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Brewster Bear Facts

The Official Newspaper Website of Brewster High School

Brewster Bear Facts

Formula 1 Recap – So Much Has Happened Since Last Time

Lewis Hamilton’s controversial move, Susie Wolf under scrutiny, and Australia race recap
Red Bull’s team trying to put out Verstappen’s right brake after it exploded at the Australian 2024 Grand Prix. (Courtney planetf1)

In Formula One, there is a fandom term coined “Silly Season.” It refers to the practice of drivers exchanging and campaigning for available spots in teams, typically taking place during the sports off-season. On February 1st, Lewis Hamilton made one of the most shocking team moves in years. Hamilton, the 39-year-old driver, has been driving for Mercedes for the last 9 years, having joined the team in 2013. He has won 6 world championships with Mercedes. When he announced his plans to end his close partnership with the team and join Ferrari in 2025 for a multi-year contract, many did not see it coming. Many believe that Hamilton is on track to pursue his 8th world championship and was dissatisfied with his prospects at Mercedes due to their performance during the 2022-2023 season.

Some also feel that this could be a picture-perfect ending to Hamilton’s long-standing career, as he was competing alongside Ferrari’s team principal Fred Vasseur in both F3 and F2 before moving forward to F1 with McLaren. Whatever the reasons Hamilton has for the move, there is no denying the impact it will have on many other teams currently occupying the grid. With Hamilton securing the second Ferrari seat for 2025 and Charles Leclerc extending his contract for the upcoming years, Carlos Sainz is left without a car for the next season. Many people seem to disagree with this decision since the only non-Red Bull wins have been achieved by Sainz while driving for Ferrari. Despite the grievances, fans are confident that Sainz will find a team to land with; however, with many grid positions open, the question remains which team that will be? Will Red Bull cut ties with Checo? Along with the question of Sainz place, the open Mercedes seat will also need to be filled. Will Alexander Albon get a chance of at redemption and take the open seat, or will a promising rookie from F2 grab the open space?

Despite Hamilton’s career change, Mercedes has had the media’s attention for the past few months and not for the right reasons. Early December, Susie Wolff, the wife of Toto Wolff the team principal for Mercedes and director of F1 Academy who hopes to pave the way for girls to enter the sport, was put under fire from the media and from the FIA and was placed under investigation. The FIA was made aware of claims that had been made by the Business F1 magazine that accused the Wolffs of sharing information from their respective employers. The magazine claimed that these concerns were brought to them from a fellow team principal, however, when this was released to the media in an unprecedented show of support, every team on the grid released a statement declaring support for the Wolffs, denying any involvement, and criticizing the reaction from the FIA as being inappropriate. Their statements were almost identical, all professing the same thoughts. Mercedes was extremely irate with the FIA as a spokesperson revealed that they had no prior knowledge of these accusations and the subsequent investigation before they released to the media. Susie Wolff took to Instagram to express her thoughts on the matter stating, “it is extremely disheartening that my integrity is being called into question in such a matter, especially when it seems to be rooted in intimidatory and misogynistic behavior, and focused on my marital status rather than my abilities.” She stated that she would not let “these baseless allegations overshadow my dedication and passion for F1 academy,” and has stuck to her word.

The FIA soon later dropped the claims less than 48 hours after releasing them, stating that they had been resolved, though many people speculated that they had never had any grounds in the first place despite a misinformed journalist. The FIA never issued an apology, and as of March 4th, Susie Wolff confirmed that she had filed a complaint with the French courts as a result of the treatment her and her husband received from the FIA in the prior year. She feels that, “it is important to stand up, call out improper behavior, and make sure people are held to account. Whilst some might think silence absolves them from responsibility – it does not.” The FIA is not facing the consequences of their hasty actions as the governing body is considered to be even more illegitimate and their decrees taken even less seriously than before. They burned many bridges with their actions within those 48 hours in December.

The most recent formula one race concluded on Sunday March 24th in Australia with many polarizing events leading up to and during the race. Leading up to the race, Alexander Albon of the Williams F1 team crashed his car beyond repair during his first practice session, and as the Williams team were more behind than others on the grid, they had no back up car for Albon to drive. This led to the difficult decisions to put Albon in the car that his teammate Logan Sargent had driven in the free practices despite the crash being sustained to his car. This decision was not taken lightly by team principal James Vowles stating that, “while Logan should not have to suffer from a mistake that he did not make, every race counts when the midfield is tighter than ever.” With Vowels under the belief that the difference between last in the championship and sixth coming down to one point, he prioritized his team’s best chance at a win which called for the switch of the two drivers as Albon has been outperforming his teammate. Logan Sargent called this one of the most “difficult moments in his career.” However, this decision did not come to fruition as Albon finished outside the points on Sunday.

Carlos Sainz, celebrating his win in Australia on the podium. (Courtney gettotext)

During the race, many unexpected events unfolded including the retirement of both cars under Mercedes. However, the most shocking event that unfolded was the retirement of Max Verstappen in the first few laps of the race. On lap two, Verstappen was passed by Carlos Sainz in the Ferrari which was enough to cause some confusion that was quickly replaced with alarm as he suffered catastrophic brake issues on the next lap. This caused him to pull over into the pit lane where his right rear brake exploded which subsequently knocked him out of the race for the first time in two years since being at this very same track in 2022. With Verstappen out and his fellow teammate all the way in the midfield, this left Ferrari and Mclaren to battle it out for top three for the first time in a long time. Charles Leclerec had an unsatisfying qualifying position, starting 4th on the grid did, and what he needed to do to keep up race pace with his teammate who was heading the front of the race. Carlos Sainz was leading the Grand Prix and earned first place which was that much more remarkable as he had just returned from surgery due to appendicitis. Ferrari ended up on top claiming both first and second position on the podium.

While the fight for the top positions raged on, Mercedes had developed their own issues throughout the race. Lewis Hamilton had to retire due to an engine failure during the 17th lap of the race. This left just his teammate George Russell to finish out the race for their team. However, when Fernado Alonso attempted to hold the British driver off from regaining sixth, he braked much earlier than normal which startled Russell and caused him to veer off to the barriers and turn his car on its side. This left Russell in the middle of the track and in a terrifying situation before the safety car could be called out. This also left the two drivers in not so great standing as Russell accused Alonso of unsafe driving which the stewards agreed with placing a 20 second penalty to his time. This could prove to be an issue for the drivers in the future as it has been rumored that Alonso is in contention to fill the second seat for Mercedes that is being left empty by Hamilton.

The season is just starting to truly kick off with it just completing its third Grand Prix of this year. Can’t wait to see the new strategies and plans that the teams bring to the Grand Prix’s from here on out.

Susie and Toto Wolff entering the paddock after the allegations. (Courtney © LAT Images)
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