With an assist from OpenAI’s lovable and nefarious artificial intelligence, the Boardroom Turbo Hybrid Roundtable boldly and unapologetically sets the stage for the 2023 F1 season.
Folks, we’re through driving just to survive. Honestly, did that even sound like any fun to begin with? We want not simply survival, but the vroom-vroominest kind of self-actualization offered on four wheels.
Fortunately, the return of Formula 1 auto racing for 2023 presents an attractive cure for our ills. No more offseason recriminations — it’s time to deploy the proverbial DRS wing and scream down some rhetorical straightaways to issue the most unvarnished, stripped-down-to-the-chrome F1 predictions, recommendations, and half-baked ideas for the richest, most fascinating racing competition on earthplanet.
To do so, we didn’t just convene our first-ever TURBO HYBRID ROUNDTABLE — Vinciane Ngomsi, Shlomo Sprung, and Sam Dunn — but additionally recruited the services of a reserve driver in the form of ChatGPT, the adorable A.I. construct that may one day enslave and/or destroy us all, in order to satisfy several queries:
- Who’s the biggest threat to Max Verstappen this year, and which driver or team will make the biggest leap?
- Who’s the most overvalued and undervalued driver in FanDuel’s championship odds?
- What’s a country/city that WILL have an F1 race in the next several years, and what’s a country/city that SHOULD have one?
- Which NBA/NFL/MLB/soccer player would be the best F1 driver and why?
- Pick at least one: (1) Propose one Mario Kart rule that F1 should adopt. (2) Invent the best possible dramatic story arc for next season of Drive to Survive.
Let’s get right to the sweet, sweet F1 predictions, budget cap be damned.
Who’s the biggest threat to Max Verstappen, and which driver or team makes the biggest leap?
VINCIANE NGOMSI: Let’s get this out of the way: Until he formally walks away from pro motorsport racing, Lewis Hamilton is my favorite driver, so naturally I want him to challenge Verstappen for the title. Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem probable. In the spirit of being realistic, I truthfully believe Charles Leclerc could take down the racing Dutchman.
The 25-year-old recorded a career-best second-placed finish to Verstappen last year, though a combination of outliers prevented him from seriously challenging for the title. It’s too early to tell whether Ferrari’s thirst for victory is serious, but Leclrec’s competitiveness will hopefully be the difference maker.
SHLOMO SPRUNG: The biggest threat will still be Charles Leclerc, assuming Ferrari still has the second-best car — but if Mercedes figures things out this season, Lewis Hamilton still has that dog in him to take his crown back from Mad Max.
SAM DUNN: It’s Ferrari or Mercedes, specifically Leclerc or Lewis Hamilton. I simply can’t fathom anyone else having the pace. But as things stand, picking against Max Verstappen is something you’re (read: I’m) only doing to be annoying.
As for a breakout driver, give me Oscar Piastri (as much as I’m dying to go full-on homer for Logan Sargeant). The McLaren tangerine might be a lemon this year, but we saw what it was capable of under the able hand of Lando Norris a year ago, and the Aussie very much looks the part of one of motorsport’s ascendant young talents.
Breakout team? Aston Martin. The buzz about their car actually having legit pace this year (!) sure appears to be real, and Fernando Alonso remains a gamer despite his status as F1’s eldest statesman.
ChatGPT: Lewis Hamilton, a seven-time Formula 1 world champion, has a compelling chance to overtake Max Verstappen for the world championship. Hamilton has consistently been one of the top drivers in the sport and has a proven track record of winning championships. He is also driving for Mercedes, which has been one of the most dominant teams in recent years. With his experience, skill, and the resources of his team, Hamilton is definitely a strong contender for the championship. However, the outcome of the championship depends on many factors, including the performance of the teams and drivers in each race, so it is difficult to predict with certainty who will come out on top.
Who’s the most overvalued and undervalued driver in FanDuel’s championship odds?
SS: Betting odds don’t have enough love for our boy Checo out here! Sergio Perez has the sixth-best odds at +1900 while Fernando Alonso is +1000. Not to disrespect Alo’s accomplishments, but his last F1 race win was 10 years ago.
SD: Agreed, Alonso is technically overvalued until he proves over the course of several races that he’s firmly in the mix. Meanwhile, George Russell at +1800 doesn’t track given how much more command he had over last year’s uncharacteristically unruly Silver Arrow than Hamilton by comparison.
VN: Purely looking at his odds ahead of Grand Prix races and then his finishes last year, perhaps the most overvalued driver is Carlos Sainz (+3100). He has potential to be Ferrari’s dark (prancing) horse, but I’ll wait until we are a few races in to eat my words.
As for undervalued, I believe that title belongs to George Russell. He won Mercedes’ only race of the 2022 campaign, the Sao Paulo Grand Prix. Keep in mind that he also outperformed Hamilton, making him only the third teammate in 16 seasons to finish ahead of the knighted Englishman in the Drivers’ Championship. I wouldn’t say he’s under pressure, but he’s a dark horse to watch out for.
ChatGPT: One driver who is sometimes considered overrated is Lance Stroll. Stroll is a Canadian driver who currently races for Aston Martin (formerly known as Racing Point). He made his debut in F1 in 2017 with Williams and moved to Racing Point in 2019. While Stroll has shown flashes of potential, including a podium finish in the chaotic 2020 Italian Grand Prix, he has also been criticized for his inconsistency and for benefiting from his father’s wealth and influence in the sport.
On the other hand, one driver who is sometimes considered underrated is Carlos Sainz Jr. Sainz is a Spanish driver who has raced for several teams, including Toro Rosso, Renault, and McLaren. Despite consistently performing at a high level and earning praise from his peers, Sainz has never been in contention for a championship and has often been overshadowed by more high-profile teammates. However, his strong performances have earned him a seat at Ferrari for the 2021 season and beyond, which could be a chance for him to prove his worth at one of F1’s most prestigious teams.
What’s a country/city that WILL host a Grand Prix in the next several years? What’s a country/city that SHOULD have one?
SD: F1 will return to the African continent in some capacity. Maybe Marrakesh, or perhaps somewhere in Ghana.
If I’m picking a place that would host a Grand Prix in a perfect world, give me San Francisco.
VN: A country or city that will have an F1 race will be either Colombia or South Korea. South America is home to some beautiful landscapes and architecture, I for one would appreciate another race there to highlight the continent’s culture. The responsibility can’t just fall on Brazil.
It’s honestly shocking South Africa doesn’t have an F1 race already. There was a South African Grand Prix from 1965 to 1985, though the 1996 and 1981 races did not count toward the title. FIA suspended the race due to apartheid, and it was brought back for 1992 and 1993 once it ended. Establishing a new Grand Prix would be a hassle, but absolutely worth it considering how lucrative F1 has been and will only become.
SS: I could definitely see F1 going back to Germany and the legendary Nurburgring track, but as George Russell told me in our interview in November in Vegas, he’d love for Africa to get a track so F1 could race in every continent aside from Antarctica. Let’s get South Africa back in the mix.
ChatGPT: Other cities and countries that have been mentioned as potential hosts for new F1 races include Rio de Janeiro in Brazil, Johannesburg in South Africa, and Doha in Qatar. However, any new additions to the calendar would need to meet F1’s strict standards for safety, infrastructure, and financial viability.
Which athlete from another sport would make the best F1 driver?
VN: Because he strikes me as someone who has a need for speed embedded in him, the first person that comes to mind is Giannis Antetokounmpo. His height might be at a disadvantage, but he makes up for it in competitive spirit.
SS: True, but the problem with most superstars from other sports is that they’re too tall for F1. Verstappen is 5-foot-11, while Hamilton is 5-foot-9. Luckily, Mookie Betts is also 5-foot-9 with the energy, drive, determination, and athleticism to thrive in racing if given time to acclimate. He’s an amazing baseball player and bowler. Why not motorsports too?
SD: Allen Iverson can do all things. It is known.
If we’re talking only athletes currently in their primes, chalk me up for the USWNT’s Mallory Swanson. They don’t teach hot streaks like that at the Red Bull driver academy.
ChatGPT: One athlete from another sport who could be an intriguing prospect as a Formula 1 racing driver is Usain Bolt, the retired Jamaican sprinter and world record holder in the 100m and 200m events. Bolt is known for his incredible speed, agility, and mental toughness, which are all important qualities for a racing driver.
In addition, Bolt has expressed interest in motorsports in the past and has even driven a Formula 1 car in demonstration events. He has also been a brand ambassador for Puma, which has sponsored several F1 teams and drivers over the years.
Of course, becoming a successful F1 driver requires more than just raw talent and physical abilities. It also requires years of training and experience, as well as the ability to work effectively with a team and make split-second decisions under pressure. However, Bolt’s combination of natural athleticism and enthusiasm for motorsports could make him an intriguing prospect for a team looking to shake up the grid.
Take your pick: (1) Propose a Mario Kart rule F1 should adopt, or (2) Invent the best dramatic story arc for the next season of Drive to Survive.
SS: Red shells and banana peels may be too dangerous in the real world, but perhaps there’s some jet propulsion technology that could allow drivers a turbo boost at some point. But perhaps the most realistic Mario Kart rule would be some version of going through the question marks and have some random board game-esque prompt the drivers would have to abide by, like a 10-second penalty, the ability to move up a few spots following a caution, or getting to choose which driver has to pit. Let’s get crazy!
SD: Obviously the lightning bolt that makes everyone but you really, really small. But honestly, mechanics that gave you superior perks/bonuses when you’re towards the back of the pack rather than in front is a generally cool concept if the goal is to make the racing more competitive and exciting. Expanded tire allotment. Relaxed DRS rules. Switching your human driver out for a plumber or a dinosaur. Possibilities abound.
Regarding next year’s Drive to Survive, I need a conspiracy to be unearthed that Haas team principal Guenther Steiner has been taking rival bosses out on Sideways-esque vineyard tours one by one to poison either their thoughts or their physical bodies — probably with microdoses of arsenic or ricin or a polonium isotope, but I’m just spitballing — so as to get them shitcanned or otherwise out of the picture. Look what happened to Mattia Binotto and tell me this isn’t 100% happening.
VN: I certainly don’t want to manifest anything, but should he decide that 2024 is his final season competing, Season 6 of Drive to Survive paying homage only to Lewis Hamilton would be epic.
ChatGPT: The season begins with all eyes on Red Bull’s Max Verstappen, who is widely expected to challenge Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton for the championship. Verstappen starts off strong, winning the first few races of the season and building up a sizable lead in the standings. However, his aggressive driving style begins to draw criticism from other drivers and team principals, who accuse him of being reckless and endangering other drivers on the track.
Meanwhile, Hamilton is struggling to keep up with Verstappen and his Red Bull teammate Sergio Perez. He’s also dealing with personal issues off the track, including a high-profile breakup and a public dispute with the FIA over his participation in an anti-racism campaign. As the season progresses, tensions between Hamilton and his Mercedes team begin to boil over, with rumors of internal conflict and disagreements over strategy.
As the championship race heats up, a dark horse emerges in the form of McLaren’s Lando Norris. The young British driver has been steadily improving throughout the season, and his impressive performances catch the attention of F1 fans and media around the world. With a string of podium finishes, Norris begins to close in on Verstappen and Hamilton in the standings, setting up a thrilling three-way battle for the championship.
In the final race of the season, tensions come to a head as Verstappen and Hamilton collide on the first lap, knocking both drivers out of contention. With the championship within reach, Norris must fend off a determined Perez and a resurgent Hamilton, who has managed to claw his way back into contention. In a nail-biting finale, Norris holds off his rivals to become the youngest F1 world champion in history, cementing his status as one of the sport’s rising stars.
Along the way, the season is also marked by behind-the-scenes drama, including team politics, driver rivalries, and personal struggles. We see glimpses of life off the track, including the challenges of maintaining relationships and dealing with the pressures of fame and fortune. And as always, the show is packed with stunning visuals, pulse-pounding racing, and a deep dive into the high-stakes world of Formula 1.
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