After a break of just over three months, the Formula 1 circus moved to Bahrain ahead of Sunday's first leg of a calendar that this year will feature a record 23 stops.
A domination threatened
If Max Verstappen will try to become only the fifth driver in history, after Lewis Hamilton , Sebastian Vettel, Michael Schumacher and Juan-Manuel Fangio, to win three consecutive world championships, he could face more serious opposition in 2023.
Will the Red Bull team still be alone on its planet? The answer lies with Mercedes and Ferrari, the only two teams on the grid capable of responding to the Austrian team.
Lewis Hamilton and George Russell form the most formidable duo in F1. The Mercedes team, which has adapted poorly to the new rules imposed in 2022, says it has done its homework during the offseason.
As for the Scuderia, the arrival of a new director, Frédéric Vasseur, is perhaps the shock that this organization needed. This is what Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz want. As a reminder, Kimi Räikkönen was the last driver to win the title at the wheel of a Ferrari in 2007.
Both Mercedes and Ferrari intend to take advantage of this sanction imposed on their rival to close the gap. Red Bull has seen its aero testing allocation reduced by 10% this year, after exceeding the budget cap in 2021.
Like fine wine
The Aston Martin team, led by Montrealer Lawrence Stroll, made a good move by recruiting Fernando Alonso, still recognized today as one of the most talented drivers on the grid despite his 41 years.
The Spaniard proved to be competitive at the wheel of his new car during winter testing held last week, although he admits that the first events of the season will be difficult.
At his side, Lance Stroll will have the chance, once again, to count on the presence of a world champion (after that of Sebastian Vettel last year). The Quebecer, who is already entering his seventh season in F1, has not yet managed to erase this “paying” driver label that has accompanied him since the start of his career. The fact of having missed the preparatory tests is a handicap for the one whose presence in the first Grand Prix of the season is still uncertain.
A rookie to watch
Among the three drivers who will begin their careers in Formula 1, it will especially be necessary to watch Oscar Piastri, whose accession to the queen category is far from being a surprise. The 21-year-old Australian has successfully trained in F3 and F2 and he would have all the talent to become world champion one day.
The Dutchman Nyck de Vries, hired by the AlphaTauri team, and the American Logan Sargeant, who replaces the Canadian Nicholas Latifi at Williams, will probably be limited to a role of figuration.
Viva Las Vegas!
Despite another cancellation of the Chinese Grand Prix, the calendar will have 23 stages, unheard of. Qatar resumes its place in 2023 and F1 will return to Las Vegas on an urban route that will take the famous “Strip”. For the first time in 40 years, three Grands Prix will be held in the United States during the same season.
Six sprint races
F1 will double the presentation of sprint races, which replace the traditional Saturday qualifying session.
They will take place in Azerbaijan, Qatar, Austria, the United States (Austin), Belgium and Brazil. These events are 100km long and their final result dictates the order of the drivers on the starting grid for the next day's main race.
3 world champions
The Formula 1 plateau will only have three world champions in 2023 after the retirement of Sebastian Vettel at the end of 2022. Max Verstappen will try to become the 11th driver in history to sign at least three F1 titles. As for Lewis Hamilton, the conquest of an eighth championship is still pending after a disappointing 2022 season. Fernando Alonso is the third driver in this select group with two titles acquired in 2005 and 2006 while wearing the colors of the French team Renault.
- 7 tracks
- 310 starts
- 191 podiums
- 103 top positions
< li dir="auto">103 wins
- 2 tracks
- 163 starts
- 77 podiums
- < strong>20 leading positions
< li dir="auto">35 wins
- 2 titles
- 356 starts
- 32 wins
- 98 podiums
- 22 leading positions
- Max Verstappen
- Sergio Pérez
- Charles Leclerc
- Carlos Sainz
- Lewis Hamilton
- George Russell
- Esteban Ocon
- Pierre Gasly
- Lando Norris
- Oscar Piastri
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- Valtteri Bottas
- Zhou Guanyu
- Lance Stroll
- Fernando Alonso
- Kevin Magnussen
- Nico Hülkenberg
- Nyck de Vries
- Yuki Tsunoda
- Alexander Albon
- Logan Sargeant
They change teams
After two unsuccessful seasons where he only reached the podium once (3rd place in Qatar in 2021), Fernando Alonso left the Alpine team to join Aston Martin, led by Montreal billionaire Lawrence Stroll. The Spaniard, who certainly seems more motivated than his predecessor, Sebastian Vettel, is not only the oldest on the board (41 years old), but also the most experienced with 356 starts to his credit, a peak in the history of F1 . To replace Alonso, Alpine called on Pierre Gasly (photo), who will live with his compatriot Esteban Ocon. The question now is how this team will behave with this duo of French drivers whose on-track debates in the lower categories were once tumultuous.
They are coming
Unlike the n last year, when the Chinese Zhou Guanyu was the only rookie on the line-up, there will be three of them to start their career as regular drivers at the Bahrain Grand Prix this weekend.
The Australian Oscar Piastri, who chased his compatriot Daniel Ricciardo at McLaren, certainly deserved a regular seat in F1, he who was crowned champion of Formula 3 (2020) and Formula 2 (2021), before being promoted to reserve driver at Alpine last year. He is only 21 years old.
While some of the drivers entered in Formula Electric have been defectors from F1, Nick de Vries (photo) chose the opposite path instead. After being titled in FE with Mercedes in 2021, he got his first chance in F1 at the late age of 28, thanks to the AlphaTauri team, which hired him to fill in for the departure of Pierre Gasly. The Dutchman was also crowned F2 champion in 2019 and familiarized himself with F1 as a reserve driver with Mercedes from 2020 to 2022. Finally, Logan Sargeant,22 years old, will also experience his F1 baptism on Sunday in Bahrain. Whoever replaces Canadian Nicholas Latifi in the Williams team will become the first American driver to start a Grand Prix since Alexander Rossi in 2015.
He's coming back
After losing his steering wheel at Renault at the end of 2019, Nico Hülkenberg (photo) returns to his role as a full-time driver in 2023 to succeed Mick Schumacher in the American Haas team. However, he was able to keep his hand when he was called in to replace indisposed drivers during four events, two in 2020 (Racing Point) and two others in 2022 (Aston Martin). The German, who holds the unenviable record of most starts (181) without any podium presence, will be team-mate with Dane Kevin Magnussen, with whom he has had tough talks in the past, one of which memorable at the Hungarian Grand Prix in 2017 where he called his rival an asshole.
The entry list will only include one Canadian driver (Lance Stroll) in 2023, since, unsurprisingly, the Williams team did not renew its agreement with Nicholas Latifi (photo), whose journey has been complicated and sometimes controversial. While his chances of ever returning to F1 are zero, that would not be the case for Daniel Ricciardo and Mick Schumacher, who were released by McLaren and Haas respectively. Both remain directly involved in the world of F1 with the hope of returning full time next year. The Australian has accepted a reserve driver role at Red Bull while Schumacher, who has failed to make a name for himself since joining F1 in 2021, will fill the same role, both at Mercedes and McLaren . Finally, Sebastian Vettel ended a brilliant career at the end of the 2022 season, with four world championships to his name, 53 victories and, in particular, 122 appearances on the podium.