With all the teams having announced their line ups for 2023, it’s safe to say that there are a few pairings that could cause some serious rivalry within the team. There is an array of factors contributing to this, such as new drivers entering the team; the chance of developing a race winning car for the new season and strained relationships from 2022 spilling over into 2023. After looking at all of the pairings on grid there are some that have the potential to cause explosive battles on and off track, but to me there is one obvious team that may have bitten off more than they can chew when it comes to their new 2023 line up.
Before getting into the team that I think will have the biggest inter team rivalry, here are the close runner ups that are also on my radar as ones to watch going into this new season. First up is the Redbull pairing of Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez, on the face of it this pairing looks like a win-win as Checo has taken a step up from his previous teams by having the chance to compete in a race winning car and Max has a reliable second driver who can assist him in his title bids for the foreseeable future. However, Brazil 2022 signaled a big shift in this relationship as Verstappen refused to give up his position in P6 for Checo, this caused Perez to miss out on securign P2 in the drivers standings and prompted his outburst over the radio stating that Max has shown “who he really is”. Many believe that Max’s actions were as a result of Perez deliberately crashing in Monaco qualifying, which denied his team mate pole, however this has never been confirmed or proven. Whilst the rumours of a lingering tension has been put to bed by Christian Horner, claiming that “the air was absolutely clear” by Abu Dhabi, there is still a small suspicion that questions whether Checo will be as willing to assist Max in the future, given that he can no longer trust that the favour will be returned. Although there is still some doubt over Checo’s commitment to help Verstappen moving forward, I believe that this team pairing is the least likely of those mentioned today to explode into a full blown rivalry as Redbull’s recent signing of Daniel Ricciardo may be enough of a deterrent to ensure that Checo’s complies with being Vertsappen’s wingman in future.
The second team on the list is the Mercedes pairing of George Russell and Lewis Hamilton. Whilst Mercedes has long been established as Hamilton’s team, Russell proved in his first season for the team that he is more than able to keep up with the 7x world champion and was definitely the right choice for the team’s future. Both of the drivers have seemingly maintained quite a good relationship throughout the season, but there is no denying that this is mostly due to Mercedes taking a significant step down from where they were last year. When a race win was on the cards in Brazil both drivers remained fair and respectful with each other but I don’t see this lasting much longer if Mercedes are able to produce a title challenging car in 2023. Whilst it may not reach the heights that we saw in 2016 between Hamilton and Rosberg, it definitely won’t be as smooth sailing as it has been up until this point. This will be one to keep an eye on in 2023.
Another team mate pairing to keep and eye out for in 2023 is McLaren’s new line up of Lando Norris and Oscar Piastri. Whilst it’s unclear how good McLaren’s 2023 car will be, one thing that is clear is that they’ll have a lot of eyes on them given the chaos the ensued following the announcement of their new driver. Piastri has somewhat of a unique F1 debut awaiting him as he already has the pressure of outperforming a 9x Grand Prix winner resting on his shoulders, McLaren’s decision to buy out Ricciardo’s contract for 2023 automatically upped the ante as they were willing to put their neck on the line for a driver that has never driven a full race in Formula 1 before. This has naturally built up plenty of anticipation for the 2023 season as not only have people’s expectations for Piastri been heightened, compared to the expectations of a regular f1 rookie, his team mate – who will be used as the bench mark of comparison – also happens to be one of the most consistent and impressive drivers on the grid in recent years. McLaren will be, in my opinion, the most exciting team to watch in 2023 as they have a promising new rookie joining the team, whose junior career parallels the likes of George Russell and Charles Leclerc, they also have one of the best drivers on the grid who has consistently outperformed the car he has been given and hasn’t really put a foot wrong in his F1 career so far. Piastri will no doubt be driving to make a statement in his debut year in F1 and will be keen to prove that he can match Lando, if not beat him, over the course of the season. Norris will want to reassert his status as the number 1 driver in the team and completely quash any thoughts that Piastri could go on to take his spot and become the new leader of the team. Typically there is usually no space for two number 1 drivers at a team so it will be very interesting to see how this upcoming season plays out and whether the dynamics of the team begin to shift based on the performances of both drivers.
Now, without further ado we can finally get on to the team whom I believe will have the biggest inter- team rivalry on their hands, and that is… Alpine! The French based team has a new French line up consisting of Esteban Ocon and Pierre Gasly, the two drivers have a well-established dislike for each other, as despite growing up together and being friends at one point, their relationship took a turn as they began to race each other more. Gasly spoke about their strained relationship back in 2018 and noted that it “got a lot worse” when they started to fight each other for championships in their karting days. Gasly has since said that he is “not worried” about their previous feud as both drivers have matured and moved on. Whilst this may be true, under the intense pressure cooker of F1 many team mates have gone from amicable at the start of their relationship to sworn enemies by the end of the season, let alone those who already have a history of pushing each other too far. Both drivers are convinced that they can leave their past behind them but if Alpine are able to provide them with a competitive car both drivers will be fighting to prove why they should be the number 1 in the team. Having a pretty evenly matched career up until this point means that there is no obvious favourite heading in to 2023, this will be a pivotal year for both drivers to show who can carry the team moving forward and solidify themself as the future of Alpine.
Given how well the new regulations worked last season, 2023 is sure to bring more thrilling racing and rivalries that will grip our attention from start to finish, but it’s yet to be seen whether the best rivalries will be between teams for the championship or within teams for the right be number 1.