23 races, 20 countries, and 20 hungry drivers all fighting to be crowned the World Drivers’ Champion. The 2023 Formula 1 season is going to be one for the ages, and with new regulations set to go into effect, it should be a close fight between the top teams and a strong battle in the midfield. Here are five storylines to follow throughout the season.
1. Max Verstappen aiming for three-peat of World Drivers' Championship
Max Verstappen is looking to add to his trophy cabinet in 2023, as he aims for his third-straight World Drivers' Championship. The 24-year-old Dutchman is poised to have another dominant year, after finishing last season with 15 wins, nine podiums and scoring a record-setting 454 points. Verstappen has a high chance of achieving success again this season, as Red Bull have looked strong so far in pre-season testing.
Then again, it's only pre-season testing and you have to take it with a grain of salt. Though not promoted around the paddock, some teams "sandbag" and run their cars at a lower power output, hiding their cars true overall speed, as Mercedes has been accused of doing in previous years.
Once the cars hit the track in Bahrain for the first race of the season, we will get a proper indication of every teams' pace including Red Bull. Can Verstappen and Red Bull pull off a three-peat, or will a new challenger dethrone the current champion? Only time will tell.
2. Ferrari changed management, will their success change?
The 2022 season was one both Ferrari themselves and their fans want to forget. They are looking to come into 2023 with a revamped team and strategy and leave 2022 in the rearview mirror. The team hired a new team principal in Fred Vasseur, and all eyes will be on him and his ability to manage the Maranello-based team with decades of winning running through their vanes. However, they have bigger challenges to address than who is at the helm; reliability and strategy were among the main reasons for Ferrari's title chances falling out the window.
Now with a new season comes a new car and new hope for change. The question is whether their success will change, and I think it will to a degree. Yes, they will win some races this season and be fighting for the championship, but I don't think it will be them lifting the Constructors' Championship or Drivers' Championship at the end of this season.
3. Can Mercedes return to their winning ways in 2023?
Prior to 2021, Mercedes dominated the hybrid era and were winning race after race. That has changed in the past two years with Red Bull and Verstappen winning the World Drivers' Championship in 2021, and 2022. Now, can Mercedes return to their winning ways in 2023?
The answer is yes. Despite their issues early on in pre-season testing, which included a hydraulics issue and other "underlying issues," as Sir Lewis Hamilton stated to reporters, I still believe that Mercedes will pull it together, win multiple races and be back fighting at the front.
It's a long season ahead, with 23 races across 10 months. At the end of it, Mercedes, in my mind, will be challenging Red Bull for both the World Drivers' Championship and Constructor's Championship.
4. Oscar Piastri has won everything in F2 and F3, will it continue in F1?
Oscar Piastri is used to winning and the ultimate question is whether he can continue his success at the next level in F1. After seeing him win not only the Formula 3 title in his first season but then going on to win the Formula 2 title the next year, it's clear to me he has winning built into his DNA. So it's good to see a team finally noticed his talents.
Do I think he will win a race or two this year in F1? Yes, but it won't be right at the start of the season.
McLaren Chief Executive Office (CEO) Zak Brown seems to have an idea of where the team is at this year. “We know we set some goals for development, which we didn't hit, and we felt it was better to be honest about that," said Brown to reporters during pre-season testing in Bahrain.
Besides the car, Piastri is going to have all eyes watching him this season. Piastri is going to need to be scoring consistent points and keeping pace with teammate Lando Norris, who is entering his fifth season, throughout the season to prove to McLaren and everyone else that he deserves to be in F1. Winning won't be necessary for Piastri to keep his seat, but being able to keep pace with the other 19 drivers on the track will be one way he can keep his job for more than one season.
5. All eyes on Yuki Tsunoda, why this year matters the most
Yuki Tsunoda entered Formula 1 two years ago, and people had high hopes for the kid from Sagamihara, Japan. But after two lacklustre seasons in which he has only tallied 44 points in 44 grand prix's (GP) entered. Many people like myself are questioning whether Tsunoda can survive in Formula 1 with another mediocre year.
Tsunoda is going to have all the pressure to perform this season because there is precedence for drivers who suffer multiple mediocre or bad seasons to be out of F1 after two years. Mick Schumacher is a prime example of it. Tsunoda needs to prove to Helmut Marko and Christian Horner that he deserves to stay in Formula 1, by delivering consistent point finishes and maintaining composure out on the race track.
This Formula 1 season should bring a level of excitement, sadness, and I am sure some anger for how some teams implement strategies. Not naming names, but we all know who I am talking about...
Regardless, the 2023 F1 season is filled with exciting storylines that you don't want to miss out on.
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