Although F1 continues to be embroiled in negativity, the first half of the 2015 season came to a fine conclusion with two enthralling grands prix in Britain and Hungary.
On-track, Lewis Hamilton has been the dominant force so far, although an error-strewn race at Budapest brought to light his fallible nature. When we talk about the teams, it is Mercedes who continue to dominate the show, with Ferrari emerging as their closest challenger.
And finally, it would be wrong to talk about the season so far without mentioning Jules Bianchi, who succumbed to injuries sustained at last year’s Japanese Grand Prix.
Ferrari’s breakthrough win in Malaysia
After a torrid 2014 season, Ferrari returned to the top step of the podium with Sebastian Vettel taking a breakthrough victory in Malaysia, ahead of the dominant Mercedes duo.
The reshuffled technical team - with the highly-rated James Allison still at the helm on the chassis side - has major strides over the winter, with the biggest gains coming from the power unit side. The Vettel-Raikkonen driver partnership has brought a breath of fresh air within the team, while the general census is that Maurizio Arrivabene is the right man to take the troubled squad out of misery.
So when an opportunity arose at the Malaysian Grand Prix, Vettel was quick to capitalise to record Scuderia’s first win since Spain 2013.
An early-race safety car had thrown the race wide open, forcing many to pit for fresh tyres. Vettel, in contrast, sticked to his original strategy and enjoyed benefits of an empty track - with this move comfortably laying the foundation to a clear victory.
Kimi Raikkonen’s charge from back of the grid to fourth at the chequered flag further underlined the pace of the 2015 Ferrari.
Hamilton pitstop fiasco at Monaco
Lewis Hamilton was in dominant form during the Monaco Grand Prix, as has been the case all season long. However, a decision to pit under the safety car robbed him of a victory he thoroughly deserved.
Hamilton was leading the 2015 Monaco GP by around 20 seconds until the safety car neutralised the field on lap 64. Assuming Rosberg had already pitted from second place, Hamilton induced Mercedes to consider putting on a fresh set of tyres on his W06 Hybrid as well.
Mercedes underestimated the gap to rivals so when Hamilton came out of the pits, he was running in third place behind teammate Rosberg and Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel.
While the responsibility of strategic decisions ultimately lies with the teams who are equipped with live data feed from the car, Hamilton’s role in this error is undeniable.
Williams leading the British GP
The British Grand Prix saw fast-starting Williams duo of Felipe Massa and Valtteri Bottas taking an early lead of the race, with Mercedes drivers Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg slotting in third and fourth places respectively.
Williams found it hard to come to grips with this situation, with multiple errors from the pitwall denying them of a victory.
Firstly, the Grove based team issued team orders to hold station, before allowing the faster Bottas to pass Massa. Later on, the Williams drivers found themselves undercut by Lewis Hamilton during the first round of pitstops, as the multiple-world championship winning team failed to react to the strategy of their Mercedes counterparts.
As rain showers replaced sunshine at Silverstone, Massa and Bottas fell down the order with lack of pace. But their early race positions continued to be a major talking point well after the chequered flag was dropped.
Alonso pushing the car in Hungarian GP qualifying
Doubts over Fernando Alonso’s motivation to race at the back of the grip were put to rest when he pushed his McLaren-Honda into the pits with bare hands during the qualifying session for the Hungarian Grand Prix.
Having progressed into Q2, Alonso’s MP4-30 grind to a halt just before the pitlane entry. Eager to get his car back into the pits and get it sorted for another flying lap or two, Alonso took it upon himself to take the car into the McLaren garage.
But his efforts went in vain, with the rule book clearly stating that a car must return to the pits on its own power.
Alonso, of course, was unaware of this rule, but his heroics made it one of the best moments of the season so far.
Kimi Raikkonen’s Bahrain charge
Kimi Raikkonen’s return to Ferrari has been anything but smooth, with the Finn criticised for his poor performances, especially in comparison to 2014 teammate Fernando Alonso.
A more suited car in 2015, however, has been integral to his resurgence - although there’s still room for improvement - with the 35 year old coming close to a victory in Bahrain.
Raikkonen showed stonking pace during the middle stint on prime tyres, and breathed down the neck of the Mercedes drivers once he had put the softer tyres on.
With Rosberg suffering from brake-by-wire issues, Raikkonen wasted little time to pass the German to inherit second place and put a challenge to race leader Hamilton.
Raikkonen eventually ran out of laps, but his drive proved that the fire inside him is yet to smother.