Talking points of the 2023 Formula One season

The 2023 Formula One Grand Prix will rave of in Bahrain this weekend | Courtesy Photo

Motorsport Talking points of the 2023 Formula One season

Shafic Kiyaga 20:07 - 28.02.2023

The F1 calendar is set to expand to a record-breaking 23 races, with attendance figures expected to exceed those of last year. As a result, this season is sure to be full of talking points and excitement for fans of the sport.

The longest Formula 1 off-season for many years draws to a close. As a reward, race-starved fans will be treated to the most grand prix ever held in a single calendar year in 2023.

The upcoming season promises to be an exciting one with Red Bull's Max Verstappen aiming for a third successive title and Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton looking to add to his record tally of 103 victories.

It all roars into life this weekend with the Bahrain Grand Prix – at the same venue where teams and drivers toiled for three straight days in the only pre-season test.

The Bahrain International Circuit will hold the season-opening race for the third season in a row, before handing over to Jeddah next year. The last two encounters set the bar high.

Ferrari also has a new boss, adding to the intrigue. Off the track, new contracts need to be signed and there are new races on the horizon, including the highly anticipated Las Vegas Grand Prix.

The 2023 FIA Formula One World Championship will be the 74th running of the Formula One World Championship | Courtesy Photo

The F1 calendar is set to expand to a record-breaking 23 races, with attendance figures expected to exceed those of last year. As a result, this season is sure to be full of talking points and excitement for fans of the sport.

Verstappen vs Hamilton vs Leclerc Part II

As the Formula One season prepares to kick off, all eyes are on the intense rivalry between reigning champion Max Verstappen, Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton, and Ferrari's Charles Leclerc.

Verstappen, who won 15 out of 22 races last season, is aiming for his third consecutive championship and has been widely tipped as the favourite for the opener in Bahrain on March 5.

However, both Hamilton and Leclerc will be looking to challenge the Dutch driver for the top spot on the podium.

Hamilton, who is looking to add an eighth world title to his already impressive record, faces a tough battle this season. Although Mercedes has banished the issues that plagued them last year, the team still needs more speed if Hamilton hopes to maintain his status as the dominant driver in F1.

With the retirement of four-time champion Sebastian Vettel at the end of last season, Hamilton now has more wins than the rest put together but adding a record-extending 104th will be something special.

Lewis Hamilton (L), Max Verstappen (M) and Charles Leclerc (R) will new rivalry over a 23-grand prix Formula One Season | Courtesy Photo

No driver has ever won after reaching 300 starts and Hamilton, 38, is preparing for his 311th after the career first of failing to win anything last year.

Leclerc brought the battle to Verstappen last season but often came short in the battles as Ferrari continuously shot themselves in the foot with strategy.

But the arrival of Fred Vassuer, promises a fresh start for Ferrari who are hoping to secure their first title since 2008.

With each driver bringing their own unique strengths and strategies to the track, fans are eager to see who will emerge as the ultimate champion.

New Faces to test the old guard

There will be three new rookies on the grid. Australian driver Oscar Piastri has joined McLaren in controversial circumstances, after a contract dispute with Alpine.

He will be joined by Nyck de Vries, who has replaced Pierre Gasly at Red Bull-owned AlphaTauri, and Logan Sargeant, who will be making his debut at Williams as the first American driver in six years.

The bubbling youngster will hope to pick lessons from the experienced heads. Fernando Alonso, now 41, and Lewis Hamilton, 38, are the oldest drivers on the grid.

Hot Shots: F1 rookies Oscar Piastri Mclaren (L), Nyck de Vries Alpha Tauri (C), and American racer Logan Sargeant Williams (R) | Courtesy photo

Both have impressive records, but can either become the first driver to win a race after reaching the milestone of 300 starts? Alonso has made 355 starts while Hamilton is just behind with 310.

There will also be a return of a familiar face though. Nico Hulkenberg will start his comeback at Haas, his first full-season drive since 2019, with the German still chasing a first podium finish after 179 starts.

Redbull’s title to lose?

Red Bull Racing, the current reigning world champion in Formula One, seem to have an enviable position going into the new season.

While other teams have made changes to their boardrooms and signed new drivers to shake things up, Red Bull has stuck to their winning formula.

With no major changes made to their team, Red Bull appears to have found another gear over the winter, as evidenced by their strong performances during testing.

The RB19, Red Bull's car for the new season, is a sleek and refined version of its predecessor, the RB18.

Redbull will feel confident that the RB19 can see them defend their constructors championship, while Max Verstappen will go in search of his third consecutive drivers championship | Courtesy photo

The team has had three days of successful running during testing, with their star driver Max Verstappen not even taking part in the final day when the fastest laps were posted.

Verstappen has yet to win at the track where the season's opening race will be held, but given Red Bull's impressive showing in testing, it seems likely that this could be the year he finally achieves that feat.

Overall, Red Bull Racing has every reason to feel confident going into the new season. With their winning formula intact and a strong car to back them up, the other teams will have their work cut out for them if they hope to dethrone the reigning champions.

However, there is always the possibility of surprises in the fast-paced world of Formula One, and Red Bull will need to stay sharp to defend their title against their nine rivals and the talented Sergio Perez.

The Venues

2023 is shaping up to be a big year for Formula 1, both on and off the track. The calendar will feature a record 23 races, including the highly-anticipated Las Vegas Grand Prix, set to take place on a street circuit on the Strip in November as the penultimate round of the season.

The event has generated a lot of hype, with Formula 1 investing a considerable sum of money into the event, including purchasing land worth $240 million.

The drivers are set to take to the Las Vegas Strip on a Saturday night, and the event is expected to draw capacity crowds.

Rumours have already circulated that the Las Vegas Grand Prix contract could be extended through to 2032, as the Clark County Commission approved plans for the public roads used by the circuit to continue to be used for racing for the next ten years.

The event joins the calendar on an initial three-year contract, and the question of whether or not it will live up to the hype will only be answered at the inaugural race weekend in November.

Las Vegas Grand Prix, set to take place on a street circuit on the Strip in November as the penultimate round of the season

Aside from the Las Vegas Grand Prix, Formula 1 is looking to expand its calendar, with the South African Grand Prix rumoured to make a comeback in 2024, and a new circuit in Qiddiya set to host the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix in the near future.

Formula 1 is looking to return to the African continent, despite the recent failure to secure the return of the South African Grand Prix due to a failure to deliver financial guarantees by the local promoter.

However, some current events are facing uncertain futures, with the Belgian Grand Prix the only current event yet to secure its future beyond the end of this season.

Other iconic races in Britain and Italy need to secure new deals within the next two years. Azerbaijan, British, Italian, and Japanese Grands Prix contracts all end in 2024, but the recent trend has been for circuits to sign long-term deals, many of which last into the 2030s.

The Australian Grand Prix has already extended its contract until 2037, but it will not host the 2024 season opener. Instead, Saudi Arabia is expected to open the season in 2024, although this has not been confirmed by Formula 1.

Bahrain, which has opened the season for the past three years, is expected to fall later in the season due to the timing of Ramadan.

The new bosses

Four of the 10 teams have had new principals since 2022. Fred Vasseur has replaced Mattia Binotto at Ferrari, joining from Sauber/Alfa Romeo in January.

Charles Leclerc and Ferd Vassuer (R) will attempt to win Ferrari their first F1 title since 2008 | Courtesy photo

McLaren's Andreas Seidl has joined Sauber, appointing Alessandro Alunni Bravo to what is effectively a principal role, with Andrea Stella stepping up at McLaren while James Vowles moved from a strategy role at Mercedes to boss of Williams.

Can Vasseur bring a title to Maranello for the first time since the 2008 constructors' championship?

The Frenchman's arrival has drawn comparisons with compatriot Jean Todt, who led the team through a golden era with Michael Schumacher in the early 2000s.