Expectations are high for the upcoming 2023 Formula 1 season and not only because we will finally be able to witness again the fascinating duels that we have missed so much during this long winter break.
The championship (that will begin at the Bahrain International Circuit on 5 March) promises to be truly exciting, probably even more than last year’s event, which was won by Charles Leclerc for Scuderia Ferrari: certainly all eyes will be once again focused on the Red Bull/Mercedes/Ferrari trio. For now the focus is on the presentation of the single-seaters, which will take place in a few weeks’ time.
In fact, the long-awaited appointment thanks to which we will get to know the new cars for the new Formula 1 season is scheduled to take place in February, respectively on the 3rd, 15th and 14th.
F1 2023: what to expect from the big three
We clearly expect continuity from the future RB19: it is essential for Red Bull to be able not to interrupt this (presumed) three-year period of success, even if remembering the debut of the RB18, some rather difficult moments for the Milton Keynes team come to mind. However, this didn’t stop the Austrian side, which, on the contrary, built a dominant and incredible victory on the basis of a meticulous recovery, perhaps even more impressive for this very reason.
On the other hand, we should expect a triumphant return from Mercedes: the W13 was a good test bench, and in the darkest moments of difficulty they still managed to build some possitive aspects. What is certain is that they have learned from their mistakes, they will have developed everything that did not work for their previous single-seater; there is no doubt that they therefore have all the prospects to present a car that will certainly be more competitive.
But Ferrari is probably the one that is most awaited: last season’s performance, on the other hand, highlighted that there is presumably a basis on which to build a road to victory. Of course, unfortunately not so solid, otherwise events could have taken another turn in 2022, but in any case we have witnessed a very different championship compared to the previous ones.
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And as is now well known, the arrival of the new team principal Fred Vasseur, who replaced Mattia Binotto, also represented that change so much requested by many. A delicate moment which, however, could lead to a year of transition in view of a potential victory; or at least that’s what is assumed to happen.
We still don’t know what Fred is made of and with what guidelines he will establish at the helm of the Ferrari Racing Division, what is certain is that any change (especially one like this) takes time to settle down.
Even Felipe Massa, who having raced for Ferrari from 2006 to 2013 knows the environment and its dynamics very well, is of the same opinion: in fact he recalls how much even Jean Todt himself needed time before being able to build a winning team, helping to consolidate the myth that Ferrari has always embodied.
In Felipe’s opinion, Frederic Vasseur’s arrival was therefore necessary: “You could see that there was confusion internally, relations between Mattia Binotto and the senior management were not good. And instead, trust from the top management is fundamental […] It was normal that in the end Mattia paid for these mistakes: he is a very good, talented technician, but in any case the result did not come: his exit was not a surprise”.
And when asked what could be the right path to bring Ferrari back to the top, his comparison is again with the former French manager: “With a balanced team that does not suffer the pressure of waiting: when I arrived, Ferrari was far more lucid than this one because Jean Todt managed to make it so”.
In any case, he therefore argues that there are several things that have gone wrong between reliability, strategy and the drivers themselves, adding, however, that if the team’s task is to create a union between a winning single-seater and a functioning team, the rest is in any case all in the hands by Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz.
And indeed, he suggests that Frederic Vasseur should concentrate more on the Monegasque driver, making him the main driver of the team just like Red Bull did with Max or Mercedes with Lewis: this could translate into a considerable contract extension, in view of the now imminent deadline at end 2024.
But beware of the unexpected: if we hypothesize Lewis Hamilton’s possible exit from Formula 1 (because he too is under the same contractual term), considering his 38 years and his firm intention of not wanting to race up to 40, the option could lead to an empty seat in Mercedes. And team principal Toto Wolff has never hidden his appreciation for the Monegasque talent.
An absurdly unreal or a cautiously feasible hypothesis? From this point of view, the future of Ferrari is in the hands of Fred Vasseur.