2023 F1 Season in a Nutshell
As the 2023 F1 (Formula One) season comes to a close, we are seeing one of the most entertaining and nail-biting ones ever. Max Verstappen is leading the championship with four other drivers right behind him. This season could come down to the final race!
I awake from my dream and rub my eyes as I recollect my thoughts. In reality, the 2023 season has been quite the opposite. Max Verstappen, the leading driver for the Red Bull Racing, is running away with the trophy at an astonishing 374 points. Sergio Perez and Red Bull’s other driver, is in second with 223 points. Red Bull as a whole and their pair of elite drivers are putting on a dominant performance in 2023.
First, let’s go over how F1 works and what happened in 2022. Formula 1 is the pinnacle of motorsports, and cars in these races have enough downforce to theoretically drive upside down in a tunnel. Each team tries to build the fastest car within a set of rules over a season. Arjun Rajdev (‘26) says that he recently got interested in F1 because “the idea that you could create a car and each company can optimize it within a new standard/budget is cool.”
Arjun also finds it interesting that the sport offers more than just cars driving in circles. The complexity of the tracks along with pit stop strategies makes it more interesting. In F1, 10 teams with two drivers each travel around the world as they compete in circuits that vary in layout. Only the top 10 drivers in each race receive points. The driver with the most points wins the Driver’s Championship, and the team with the most points wins the Constructors’ Championship.
2022 was a year filled with ups and downs between Red Bull and Ferrari, F1’s most historic and successful team. At the start of the season, Ferrari looked strong behind their star driver Charles Leclerc, but Red Bull’s car proved to be stronger down the stretch, with Max Verstappen fighting back from early reliability problems to win the championship in a landslide.
After a dominant ending to the 2022 season, Red Bull is looking to repeat their success in 2023, and that’s exactly how things have gone so far – they have won nearly every race of the season. The reigning world champion Max Verstappen has been dominating the 2023 season so far and has already clinched the title with five races remaining. Teammate Sergio “Checo” Perez, is under pressure to keep his spot on the team, as poor results, crashes, and off-track drama have blemished his season. Checo’s lackluster performances have received heavy backlash because Redbull statistically has the fastest car and he has often underperformed compared to Verstappen.
Long-time F1 fan Ethan Kurian (‘26) described the 2023 season as “kind of one-sided,” highlighting Red Bull’s dominance. He added that “Red Bull dominated because the other cars didn’t have any competition to provide. Max [Verstappen] won basically every single race except for a few here and there.”
Thus far, the only race winner outside of Red Bull was Ferrari's Carlos Saiz. As previously mentioned, Ferrari was strong in 2022 but ultimately lost out to Red Bull’s top-drawer innovations. The 2023 season has seen a much less competitive Ferrari team, but they got some crucial updates after the summer break and scored their first win of the season in Singapore. It seems like Ferrari finally got things right and looks to usurp second place in the Constructors’ Championship from Mercedes.
Since Ferrari won in Singapore, Mercedes has had to change their strategy in attempts to fend off a late Ferrari run at their spot in the Constructors’ Championship. The gap is now just 26 points in Mercedes’ favor – much less than the cushion they had at the start of the season – so they need to push out crucial upgrades to stay ahead of Ferrari.
Surprisingly, in their successful start to the season, the German car manufacturer was fighting primarily against Aston Martin, an established and iconic car company that recently took over the Racing Point team in 2021. Aston Martin has long-term plans for a championship challenge, and their efforts to get there pushed them to construct a new factory and wind tunnel. At the start of the 2023 season, it looked as if Aston Martin, led by two-time world champion Fernando Alonso, would bring the fight to Red Bull.
Since the start of the season, however, Aston Martin has drastically fallen behind in car development and is now fighting to keep fourth place in the Constructors’ Championship against a fellow UK car manufacturer, McLaren. McLaren struggled immensely at the start of the season and even during pre-season testing, Mclaren driver Lando Norris expressed his concerns about their lack of pace. In the first half of the season, things seemed to be what Norris was expecting.
Out of nowhere, however, in the second half of the season, McLaren showed up with a new car. However, like many other teams, McLaren’s car is very track-dependent, meaning it may be very fast on one type of track and slower on another.
Another big contributor to McLaren’s success is rookie Oscar Piastri. The former FI Formula 2 champion had already made a name for himself by leading a race and getting his first top three finish. He replaced fellow Australian Daniel Ricciardo for 2023 and helped McLaren pull away from their former midfield rival, Alpine.
At the end of 2022, Alpine confirmed an all-French lineup with the recent signing of Pierre Gasly, who would drive alongside Esteban Ocon. As in 2022, Alpine is looking very mediocre this year. It also doesn’t help that the team has been plagued by reliability issues and their drivers clashing with each other on the track.
Alpine’s closest competitor, Williams Racing, is a distant 63 points off. Williams has had one of if not the slowest cars in the past several years and is looking to bounce back into the middle of the pack. The team has had much success in the past and is even considered to be the second best in the history of Formula 1 but is now trying to claw back from a lack of adequate funding from the previous owners. They are led by driver Alex Albon, who has scored all of their 21 points so far.
The next in the standings is Haas, who signed veteran driver Nico Hulkenberg for the 2023 season, pairing him up with Kevin Magnussen. Despite some valiant qualifying efforts, the Haas car doesn’t seem to have the race pace to get many points. The main issue with their car is overheating tires.
Another team that has struggled and was made fun of this year is AlphaTauri, the sister team of Red Bull. Former driver Nyck DeVries hasn’t been able to catch a break, failing to put up any meaningful results and wrecking his car every other weekend, costing the team a fortune.
He was replaced mid-season by former Red Bull driver Daniel Ricciardo. Ricciardo sat in for only two full races before suffering from a hand injury. Then, former F2 driver Liam Lawson, who currently drives in Super Formula, subbed for him. In a massive surprise, Lawson at times outperformed his teammate Yuki Tsunoda, who had been on the team for the entire season. Unfortunately, the team hasn’t seen enough of him to give him a seat in F1. Instead, they signed the safe bets Daniel Riccardo and Yuki Tsunoda until 2024.
2024 will be an interesting year, as many drivers reach the end of their contracts, giving us one of the greatest “silly seasons” yet. A silly season refers to one in which teams and drivers get a month off to develop their cars. During this time, teams also extend driver contracts and can opt to drop them.
As the name suggests, comical things happen around this time. For instance, rookie Oscar Pisatri drives for McLaren, but his whole career leading up to F1 was built off of Alpine. Alpine preemptively made a statement saying Oscar would drive with them, but when he said that he wouldn’t be driving with them, McLaren scooped him up and didn’t look back. For 2024, there is only one seat left from Williams Racing.
There you go, That’s a recap of our favorite sport Formula 1. We hope to have brought you up to speed on champions, flops, rivalries, and everything in between. We aimed to show you what racing is all about. Now, you can’t say all racing amount to twenty cars driving in circles.