F1 2023: 10 things to look forward to next season

F2 driver Logan Sargeant announced as Williams second driver for F1 2023 pending a super license. (Credit: WilliamsF1.com)

After a huge shuffle on and off the grid, here are ten things to look forward to in the 2023 F1 season. New Drivers. New Paddock. Same Chaos.

1. Three Exciting rookies

Nyck de Vries is making his rookie debut after a stunning drive at Monza in the absence of Alex Albon. De Vries’ movement on short notice made his name prominent in the silly season, and he enters 2023 with a lot of intrigues. This is AlphaTauri’s first driver not coming from the Red Bull Junior Program. In a shocking turn of events, they looked past Liam Lawson and handed the keys to Nyck. Such bold moves place even more of a spotlight on the Dutch driver heading into 2023.

After serving as Alpine’s Reserve Driver, the buck does not spot at de Vries; Oscar Piastri is entering the McLaren hot seat as Zak Brown looks for someone to keep pace with Lando Norris. Piastri pushed all his F1 chips on the McLaren move, and the pressure will be on to deliver some results next season. Oscar burned bridges at Alpine, and unless he impresses in the Payaya, his orange bet may blow up in his face.

Logan Sargeant won twice this past F2 season, bringing the Star Spangled Banner back to the F2 podium. The wins showcased his ability to produce results with a capable car, and it gave Jost Capito all he needed to pull the plug on Latifi and move forward with the American. At some point in the season, he will need to prove to his critics wrong who think he is getting the drive based on his nationality.

2. Red Bull’s Penalty Conundrum 

Following the Cost Cap scandal, Red Bull was given a 10% reduction in CFD time. Red Bull were able to pump out upgrades like a machine all season long, closing the gap to Ferrari and eventually surpassing what the Scudderria were able to produce.

Heading into 2023, the penalty will limit how much development they can put into their car. The pressure will be on Red Bull’s excellent design team to maintain the car’s performance, with Mercedes surging and Ferrari not standing pat. Before they worry about car development, attention to the accounting department might avoid any further cost cap miscues.

3. Gasly in a non-Red Bull car

Pierre Gasly finally moved away from Helmut Marko’s clutches, heading to the French team Alpine. Ocon and Gasly have a notably checkered past when it comes to playing nice, but with some years on the F1 grid, the hope is they can keep the peace and focus on winning races.

Gasly struggled to adapt to this past year’s AlphaTauri, ending the season on a poor run of form. A few years ago, Gasly was the town’s talk about moving to a big team or up to the Red Bull team. Perez recently signed a contract extension, ending all hope of Gasly getting another chance at Red Bull.

Now that he is out of Red Bull’s control, he needs to show that the environment, not his ability, led to him stagnating.

4. Aston Martin’s Green Wave

One could say Aston Martin started to Krack on towards the end of the season. The car came to life compared to where it started at. The team was a backmarker for the first half of the season, but they eventually were able to challenge Alfa Romeo for 6th place after they struggled to get points early on. Aston pulled away from Haas and AlphaTauri in the race for 8th place.

Next year will be year two of the Mike Krack era, potentially leading to more steps forward. Alonso’s form in 2022 was unreal, showcasing plenty of good racing left in him. The British outfit has had a lot of momentum from the end of the season, and they are becoming an exciting proposition for 2023. On the right path toward Lawrence Stroll’s five-year goal of becoming championship contenders.

5. The 2023 Vegas Grand Prix

The 2022 Miami Grand Prix was an absolute showcase for what F1 is in America. The event had plenty of glitz and glamour as Miami pulled out all the stops and celebrities to make it feel like a big deal.

Some of the hardcore followers of the sport felt a bit neglected due to the expensive nature of the tickets, and that trend will continue with the debut of the Las Vegas Grand Prix. With packages rising to $100,000, the event is catered to those who enjoy luxury and fast cars.

Still, the event is located on the strip; no matter how you slice it, the stage is set for F1 to create a moment. Hopefully, the race delivers as much on the track as it will off the track.

6. Ferrari’s new direction

 Fred Vasseur has been appointed as the new Ferrari Team Principal after a shocking turn of events. 

With Vasseur in, it is clear that a shift in strategic approach is coming. The goal for 2023 is to give Charles Leclerc the ability to challenge for a title. New leadership could allow for their title drought to end.

For a title challenge, the car development for Ferrari also needs work, as the in-season upgrades did not produce the desired results this past season. The strategy department also needs work, as too many blunders occurred this past season. Restructuring at the strategy level could allow the momentum from the 2022 regulations to carry over into the 2023 season. 

Ferrari is a vital part of any F1 season, and now that Binotto is gone, the team could undergo the transformation needed to win a title again.

7. Make or break seasons for two drivers

For someone typically quick to pull the trigger on young drivers, Helmut Marko has been patient with Yuki Tsunoda. After two seasons, he was given another season to prove he has what it takes. While he has had some fantastic flashes, Yuki has not been consistent enough throughout the season to cement his status as one of the more promising F1 drivers. Tsunoda is entering his third year with AlphaTauri, and he needs to put it all together after various growing pains.

Zhou’s season was marred with a lack of consistency, but for many reasons out of his control. He had a horrific crash at the British Grand Prix and faced multiple car failures. When his car worked, the rookie showcased a capable set of hands. At his rear, however, is Theo Pourchaire, the promising F2 runner-up in 2022 who shows a ton of promise at just 19.

Zhou and Yuki need to deliver next season; their 2024 drives are in the balance. 

8. ESPN’s additions to the American broadcast

While what happens on track is fun and all, let’s take a break and talk about another often-discussed element: broadcast rights. There was a lot of intrigue about where F1 would be shown in the United States heading into the 2023 season. The contract with ESPN expired at the end of 2022, and F1 was willing to listen to offers.

Would Amazon bring its money to the table? Could Peacock want to provide a package of Indycar and F1 in the US?

ESPN ended up with the rights again after Liberty Media fielded various offers. ESPN stated that Sky Sports would be the primary broadcaster once again, but there are rumors of adding to the presentation. Daniel Ricciardo is one of the names linked to a secondary broadcast that would provide a different package than Sky Sports. 

The extension between ESPN and Formula 1 is only three years. If ESPN does not add more value to the broadcast, Liberty Media might look differently in 2025, especially if the series continues its rate of growth in America. 

9. Haas’ new sponsorship money

Haas announced MoneyGram as their title sponsor for the 2023 season. Guenther Steiner, Haas Team Principal, stated that the team would now operate at the cost cap, no longer beneath it.

Such an influx in cash can generate results on the race track next season for Haas, who had a good grasp of the regulations early on in the season. The team lost some momentum towards the end of the season, but more money could be the solution.

The Rich Energy and Ukrali sponsorships generated controversies and highlighted the team’s desperate attempts to get more money. Hopefully, the MoneyGram deal allows for a steady stream of funds for the American team as they build on their 9th-place finish.

10. Mercedes is challenging again for the title

Mercedes are the team that everyone will be watching closely next year. The team who dominated the past decade struggled with the new regulations in 2022, running far off the pace of the Ferrari and Red Bull cars at the start of the year. 

After the first few races, things did not get better. Max Verstappen lapped Lewis Hamilton at Imola, and the car simply wasn’t experiencing development fast enough. But the team turned it around after spending considerable time on upgrades and experimental parts on Lewis Hamilton’s car. George Russell won his first career race, and the team pushed Ferrari for second place at the end of the season. 

The off-season and upcoming testing sessions can help Mercedes close the gap further. If the end of the 2022 season was any indication, next season could be a proper three-way fight for the title. 

Featured Image Credit: WilliamsF1.com