With the 2023 season right around the corner, it’s that time again to offer up predictions for the season, which will probably bear no resemblance to the final results that we see at the end of the year. So here are my predictions for the upcoming season.
- McLaren will drop out of the top 5
The Woking based team managed to retain their position in the top 5 in 2022, albeit this was a disappointing result by their standards, as Alpine pipped them to the post and secured 4th in the constructor standings. Although P5 is not where they would’ve aimed to be, there were a couple of contributing factors that led to this subpar result. The first was the continued poor form of Daniel Ricciardo, he was not able to close the gap to Norris and with their closest competitor, Alpine, benefiting from having two drivers maximising every opportunity, and at times outdriving the car in spite of the reliability issues, it was inevitable that they would eventually over take McLaren in the standings. McLaren were essentially driving with one hand tied behind their back and to add to that they didn’t adapt to the new regulations particularly well. The McLaren car has been known to be quite a tricky car to drive in recent times and this was highlighted last year as their performance took a notable step down from the progress they had made in 2021. I don’t see this getting better in 2023 as they have a rookie joining the team, their team principal has left and they will have to contend with stronger teams, such as Aston Martin, who made rapid progress towards the end of 2022. My bet is on Aston Martin to take McLaren’s 5th spot in the constructor standings as with the rapid acceleration that they demonstrated last year, I don’t see this stopping in 2023 as they expand their facilities and welcome in Fernando Alonso.
- Pierre Gasly will become the No.1 driver at Alpine
With possibly the most fractious team pairing on the grid, Alpine already have a battle on their hands before the season has even begun. Alpine undoubtedly have one of the most competitive inter team rivalries, both drivers are very evenly yoked with a grand prix win to each of their names, and having established their dislike for each other over the years I believe that this tension will come out on track as they will push each other to the absolute limit and beyond. This is familiar territory for Ocon as he is no stranger to pushing his team mates too far at the cost of the team, but as both drivers are currently in their prime neither one will want to concede to the other. I believe that Gasly will get the better of Ocon as, whilst he had quite a forgettable season compared to Ocon’s underrated performance, I believe he is the quicker of the two and will be able to make a big enough impact in the team to establish himself as the number one driver.
- Fernando Alonso will be the stand out driver of the season
With Alonso’s unreal performances in 2022 that saw him put the Alpine on the front row in qualifying at Canada or his recovery to P6 at the US GP, after his big collision with his new team mate, it’s fair to say that he is easily one of the best drivers on the grid. Based on the quality of his performances I believe that he will be able to match the front runners if Aston Martin provided him with the car to do so. Alonso has easily outperformed the car that he has been given since his return and he could’ve been much closer to the top 5 had the car not been so unreliable in 2022. For the 2023 season I’m hopeful that Alonso will be given a reliable car that will allow him to drive at the level he’s capable of. Providing Aston Martin continue on their upwards trajectory, I predict that Alonso will finish at a minimum of P7 in the driver standings, but wouldn’t be surprised if he managed to break into the top 6.
- Oscar Piastri will equal Lando Norris in his rookie year
Now, this will be an astronomical task for Piastri, given the way that Lando Norris has been driving for the past few seasons, he hasn’t put a foot wrong (Russia 2021 was on the team) and has comfortably been best of the rest, he was the only driver in 2022 to score a podium outside of the top 3 teams and has repeatedly proven why many believe he will be a future world champion. So, asking a rookie to match Norris in his first F1 season in a car that we know is difficult to drive may seem unreasonable but looking at Piastri’s junior career it is on par with drivers who we now consider the best of this upcoming generation, such as Russell and Leclerc. Although a solid junior career is not a sure-fire way to determine if a driver will go on to be successful in F1, as seen with Niko Hulkenberg, it is usually a pretty good indicator as those who have won in the junior categories have been able to translate that into F1 success a majority of the time. I think this will be one of the most exciting pairings for 2023 as Piastri will have to go up against one of the best drivers on the grid in his first season and with the anticipation already surrounding his debut this battle will definitely be one to watch. I don’t think the gap between the two will be as big as people think and I’m predicting Piastri to finish the season within 10 points of his team mate.
- We will get another Hamilton v Verstappen championship battle
Redbull absolutely dominated 2022 and I believe that they will be the strongest team coming into 2023, they’ve nailed the regulations and have a prime Verstappen leading the team, however with the penalty that they are carrying for this year and Mercedes’ improvement towards the end of the season I think that we could be in for another Hamilton/Verstappen fight. It will be difficult to dethrone Redbull, as they seem to have been miles ahead of everyone by the end of the 2022 season, but Mercedes were able to pick up a race win by the end of 2022, which looked completely unattainable when they debuted the W13 in Bahrain, the progress that they were able to make during the season is encouraging for fans that want another exciting title fight that will go down to the last race in Abu Dhabi. Having taken a year to get accustomed to the new regulations the teams should have a better grip on the type of car that they need to develop to push themselves forward and out of all the teams on the grid I think that if any of them are going to take the fight the Redbull in 2023 it will be Mercedes, as they have shown previously that they can comeback strong and 2023 may just be they year that we are treated to another titanic fight between the infamous rivals.