This season has certainly been…surprising. Mercedes, after 8 years of total domination, have not even taken a single win with 6 races to go in the season. Many expected Ferrari and Red Bull to stay competitive with each other, or even for Ferrari to run away with it (especially after Australia) but that did not happen.
A Charles Leclerc vs Max Verstappen fight that had been promised for years was expected to finally take place, but didn’t happen either. Instead, now Red Bull and Verstappen sit comfortably in the lead of the championship, with more than a 100 point cushion in each championship.
We got our first surprise right at the start of the season. Kevin Magnussen – after an year away from the sport, was invited to return to Haas following Nikita Mazepin’s sacking. And he delivered right in the first race, with a fantastic P5 finish for the team. There has been no shortage of surprises. Driver performances are no different, and fans have pitched in with their own opinions.
What F1 drivers have surprised fans the most?
Daniel Ricciardo was a very ‘popular’ (or unpopular, however you look at it) choice. After an year of struggling to adapt to the car and life at McLaren in 2021, many had expected Ricciardo to improve significantly, but that has not been the case, and he has once again, been beaten comprehensively by Lando Norris. Now he’s even lost his seat.
While Ricciardo is the negative choice in this situation, on the contrary, his teammate has definitely been a surprise. He has often times outqualified one Mercedes car, and is the only driver outside the top 3 teams to score a podium finish this year. As it stands, he leads the ‘best of the rest’ competition.
George Russell has also definitely been a surprise. While everyone expected him to perform well, no one had expected he would be so far ahead (in points) of his teammate. Russell has shown incredibly consistency, finishing in the top 5 in every race that he has finished, and proven his mettle against a seven-time world champion.
There were mixed opinions on drivers such as Valtteri Bottas and Mick Schumacher, with some thinking they have taken a great step, while some actually thought that they were disappointing. On the other hand, Alex Albon has often impressed by outdriving the car.
Charles Leclerc also seemed to have surprised a few, as he has been unable to take the final step in his development. Perhaps it is a mental thing, or perhaps it comes from him not being able to rely on Ferrari, as the team have often took missteps. Ex-Ferrari boss, Jean Todt felt the same way about him, and thought that he is still missing something.