Formula One is set for another record-breaking season in 2023, with 24 races planned, double the amount of sprint races compared to last year and an all-new grand prix in Las Vegas.For the second year in a row, Max Verstappen enters the season as the defending champion, with his Red Bull team looking to hold off renewed challenges from rivals Mercedes and Ferrari.The first car launches are already on the horizon next month, with the lights out at the first race in Bahrain in early March. Here's everything you need to know to prepare for the new season.
When will we see the cars for the first time?The team launch dates confirmed are listed below, although some (especially the earlier ones) might not actually reveal the new car but simply a 2023 livery on a show car:
Red Bull: February 3
Ferrari: February 14
Mercedes: February 15
Alpine: February 16
McLaren: February 13
Alfa Romeo: February 7
Aston Martin: February 13
Haas: January 31
AlphaTauri: February 11
Williams: February 6
Bahrain, Sakhir - February 23-5There will only be one three-day test this year and it will take place in Bahrain one week ahead of the opening race. Testing gives teams the chance to debug their new cars and start to understand how to extract the maximum performance from them. Last year, testing was split over two separate events, but now that the teams are in their second year of F1's latest regulations, pre-season track time has been cut in half. It should provide an early indicator as to whether any one has cut the gap to Red Bull.
What does this record-breaking season look like?The 2023 will have a record-breaking 23 races, although it was originally scheduled to have 24. The fourth round of the season was supposed to held in China on April 16 but was cancelled towards the end of last year due to COVID-19-related travel restrictions. Its absence leaves an unusual four-week gap in April before five races in six weeks in Baku, Miami, Imola, Monaco and Barcelona.The most high-profile addition to the F1 schedule this year is the Las Vegas Grand Prix. The new street circuit will go down the famous Strip in Las Vegas, passing the city's best-known landmarks and casinos. The hype for the event is off the scale, exceeding that ahead of the Miami Grand Prix this time last year, with the most expensive suite packages costing up to $5 million.Qatar also returns to the calendar in early October after a year off the schedule to allow for preparations for last year's FIFA World Cup.
2023 race scheduleMarch 5 - Bahrain Grand PrixMarch 19 - Saudi Arabian Grand PrixApril 2 - Australian Grand PrixApril 30 - Azerbaijan Grand PrixMay 7 - Miami Grand PrixMay 21 - Emilia Romagna Grand PrixMay 28 - Monaco Grand PrixJune 4 - Spanish Grand PrixJune 18 - Canadian Grand PrixJuly 2 - Austrian Grand PrixJuly 9 - British Grand PrixJuly 23 - Hungarian Grand PrixJuly 30 - Belgian Grand PrixAugust 27 - Dutch Grand PrixSeptember 3 - Italian Grand PrixSeptember 17 - Singapore Grand PrixSeptember 24 - Japanese Grand PrixOctober 8 - Qatar Grand PrixOctober 22 - U.S. Grand PrixOctober 29 - Mexican Grand PrixNovember 5 - Brazilian Grand PrixNovember 18 - Las Vegas Grand PrixNovember 26 - Abu Dhabi Grand Prix
Are sprint races still a thing?Very much so. After the last two seasons featured three sprint races, F1 has increased that number to six for 2023.Sprint weekends offer more competitive on-track action, with qualifying held on Friday setting a grid for a shortened race on Saturday that sets the grid for Sunday's grand prix.The venues for the sprint races this year are Azerbaijan, Austria, Belgium, Qatar, United States and Brazil.
What else is new?There have been a number of driver switches over the winter as well as some high-profile management changes.
Alonso to Aston MartinAfter making his return to F1 with Alpine two seasons ago, two-time champion Fernando Alonso decided to switch things up for 2023 and move to Aston Martin. The news, which was announced the day after last year's Hungarian Grand Prix, caught Alpine by surprise and set in motion a number of other changes up and down the grid. Alonso joins Aston Martin ahead of the team's move to its new factory in May, which it hopes will help close the gap the to the front of the grid.
Ricciardo becomes Red Bull's third driverOnce all of the drama of F1's driver market had played out, Daniel Ricciardo was the biggest name without a seat on the grid for 2023. After starting the 2022 season in the second year of a seemingly air-tight three-year contract with McLaren, poor results and the emergence of Oscar Piastri as a potential replacement saw him agree to an early termination of the deal at the end of the year. Options elsewhere were slim and he opted not to explore the possibility of a move to Haas, instead returning to his old team Red Bull where he will take on marketing and test driver responsibilities. He hopes to return to the grid in 2024, although it is not yet clear where he will slot in.
Oscar Piastri joins McLarenPiastri has long been recognised as the most exciting young driver outside F1, and it was always a matter of time until he joined the grid. As an Alpine junior the main blockage in his career progression had been the team's two race drivers, Alonso and Esteban Ocon, who appeared to be committed to Alpine until Alonso announced his plans to move to Aston Martin in the summer. By that time, however, Piastri and his manager Mark Webber were already fed up of waiting on a more permanent deal and had signed with McLaren for Piastri to replace Ricciardo. Expectations are set high after such a turbulent entry into F1, but Piastri's record suggests he has the talent to meet and exceed them.
An American on the gridF1's seven-year wait for an American driver is finally over with Logan Sargeant joining Williams this year. Initially it looked like Colton Herta would be America's breakthrough star but his performance in IndyCar meant he wasn't eligible for a superlicence, which blocked a move to AlphaTauri. Meanwhile, Sargeant, who finished fourth in Formula 2 last year, was impressing Williams in his development driver role and was announced as Nicholas Latifi's replacement and Alex Albon's teammate for 2023.
Gasly to Alpine and de Vries to AlphaTauriPierre Gasly emerged as Alpine's top pick to replace Alonso once it lost Piastri to McLaren, but the Frenchman had a contract to race for AlphaTauri in 2023. However, a well-timed super-sub performance by Dutchman Nyck de Vries at Williams -- standing in for Albon in Italy when the Thai driver had appendicitis -- convinced AlphaTauri to release Gasly and sign up the former Formula E champion. The switch sees Gasly join Esteban Ocon in an all-French lineup at Alpine and de Vries partner Yuki Tsunoda at AlphaTauri.
The return of the The HulkHaas' patience with Mick Schumacher finally ran out in 2022 as it decided to replace him with the more experienced Nico Hulkenberg. The 35-year-old German raced five times across the 2020 and 2022 seasons as a reserve driver for Racing Point/Aston Martin but has not completed a full season since 2019. Haas hopes the combination of Hulkenberg and Kevin Magnussen will bring consistent results and limit its repair bill, which spiraled in 2022 after Schumacher had two big accidents in Saudi Arabia and Monaco. The son of seven-time world champion Michael will remain in F1 as Mercedes' reserve driver.
Binotto out at Ferrari, Vasseur in
It wasn't just drivers switching teams, a number of key management personnel have also left or moved roles over the winter. The trigger was Mattia Binotto resigning from the top spot at Ferrari after a long-awaited title campaign failed to materialise in 2022. Binotto had denied stories he would leave the team right up to until the final round of the year, but just weeks after the chequered flag fell in Abu Dhabi he was out of the job. Alfa Romeo's Fred Vasseur was lined up to take Binotto's place and had his first day in charge at the start of the second week of January.McLaren team principal Andreas Seidl was released from his role shortly after to head up Audi's entry to F1 in 2026, which will see the German brand take over the Sauber team currently running under the Alfa Romeo name. Seidl will be replaced by Andrea Stella at McLaren, who was previously the team's sporting director and is highly-rated by CEO Zak Brown.Elsewhere, Jost Capito left Williams along with the team's technical director FX Demaison. No replacement has been announced for either.