The 2023 F1 season was a season like no other with an unfortunate amount of DNFs, driver and team principal changes, the introduction of a new circuit, and general excitement and drama which cannot be compared with previous seasons.
Max Verstappen finished first with 575 points and Red Bull Racing won the Constructors’ title with 860 points. Teammate Sergio Pérez came second with 285 points and Mercedes edged out Ferrari by just three points to finish second in the Constructors’ Championship.
The only time the team seemed to struggle was during the Singapore Grand Prix where both Red Bulls were knocked out of Q1 by Liam Lawson which led to their winning streak being broken by Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz
The season began in Bahrain with success for the two Red Bulls who came first and second, but also for Fernando Alonso and Aston Martin – Alonso finished third whilst teammate Lance Stroll finished sixth. The season began poorly for Charles Leclerc (the first driver to DNF), Esteban Ocon (who started raking up penalties), and McLaren in general (rookie driver Oscar Piastri had to DNF following technical problems, meanwhile Lando Norris also suffered technical difficulties and finished last). However, McLaren’s luck would soon change, leading them to an eventual fourth-placed finish in the Constructors’ Championship.
There were three new faces on the grid: Australian Oscar Piastri racing for McLaren, American Logan Sergeant racing for Williams, and Dutchman Nyck de Vries racing for AlphaTauri. However, de Vries’ dream of competing in F1 would be cut short – he was replaced by Daniel Ricciardo halfway through the season.
Starting with the teams that performed well, we can’t go on without mentioning Red Bull who won every single race of the season, bar Singapore, and had won the Constructors’ championship by the conclusion of September’s Japanese GP. The team didn’t really face any real difficulties or show any real faults – most issues were driver based. The only time the team seemed to struggle was during the Singapore Grand Prix where both Red Bulls were knocked out of Q1 by Liam Lawson which led to their winning streak being broken by Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz.
Speaking of Ferrari, the Prancing Horse team finished third in the championship after facing a rollercoaster season filled with DNFs, bad strategy calls, and general bad luck – but also the joy of being the only other team to win a race. Their season began relatively poorly with Leclerc becoming the first driver to DNF in the 2023 season, before facing a 10-place grid penalty in the next race for taking on a new unit. This was compounded by Sainz’s five-second penalty from a crash in Australia. However, they soon began to remember who they were, and the two drivers started finishing in top positions and winning big points.
Aston Martin was also another team that went on a roller-coaster ride; starting the season off strong with podiums and big points they soon went downhill following “upgrades”. On the other hand, McLaren began the season poorly with DNFs and low points, however they managed to turn it around and finish fourth overall. Oscar Piastri became a race winner after winning the sprint race in Qatar, and Lando Norris performed incredibly well, winning Driver of the Day several times as well as finishing on the podium. It’s only a matter of time before he gets his first win.
Over the winter break, it was also announced that Guenther Steiner would be stepping down from his role at Haas – Ayao Komatsu will be the new team principal
When discussing the 2023 teams, we cannot forget AlphaTauri who went through much change and drama. The team signed Nyck de Vries as their new driver, however, he performed quite poorly in the first half of the season. For that reason (among others) he was replaced by Daniel Ricciardo. Unfortunately, tragedy struck for the Australian – he injured himself at the Dutch Grand Prix – so Liam Lawson (AlphaTauri and Red Bull reserve driver) was brought in to race in his place. Lawson made a splash at the Singapore Grand Prix after beating both Red Bulls in qualifying and then earning two points for the team. Yuki Tsunoda performed well, going as far as to win Driver of the Day at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. Team Principal Franz Tost announced that he would be stepping down from his role; he will be replaced by Laurent Mekies.
Tost isn’t the only team principal leaving though. Midway through the 2023 season, Alpine team principal Otmar Szafnauer announced he would be leaving the team; he was replaced by Bruno Famin for the remainder of the season – the 2024 season will be his first full season in the role. Over the winter break, it was also announced that Guenther Steiner would be stepping down from his role at Haas – Ayao Komatsu will be the new team principal.
Turning to some of the standout drivers of the season, we must mention Verstappen (obviously) who broke several records. For example, he set the record for most wins in a season (19), led over 1000 laps, secured most wins from pole in a single season, and the list goes on. Another key driver was Fernando Alonso who took his 100th career podium in Saudi Arabia; he raced a brilliant season despite some struggles with the car. Sainz was also quite exceptional, being the only non-Red Bull driver to win a race after employing some exciting strategy.
The 2023 season was an exciting season to watch with battles aplenty, people leaving and entering the sport, and dramatic races
Arguably the best races of the season were Singapore, Qatar, and Las Vegas. In Singapore we saw Liam Lawson display some incredible racing, as well as Sainz’s masterclass performance leading to his win. Qatar saw a first-time race winner in Oscar Piastri (albeit in a sprint race) and Verstappen won the world title. The race was arguably the most dangerous with most drivers feeling ill, faint, or dehydrated due to the extremely hot conditions. Las Vegas was also a race to watch. The introduction of a new circuit is never easy, and things can always go wrong (in this case it was Sainz’s unfortunate encounter with a manhole and Norris’ crash), however, for the most part the race was incredible with many battles between the drivers and a breathtaking overtake in the final lap which put Leclerc on the second step, ahead of Perez, on the podium.
Overall, despite the vast majority of races yielding the same winner, the 2023 season was an exciting season to watch with battles aplenty, people leaving and entering the sport, and dramatic races. Also, given that most drivers’ contracts expire next year, this silly season ought to be an exciting one as we all look to see whether any big names roll the dice and opt for a change of scene.