New drivers, faster tracks and the glitz and glam of Las Vegas – everything you need to know ahead of the 2023 F1 season | The Sun

THE new F1 season is set to start this weekend with the Bahrain Grand Prix.

Max Verstappen will be hoping to retain his championship title but will have to compete with new drivers and new rules.

The Red Bull racer was unstoppable last year, although old rivals such as Lewis Hamilton will be hoping to fight back this time around.

There will also be more F1 than normal with the all-female racing series.


Australian racer Oscar Piastri has joined McLaren and will partner Lando Norris however, his arrival to F1 was a bumpy one.

He was caught in a tug of war between McLaren and his former team, Alpine, who had confirmed that he was a replacement for Fernando Alonso.


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However, Piastri – managed by former F1 driver Mark Webber – challenged Alpine's contract and after a hearing by the FIA's contracts board, he was given the green light to join McLaren, much to the frustration of Alpine.

Piastri, 21, won the 2020 F3 title and the 2021 F2 title but spent last year on the sidelines, so will be a bit rusty.

Logan Sargeant has joined Williams with the 22-year-old spending half his life in the UK having left the United States to further his racing career.


While they aren't new to F1, Nyck de Vries comes in to AlphaTauri after the Formula E champion impressed while filling in for Alex Albon at Monza last year.

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Veteran Nico Hulkenberg is also back in F1. The German, 35, has not had a full season in F1 since 2019 but has been offered a way back by Haas.


Complete F1 2023 race calendar – every Grand Prix from this year

Just one new GP to the calendar of 23-races – but boy, is it a big one! Las Vegas will welcome F1 as the penultimate race.
The race, which will be held in November, is on a new street circuit along its iconic Strip.

It is the first time F1 returns to Sin City since 1982 and, unlike all the other races, will be held on a Saturday night.

Hotels are already sold out, as F1 is booming in the US right now with this, the third race in the States.

The timing of the night race and the low temperatures could make things challenging for the drivers too.


Over the winter, the FIA's decision to change the rules and ban drivers from making personal or political statements drew a lot of criticism.

The pressure has eventually told and while they are now allowed to continue their free speech, they have been told where it is, and crucially where it is not acceptable.

Whether they will fully abide by the rules we will see, but there have also been some minor tweaks to the rulebook for sporting regulations and technical rules.

Safety improvements on the cars have seen it mandatory for rounded tops on the roll hoops that sit above a drivers' cockpit.

This was introduced after Zhou Guanyu's huge crash at the British Grand Prix in which his car slid across the track upside down.

A rounded top is now compulsory to reduce the chance of it digging into the ground in an accident.

The car height has been raised by 15 millimetres – granted not much, but a big deal in F1 as this should help to solve the dreaded porpoising problems.

And finally, tyres. Pirelli have introduced a new tyre compound, so there are now six variations of the slick tyre.


More sprint races. Last season, there were three sprint races on Saturday, the 30-minute races that are used to determine the grid.

While the drivers and teams have mixed views on them, the promoters love them as they offer more value for money for the punters.

There will be these extra races, where points are on offer, in Azerbaijan, Austria, Belgium, Qatar, Austin and Brazil.

F1 Academy. The sport has launched its all-female racing series to help speed up the process of having a women driver in F1.

The F1 Academy will race away from the F1 bill but has been included on the schedule for the race in Austin, Texas.

Unfortunately, this could make things difficult for the W Series, which had looked to do the same.



A race? Definitely. The title? I don't think so. There is little you can read into testing but my feeling is that Red Bull and Max Verstappen were just so good last year that I cannot see past them.

Verstappen is the best driver on the grid at the moment and rarely makes mistakes. He is brimming in confidence and just so incredibly strong in all conditions.

Mercedes look like they have cured their bouncing issues, which is good news. And George Russell and Hamilton looked to have formed a strong partnership.

However, will it be enough to topple Red Bull? I just cannot see it at this stage.


Unlikely. Mohammed Ben Sulayem has been dogged by controversy since he took the position 14 months ago.

His bling ban, historical sexist comments, legal warning from F1 for speaking out on the potential sale of the sport has got him in hot water.

For the meantime, he's promised to step back from running the FIA's F1 operation on a day-to-day basis.

However, if there is one thing we have learned from his short tenure it is that he loves the limelight.

The lure of being on the podium and seen with F1's stars could prove too strong and no doubt draw him back into trouble.


I don't think so, no. The Italian team took decisive action and replaced Mattia Binotto after a series of failures.

Binotto, to his credit, stayed loyal with his employees and carried the blame but ultimately that has cost him his job.

He has been replaced by Fred Vasseur, formerly of Sauber who knows how to run an F1 team.

I firmly believe that he not only has the potential to iron out all their costly mistakes but also to get the best out of Charles Leclerc, who he has worked with in the past.


This is a huge year for Norris and McLaren. He has held his own against Carlos Sainz, outclassed Daniel Riccardo and now faces a new challenge in highly-rated Oscar Piastri.

However, he is still missing that crucial victory after coming so agonisingly close in 2021.

Put simply, McLaren have not delivered him a good car and while he could have all the skill in the world, he needs to have a decent car to be challenging for regular wins, which is ultimately what he is capable of.

He has a contract with McLaren until 2025, but if he is hampered by another poor car, expect the likes of Red Bull and Mercedes to be hovering to test the strength of that McLaren deal.


All over the place. I expect this season to be one of the most exciting – albeit off track – in years.

It is littered with plots. Mercedes verses Red Bull over the past few seasons has ignited a war of words between their respective team bosses, drivers, mechanics, engineers and fan bases.

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F1 verses the FIA promises to be a thrilling battle in the management and governance of the sport.

Then there is the inter-team rivalry. Esteban Ocon and Pierry Gasly are not pally, Sergio Perez and Max Verstappen fell out spectacularly last season following the Mexican's crash in Monaco and surely Fernando Alonso will not last five minutes without blasting Lance Stroll!

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