but their move, brokered by Liberty Media, to give us the Sky Sports feed has been a gift from the Gods.  Sure, Crofty’s broadcasting style in the commentary booth may not be for everyone, but the total presentation that we get week in and week out is superior to anything I’ve ever seen. Sorry Varsha, Hobbs and John Bisignano, you guys have been moved to #2.   


Mothers Car Care Products- Two and a half hours of add free coverage of a race is bonkers!  Do you remember cutting away from a great Schumacher-Hakkinen dice every 15 minutes to watch an ad for the Chia Pet or a local pizza parlor on Speed Channel in the 5:15 am west coast slot?  I’d resort to talking to myself and slapping my face just to survive the lulls in the action.  Having the privilege to watch a race unfold without interruption is a beautiful thing.  Mothers may be contributing to the demise of the planet by manufacturing and selling large quantities of hazardous chemicals, but by virtue of giving us ad free F1 races, they move back to carbon neutrality in my opinion.  Every serious fan in the US should go out and give someone the gift of Mothers car wax today.


Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton- It’s not everyday that you get to witness two competitors in sport take their craft to the next level and go toe to toe for an entire season, but we were just treated to watching the master in his prime fight the much younger, fully developed heir to his throne to essentially a draw.  Seriously, this is the stuff of legend that we humans have been enthralled with since the beginning of time.  In F1 lore, it’s extremely rare to have two drivers in different teams separate from the pack and have at it.  Senna vs Prost ‘90, Schumacher vs Hakkinen ‘98,  and Schumacher vs Alonso ‘06 are a few that come to mind, but I feel like Max and Lewis took the fight into a whole different realm this year.  I’ve said it many times that we were tragically robbed of the Senna vs Schumacher showdown that was brewing in ‘94, but I almost feel like this battle makes up for it.  Thank you and I hope for more in the years to come.  Don’t retire Lewis, Hollywood can wait!


And finally, I’d like to give thanks to……. Michael Masi.  Yes, even our beleaguered race director gets a shout out for giving us the gift of entertainment. (I can hear people slamming their phones down in anger.)  I can’t recall a season where the race director had to make more judgment calls and I certainly can’t say that I agree with all of the decisions handed down over the year, but if you put the three Abu Dhabi end of race scenarios that were available to Masi up on my TV screen and told me to pick one, I would have gone with the last lap shootout as well.  Finishing under yellow would have been a complete letdown.  Stopping the race for 25 minutes and then holding a brand new 5 lap GP on reds would have been amazing, but lord knows what would have happened when the lights went out.  Keep in mind, Max held the tie breaker if neither car finished so you can bet your Dutch baby pancakes that Max would have sent it immediately and more fireworks (and thus more race control decisions) would have been likely.  You can say that the one lap shootout with Max on reds while Lewis was sitting on 43-lap-old hards was unfair, but who says sports is always fair?  Max caught a lucky break and still had to pass a 7-time champion in a Mercedes on the road without the aid of DRS.  If anything, Lewis should have been thinking about defending the inside at turn 5.  Had he done so, with his insane Mercedes straight line speed, he likely could have held Max at bay to turn 10 and then made the car Alonso-style wide to bring it home in front.  I doubt that Lewis would ever admit it, but I’ll bet he’d like to have that last lap back.  Regardless of the outcome, Masi’s call had me on my knees yelling at the top of my lungs for the entire lap and about 15 minutes after the race had ended.  It was a brilliant way to end a brilliant season and I love seeing people bitching about a last lap pass to decide a championship.  


Here’s a Netflix pitch: take all the footage of Masi and race control over the season and make a two hour intense documentary climaxing with “The Decision”.  

Toto: “No No Mikey that is not right!”  

Masi: “Toto, we went motor racing.”


There were so many moments that made this season special that I could write a blog post as lengthy as a Tolstoy novel, but I realize that our collective capacity to concentrate has been wiped out by devices and my wife is starting to give me the look that brings upon feelings of guilt, so here is what I can pull out of my foggy brain after some deep meditation it in the woods:


Bahrain – This shit is on!  The opening race in Bahrain was proof that Max indeed could finally bring the fight to Lewis.  Mercedes gained Lewis track position into the final stint, but Max had newer rubber and was able to track the Mercedes down with a couple of laps remaining.  Rather than waiting for the DRS zone, Max made a late lunge around the outside of turn 4 and Lewis ran him wide and out of road.  Max had to back out of it and it was game 1 to Lewis.


San Marino – Lewis catches his big break.  After being forcefully passed by Max into the first corner, Lewis later skidded off the wet circuit into Tosa, where he damaged his wing, lost a lap, but miraculously was able to escape a huge sand trap and rejoin the fold.  Moments later, a red flag was brought out for a massive Bottas/Russell clash, and by the letter of the law, Lewis was able to get back on the lead lap, repair his car, and restart 9th.  Hamilton being Hamilton, he finished 2nd to Max.


Monaco – Heartbreak for Leclerc.  After stunning the paddock with a lap good enough for pole, Leclerc went for one more flyer that came to an abrupt end with the car waded up against the armco at the exit of the swimming pool complex.  This brought out the red flag, thus ending the session and handing pole to the Monegasque Ferrari driver.  The pressure was on the Scuderia mechanics to salvage the gearbox and rebuild the car piece by piece overnight, but their work was all for naught as the SF21 failed to complete the installation lap the next day.


Baku – Max looked set for a well deserved win until his left rear blew out at 200mph on the front straight with 5 laps to go.  The race was red flagged and restarted with Perez on pole and Lewis in second.  Uncharacteristically, Lewis selected the wrong brake mode button on the grid before the lights went out and had no brakes when he made his move to pass Perez into T1.  Out of the chaos emerged Perez for a well deserved win. (Interesting fact- Baku and Monza were the only races that neither Lewis or Max scored points)


Silverstone – A wild first lap between our two rivals ended with Max sliding backwards into the barriers at Copse at a high rate of speed.  Right from the start, Lewis looked to be on a mission in front of the home fans and when Max attempted to close the door into Copse, Hamilton kept his nose in it and punted the Red Bull.  Fortunately for Lewis, there was no significant damage to the car.  Race Control handed down a 10 second penalty for causing a collision, setting the stage for another Hamilton classic, as he clawed into a large Leclerc lead, passing the Ferrari a few laps from the checkered for the win.


Hungary – A week later, Bottas played the role of villain as he caused a first lap crash on the rain soaked track that took both Red Bulls and Norris out of contention.  Mercedes then completely botched Hamilton’s tire strategy, restarting him on slicks by himself while the rest of the field queued up in the pitlane on inters.  Unbelievably, once Hamilton boxed for tires, Ocon was the leader followed by Vettel.  Hamilton was carving massive amounts of time on the leaders and looked like a win was in the cards until he encountered Ocon’s teammate, one Fernando Alonso, who heroically kept the Mercedes at bay for 12 laps thus gifting the win to Ocon.  Alonso’s enthusiasm in parc ferme after the race for the team win was possibly my feel good moment of the year.  


Spa – Extreme wet weather led to a farcical 2 lap GP behind the pace car, awarding ½ points to the field.  Noteworthy was George Russell, who put in a blinding lap in the wet on Sat to qualify P2 behind Max.  This was the moment when you knew Russell was getting the Mercedes drive.


Zandvoort – The first annual Max, Max, Supermax GP didn’t disappoint with the Dutch army roaring through a haze of orange smoke while techno was blaring over the PA.  Max was unbeatable on the roller coaster circuit in the dunes and cemented his place in Dutch sporting history.


Monza – More fireworks between our rivals after Max made an over optimistic lunge around the outside of Hamilton into the T1-2 chicane and Lewis closed the door, leading to a frightening looking tangle with Red Bull coming to a rest on top of the Mercedes.  Danny Ric was unexpectedly on form in the McLaren and took the win, giving us yet another incredible feel good moment.


Russia – Lando Norris was on pole and looked like he was going to treat us to another improbable win until the skies opened up with a few laps to go.  Lando made the incredibly bold move to override the McLaren management’s call to box for inters and attempted to bring the car home on slicks.  Sadly, the gamble failed miserably.  Had he pulled it off, it would have been a drive for the ages so good on Lando for having a go.  


Austin – Max pulled out an impressive win on a track that Lewis has dominated, but what blew me away was the crowd size and rabid support on US soil.  This Netflix effect is a real thing!  As a lifelong junky who once basically shared a grandstand with my dad, his buddy, and five other dudes for the Friday morning free practice at the ‘90 Phoenix GP, this is still hard to adjust to.  Think about that for a second:  Senna, Prost, Piquet, Mansell, V12’s, V10’s, V8’s, Jean Alesi in the Tyrrell.  Jesus these poor people have no idea what they missed.  Have you ever seen those reaction YouTube clips where a guy listens to a song for the first time and goes a little nuts with excitement?  My dream is to park a few new fans in the seats next to me at the last corner of the Phoenix circuit and film their reactions the first time Senna nails the V12 Honda or Prost drops the hammer on the V12 Ferrari.  You may have cardiac arrest or a group hug or spontaneous breakdancing.  (Yes I’m still living in the past!)


Brazil – After looking like Max had a firm grasp on the championship by virtue of sweeping the USA-Mexico doubleheader, Mercedes rolled out a secret weapon that suddenly made Lewis unbeatable for the rest of the year.  What the hell did they discover?  After an assortment of penalties incurred throughout the weekend, Lewis started 10th but was still able to overhaul the Red Bull and take the victory after a spirited dice (and controversial no-call from race control) with Max.  The whole weekend was a Hamilton masterclass.


Saudi Arabia – The new street track constructed just days before the event was scheduled to take place looked wild on paper, but “wild” was replaced with straight up madness once they took to the track.  TV doesn’t do speed justice, but seeing 165mph corners against concrete walls with sparks showering behind the car was a spectacle that had me cringing more than a few times.  And then they raced and sure enough, it was part rugby scrum, part wonder as Hamilton and Max pushed their cars into another zone.  (Here is another Nexflix Doc – Jeddah, The Night Lewis and Max Left The Conscious World and Drove With The Gods).


Abu Dhabi – We know how this story ends.  Early no call favors Lewis, Max catches a huge break with the Latifi crash when it seemed that all hope was lost, leading to The Decision, followed by The Pass (and defense – don’t forget, Lewis had a big run into 10) and finally, Pandemonium.  


Damn, I’m exhausted just replaying all of this in my head.  Forget Netflix, I need to sit down to a proper 4 hour Duke vhs videotape review of the season narrated by the one and only Sir Peter Ustinov.  This is just too good! 

And finally, as they like to do in the Nascar and Indycar broadcasts, let’s do a Sunoco run through the field and heap praise or spew insults as I see fit.  (BTW, I still cringe every time I hear a pit announcer say, “And so and so has 4 new tires and is full of Sunoco fuel.)


Mercedes – Toto’s team is still undefeated as a constructor since the hybrid rules were introduced in 2014, so well done getting to 8 straight.  I think it’s safe to say this run makes them the best team in the sport’s 71 year history.  I felt that the Verstappen-Red Bull was probably the best combo over the full 22 races, but the car that Mercedes brought to Brazil and the subsequent final races was unbeatable.  Hamilton was amazing as always, and even though he lost the title, I almost feel like seeing how he performed under pressure against Max gives him even more respect.  Bottas showed his usual qualifying pace, but was not very productive on Sundays and was also cursed with the standard #2 driver bad luck.  (interesting fact – In their five seasons as teammates, Lewis had 50 wins and 42 poles to Bottas’s 10 wins and 20 poles)


Red Bull – RBR gave Max a car to fight the Mercedes and he delivered.  I wasn’t sure how he would handle the pressures of a title fight, but he now seems poised to add many more trophies to the family case.  (In case you are wondering, father Jos had 2 podiums in his career).  It’s scary to think that he’s only 24 and is already this complete.  That said, he certainly made it difficult for race control this season with his forceful driving when Hamilton was involved.  The instances where he forces himself up the inside to the apex and misses the racing line by a mile are a gray zone that will need to get sorted out.  But I can’t take anything away from Super Max, he’s amazing in that high rake Red Bull chassis.  Checo was the latest driver tossed into the RBR fire and while he won a race and won hearts with his awesome defense of Hamilton in the finale, let’s be honest here, he’s not in the same game as Max.  Maybe a year in the sim and new regulations will help close the gap, but I don’t think so.  (Is there a text chain with Perez, Albon, Gasly and Kvyat bitching about RBR?)


Ferrari – The Scuderia rebounded from a dismal 6th last year to finish a respectable 3rd this year.  Leclerc showed his speed with poles in Monaco and Baku, and nearly held on to win at Silverstone, but he was somewhat overshadowed by his newcomer teammate, Carlos Sainz, who ended up finishing 5th in the championship.  I think on their best days Leclerc is the quicker driver, but Sainz is rock solid and Leclerc may have lost some of his Max-like stature within the team.  Both drivers really pushed the car to the limit (and then some) and if Ferrari can get the new regs right, they have a formidable lineup.  


McLaren – Lando Norris continues to grow by leaps and bounds and this year he staked his claim as the teams number 1 driver for the future.  Danny Ric had his moment in the sun with the fabulous drive in Italy, but was often alarmingly slow in qualifying compared to his younger teammate.  If this form continues into next year, Zak Brown may have to take a look who is available. (How about an Aussie swap to Piastri, and Danny Ric joins O’Ward and Rosenqvist in the McLaren Indycar team? D Ric is made for America!)   


Alpine – Ocon got a win, Alonso got a podium, but it still has to be disheartening for the French factory squad not to be able to fight with McLaren and Ferrari.  Alonso took a little time getting back up to speed, but showed that he still has amazing race craft and that never say die attitude.  Ocon had days where he looks like he belongs in that young elite group of drivers, but the Frenchman suffered a bizarre early summer slump where he suddenly found himself at the back of the mid-pack for four consecutive races.  A chassis change seemed to rectify the issue and he finished strongly.  (Interesting fact, Alonso and Ocon tied 11-11 in qualifying, and 9-9 in classified finishes.)


AlphaTauri – Our little friends formally named Minardi continued to impress in ‘21.  Gasly was mighty impressive, especially in qualifying, with a 6.36 average grid position, but often struggled to keep the Ferrari’s and McLaren’s at bay in the race.  Yuki Tsonuda came out of the gate looking like the next Senna with a P2 in the first qualifying session of the year, and then sadly, resorted to looking like a rookie out of his depth for the next 20 races. But never fear, he did finish an impressive 4th in the season finale so look out ‘22. (That P2 in Q1 really did give me a moment where I thought the Japanese Senna had arrived. I have text messages out there to prove it.  Damn!!)


Aston Martin – There was a slight change to the aerodynamic regs for the start of ‘21 that hampered the lower rake cars such as the Mercedes and it’s clone, the Aston.  While we know how Merc quickly recovered, Team Stroll really struggled and dropped from 4th in ‘20 to 7th in ‘21.  Vettel is a great guy but his time as a top flight driver is over.  Sadly, his one moment in the sun, finishing 2nd in Hungary, was taken away after the car was found to have an insufficient fuel level to provide a sample.  (I’d like to see that explained after a race to a young AJ Foyt).  Lance Stroll was all but MIA in ‘21, finishing just ahead of Tsunoda in 13th.


Williams – In the year that Sir Frank Williams passed, it was nice to see George Russell, aka Mr. Saturday, put in some stellar qualifying efforts to keep the Williams name in the news.  Qualifying 2nd at Spa and 3rd at Sochi in the wet were reminders that George will be a force in a Mercedes.  Latifi, to his credit, seemed to close the gap to Russell and managed to outqualify him in Brazil.  More importantly, Latifi will now forever be known as the guy who crashed in the closing stages of Abu Dhabi, igniting a controversy that may lead to the modern equivalent of the 18th century Anglo-Dutch wars.  (I’m predicting the term “Getting Latified” becomes part of the racing lexicon in the years to come.  Example- Oscar Piastri post race interview in 2026:  “Yeah it’s a tough break.  I mean it looked like the win was ours until we got Latified there at the end.”)


Alfa Romeo – I feel like this team is almost invisible.  Kimi cruised around and called it quits.  Giovanazzi was driving for his F1 life and put in some really impressive qualifying performances in the second half of the season, but was often screwed over by the team due to poor strategy calls.


Haas – And then there was Haas.  The US owned, Russian funded team eschewed development in ‘21 in the name of survival for ‘22.  To complicate matters, they brought in two rookie drivers intent on showing the world their worth.  This resulted in Mick Schumacher leading the field with a season long crash damage bill reported to be $5.4m while Mazepin was aptly nicknamed, Mazespin.  Schumacher did outqualify Mazespin 20-2 and was likely given a pass within the paddock knowing the caliber of equipment he was working with.  Better luck next year. (Top 5 crash bill leaders:  Schumi Jr, Leclerc, Verstappen, Latifi, Bottas)

Well there you have it.  I can’t wait for it to all start again in two short months. 

2021 Racing Season

F1 Down To The Wire

And then there were six.  The final stretch to decide a champion is upon us.  Six races over eight weeks.  Lewis vs Max.  Mercedes vs Red Bull.  Time to brace the family for Crofty and his Sky Sports cohorts yelling in the living room throughout the weekend.  Netflix must be licking their chops.  This F1 season has been great theatre to date and the final act is guaranteed to have more plot twists than a season finale of ……..Dallas?  (I feel like I’m dating myself a little with that reference, but has anyone done it better?).  


So how is this going to shake out?  As I type, Max is sitting with a scant 6 point lead over Lewis, but the pace of the Mercedes at the last round in Turkey looked ominous.  Seeing that this is now my 40th year of being an unapologetic F1 junkie, I’m going to dip into my memory of championships past, and predict the future for you, the Bulseyeview reader.  


Austin – Lewis has dominated the US round at the bumpy Circuit of the America’s, winning five of eight races, and he will do so again next Sunday in front of a full house.  More importantly, this new free flowing, stress free Bottas, coming off a feel good win in Turkey, will hold Max at bay and bring home a 1-2 for Toto’s boys.  Max will be best of the rest and finish on the bottom step of the podium in 3rd. (Lewis fast lap)  


Points – Lewis 282.5 – Max 277.5  


Note – the last time we had half points awarded in a race during a championship, Niki Lauda defeated Alain Prost  in 1984, 72 – 71.5, due to the Monaco GP being called early because of extremely wet conditions.


Mexico – There is something about the Honda engine at 7,300 ft above sea level and Max on a circuit without a lot of rubber on the racing line that makes for an unbeatable combination.  Max strikes back with a resounding win to swing the championship back in his favor.  Perez, urged on by the boisterous home crowd, beats Bottas and follows Lewis home in 3rd.  The Ferrari boys have a P5-P6 weekend to close the gap to McLaren.  (Max fast lap)


Points – Max 303.5 – Lewis 299.5


Brazil – It wouldn’t be Brazil without chaos, so heading into turn 1, Lewis from p2 on the grid goes for a gap up the inside and Max turns in on the Mercedes.  Lewis makes contact with his right front to the left rear of Max, sending the Red Bull into a spin.  Lewis continues in p1, Max remarkably doesn’t get collected by the rest of the field and rejoins in the back.  Lewis incurs a 5sec penalty for his troubles.  It’s looking like a Mercedes 1 -2 until with 10 laps to go the skies open into a downpour.  Bottas immediately spins off.  Lewis ignores a call to come in for intermediates and does a two minute lap.  Out of nowhere, Carlos Sainz emerges through the spay and wins his first race.  Lewis recovers to p6, Max winds up p7.  (Lando fast lap)


Points – Max – 309.5 – Lewis 307.5


Qatar – The Losail GP in Qatar will be run under the lights on a high downforce, 16 turn track prone to having sand storms.  F1 has never raced here before, but this feels like a Red Bull type circuit with low grip and many slow to medium speed corners.  Lewis will be brilliant, but Max will control the pace and take the win on a circuit that is almost impossible to pass on.   Leclerc will be a surprise 3rd place for Ferrari, giving the Scuderia the constructors lead over McLaren. (Lewis fast lap)


Points:  Max – 334.5 – Lewis 326.5


Saudi Arabia – The Saudi street track is being worked on 24/7 to be completed in time for the Dec 3-5 weekend, but sadly, it will be discovered that the tarmac wasn’t finished properly and the F1 cars will tear the circuit to bits by Saturday FP3.  Think Dallas GP ‘84.  Race control will do everything in their power to make the race happen, but after 12 cars crash during a delayed Sunday morning qualifying attempt, the race will be cancelled.    


Points:  Max – 334.5 – Lewis 326.5


Abu Dhabi – So here we are, down to the final race to decide if Max will win a first title or Lewis will claim a record 8th world title.  The Yas Marina circuit has undergone a much needed facelift, opening up a few corners to make it a quicker track.  This favors Mercedes, and Hamilton and Bottas lock out the front row of the grid.  Max will start P3.  If they finish in this order, Lewis will be champion.  If Max can overtake Bottas, he will win the title by 1 point!  This is amazing.  As the lights go out, they get through T1 somewhat conservatively and fall into line as they qualified, Lewis, Bottas, Max.  It’s looking like the tires are holding up well so it’s going to be a 1 stopper.  Red Bull blink first and attempt to undercut Bottas near mid distance.  Mercedes cover the following lap and keep the Red Bull at bay, just.  Now Max will have to pass Bottas on the track to take the title.  Hamilton has checked out.  Max can get close, but the dirty air hurts his tires and the Mercedes has a HP advantage in the two DRS zones.  With 5 laps to go this is starting to feel like 2010 all over again when Alonso in the Ferrari couldn’t find a way past Vitaly Petrov in the Renault, handing the title to Vettel.  Max keeps the pressure on, but Bottas is resisting.  Will this go down as Bottas’s finest drive as a Mercedes driver?  The short answer, NO.  On the very last lap, Bottas runs wide in the second to last right hander, allowing Max to flick to the right and make a lunge in the final corner.  Bottas closes the door and the two collide.  It looks like a blatant move.  Bottas is out on the spot.  After what seems like an eternity, Max renters the track minus a left front wheel.  The injured Red Bull is crabbing and sparking as Max sees the waving checkered flag.  Max is 200 yards from the finish line and a world title when suddenly, the orange McLaren of Lando Norris accelerates beautifully off the last corner.  To complicate matters, Sergio Perez is tucked under his rear wing trying to take the position.  In a blur, Lando veers left and passes Max just before the line.  Perez hears the radio at the last second and slams the brakes to keep behind Max.  It’s pure confusion for a few seconds until it sinks in.  Lucky Lewis is champion again.  In the commentary booth, Crofty has lost the plot completely and DiResta is resorting to unintelligible Scottish slang.  For Max, it’s heartbreak.  He quickly unbuckles himself just over start finish and starts sprinting down the side of the live track back to the final corner to find Bottas.  The fine folks at Liberty Media and Netflix are beyond ecstatic.  On the pit wall stand, Horner is exchanging heated words with Toto.  Jos Verstappen and Helmut Marko are seen passing behind them on a scooter heading towards the scene of the crime both clutching what appear to be large socket wrenches.  It’s pure pandemonium as Hamilton brings his winning car into parc ferme.  The Brits in the grandstand across from the pits are going wild.  The Dutch army are chucking beers.  Lewis can’t get out of his car as he’s overcome with emotion…………   (Lewis fast lap)


Points:  Lewis 352.5 – Max 349.5


The Fallout


In the weeks following this insane finish to the ‘21 season, the FIA assumed the role of judge and jury and doled out some draconian penalties.


-For being judged to have intentionally taken out Max in Abu Dhabi, Bottas is fined $3m and is suspended for the first 3 rounds of the ‘22 championship.  Interestingly, new Alfa-Sauber team owner, Michael Andretti, drafts in his new Indycar driver, Romain Grosjean, to partner American rookie Colton Herta while the Finn serves his suspension.


-For running down a live track to confront Bottas, Max is fined $2m and is placed on triple probation.  Nobody really knows what triple probation is but it sounds serious.  For throwing punches directed at Bottas, Max is stripped of his 3rd place race points, thus giving Lewis a comfortable 352.5 to 334.5 final points tally.  


-It was confirmed by eye witnesses that local Yas Marina security officials were able to thwart Jos Verstappen and Dr Marko’s attempt to assault Valtteri Bottas, but local police requested to hold them over for questioning over the following days.  Somewhat mysteriously, presumably orchestrated by the top boss, Dietrich Mateschitz, the Verstappens and other RBR top officials reportedly arrived at a local airfield on Sunday night and departed on an unidentified jet to an unidentified location.


-Lost in the shuffle, Lando’s last lap gift of second place gives McLaren a 1 point edge over Ferrari for 3rd in the constructors championship.  Zak Brown is later spotted shirtless in the garage slamming Heinekens and chest bumping startled engineers.  


-On a personal note, after Netfilx air Drive to Survive Season 4 in March ‘22, being an F1 fan becomes all the rage, particularly in blue state America.  It takes a little prodding, but I decide to come out of the closet and tell the world my big secret.  Immediately, I find myself the man of the hour at cocktail parties and Sunday bbq’s.  Suddenly everyone from the mailman to the soccer moms at the park have an opinion on Danny Ric’s shortcomings in the McLaren   For the first time in my life, admitting that I’m a racing junkie doesn’t give the public the impression that I spend my Sundays tanking beers in a lazy boy chair watching Nascar for 5 hours.  It’s a little strange, but I enjoy my time in the sun.

2021 Racing Season

F1 2021

The 2021 season is upon us so it’s time to explore what awaits when the lights go out in Bahrain.  Will Hamilton drive off into the desert night and immediately stamp his authority on the championship, or is Max about to make this season one for the ages?  If the recent three day test in Bahrain is anything to go by, 2021 could be amazing.  Like any of the previous 40 years in which I’ve been a genuine card carrying hard core F1 fan, intrigue abounds up and down the grid.  Other than a proposed 10% reduction in downforce to the floor area in an attempt to slow the cars from achieving what seems like Mach 1 at corner entry, the ‘21 machines will be mostly updated versions of their 2020 designs.  Historically during times of stability in the rulebook often comes closer competition.  Yes, I recognize that we have a Mercedes problem, but I always approach March full of optimism.  Here then is a look at each team on the grid based on their 2020 finishing order.


Mercedes:  Nothing in life is certain except death, taxes and Mercedes hybrid powered cars winning F1 world titles, so I feel pretty certain that Lewis Hamilton will become the first 8-time champion in the illustrious history of the sport that began crowning a drivers champion in 1950.  It may not be the easy Sunday cruise that we’ve become accustomed to, but Lewis has been lobbying for more competition over the years, so his wishes may just come true.  Mercedes are just one of three teams bringing back the same driver lineup, so I’m not expecting any change in the pecking order.  Bottas is quick, but Lewis is slightly quicker and is superior when it comes to tire management and dealing with adverse conditions.  I see no reason why this duo won’t do the business of winning an 8th straight constructors title, but the elephant in the room will be the subject of drivers for ‘22.  George Russell is clearly lurking in the background after his stellar stand in performance for a Covid stricken Hamilton, so could this be the final hurrah for Lewis after prolonged off season contract negotiations only resulted in a one year deal?  Or will this be the last chance for Bottas to drive for arguably the greatest team ever assembled?  As the season progresses, if either driver is struggling, the calls for Russell will escalate which may just prove to be the undoing of this seemingly unbreakable juggernaut.  One can only hope!  For my money, I say cast them both aside and start ‘22 fresh with Max and Russell.  

(Quiz #1 – True or False:  Mercedes has more F1 wins than Williams.)


Red Bull:  Will this be the year that RBR produces a car that gives Max a fighting chance right out of the box?  Max was clearly the ‘21 “Battle In The Sand” testing champion, so we’ll see if it translates to early wins.  It’s become standard practice for the Mercedes factory to outclass the RBR factory over the winter, causing RBR to spend the year playing catch up.  Credit to RBR, they do a nice job of clawing back a few tenths over the course of a season, but it’s not a recipe to defeat Lewis Hamilton.  It must be so frustrating for Max, who I still firmly believe is in the all-time great class.  That said, I would love to see how Max would cope with the pressure that comes with fighting for a title.  Pressure can do funny things to people and Max seems like the fiery type, so it would make for a great human psychological study.  On the other side of the garage, a very interesting experiment is about to take place.  In the hope of bolstering Max’s chances to fight Mercedes, RBR have brought in Sergio Perez, a true master of the art of tire management, to essentially run a close 4th place and keep the undercut/overcut game in play for an entire race.  Perez is an excellent driver, but having only three days total in the car and then being told to stay within a few seconds of Max and the Mercs is a tall order.  I’m predicting that Checo adapts better than the previous two RBR academy drivers who were thrown into the fire and couldn’t take the heat, but I’m thinking his Sundays will be spent trying to keep the likes of Leclerc, Danny Ric, Alonso and Vettel at bay rather than finding a way past Bottas.  I hope he proves me wrong. 

(Quiz #2 – Who has more wins, Max or Gerhard Berger?)


McLaren:  I’m not sure why this iconic team seemed to hit rock bottom after their Honda engine fiasco, but credit to Zak Brown for righting the ship and bringing them back to the front of the grid.  Flush with an injection of cash from American based MSP Sports Capital, McLaren are the only team undergoing an engine manufacture change heading into the season as they reunite with Mercedes, so it will be fascinating to see how the McLaren-Mercedes-Ricciardo partnership comes together.  On paper it sounds like a podium threat.  For Ricciardo, it’s likely his final chance to show the world that he’s a title contender.   The move from Red Bull to Renault didn’t pan out, so it will be interesting to see if the move to McLaren is a step up or a lateral move.  I’ll be rooting for more McLaren-Mercedes magic, such as we witnessed in ‘98 & ‘99 when Mika Hakkinen won back to back titles.  Paired with Danny Ric will be Lando Norris entering year three, all with McLaren.  I feel like this is the year that Lando needs to show he’s a primetime player.  He definitely improved last year in comparison to then teammate Carlos Sainz, winning the qualifying battle 9-8 and scoring 97pts vs 105pts for Sainz.  But if Lando is to be considered a big contract guy in the coming years, he needs to assert himself and make life miserable for Danny Ric.  I’m seeing both cars making it to Q3 on a regular basis and fighting for the F1.5 title.  

(Quiz #3 – Who has the most starts in a McLaren F1 car?)


Aston Martin:  Talk about an amazing transformation.  Just a few months ago this very team had a pink car, a terrible name and a lead driver named Checo.  Now as they roll up their garage doors and reveal a car in a lovely shade of British racing green, they are known as Aston Martin Racing and are led by a driver with 53 wins and 4 world titles.  Does it get more Posh? Poor Otmar Szafnauer was replaced by James Bond and Tom Brady in launching the AMR21 that Lawrence Stroll hopes will make him a legitimate player in the exclusive F1 owners club.  Whatever the name, this is an excellent racing team and this is their first opportunity in years to show what they are capable of.  The question mark I have surrounds the strength of their driver pairing.  A happy Vettel is a quick Vettel, but he loses interest quickly when things don’t go his way and the unforced mistakes start piling up quickly.  Lance has proven that he’s a legitimate professional racing driver, but my guess is if the team principals were to hold a driver draft like you see in other professional sports, he would be picked in the bottom 6 of the 20 driver field.  I think a best case scenario is they find a setup that allows Vettel to chase 4th place finishes in the loaded midfield while Lance consistently comes home in the top ten and they retain 4th in the constructors championship.

(Quiz #4 –  Who had more podiums in 2020, Vettel or Stroll?) 


Alpine:  Similar to Racing Point, the Renault team have gone through a rebranding and are now calling themselves Alpine, bringing to mind some incredibly cool rally cars and Le Mans prototypes from the ‘60’s and 70’s.  Also returning to the team is the living legend, the only man to win a title for Renault, the one and only Ferando Alonso Diaz!  Will the 40 year old Alonso, two years removed from driving F1 cars, still be able to deliver the goods? My dream is for a mid-pack battle royal featuring Alonso, Leclerc, Danny Ric, Vettel and Sainz.  For Esteban Ocon, this will be the defining season of his young career.  Matched with Perez at Force India, he looked like a potential future world champion.  However, racing alongside Danny Ric last year at Renault after 1 season out of the cockpit, he looked very ordinary.  We know that Alonso historically has destroyed his teammates, so this will be Ocon’s big chance.  Succeed and he can be a national hero driving for the national team, fail and the calls for Pierre Gasly will be coming.  Overseeing this Gallic affair is none other than Davide Brivio, the man who oversaw Suzuki’s shock run to the MotoGP world title this past season.  It’s a very interesting personnel move that will be worth watching, as I imagine it takes a strong personality to keep that crew in line.  Flavio must be chuckling in a haze of cigarette smoke in his yacht somewhere off the coast of Portofino.  

(Quiz #5 – Name Alan Prost’s Renault teammate for the 1983 season) 


Ferrari:  For the sake of sport, let’s hope Ferrari doesn’t have a repeat of last season’s abhorrent 6th in the constructors championship.  Not only did they look like they were towing a parachute down the straights, the car also looked like a handful to drive.  It took all of Leclerc’s brilliance just to finish 8th in the points.  So what can we expect with the predecessor to the SF1000?  I think anything less than 3rd in the constructors championship has to be considered a failure considering the budget and strength of drivers.  On the subject of drivers, it will be fascinating to see if Sainz will be asked to play the Irvine, Rubens, Massa role in support of Leclerc.  It’s a formula that has worked well for the Scuderia in the past so Carlos may only have a handful of races to prove he’s a contender before being asked to take one for the team.   If this package doesn’t work, wow, I would love to be a fly on the wall in the offices of Maranello.  In the name of Gilles Villeneuve, risolvere immediatamente il problema! 

(Quiz #6 – Who has more wins for Ferrari: Massa or Rubens?)


Alpha Tauri:  It was pretty cool to see Helmut Marko’s infamous F1 driver finishing school win a race and legitimately join the midfield in ‘20.  Keep in mind, this is the same team that was once Minardi.  With Pierre Gasly returning they now find themselves in a bit of a conundrum.  It’s been well chronicled how he performed poorly alongside Max at the big brother Red Bull team, but he’s been amazing since returning to the junior squad.  So good that this small Italian based team won the Italian GP and finished just 24 points shy of Ferrari!  So what to do with Gasly?  I guess the answer will come from how well Perez performs and how well their juniors fare in F2 this year.  In keeping with tradition though, Marko fired Daniel Kvyat for about the 3rd time and is bringing in Honda protég Yuki Tsunoda.  Anyone who has been a follower of this blog dating back to the early days should have an idea of the reverence bestowed upon the Japanese F1 driver.  If you are just stumbling upon this site due to a Google search gone awry, welcome.  Nakajima, Katayama, Sato, Takagi, Kobayashi are names that occupy a special place in my pantheon of motorsports heroes.  I would like nothing more than to witness a Japanese driver win the world title. For Tsunoda in his rookie campaign, my goals are simply to keep it on the black stuff and beat the Williams, Alfa and Haas cars.  He only has four seasons of single seat racing under his belt, yet Trevor Carlin called him an expert at managing his rubber and a mega overtaker.  One final odd note is how full of praise Franz Tost has been about his new driver.  I was thinking this may have something to do with Red Bull negotiating to purchase the Honda powerplant IP, but maybe Tsunoda is The Chosen One?

(Quiz #7 – Who was Vettel’s Toro Rosso teammate in 2008)


Alfa Romeo:  On paper I love the idea of Kimi driving a Ferrari powered Alfa Romeo for eternity, but this team barely made a ripple on the championship last year, and I don’t see things changing much this year.  Alfa, as well as Haas, are basically Ferrari satellite teams so it’s odd that Kimi and Giovanazzi are back for a third year together, especially as Ferrari has F2 winners Callum Iliott and Robert Schwartzman on their payroll.  But like the other teams at the bottom of the grid, ‘21 is all about survival and starting fresh in ‘22 with a new car and budget cap.  

(Quiz #8 – Name the Alfa Romeo drivers in the 1981 Long Beach GP)


Haas:  I have to admit, seeing Team USA, the pride of Kannapolis, North Carolina, unveil their car in the colors of the Russian flag felt like some sort of prank.  Somewhere Ronald Reagan is rolling over in his grave.  But in the name of survival, it appears that owner Gene Haas has essentially handed over the team to Dmitry Mazepin, father of rookie driver Nikita, for the near term.  If anything, it will be exciting to watch Gunther Steiner try to manage two rookie drivers with a shit car.  I personally think that it would have made more sense to pair Schumacher with Kimi at Alfa and Giovanazzi with Mazepin at Haas (or should we just start calling the team Mazepin?), but this is Ferrari management at work after all.  I’m looking forward to seeing how Mick fares.  Unlike Russell and Leclerc, who won the F3 and F2 titles in succession, Mick achieved his two crowns over a 4 year period.  What does this mean?  In my opinion it shows that Mick may not possess his fathers brilliant car control and ability to whip anything into shape, but he does possess the Schumacher work ethic and determination that should lead to a successful career.  

(Quiz #9 – Name the two drivers not named Magnussen or Grosjean to start a race for Haas?)


Williams: At the bottom of the list is Williams, an iconic team with a great young driver, looking to find their way back to respectability.  Similar to McLaren, Williams found a US based investor in Dorilton Capital to purchase a majority stake in the team, setting the Grove based squad up for survival in the short term.  What this means remains to be seen, but it’s sort of sad to think that this day finally arrived for Sir Frank, who founded the team in 1977 with Patrick Head and went on to win 9 constructors and 7 drivers titles.  My hope is that Dorilton are a bunch of cocky Wall Street guys who really want to win, or they are just holding this investment with the goal of flipping to a VW or Porsche down the road for a nice profit.  Williams went 1-2 at my first ever GP, the ‘81 Long Beach Grand Prix, and I hope to see more wins in the future.   

(Interesting Fact:  No driver has won 2 world titles in a Williams.  Quiz #10:  Can you name the 7 previous champions?)


Random Thoughts:


Covid Watch:  It wouldn’t be 2021 without a Covid watch.  By my account, the following drivers have publicly stated that they have tested positive for Covid- Hamilton, Leclerc, Perez, Norris, Stroll and Gasly.  If my understanding of the virus is correct, they should be good to go.  Who will be next?  Does anyone remember back to the beginning of this mess when Helmut Marko was advocating for all Red Bull drivers to hold a camp to become infected?  Camp Covid!  It seemed insane but maybe he was on to something.  Nico Hulkenberg better keep his cell close and the jet fueled up.


Liberty Media keep talking about their desire to add more races in America, but while that seems like far-fetched talk, they are adding races in the racing crazed Middle East.  Less government red tape perhaps? I was reminded today that the penultimate round of the championship is a night street race in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.  It looks to be another Tilke special with the claim that it will be the fastest street track in the world.  I can see the title being decided when Max tries a lunge up the dusty inside of Hamilton and takes them both off.   At least we have Portimao back as a Covid filler!  


Will we get close to the 23 races scheduled on the calendar?  I’d be happy with a euro-centric repeat of last season’s schedule.  My hope is that we do see Zandvoort, Canada, Suzuka, Austin, and Sao Paulo back.  Please keep the Silverstone double header!


I mentioned the idea of a driver draft above, so I’m going to hold a quick draft.  I saw the ESPN F1 guys do this last year so it’s not a novel concept, but it’s just fun.  Here’s the story:  I’m a bitcoin billionaire many times over, I’m starting an F1 team with unlimited resources and I can hire any driver on the grid to drive my cars for this season.   Here are my picks:























So, there you have it.  It’s going to be a great year even if we are still in the middle of a global pandemic and Mercedes are simply too good.  This is F1 after all.  Where else do you get sport, soap opera, and an engineering arms race all thrown together on a global scale? F1 is a never ending saga and ‘21 will be another chapter in this fascinating story.  Go Yuki!


 Here are the answers to the quiz:

#1 -True (Merc 115, Williams 114)

#2 -Tie (10 each)

#3 -DCoulthard (150)

#4 -Stroll (2-1)

#5 -E. Cheever

#6 -Massa (11-9)

#7 -S. Bourdais

#8 -Andretti, Giacomelli

#9 -Guiterrez, P. Fittipaldi

#10 -JV, Hill, Prost, Nige, Piquet, Keke, Jones