A few days after the conclusion of the F1 2023 World Championship, there is a succession of anticipations about what might happen in the coming year. Despite the engines being cold now, as the Pirelli tests have been archived in Abu Dhabi, some are making more or less founded predictions about the future. It’s a typical game for these times when information is scarce and often poorly verified—a mechanism that serves to keep the audience’s interest alive and, often, indirectly locks in what has been and has not worked.
The F1 2023 season will be remembered as the year of Red Bull’s records. But when there is only one dominant force, the losers also emerge, those who bear the shame of defeat, which was quite sensational given the technical context in which it matured.
The RB19 started with a penalty on its back that was supposed to limit its momentum, but instead, it grew wings, figuratively speaking. The reasons for this perhaps unexpected reaction have been analyzed in our various articles; what is important to emphasize here is that the Milton Keynes team could reign undisturbed also because of three entities that fell short, each for a different reason.
The first actor who came out bruised from the last sports campaign is Liberty Media. The technical, sporting, and financial regulations were supposed to level the playing field after seven and a half years of Mercedes dominance. The effect achieved was the opposite: never in the history of F1 had such overwhelming dominance been seen, shamelessly annihilating enemies. The announced and hoped-for technical and performance convergence remains only in the air, in the utopian speeches of Stefano Domenicali and the series’ plenipotentiaries. Practice has offered something else.
Will the teams get closer next year? And if it doesn’t happen, is it worth spending energy and funds in 2025, twelve months before another regulatory revolution? The risk that Red Bull could enjoy a significant advantage for another two years is real.
Events like Las Vegas won’t be enough to keep alive an interest that has already begun to wane in some countries. Italy, in particular, carries the banner of the disenchanted, evident in the TV ratings, which plummeted in 2023 on Sky Sport.
This brings us to the other two entities that stood out negatively: Mercedes and Ferrari. Italy turned off the TV very often, whenever the Scuderia displayed performances not worthy of its sporting and historical stature. The Black Arrows, below expectations, clearly did not impact Italian viewership, but they certainly contributed to keeping general interest low.
Red Bull ended the championship with 860 points. Those obtained by Max Verstappen (575) would have been enough to easily win the constructors’ title. This illustrates the greatness of the RB19 but also the inadequacy of the Ferrari SF-23 and the Mercedes W14. The men from Brackley suffered a severe and resounding defeat, finishing with 409 points, three more than the Rosso, which precedes a McLaren that grew a lot in the second half of the season but not enough to represent a threat to the Dutchman and his team.
The question everyone is asking and many are trying to answer is: Can the three mentioned entities recover in a year? No one has a crystal ball, but the post-penalty normalization and the opportunity to work on the 2024 model before any other team are factors that will weigh in the balance of the future season. And perhaps the one after. If Ferrari and Mercedes have to overhaul their respective projects, Red Bull (and partially McLaren) can continue in continuity by refining the vehicle in a more extensive management of technical and financial resources.
The hope—and at the same time the fear—is the now infamous technical convergence. It is clear that it will happen; it has been underway since 2022. Still, it is not equally clear that it will correspond to performance convergence. The MCL60, to name one, adhered to the philosophy introduced by Adrian Newey but stopped at the threshold of glory: progress was significant but not enough to sit at the head table or tickle the RB19’s supremacy. The same goes for the Aston Martin AMR23, which, after the initial exploit, deflated like a poorly made cake.
These two examples encourage and frighten Ferrari and Mercedes at the same time, knowing that mere imitation of concepts will not be enough. It will be necessary to take risks and introduce something that changes the tide. Lewis Hamilton, a pragmatic and hyper-realistic individual with the passing years, has photographed the situation with extreme clarity: “In Abu Dhabi, Red Bull won with a 17-second advantage and hasn’t developed the car since August. So you can easily guess where they will be next year…”
The three entities identified in this writing will therefore have to do more than the bare minimum to try to chain the overwhelming force of Red Bull. Liberty Media and the FIA are bound by the same regulations they theorized and then wrote. For this reason, the effects of their work will necessarily be felt in 2026. Imagining changing the rules midway to level the playing field would be inconceivable and anti-meritocratic. The die is cast: decision-makers must operate within the framework of transparency and equidistance without favoring or disfavoring specific entities.
As for the Prancing Horse and the Three-Pointed Star—and all the other players pushing from behind—a titanic battle must be won against regulations that do not favor comebacks due to strict budget caps and a stagnant technical framework. A healthy injection of creativity is needed to find valid technical paths on a map that seems to have been explored in every nook and cranny. The design offices in Brackley and Maranello are searching for shortcuts that allow for an immediate reapproach to Red Bull. The series owners also hope for this outcome, fearing bitter repercussions with another monotonous year that doesn’t bode well for the show and the relative marketability of the product.