Circuit to Screens

Elina K (Year 12), Chief Contributor

From Max Verstappen costumes at the Year 6 Disco, to overhearing chatter in class, there is no doubt that the Formula 1 fan presence has increasingly grown both globally and locally at William Clarke College.  

On home soil, the recent Australian Grand Prix, held in Albert Park Melbourne, broke the Australian sporting record with approximately 420,000 people in attendance over the weekend. Thanks to Netflix’s show, “Drive to Survive”, F1 has become increasingly accessible to fans, showing the driver’s life on and off the track.   

Regarded as the pinnacle of motorsport, F1 is the most exclusive and expensive sport globally, hosting only 20 drivers and 10 teams required to perform consistently across each of the 23 race weekends. With more race weekends than ever in the sports history, the championship battle is bound to be closer than ever before following heightened expectations from the 2021 season with the emergence of rivalry between 7-time world champion Lewis Hamilton and underdog Max Verstappen. This is giving way to the Mercedes and Red Bull war which appears to be in a stalemate due to Red Bull Racing’s sheer speed and Mercedes’s severely underperforming car, with Hamilton finishing 13th in the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix last month.  

The 2022 season has incited an evolution in the sport, being dubbed the “ground effect era”, with changes to car driving, racing, and design (specifically on the rear end) to promote closer racing throughout the field. This has been most effective in the lower midfield team, with Haas and Williams closing the gap to compete for points in the top 10, with all teams scoring points within the season’s first four races.  

This year, Ferrari are in the lead of the Drivers and Constructors Championship, outperforming Red Bull and Mercedes, who previously dominated in the turbo-hybrid era. Led by 24-year-old Monegasque golden boy Charles Leclerc, they are in title contention with their best performance following a decade of disappointment and the illegal engine scandal of 2019. But the question remains, can Ferrari win the world championship this year? With heavy pressures on drivers, Leclerc, and team-mate Carlos Sainz, from management and the Tifosi (Ferrari Fans), flaws have risen in Sainz’s performance with mistakes and bad luck culminating in finishing only two out of the four races this season. Small hiccups from Leclerc have resulted in Max Verstappen winning both Imola and the inaugural Miami GP, but Leclerc leads with 19 points.  

Similar pressures have been placed on Australian favourite Daniel Ricciardo following his heavily criticised departure from Red Bull in 2019. Now part of the Mclaren Racing Team, Ricciardo finished the 2021 season on 115 points and a race win with a strong 2022 season forecast. However, teammate Lando Norris’s pace and consistency this season has allowed him to consistently outperform Ricciardo.  

With six months and 17 more races left in the season, the wheel to wheel battles are bound to be closer than before between 2022 protagonists Leclerc and Verstappen, and Ricciardo’s recovery is hopeful amongst Australians and F1 supporters.