Six F1 drivers who need a strong second half of the season

Sam Cooper
Carlos Sainz, Daniel Ricciardo and Lance Stroll.

The second half of a season can be make of break for some F1 drivers.

While the second half of the season can sometimes be the time teams look ahead to next year, for a number of drivers there are still plenty of points to prove.

With just two seats per team and a seemingly never-ending queue of candidates behind you, keeping your Formula 1 seat can be a tough ask.

With that in mind, we’ve taken a look at some of the current grid who will be looking for a strong second half of the season to prove any of their doubters wrong.

Carlos Sainz

It is an interesting time at Ferrari with both drivers out of contract next year but while there has been plenty of talk about renewals on Charles Leclerc’s side of the garage, it has been a lot quieter for Carlos Sainz.

Sainz’s Ferrari career could be judged as okay if not brilliant so far. In 2021 he impressed by beating Leclerc on points but when the car improved to an extent it was able to challenge for wins, Sainz was successful in just one race.

And while this year he may only be seven points behind Leclerc, that is just as much due to the Monégasque driver’s misfortune as it is to Sainz’s performances.

Sure the SF-23 is a step down on the F1-75 but of the three podiums Ferrari have scored this year, all of them have been Leclerc.

With persistent rumours of a move to Audi, Sainz will want to prove that he deserves a contract extension just as much as his teammate does.

Daniel Ricciardo

Judging Daniel Ricciardo’s 2023 season will be tricky considering he’s only doing 12 of 22 races but it could prove to be quite important for his career moving forward.

Contractually, there are a number of seats open next year including both at AlphaTauri but realistically, Ricciardo’s options are slim.

The most likely route to staying on the grid appears to be for Red Bull to keep him in the AlphaTauri seat either at the expense of Yuki Tsunoda or Liam Lawson. This would give Red Bull a full year to assess whether the Australian is ready for the Red Bull seat in 2025 but to be given that chance, he has to prove he still has it.

The immediate goal is obvious, score points. AlphaTauri remain rooted to the foot of the Constructors’ table and if/when Red Bull secure the Championship, it may take some of the glint off their trophy knowing their sister outfit finished with the wooden spoon.

Once that hurdle is achieved, Ricciardo will have another goal in mind and that is to beat Tsunoda. The Japanese driver may have greatly outperformed Nyck de Vries but such is the dearth of points they are fighting for, Tsunoda is still only three points ahead of Ricciardo.

With Sergio Perez’s future at Red Bull looking secured until his contract ends, Red Bull must decide what to do with Ricciardo and his best chance of staying in F1 is by having a strong final 10 races.

Yuki Tsunoda

Speaking of AlphaTauri, Yuki Tsunoda is another driver wanting to do well.

Although his contract does end this season, speaking to PlanetF1.com ahead of the British Grand Prix, Tsunoda was confident that it would be extended but until it is a done deal, there is always a chance for something to happen.

Tsunoda’s inclusion on this list may seem somewhat harsh considering how well he has done this year. After a couple of difficult early seasons in the sport and with Pierre Gasly out the door, Tsunoda was predicted to play second fiddle to the incoming Nyck de Vries but instead, the 23-year-old has developed into a driver who has been able to get the maximum out of an underwhelming car.

His three points are not fully representative of his season up to this date but Tsunoda will want to push on in the final 10 races and prove that even with Ricciardo in the team, he is still the best driver in AlphaTauri colours.

Pierre Gasly

The Alpine drivers could essentially both be on this list as neither has had a stellar start of the year but Pierre Gasly makes it due to the fact it is his first season not only with the team but out of the Red Bull family and he will no doubt feel like he has a point to prove.

In fairness to both Alpine drivers, the problems of this year have not been their fault entirely. An underwhelming engine and chaos at the boardroom level do not make for a great work environment and as Gasly himself has said they have experienced an unusually high amount of bad luck this year.

But while Esteban Ocon has made it onto the podium in a race, Gasly’s best finish is seventh not including sprint races. Should that remain his best finish of the year, it would be the lowest highest position of any of his full-time F1 seasons.

There is certainly a ceiling when it comes to how much Gasly can achieve this year but at this point, consistently finishing within the points would be taken as a success.

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Lance Stroll

While Lance Stroll’s future in the team seems as rock solid as ever, there is increasing focus on the levels of performance of the two Aston Martin drivers.

Fernando Alonso has scored three times as many points as Stroll this year and earlier in the season when the AMR23 was fighting for podiums, it was the Spaniard, not the Canadian that was securing them.

Yes, Stroll’s start to the season can be caveated by the injury he was carrying due to his pre-season bike crash but those early races were actually the 24-year-old’s best period of the season so far.

Stroll may still only be 24 but having started at a young age, he is one of the more experienced members of the paddock now and it is time for him to start showing it.

Logan Sargeant

Another driver on this list who has yet to score a point but unlike Ricciardo, Logan Sargeant has had 13 races to do it.

Currently, it looks as if the American may have arrived on the grid a year too early and another season of F2 would have helped his development but he can take solace in the fact it is unlikely Williams will opt to bin him off come the end of this season.

That comes on the condition that we see some improvement from Sargeant though as he has been thoroughly upstaged by teammate Alex Albon so far.

A points score in a Williams that finally looks more competitive than it has done in recent seasons is the minimum target for Sargeant and should he achieve that then it will most likely earn him another year in the sport.

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