This weekend, the Formula 1 season will begin for the year 2023. As we head to the Middle East for the season opener, it is unclear who has managed to develop the best car. However, it is undoubtedly that Max Verstappen will be highly motivated to claim his third straight Driver’s Championship, while Christian Horner and Red Bull are looking to continue their disruption of Mercedes’ recent dominance in the constructor’s championship.
As mentioned above, Red Bull is currently the defending double champion after an easy year for the energy drink brand’s team. The pivotal parts of this title win were not only the fact that the Red Bull was the best car on the grid but also having consistent finishes across the season, with Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez raking in hundreds of points apiece. Verstappen would win the driver’s championship for the second year in a row.
However, the 2022 season was not without controversy for the team as they were found guilty of breaching the cost cap for their 2021 car. They would have to pay a substantial fine, but it is a given that the FIA will be paying further attention to Red Bull’s spending and car development. While this could have been an issue, it appears Red Bull managed to put together another title-challenging car, as the Red Bull looked great in testing, with Checo managing to go fastest in Free Practise 1 as this article is being written.
With Christian Horner remaining the team principal, it will be undeniable that Red Bull will likely find itself in more controversy. Should either Max Verstappen or Sergio get hurt or fall ill, Daniel Ricciardo has been brought in as the team’s reserve driver, ensuring that should the worst happen, Red Bull will be ready with another world-class driver. One way or another, Red Bull will likely once again find itself in the position to challenge both the drivers and constructors’ championships.
It is set to be a rebuilding season for Mercedes in 2023 as they had what can only be described as a nightmare season for the serial winners on the grid. Backed by Toto Wolf as team principal, the winning mentality of the team did not break despite having a lacklustre car in 2022. Despite this, there was hope in the darkness as George Russell would prove himself more than capable of challenging for the same points as multi-time world champion Lewis Hamilton.
The 2023 season has gotten off to a bad start for the team, with their car suffering a complete power unit failure during testing. It is without question the goal of the team to return to their dominant ways, but the key factor for this season will be if Mercedes have managed to fix the purposing issue that tortured both Hamilton and Russell throughout the 2022 season.
Undoubtedly, Mercedes will be aiming to mount a challenge for at least one of the two championships up for grabs in the Formula 1 season.
The prancing horse managed a monumental comeback after two nightmare seasons in a row for Ferrari in 2022, with Charles Leclerc being a serious contender for the driver’s title during the first half of the season, but would be let down by both the team and himself as he crashed out of multiple races where he was comfortably in the race lead.
While it is not going to be surprised if the Ferrari is a title-challenging car, the true test will be during the race on Sunday, as we go to the Bahrain GP. While the car’s development is significant, when it comes to Ferrari the largest hiccup will come with race strategy as time and again last season Carlos Sainz and Leclerc found themselves losing time and positions due to the team’s incompetence.
However, going into 2023, Ferrari has replaced team principal Mattia Binotto with former Alfa Romeo team principal Fred Vausser, so time will tell if this will instil more consistency in Ferrari’s race strategies in the 2023 season.
The Midfield (Alpine, McLaren, Alpha Tauri)
The midfield teams in the F1 championship have seen quite a shift in drivers this season. Mainly, Pierre Gasly has left the Red Bull teams for Alpine, making the Alpine team an all-French lineup. Elsewhere, McLaren has controversially added Oscar Piastri to their lineup along with Lando Norris. For Alpha Tauri, they have replaced the exiting Gasly with Nick De Vries to partner with Yuki Tsunoda. All 3 teams find themselves with driver lineups of the “future” in Formula 1, with feeder series title wins throughout the lineups.
With these teams, the battle will undoubtedly be for P4 in the championship. While the Mclaren and Alpine teams have been in the midfield for years now, Alpha Tauri continues to end up just on the verge of entering that championship battle.
As for the back of the pack, there have also been several changeups in driver lineups as Fernando Alonso has found his way to Aston Martin, while Nico Hulkenberg will return to the Formula 1 grid with Haas. Williams has brought in Seargent to partner Alex Albon, while the Alfa Romeo lineup remains the same.
For these 4 teams, the main goal this season will be to score points wherever possible, whether that be by luck or mega drives from their drivers. While all of these teams could very well end up in the midfield, it is not likely that we will see them consistently in the points.