Five drivers battling for world championship glory in 'alternative' F1 2023 race
BREAKING NEWS: Red Bull have been excluded from the 2023 F1 World Championship, with all results from 2023 now null and void and the championship completely reshuffled.
This now means with six rounds to go, we have five drivers battling it out for the World Championship, and six actually mathematically able to claim the crown.
Even better, our top two drivers head into Qatar with only five points splitting them, with an epic battle set to occur for the World Championship.
Okay, not quite. That hasn’t actually happened. But, what if it did? What if in an alternative universe, Red Bull did not take part in this F1 season? Just what exactly would that scenario look like?
Well, today you’re about to find out.
(Photo by Formula1News.co.uk)
Heading into the Qatar Grand Prix this weekend, it was somewhat difficult to come up with my latest edition of ‘top 5 races’ from that respective round given we’re only in our second Qatar Grand Prix. So it’s time for something different.
With this scenario, I have completely excluded Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez from every race, meaning every win, podium, pole, fastest lap and point they have scored no longer exists. Sprint races have also been included in these results and points finishes.
After removing them from the results, I have then simply shuffled the field around to finishing positions that would reflect the removal of Red Bull from the Championship.
Of course, this is somewhat flawed, given that with no Red Bull drivers on the grid, we are unable to know how that would truly affect a weekend. For example, with a much different looking championship, how much would a certain driver be willing to risk something in a race with so much more on the line rather than a simple fourth place if that was say for a victory?
Many other things such as qualifying performance, fastest laps, penalties etc. have also not been taken into place when it say comes to one of these events occurring due to an incident with a Red Bull driver for example.
This is purely done on the basis of a fantasy world where we can remove the two most dominant cars from this season, and reshuffle the championship accordingly.
So, with all that in mind, let’s take a look at how the Driver’s Championship would look with six rounds remaining in a 2023 F1 grid without Red Bull:
1st – Fernando Alonso – 268pts 2nd – Lewis Hamilton – 263pts 3rd – Carlos Sainz Jr – 214pts 4th – Charles Leclerc – 196pts 5th – George Russell – 166pts 6th – Lando Norris – 159pts 7th – Oscar Piastri – 98pts 8th – Lance Stroll – 85pts 9th – Pierre Gasly – 76pts 10th – Esteban Ocon – 69pts 11th – Alexander Albon – 49pts 12th – Valtteri Bottas – 22pts 13th – Yuki Tsunoda – 19pts 14th – Nico Hulkenberg – 17pts 15th – Zhou Guanyu – 14pts 16th – Kevin Magnussen – 12pts 17th – Liam Lawson – 9pts 18th – Logan Sargeant – 3pts 19th – Nyck de Vries – 0pts = – Daniel Ricciardo – 0pts
Despite a recent drop in form, Fernando Alonso leads the drivers championship by five points over the incredibly consistent Lewis Hamilton, bringing some strong vibes from 2007. And behind them, both Ferrari drivers are still well and truly in the hunt, with George Russell and Lando Norris not out of it either. Add Oscar Piastri in with the mathematical chance still and you have one tight field.
A few notes of interest on this scenario. Alonso’s strong start to the season is reflected in him winning five of the first nine races, and finishing seconds in two of those other four he didn’t win. However despite a win in the Netherlands, his last three results have only yielded 12 points, giving hope to those behind him such as main rival Hamilton.
Of course in the real 2023 season, Hamilton has only appeared on the podium five times, with his best finish being second in Australia and Spain. Remove the Red Bulls however and Hamilton has claimed two wins (Australia and Spain) and a total of ten podiums, equal with Alonso, and his consistent form being one of only two drivers in this scenario to have finished in the points in every race would see him right in the hunt for his eighth world title.
Behind both of them though, things get interesting, with the topsy-turvy form guide of 2023 reflected in the other drivers still in the hunt.
(Photo by Michael Potts/BSR Agency/Getty Images)
Both Ferrari drivers have had a fairly consistent year, however a few off races have cost them in being closer to the leading two drivers.
In this alternative universe, Charles Leclerc would have actually won three races (Azerbaijan, Austria and Belgium) and been on the podium six times, compared to the three he has achieved in the real 2023 season. He also would be the clear leader for poles in 2023 (five) and narrowly be behind his more consistent overall teammate in Carlos Sainz Jr.
Of course Sainz would keep his win from Singapore being the only non-Red Bull driver to win a race in the real 2023, but would add Italy to his win list (with a famous 1-2 for Ferrari occurring with no Red Bull drivers in the race) and his strong run of consistent finishes seeing him join Hamilton as the only driver to claim points in every round.
For Russell, Norris and Piastri, it remains the missed chances that have cost them being closer in the points but still in the hunt.
Russell would’ve still gone winless in 2023 with no Red Bull drivers, but would’ve claimed four podiums in the alternative universe, three more than he has. However he would be very concerned about his fellow as Norris has shot into contention with his incredible form in the second half of the season.
Prior to the Austrian Grand Prix main race, Norris had scored only 24 points. He has since scored 135, including three wins to be the most in-form driver heading into the last six rounds.
Piastri too would be ruing the early poor form of McLaren, with only 15 points to his name up until the British Grand Prix. However he has since tallied 83 points, including three podiums and a pole position to stay in the mathematical hunt.
It would certainly make for a very entertaining end to the season as we would aim to see if long-time championship leader Alonso could hold on to his lead, or whether he would be overhauled by those behind him.
Before we touch on the constructors championship, a few other notable occurrences. Lance Stroll would be the only new podium getter in this scenario with a third place in Australia, a total of eight drivers would claim a pole position in 2023, three more than we have had in the real season (Piastri, Russell and Nico Hulkenberg all with a pole to their name) and every driver with the exception of Nyck de Vries and Daniel Ricciardo would’ve scored points, with Logan Sargeant breaking through in Bahrain and Britain for a total of three points.
With all that done, let’s end this by seeing how the constructors championship would look with six rounds remaining:
1st – Mercedes – 429pts 2nd – Ferrari – 410pts 3rd – Aston Martin – 353pts 4th – McLaren – 257pts 5th – Alpine – 145pts 6th – Williams – 52pts 7th – Alfa Romeo – 36pts 8th – Haas – 29pts 9th – AlphaTauri – 28pts
Another example of just how close things would be once you take Red Bull out of the equation, with Mercedes and Ferrari separated by only 19 points with six rounds remaining.
In fact in this scenario, five teams are in with a mathematical chance of winning with fifth-placed Alpine still technically able to win it.
With Red Bull having only lost one race all year, this is where the spread of wins is most fascinating.
Aston Martin would’ve claimed six wins (Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Miami, Monaco, Canada and Netherlands) all with Alonso, Ferrari with five (Azerbaijan, Austria, Belgium, Italy and Singapore), McLaren three (Britain, Hungary and Japan) all with Norris and Mercedes two (Australia and Canada) both with Hamilton, making it even more extraordinary that the team with the least amount of wins from those who have won races leads the constructors championship.
The lower teams also would’ve been a big benefactor over other minor points places with their total points claimed, with all four lowest ranked teams more than doubling their real 2023 total.
This incredibly fantasy based scenario showcases how tight the field has been outside of a certain two energy drink branded Austrian cars that have dominated, adding one level of excitement to the final six races and heading into a weekend that will all but certainly crown Max Verstappen as a three-time world champion.
So, who’s your pick for the alternative title? Can Alonso hold on to claim title number three? Will Hamilton remain Mr Consistent and take that eighth title that he narrowly missed in 2021? Can either Ferrari driver sneak over the line to bring Maranello their first world championship since 2007 or can the strong form of Norris pull a Bradbury and give McLaren their first title since 2008?
And in the constructors’ race, who will come out on top in the very tight battle between Mercedes, Ferrari, Aston Martin and McLaren? Or could Alpine pull off a great comeback?
Let me know in the thoughts below how you think it would turn out, and I’ll return with the final results after the season ends in November.
This article was originally written for The Roar. You can read the published version here