Now that all of the teams have had a year to acclimate themselves to the new regulations, the real battle begins; who can develop the best car to fit the new regulations in the long term. At the beginning of the 2022 season many of us thought that we would be in for a close title fight between Ferrari and Redbull but it soon became clear that the title would be Redbull’s to take, and that’s exactly what they did. There is no doubt that Redbull were the strongest team last year, but now that all of the teams have a better understanding of the new regulations will Redbull be able to hold onto their crown in the years to come?
With the display of dominance that Redbull showcased in 2022, the teams at the top will be desperately trying to catch up to the reigning champions as they have the most to gain from it. Ferrari have adopted a completely new strategy with the introduction of a new Team Principal who they hope can stamp out their continuous strategy slip ups, shaky communication and restore the trust with the drivers, as these issues led to Ferrari throwing away their shot at the title last year. Although this is the most significant change from any team at the top, I don’t think that it’ll lead to enough of an improvement for Ferrari to topple Redbull. Ferrari have deep-rooted problems that have been bubbling under the surface for years, when they were finally able to provide a race winning car in 2022 this catapulted all of their underlying issues to the surface and it blew up in their face. The internal struggles that the team face may stagnate their progression, until it has been fixed they will not be able to improve on track on a consistent basis.
The next team at the top that will need to show significant improvements in 2023 to be in with a title shot is Mercedes. I don’t think anyone expected the team to have the 2022 season that they did, coming off their era of dominance and the limited upgrades throughout the 2021 season – in order to focus on the new 2022 regulations – I think the general consensus was that Mercedes would be on par with Redbull if not better. However, we now know that this was not the case and in Bahrain I think it shocked everybody with how far off they were. Their unique car design caused many issues throughout the season and it took them a long time to get on top of this, they were able to pull of a win in Brazil but considering that the season had 22 races I don’t think 1 win out of 22 was quite up to their standards. Mercedes has all of the resources that they need to make that jump in 2023 and challenge Redbull as they know how to win, they have 2 of the strongest drivers on the grid and they’ve claimed to understand what was prohibiting their success in 2022. Given this, the expectation is that they should be much closer to the leaders in 2023. although they have taken a few hits with some of their senior personnel, such as James Vowels, jumping ship to other teams. This shouldn’t affect them too much but based on their performance last year, now is definitely not the ideal time for senior personnel to be departing from the team. If Mercedes are able to catch up to Redbull it will definitely be a significant improvement from 2022, but given that they still finished in the top 3 last season this may not be the most impressive improvement that we see on the grid in 2023.
Moving further down the grid and looking at the increasingly competitive midfield, there are two teams that stand out to me when considering who will make the biggest improvements heading in to 2023. The first team is Haas, this may not seem like an obvious option as they finished 8th in the constructors standings last year, but that was still a jump up from finishing last in 2021. This was mainly the achievement of Kevin Magnussen as he put in a couple of memorable performances last year such as finishing 5th in the season opener at Bahrain and getting his maiden pole position in Brazil. Considering that Haas were able to climb up two spots, based majoritively on the back of one of their drivers, with Hulkenberg joining the team this year their progress should at least be matched if not improved upon. Haas have been one of the teams who were able to benefit off of the new regulations and look to be on an upward trajectory. With a new reliable driver line up and an impressive development jump in 2022 they look set to continue this in to 2023 and so I wouldn’t be surprised if they jump up another place by the end of the season as the teams ahead of them, such as Alfa Romeo and McLaren, seem to have struggled in 2022.
The final team on the list and the one that I think will make the biggest improvement for 2023 is Aston Martin. With the progress that Aston Martin were able to make in the latter half of the 2022 season they are already carrying momentum into 2023. In addition to this, they will have access to their new facilities and have also managed to get Fernando Alonso on board, I think that this year they will be able to go one step further and challenge the upper end of the midfield. Aston Martin will have one of the best drivers on the grid on their team and considering that he has been able to outdrive any car that he has been given to him who knows where he will end up in 2023 if they can provide a reliable car that was at least as good as the AMR22. The only obstacle that could possibly get in Aston Martin’s way is their other driver, Lance Stroll, whilst he has had some stand out performances in his F1 career he is extremely inconsistent and as he has a ‘lifetime seat’ this could be the teams limiting factor in the long run. I believe that Aston Martin’s most significant factor that will dictate how successful they are in 2023 will come down to Stroll, if he can take a step up then they should be able to take the battle to the likes of McLaren and Alpine.
As we don’t know who will take a step forward or backward heading into this new season, we will just have to wait until testing at the end of the month to give us a slight glimpse into what the teams have been up to over the winter. My money’s on Aston Martin as it looks as though they have everything in place to continue on with their 5 year plan towards becoming a title contender, but we may be in for a surprise or two as you never know in the world of F1.