Verstappen will go for the treble, but Ferrari and Mercedes will have a word or two for that

Based on the results of the tests in Sahiri, which ended last Saturday, and the opinions of experts, there is the best chance that defending champion Max Verstappen, Dutch Red Bull driver, will not be dethroned this year in the 74. Formula 1 World Series season. However, he will have Ferrari and Mercedes drivers have some words for this. The 2023 season will feature a record 23 races, starting this weekend in Bahrain.

The 25-year-old Verstappen defended his 2021 World Championship title last year by winning 15 of the 22 races, and even after the testing days in Bahrain last week, it looks like he will be the number one contender for the World Championship points race. This year too. His teammate Sergio Perez would be a willing assistant in this matterwho gained a permanent advantage in the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix at the end of the 2021 season, as Verstappen managed to overtake Briton Lewis Hamilton on the last lap.

In recent years, the Mexican Red Bull driver has been able to take advantage of the opportunity presented by the Austrian national team as an individual, for example, winning last year’s Monaco Grand Prix and also in Singapore.

For Formula 1 fans, that could mean exciting races if Verstappen gets pressured by one of Ferrari’s drivers, Charles Leclerc or Carlos Sainz, or by Hamilton, who is driving for his eighth world championship. For the 38-year-old British star, the three days of testing in Saheri didn’t quite go according to his ideas, and the new Mercedes won’t be able to win a race on its own at the moment.

It looks almost certain that the Silver Arrows, once again painted black, will trail Red Bull in pace at this weekend’s Bahrain Grand Prix. Meanwhile, team boss Toto Wolff, as well as Hamilton and teammate George Russell, are hopeful they still have something to gain.

Regarding Hamilton, the big question for this season is whether he will extend his contract with Mercedes. The British driver will complete his 17th season in F1 this year – as per his deal for a £40m (HUF 16.9bn) salary – and he and Mercedes claim the new contract is just a formality.

Ferrari begins the season with a new team chief and strategist

Ferrari, which finished second among automakers last year, changed its team chief: Mattia Binotto had to leave, and Frenchman Frédéric Vasseur, who previously ran Alfa Romeo Sauber, was appointed in his place. Based on testing, it looks like the Maranello team is starting in the right direction with this year’s SF-23 race car, but whether it will be enough to pressure Verstappen into the 23-race World Cup series remains in question. Last year’s runner-up Charles Leclerc and teammate Carlos Sainz spoke positively about the new Ferrari.

In previous years, the Maranello team lost several victories due to wrong strategic decisions. To prevent this, Vasseur appointed a new strategist to head the team working on the depot wall, in the person of Italian Indian Raven Jain, as one of his first measures.

Aston Martin may be the ‘dark horse’ of this season

Among the mid-range teams, Aston Martin appears to have improved the most in 2022, with Spain’s Fernando Alonso bringing vast experience and fresh enthusiasm to Canadian billionaire Lawrence Stroll’s team. But for several days it was questionable who, in addition to 41-year-old Alonso, would be able to drive the other Aston Martin AMR23 at the season opener in Bahrain. The team finally announced on Thursday that the wrist surgery Lance Stroll had last week had been successful, paving the way for the 24-year-old Canadian driver to take back his seat from Brazilian Felipe Drugovic, who is helping the team carry out tests in Bahrain.

McLaren is in trouble

McLaren is facing a difficult season, as its car this year, the MCL60, has not fared well. During last week’s tests, both the axle and brakes gave rise to problems, which is why the seven-time World Champion team from Woking managed to complete just 312 laps with the MCL60, 142 fewer than the most hardworking Alpha Tauri team in three days! The papaya-colored goalkeeper will continue to wait for the miracle from England’s Lando Norris, whose fellow Australian newcomer Oscar Piastri will be.

Three newcomers, Dutchman Nyck de Vries (Alpha Toure), American Logan Sargeant (Williams) and Australian Oscar Piastri (McLaren) could make their F1 debut this year – despite de Vries being hospitalized for a race in Monza last year. To replace Alex Albon at Williams.

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Pierre Gasly has moved from Red Bull’s subsidiary team to Alpine, thus completing the French delegation in the Renault-owned team, where his teammate will be Esteban Ocon, who won his first F1 success at the Hungaroring in 2021.

The race calendar includes a new location, the third US stop, Las Vegas. Before that, the field will visit Austin, Texas and Miami, which hosted F1 for the first time last year, at the start of May.

The Hungarian Grand Prix will be held a week earlier than usual in recent years, July 21-23. It will be held in Hungaroring between

Towards the end of the season, Qatar will return to a program that until now was only on the calendar in 2021.

Compared to last year’s three races, there will actually be six race weekends in 2023, in Azerbaijan, Austria, Belgium, Qatar, Austin and Brazil.

Qualifying practice for the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix will take place on Saturday at 4:00pm, and the 57-lap race will take place on Sunday at 4:00pm.

All practice sessions for the Bahrain Grand Prix and Sunday’s race will be broadcast live on M4 Sport.

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