In F1, synergy is one of the most important factors that determines success. Whether it is the synergy between the chassis and the power unit, amongst the team personnel, or between the team and the driver.
It's not the best marriage if a top-tier driver is a part of a midfield team or a backmarker. Similarly, it's not great if a driver is part of a team where he's unable to fulfill the task set out for him. More often than not in our sport, teams and drivers have a tendency to sort themselves out with time. Even on the current F1 grid, most of the driver line-ups have been made, keeping the synergy in mind.
Having said that, there are still a few combinations that stick out like a sore thumb. There are some driver-team combinations on the F1 grid where the synergy is just not there and teams might be well-advised to find a different driver.
In this feature, we will be taking a look at the F1 teams that need to change their drivers. So without further ado, let's get straight to it.
#1 Aston Martin F1
A combination of Fernando Alonso and Lance Stroll driving the car would be good if the team is looking to put together solid results. With Alonso, Aston Martin has one of the greatest talents in the history of the sport within its ranks. In the other cockpit, the team has Stroll, a driver who has multiple podiums and a pole position under his belt.
For a team that is looking for decent results over the course of a season, the combination is just fine. However, with the amount of investment that has been put into Aston Martin, it's safe to say that the team wants to reach the front of the grid and fight for championships. If that is the aim towards which Aston Martin is working, then a driver of Stroll's caliber has no place in that structure.
Lance deserves to be in F1, without a doubt, but he's not a solid or reliable midfield contributor. His peaks are spectacular but his lack of consistency is a huge detriment. To add to that, being the son of the team's owner means he gets the seat but it also gives out the message of inefficiency.
A frontrunner in F1 is efficient and makes the most of every available resource. Lance Stroll is a liability for Aston Martin and the team might need to rethink its strategy if winning the title one day is the goal.
#2 Alfa Romeo
Alfa Romeo/Sauber needs to take a long and hard look at its driver lineup and ask whether the team was able to score the maximum possible points in the previous F1 season. The answer to that question might be no, and that's where the problem lies for the team.
In Guanyu Zhou and Valterri Bottas, the team has a decent line-up, but it's not one that inspires confidence. Both Bottas and Zhou have shown a tendency to be inconsistent over the course of a season. It was a major issue for Bottas at Mercedes as well and it helped Lewis Hamilton always have an upper hand over him.
In the case of Zhou as well, throughout his junior career, one of the biggest criticisms faced by the Chinese driver has been a lack of consistency. The driver certainly has raw speed, and this was on the evidence even last F1 season. What he lacks majorly is consistency in the sport.
With the team looking forward to welcoming Audi as its new owner, the lineup of Bottas and Zhou does not truly tick any boxes, be it commercially or otherwise. With drivers like Daniel Ricciardo (a PR dream and a strong driver) and Mick Schumacher (a German) on the market, Alfa Romeo/Sauber should go shopping and replace their current F1 driver lineup.
It's fair to say that Nyck de Vries-Yuki Tsunoda is not the most electrifying combo in F1. Most importantly, it's not a combo that has everyone waiting in anticipation of something special.
Tsunoda had that hype around him when he debuted a couple of years ago, but that hype has died down since then. Nyck de Vries, on the other hand, is at best a solid driver and at 28, comes across as a safe bet that Red Bull went with for the sister team.
The problem with having two uninspired choices in a team that is supposed to provide you with the next Red Bull driver is not ideal. Will Yuki Tsunoda be a Red Bull driver one day? Highly unlikely. Similarly, even in the case of Nyck de Vries, it's hard to say that he is someone that Red Bull would want to fit in the cockpit of the senior team.
Since that is the case, what Red Bull needs to do is try and find drivers that are potent enough to reach the senior team and do well. Since neither Tsunoda nor De Vries exudes that confidence, a change in the lineup is needed.