Updated:Feb 19, 2023 6:22 pm
It may have felt like a lifetime, but F1 is finally back!
With all ten car launches completed and hardly a scrap of paint in sight, teams are focusing on every detail to gain extra time in 2023. However, will this low-weight philosophy pay off for teams such as Mercedes, or will normal service resume with Verstappen victories every weekend?
In the meantime, let’s allow for some pre-season excitement (or delusion) and the possibility of a three-way title fight! Will we get Verstappen vs Hamilton Part II? Is the likelihood of having a new race winner quickly diminishing?
Either way, it’s time to discuss some of the biggest storylines for F1 in 2023!
Can anyone beat Red Bull?Embed from Getty Images
Whilst Mercedes and Ferrari oozed confidence at their car launches, the odds are still clearly stacked in Red Bull’s favour. Undoubtedly they had the best car in 2022, which will remain the same in 2023. This means the only chance of a title fight is if Ferrari and Mercedes have just as good a concept and the consistency to beat Red Bull over a season.
Red Bull’s 10% reduction in wind tunnel time due to their 2021 cost cap breach may hurt their development. However, this is predicted to impact development for their 2024 car, so for this year, it is safe to assume they will still be strong.
Especially with Max Verstappen’s current form, he is looking unbeatable even against Lewis Hamilton in a quick Mercedes.
It’s no secret as F1 fans, we look forward to a championship battle with multiple contenders, but realistically Red Bull and Verstappen look likely to continue their 2022 form into the new season.
Will Vasseur transform Ferrari?
Oh, Ferrari! After a spectacular car launch with Charles Leclerc providing a live shakedown in the SF-23, Ferrari has truly restored their hype! Not only this, but their new Team Principal, Fred Vasseur, promises a shake-up at the Scuderia.
On the one hand, Vasseur has the no-nonsense and decisive approach a Team Principal needs, proven during his tenure at ART in junior categories and then Sauber/Alfa Romeo in F1.
The no-blame culture previous boss Mattia Binnotto installed at Ferrari seriously backfired, with individuals not being called out for their appalling strategic mistakes.
Will a fresh approach from Vasseur iron these issues out and help transform Ferrari into a team capable of winning a championship?Embed from Getty Images
Of course, this is not down to Vasseur alone, with their championship hopes resting firmly with Charles Leclerc. Does he have the temperament to deal with the pressure of a championship? Or will he crumble as he did at the French GP in 2022?
Despite Ferrari stating they will not favour Leclerc or Sainz, the pre-established relationship between the Monegasque racing driver and new team boss Vasseur may be advantageous and the necessary bond for a World Championship winning package.
Can McLaren provide for their star drivers?
It is no secret McLaren has underperformed since the regulation change, with Lando Norris pushing a difficult car to the max in 2022.
As the manufacturer celebrates its 60th anniversary, how long can it hold onto its two star drivers of, Norris and hotly anticipated rookie Oscar Piastri?
Piastri shone in his early career and now infamously shunned a seat at Alpine to begin what he hopes to be a successful F1 career at McLaren. Similarly, Norris has committed to McLaren till 2025. Without a race win to back up his talent, impatience must be settling in for the younger driver.
2023 feels like a make-or-break season for McLaren, and if the car shows no sign of improved performance, Piastri and Norris may start to look elsewhere. Or worse, their talent may go to waste in the midfield.
Was Alonso’s move to Aston worth it?
Fernando Alonso began his career at Aston Martin with a youthful joie de vivre. He has even gone as far as to flatter his new teammate, Lance Stroll, to overly saccharine levels claiming:
“Stroll is super young, super talented, and has the possibility to be World Champion.”
What is clear from this statement is that Alonso wants to keep his relationship with Aston Martin and his boss, Stroll’s father, Lawrence, as happy as possible.Embed from Getty Images
Alonso’s move to Aston came as a shock during the silly season of 2022, but the team have achieved a mighty coup in hiring Alonso. Despite being beaten by his teammate last year, Alonso pushed Alpine forward in development and is the driver Aston needs to progress.
The question isn’t Alonso’s potential at Aston because he will undoubtedly help the team. Instead, will Alonso achieve the success he yearns for at Aston Martin?
It will be challenging to assess this season, but what we can determine this year is the strength of Alonso’s relationship with his new team.
If there’s anything certain regarding Fernando Alonso, he knows how to turn a relationship sour. Whether or not his relationship with Aston will remain positive throughout 2023 is certainly up for debate.
Will there be a new race winner for F1 in 2023?Embed from Getty Images
In modern F1, crazy races and winners are a delight, from Pierre Gasly’s victory at Monza to Esteban Ocon in Hungary. However, in 2022 there were no winners outside the top three teams Red Bull, Ferrari and Mercedes.
With Carlos Sainz and George Russell earning their first race victories in 2022, a new race winner is unlikely this season.
It is doubtful any of the midfield teams will be close to the top three regarding pace, meaning even a surprise podium looks unlikely.
Unless all six drivers at the top are out of the race, we won’t see an unusual winner or podium sitter in 2023, let alone a new one!
How will the rookies fare?Embed from Getty Images
2023 is the rookie season for hotly anticipated drivers such as Oscar Piastri, Nyck De Vries and Logan Sargeant.
Oscar Piastri is undoubtedly the most exciting of these three in the better-performing car, and his formidable junior career is indicative of future F1 success. It will be interesting to see how he adapts to F1 and the temperamental McLaren, but more than anything, if he can beat Norris!
For Nyck De Vries, 2023 is finally the chance to prove himself in F1. He will be expected to be on par if not beat teammate Yuki Tsunoda to gauge his form and longevity in F1.Embed from Getty Images
Logan Sargeant, who came 3rd in last year’s F2 championship, will struggle to prove himself at Williams. With an established teammate of Albon and what will probably be the worst car on the grid, he will have little chance to impress.
An odd choice for Williams, who cannot afford the mistakes of a rookie, a measure of Sargeant’s success will be how close he is to his teammate and keeping his car out of the wall.