With the second half of the F1 season fast approaching, the pressure is on for teams and their drivers to improve on their performances. While everyone faces some type of pressure, a handful of drivers could feel it most. Some of them are racing for their jobs, while others race for something greater. Either way, expect the Formula 1 news to focus on their fates at some point this season.
Drivers Racing Behind the Gun
Sergio Perez, Red Bull
The poster boy for the “hot seat” is Sergio “Checo” Perez. He may be second in the standings, but he’s underperformed given what he’s working with. And with a 125-point gap between him and Max Verstappen, he could have his pay cut due to a special stipulation in his contract. And if he does not close the gap, he could be replaced.
Perez finished on the podium in three of his last four races. But he’s also consistently struggled in qualifying and crashed out of the Monaco Grand Prix. On top of that, Perez has made unflattering comments regarding his team, his teammate, and himself. Thus, all the pressure is on him.
He’s still the sportsbook’s favorite to finish second, thanks to a 40-point lead over Fernando Alonso. But if Perez looks to get his money and secure his position with the team, he will have to finish stronger. At the least, he needs to cut the points gap.
Logan Sargeant, Williams
When you’ve scored a grand total of zero points, you will find yourself in the hot seat regardless of your status. Sargeant is a rookie, and most Formula 1 predictions did have him finishing in the bottom this year. But still, finishing in the bottom five in nine of 12 races is hard to overlook.
Sargeant should also be sweating seeing as how Nyck de Vries, a fellow rookie, quickly got axed by AlphaTauri. Daniel Ricciardo replaced de Vries, and there is speculation that Mick Schumacher could do the same to Sargeant unless he makes some improvements.
— PlanetF1 (@Planet_F1) August 13, 2023
The American will have to score some points and fast. He nearly did it during the British Grand Prix where he finished 11th. But other than that, his Las Vegas odds are not looking good.
Fernando Alonso, Aston Martin
While Alonso is in no danger of being fired, the pressure he faces has a face and a name: Lewis Hamilton. He has gone back and forth with his rival this season and currently holds a one-point edge in the standings. However, Alonso had a 24-point lead at some point. But he and Aston Martin have been left behind.
With Lance Stroll as his teammate, it will be mostly up to Alonso to carry the team in the standings. Aston Martin is now just five points ahead of Ferrari and 51 points behind Mercedes. Alonso has not finished higher than fifth in the last four races.
Meanwhile, Hamilton finished in the top four on top of having the fastest lap and finishing with points in the sprint in his last three. Alonso’s done everything he can to maximize his car’s capabilities. But the fact that he’ll finish behind his “old friend” again may cause him some restlessness.
Lando Norris, McLaren
Like Alonso, Norris is also at no risk of losing his seat with McLaren. After all, Norris has arguably been the second-best driver this season. He’s finished second twice in the last three races and has scored 69 of McLaren’s 103 points. So why is he on the “hot seat”?
It’s the emergence of his teammate, Oscar Piastri. While Norris has out-pointed him in every race, the fact that the Australian is just a rookie and already exceeding expectations could spell trouble in the future. Norris is McLaren’s main guy. But should Piastri keep getting better, this may be a case of the team siding with the “other” driver instead.
This friendly competition should further push Norris this season. He’ll be a sharp Formula 1 picks to keep finishing in the top six, at the least.