Wednesday, February 22, 2023

2023 F1 Preview: First We Go Testing, Then We Race

As wasn’t it Good ‘Ol bob Varsha who used to say “Turn Up the volume!”


It will be 95 Days since we last had Formula 1 Cars Ontrack at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. As this year’s lone three day test commences this Thursday at the Bahrain International Circuit.


Opposite IndyCar, it seems like it’s been a fairly quiet Offseason for F1. For which I can say I really haven’t missed it at All, and in some whays not really sure I want to resume. Although I’m sure I’ll warm-up after the season begins. But I’ll miss the season opener due to being On Holiday…


Taking a cursory look at the ten F1 Constructors, only four teams Drivers lineups remain unchanged. With Red Bull, Ferrari and Mercedes – finishing that order in last year’s F1 Constructors Championship being joined by Alfa Romeo.


Thus 60% of this year’s Grid sees new Driver combinations, with the biggest two centering around Fernando Alonso’s Shock move to Aston Martin as ‘lil Syd Viddle’s replacement, Following Sebastian Vettel’s retirement. And McLaren’s subsequently securing Oscar Piastri as DannyRic’, aka Daniel Ricciardo’s replacement. As Alpine thought they had PREVIOUSLY secured the services of the Australian Rookie Piastri, but were subsequently denied by the FIA’s Contracts Recognition Board durng Arbitration.


Pierre Gasly moves from Scuderia AlphaTauri to Alpine as Alonso’s replacement. Giving the team an All French Driver lineup which will be interesting, since the two French Drivers reportedly have a long standing Feud!


Gasly’s AlphaTauri seat is taken by our second Rookie on the Grid being Nyck de Vries. With the third and final Rookie being America’s Logan Sargeant taking the departed Nicholas Latifit’s Williams Racing seat.


Whilst last, but certainly not least. Thee “Incredible Hulk,” aka Nico Hulkenberg returns to Formula 1 with Haas as Mick Schumacher’s replacement. With the younger German now becoming Mercedes and McLaren’s Reserve Driver.


Meanwhile, you could say that the Offseason was fairly active upon the Team Principal Merry-go-round. Having an unprecedented 40% turnover. With changes occurring at Alfa Romeo, Ferrari, McLaren and Williams. With the biggest change being alfa’s Frederik Vasser taking over at Scuderia Ferrari. As Alfa Romeo named it’s Managing Director Alessandro Alunni as it’s Team Representative for it’s “Open” Team Principal position.


McLaren saw Andrea Stella promoted to Team Principal and most notably, Mercedes longtime Senior Race Strategist James Vowles became Williams new Team Principal, albeit I don’t believe a new Technical Director has been appointed at Team Willy’ as  of yet?


And like Grizzled F1 Journo’ Joe Saward previously said. We’re at the Warm and Fluffy part of the season. where I believe that everybody still thinks they can become World Champion, albeit several teams will be Delusional in Thar visions ‘O Grandeur…


As should we expect either Ferrari or Mercedes to be able to topple Red Bull and Max Verstappen this year? As it will be interesting to see if new Ferrari Supremo Frederik Vasser can smooth over la Scuderia’s rough edges? And has Mercedes done enough to make their Pogo-stick Happy Silver Arrows not so Bouncy this season?


As it’s worth remembering that the FIA instituted new ride height regulations for this year, with a mandatory minimum raising of the F1 chassis Floors, in an effort to curtail Porposing.


And Haas has boldly proclaimed during it’s virtual F1 Car launch that they’re targeting finishing sixth overall this year, up two places from last’ year’s finish of eighth. Which I’m not sure if that’s just being realistic, or not overly aggressive?


As surely one or more of the ten Formula 1 teams will run into teething issues at the Bahrain test, putting them on the Back foot at season’s beginning. And some will disappoint, while I’ve got zero Clue over who’ll surprise us?


As I’m most interested over how the three Rookies do this year. Since on paper you’d have to think that Oscar Piastri has the nod, since He’s arguably in the best chassis of these three Newbies.


Yet I’m thinking that Nyck de Vries will shine the most of all, even if He’s in the AlphaTauri. Since He already impressed us driving for Team Willy’ last year as Alex Albon’s substitute at Monza.


While I think Logan Sargeant’s in for a rough slog during His Rookie campaign with Williams. But who knows? I’d expect the Yank to put in some good performances over this elongated season. Which probably will be tough for All three, having never done a 23 race season before.


As  it’s about to get Hot ‘N Hectic in Formula 1! As another season commences March 5th in Bahrain, with only 23 races to Go…