May 18, 2024
23 Burning Inquiries to Ponder for the 2023 F1 Season

23 Burning Inquiries to Ponder for the 2023 F1 Season

Mark ThompsonGetty Photos

It is 2023, and Method 1 is ready for a 23-race season, together with the debut of the Las Vegas Grand Prix, as Max Verstappen chases a world-championship three-peat.

Autoweek seems at 23 key questions for Method 1 in ’23.

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Can Anybody Cease Max Verstappen?

Max Verstappen gained extra races in 2022 than some world champions have in complete careers.

A largely super-chilled Verstappen steamrollered the opposition to win his second world title as Purple Bull opened a efficiency margin at most grands prix. Purple Bull’s RB18 was a strong platform that developed towards Verstappen’s pure type, which means it might be a shock if the RB19 was something however quick.

Solely 4 drivers in historical past have gained three titles in a row—Juan Manuel Fangio, Michael Schumacher, Sebastian Vettel, and Lewis Hamilton—which means Verstappen is searching for to affix distinguished firm if he can pull off a three-peat.


What Will Frederic Vasseur Change at Ferrari?

There will likely be a brand new face on the helm of Ferrari this yr after it recruited Frederic Vasseur as staff principal.

Vasseur was employed off the again of his work in junior motorsport and 6 years at Alfa Romeo, however fronting Ferrari’s Method 1 staff is a special problem solely. The massive query is, what is going to Vasseur change?

With extra of an outsider’s perspective, he’ll view Maranello with an unclouded set of eyes and will not be afraid to make powerful selections. Ferrari’s 2022 wasn’t horrible; in any case, it had a quick automobile, and the anticipated fixes to engine reliability (having pushed for efficiency for 2022) is low-hanging fruit when it comes to improved lap instances. However can Vasseur succeed the place his predecessors didn’t?


Will Mercedes Be Again within the Combat?

The Silver Arrows of Mercedes tumbled from gold to bronze in 2022.

The bouncing-and-bucking W13 was revealed to have deeper-rooted aero deficiencies, however there have been inexperienced shoots. Upgrades labored, bringing Mercedes nearer to competition, and it managed to win a race. Mercedes boss Toto Wolff estimated the staff’s early issues left it as much as 10 months behind the event curve, which means the large query is which route it takes with its W14.

Mercedes is extraordinarily efficient as a race staff, has sturdy reliability, and its driver lineup is great, however can the W14 shake freed from the W13’s deficiencies from the outset?


Can F1’s ‘Better of the Relaxation’ Shut the Hole?

This will likely be yr three of Method 1’s finances cap, now decreased to a base of $135 million earlier than myriad exclusions and clauses are utilized. It is going to be yr two of the regulatory cycle.

The have-nots are gaining on the haves when it comes to infrastructure, however for some groups excuses will likely be working thinner than earlier than.

Method 1’s “large three” grabbed all of the victories in 2022, whereas solely McLaren’s Lando Norris (pictured, left) was the one driver outdoors of Purple Bull, Ferrari, and Mercedes to attain a lot as a single podium place.

That should change in 2023.


Who Emerges as F1’s Quickest Frenchman?

Two children who grew up collectively battling on a kart observe simply outdoors of Rouen, France, will line up subsequent to one another within the Alpine storage this yr.

Esteban Ocon and Pierre Gasly are the identical age, have one F1 win apiece, and have each bounced again from varied setbacks throughout their careers. They aren’t one of the best of buddies however have been swift to emphasise that pundits have blown their rivalry out of proportion, and so they know optimistic collaboration is a should.

Ocon’s three seasons with Alpine ought to deliver him an preliminary benefit, however the dynamic between F1’s quick Frenchmen will likely be an enchanting subplot all through 2023.


Can McLaren Rookie Oscar Piastri Ship on the Hype?

When Alpine needed to mortgage teenager Oscar Piastri out to Williams for 2 years, his administration took umbrage and sought employment elsewhere. He landed at McLaren.

The back-to-back F3 and F2 champion now has his shot at a midfield staff, one which has medium-term title ambitions; he’ll compete alongside Lando Norris, whose glorious performances contributed to Daniel Ricciardo’s downfall.

Piastri can take inspiration from Norris, who debuted with McLaren earlier than establishing his credentials, however there will likely be strain on the 21-year-old Australian to show why the staff was so eager to safe his signature.


How Will Alonso Fare at Aston Martin?

Fernando Alonso will likely be 42 this yr and is now probably the most skilled Method 1 driver in historical past, however there isn’t any signal that his fierce rage to succeed has dimmed.

No matter “El Plan” was is now over, and Alonso has made his option to Aston Martin for his subsequent multiyear undertaking. Aston Martin has endured a lean few years, however Lawrence Stroll has grand ambitions for a staff now coming into the subsequent stage of its five-year plan.

The main focus stays on 2024 and past, when the soon-to-be-finished new manufacturing unit may have a tangible affect, however Alonso will nonetheless give ten-tenths each lap in 2023 and can count on Aston Martin to equal his dedication.


How Will Andreas Seidl Change Sauber?

Sauber—nonetheless competing as Alfa Romeo for now—will have already got 2026 firmly in thoughts. That is when it should change into Audi’s strategic associate in Method 1.

It nonetheless has three seasons to navigate earlier than that time, and after his exit from McLaren it’s Andreas Seidl in cost at Sauber Motorsport. There’s little doubt that Seidl’s hiring has been undertaken with the Audi tie-up in thoughts, and his early begin means planning can start for the long run.

First up is the query of who CEO Seidl will recruit as Alfa Romeo’s new staff principal, with the 2 roles having been break up following Frederic Vasseur’s exit.


Can Haas F1 Staff Obtain Desired Consistency?

Haas achieved its fundamental goal in 2022, which was to reestablish itself within the midfield after its 2019-20 demise and predetermined 2021 write-off.

Its subsequent ambition is to stabilize its shows after a rollercoaster season that included a few shock outcomes and a handful of dismal outings, because the VF-22’s efficiency fluctuated.

Becoming a member of 2022’s comeback child, Kevin Magnussen, will likely be Nico Hulkenberg, a veteran of Method 1’s midfield who hasn’t raced full time since 2019. The staff ought to have sufficient, notably with the arrival of title associate MoneyGram, to purpose for factors at each race.


Can AlphaTauri Kids Proceed Growing?

AlphaTauri staff principal Franz Tost believes younger drivers want three years earlier than a full judgment may be delivered—and 2023 will likely be season three for Yuki Tsunoda, so it is crunch time. The amiable Japanese driver is in style however must step up this yr, notably amid the arrival of Nyck de Vries rather than Pierre Gasly.

De Vries (pictured) has a breadth of motorsport expertise, however Method 1 is totally different gravy—as a non-Purple Bull athlete, his signing was sudden and considered one of Helmut Marko’s gambles. If it does not repay, then he and Tsunoda want solely have a look at the variety of Purple Bull juniors in Method 2 (and Tremendous Method’s Liam Lawson) who might be Marko’s subsequent gamble in the event that they shine in 2023.


What Would a Good Rookie Season Look Like for Logan Sargeant?

Expectations shouldn’t be raised too loftily for America’s first Method 1 driver since 2015.

Logan Sargeant had a strong, if not excellent, sole yr in Method 2 in 2022, and Williams promoted him for 2023 partly based mostly off the pondering he could as nicely proceed his studying within the prime division. As such, 2023 is prone to characteristic a good few journeys to the college of laborious knocks, notably given Williams’ current historical past.

If Williams stays in its present place, then a handful of Q2 appearances, and maybe a smattering of lowly factors finishes, would signify a affluent rookie marketing campaign for Sargeant.


Can Williams Elevate Itself Off the Backside?

Somebody has to complete final in a 10-team championship. however lately Williams has made a nasty behavior of occupying the slot, taking it 4 instances in 5 seasons.

Proprietor Dorilton Capital duly parted firm with CEO Jost Capito and technical director FX Demaison. The quirky Capito had been tasked with revitalizing Williams and met with some resistance alongside the best way, whereas sources had been switched to 2023 when it was realized Williams had no hope of avoiding the wood spoon.

On the time of this writing, Williams stays with out a staff boss and technical chief—two gaping holes on the prime of the administration construction. It’s troublesome to envisage something apart from one other difficult season.


How Will Miami Grand Prix Fare in Yr 2?

Miami joined Method 1’s calendar in 2022 amid a plethora of pizzazz and a VIP listing that outdid the championship’s conventional top-tier occasions. Miami now faces the troublesome second act.

Can it replicate the success of its 2022 occasion?

The novelty may have worn off whereas the detrimental points ignored amid the standard first-year teething troubles will likely be extra scrutinized if they’re repeated. However, there are sturdy foundations on which to construct, and the promoters at Exhausting Rock Stadium are well-versed in evolving main occasions.


Can Belgium Safe a Keep of Execution?

Belgium’s Spa-Francorchamps is amongst Method 1’s most honored venues, however its future is shrouded in uncertainty.

At its 2022 occasion a contract extension was introduced, however just for a single yr, with the grand prix now positioned within the pre-summer relatively than post-summer spherical. Method 1 stays eager to safe a race on each liveable continent, and talks have taken place with officers in South Africa over a renaissance for Kyalami.

That wasn’t attainable for 2023, successfully giving Belgium a short-term reprieve, however F1 will little question attempt once more for 2024. That would spell unhealthy information for Spa-Francorchamps.


Will F1 Rekindle Its Relationship with China

Not in 2023—however whether or not it reappears on the calendar in 2024, by which era 5 years may have handed because the championship graced China’s soil.

Method 1 scheduled a grand prix in China for April 2023, however it was cancelled amid the nation’s Covid Zero coverage, a technique which has since been swiftly relaxed, with dire penalties for the nation.

By 2024 the state of affairs is prone to have improved, and authoritarian regimes are large followers of state promotion by sport, whereas Method 1 itself nonetheless has a three-year deal to run a Chinese language Grand Prix. Groups had beforehand regarded China as a blossoming market to discover, and it will likely be intriguing to see whether or not the nation continues to be a pretty proposition.


Will Las Vegas Dwell As much as the Hype?

Method 1 is heading to Las Vegas this yr. You might have heard. It’s Liberty Media’s crowning glory, the occasion it has craved for years, with Method 1 set to truly flip the Strip right into a racetrack.

At evening. The Saturday 10 p.m. PT begin time (1 a.m. ET) is uncommon, and a few ticket packages are hysterically costly and for these with extra money than sense, however there isn’t any doubt Method 1 is making an attempt to succeed in new heights.

There could also be parallels to Miami: As a race it might be so-so, given it’s a road observe, however as an occasion it’s Method 1’s model of the Tremendous Bowl, and the VIP listing is prone to be extra of a e book.


What Will Qatar Carry to F1?

Qatar has simply completed internet hosting the weirdest soccer World Cup in historical past, constructed at excessive monetary and human value, with Lionel Messi and Argentina victorious in probably the most epic of finals.

Its consideration now turns towards Method 1. Qatar has a long-term contract, becoming a member of Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, and Abu Dhabi as host international locations within the area, and no expense will likely be spared. This may not be Qatar’s first Method 1 dance, because it hosted a 2021 spherical on brief discover as Australia’s alternative, however 2023 actually marks the beginning of the nation’s affiliation with the championship.

Tentative plans for a Doha road race went quiet, and as an alternative Qatar is upgrading the everlasting Lusail facility to accommodate Method 1 long run. Drivers loved the quick and technical observe—and its choice as a Dash venue provides one other factor to the evening race.

Will it present the flicker?


Will Andretti Get His Staff? If So, When?

It has been virtually a yr since Michael Andretti, by father Mario, revealed plans to enter a staff into Method 1 in 2024. That timeframe has now been shifted to 2026, however it’s important Andretti has shaped a partnership with Basic Motors as a way to deliver its Cadillac model to Method 1.

Building on Andretti’s giant facility in Indiana is underway; it should home the household’s increasing motorsport portfolio, of which Method 1 would be the centerpiece. The FIA has welcomed the Andretti-Cadillac proposal, however Method 1 stays lukewarm to the undertaking amid the need to retain the 10-team mannequin.


Will Porsche, or Anybody Else, Be part of Audi?

Audi’s entry in 2026 was an enormous coup for Method 1, however it was solely half of the story it initially anticipated.

Audi sister model Porsche held prolonged discussions with Purple Bull, however they collapsed amid management points. Porsche says it stays however with whom and the way are two questions the German big has but to reply as time ticks on. Honda, which famously left Method 1 however by no means really actually departed, continues to depart the door open for 2026.

Method 1’s current development, and continued emergence within the U.S., means it might be little shock if different producers—or rich consortiums—expressed curiosity too.


Which Exiled F1 Drivers or Kids Will Discover Path to F1?

Daniel Ricciardo has rejoined Purple Bull in a third-driver capability, whereas Mick Schumacher is Mercedes’ reserve, and each have mentioned they regard Method 1 as unfinished enterprise.

Then there are the likes of final yr’s Method 2 prime two—Felipe Drugovich and Théo Pourchaire—who’ve backup roles at Aston Martin and Alfa Romeo, respectively.

Behind them are a brand new crop of kids within the cauldron of Method 2 striving to face out to Method 1’s decision-makers. There are inadequate seats for all of them—as is the best way on a grid of solely 20 vehicles—however will foolish season unfold in a such a fashion as to current any of them with a possibility?


What’s Subsequent for Dash Qualifying?

Dash is coming into its third yr, and F1 continues to hone the idea.

For 2023, Dash’s presence has been doubled as a characteristic at six grands prix, together with the U.S. spherical in Austin. There was speak that Dash might be break up right into a standalone race, separate from the grand prix, however the format stays because it was in 2022.

It’s undoubtedly right here to remain, so the place will Method 1 subsequent take Dash? Does Method 1 separate it solely from Sunday’s fundamental affair? Does it keep at six occasions or proceed to develop? And, in an increasing calendar, when will a saturation level be reached when it comes to precise racing?


Will Adjustments in Tire Guidelines Have an Impression?

One rule change quietly slipped into the 2023 rules is delicate but intriguing.

At two grands prix this yr—the places but to be introduced—the principles for qualifying have been amended. At these pair of rounds (whether it is dry) drivers should use solely the laborious tire compound in Q1, the medium in Q2, and the smooth for the Q3 pole shootout.

How every automobile makes use of its tires when it comes to warmup and an optimum working window can differ, and it’s an actual science that groups should rigorously handle, whereas drivers must swiftly adapt to working totally different compounds on an evolving racetrack.

Might it result in some front-runners slipping up, or conversely might it hand a possibility to lesser groups?


Is the Relationship Between F1 and the FIA about to Change?

Mohammed Ben Sulayem (pictured, left) is within the second yr of his first four-year time period because the FIA’s president, and he has undoubtedly been a extra assertive and distinguished presence in comparison with predecessor Jean Todt.

That has, at instances, induced friction with Method 1 and its CEO, Stefano Domenicali (pictured, proper).

Final yr, there have been a handful of disagreements, together with over Dash (and its related prices), the jewellery ban, and the best way the 2026 engine regulation discussions dragged on.

The place the most important representatives place themselves politically by 2023 will likely be fascinating to look at.

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