Formula One 2023: a team-by-team guide to the cars and drivers

Can Ferrari, with new principal Frédéric Vasseur installed, challenge the supremacy of Red Bull and Max Verstappen?

Red Bull

Car RB19 Engine Red Bull Principal Christian Horner Debut Australia 2005 GPs 347 Titles 5 Last season 1st. After an aggressive evolution of the rocket ship with which they bossed the championship last year, Red Bull with their newly polished car enter the season looking fearsome once more. It should enjoy a pace advantage from the off despite the wind-tunnel restrictions imposed last year, is already reliable and can expect to only become quicker backed by an operationally finely honed team.

Drivers

Max Verstappen (Neth, 25) No 1 Debut Australia 2015 Wins 35 Poles 20 Titles 2 Last season Champion. Ominously assured and at ease in testing, the world champion clearly has huge confidence in a car which has been honed to his style and will be quick out of the blocks. Dominant last season, the Dutchman displayed a maturity and control that was hugely impressive and makes him strong favourite for a third title.

Sergio Pérez (Mex, 33) No 11 Debut Australia 2011 Wins 4 Poles 1 Titles 0 Best season finish 3rd Last season 3rd. Eclipsed last year by his teammate but took two wins despite struggling with a car designed to Verstappen’s style. Will expect better as he believes he is more suited to the new model, while Red Bull will be looking for strong support from the Mexican to back up his teammate’s title challenge should a real fight emerge.

Ferrari

Car SF-23 Engine Ferrari Principal Frédéric Vasseur Debut Monaco 1950 GPs 1,052 Titles 16 Last season 2nd. Optimism turned to bitter disappointment last year with technical failure, strategy and driver errors so the Scuderia must rectify to challenge for the title. A mighty task for new boss Vasseur but he at least has a good car to work on. The engine reliability has been improved allowing them to turn up the wick, adding straight-line pace that puts them closest to Red Bull.

Drivers

Charles Leclerc (Mon, 25) No 16 Debut Australia 2018 Wins 5 Poles 18 Titles 0 Best season finish 2nd Last season 2nd. Showed his pace with some mighty qualifying last season but could not convert the poles and lacked consistency, not least in an unforced error, spinning off in France. Without doubt capable and unafraid of taking the fight to Verstappen, if Ferrari can deliver the goods.

Carlos Sainz Jr (Sp, 28) No 55 Debut Australia 2015 Wins 1 Poles 3 Titles 0 Best season finish 5th Last season 5th. Now at home with Ferrari, the Spaniard will be looking to deliver with more consistency. Mistakes peppered the opening of his campaign last year but he took his first win and has grown in confidence, so needs a strong start to build on and make the most of his place among the front-runners.

Mercedes

Car W14 Engine Mercedes Principal Toto Wolff Debut France 1954 GPs 271 Titles 8 Last season 3rd. Enjoyed a solid, if unspectacular performance in testing, with the car offering a stable platform but after the shocking show last year are still playing catch up on Red Bull and Ferrari. The team and drivers have been circumspect about their early chances, acknowledging their pace deficit to the front but are equally positive about the potential in the car to be unleashed with a vigorous development programme.

Drivers

Lewis Hamilton (GB, 38) No 44 Debut Australia 2007 Wins 103 Poles 103 Titles 7 Last season 6th. The seven-time champion rode out 2022’s trying season with focus and composure but struggling for podiums is not where he wants to be. Still highly motivated, there is no indication he is not still at his best but once more may be limited by his machinery. However, if his team put him in the fight he will doubtless be as relentless and hard to beat as ever.

George Russell (GB, 25) No 63 Debut Australia 2019 Wins 1 Poles 1 Titles 0 Best season finish 4th Last season 4th. Hugely impressive in his debut season for Mercedes, even with a poor car he stepped up to match his illustrious teammate with great assurance. A deserved maiden win was the payoff and he will be brimming with confidence at what he can do with a decent ride and pitting himself against Hamilton, a challenge that could become feisty.

Lewis Hamilton and George Russell
Lewis Hamilton and George Russell hope Mercedes will be more competitive this year. Photograph: Hasan Bratic/SIPA/Shutterstock

Alpine

Car A523 Engine Renault Principal Otmar Szafnauer Debut Bahrain 2021 GPs 44 Titles 0 Best finish 4th Last season 4th. The French driver lineup makes an impressive if potentially inflammatory pairing. The team used testing to push the extreme setups of the car, suggesting they have confidence in its potential and for when they turn up the engine, which was powerful but fragile last year. Targeting bridging the gap to third but Alpine may well find their hands full in a fight with Aston Martin.

Drivers

Esteban Ocon (Fr, 26) No 31 Debut Belgium 2016 Wins 1 Poles 0 Best qualifying 3rd Titles 0 Best season finish 8th Last season 8th. Well-settled with the team, Ocon will see himself as the alpha driver at Alpine, a position Pierre Gasly will doubtless contend. Ocon has proved his touch and pace as well as a fierce determination and will need all three this year in both a midfield and potentially intra-garage dogfight.

Pierre Gasly (Fr, 27) No 10 Debut Malaysia 2017 Wins 1 Poles 0 Best qualifying 2nd Titles 0 Best season finish 7th Last season 14th. Finally moving on from the Red Bull stable, a fresh start could do wonders for the Frenchman and he will not wish to play second fiddle to Ocon. Will need time to work with his new team but as a highly competitive driver will expect to come up to speed in short order and make his mark with a team still intent on fighting for titles.

McLaren

Car MCL60 Engine Mercedes Principal Andrea Stella Debut Monaco 1966 GPs 924 Titles 8 Last season 5th. The loss of team principal Andreas Seidl to Alfa Romeo has been handled well, with Stella an assured, experienced replacement. But the car failed to hit aero development targets and is off the pace and a handful to drive. Not where they wanted to be, a slow start is expected but great store set in a raft of early-season upgrades.

Drivers

Lando Norris (GB, 23) No 4 Debut Australia 2019 Wins 0 Best race finish 2nd Poles 1 Titles 0 Best season finish 6th Last season 7th. Now the team leader despite his still tender years, Norris has the experience at McLaren that will prove invaluable, especially as they also field a rookie. Has noted and admitted the car’s shortcomings but expects it to come good which he badly needs as McLaren’s best asset in the midfield fight.

Oscar Piastri (Aus, 21) No 81 Rookie seasonlast year Alpine reserve driver, F2 champion in 2021. Without doubt a first-rate talent, Piastri took three titles in three seasons, winning Formula Renault, F3 and then F2 but the step-up remains a big one. He is entirely unintimidated and has the race-craft to back it up but will do well to match Norris in his first season while solid performances will certainly please a team under pressure.

Lando Norris
Lando Norris is now McLaren’s team leader. Photograph: Gongora/NurPhoto/Shutterstock

Alfa Romeo

Car C43 Engine Ferrari Principal Alessandro Alunni Bravi/Andreas Seidl (CEO) Debut Britain 1950 GPs 192 Titles 0 Best finish 6th Last season 6th. Losing Vasseur to Ferrari was blow but bringing in Seidl early from McLaren ahead of Audi’s 2026 takeover will steady the ship. The car was received well by the drivers, a marked improvement on last year but Alfa’s challenge will be to maintain what should be a good start for the duration of a very long season.

Drivers

Valtteri Bottas (Fin, 33) No 77 Debut Australia 2013 Wins 10 Poles 20 Best season finish 2nd Last season 10th. Team leader, seemingly enjoying the role and the relative lack of pressure since he left Mercedes. The Finn is in fine form, and humour, and has declared the new car’s handling to be superior to the previous model but he needs to impress now to lay claim to a spot with the team when Audi and their very serious ambitions, join F1.

Zhou Guanyu (Chn, 23) No 24 Debut Bahrain 2022 Best race finish 8th Poles 0 Best qualifying 9th Titles 0 Best season finish 18th Last season 18th. More is expected of the young Chinese driver now he has his rookie season under the belt. Notably he did not score as well as might have been expected even given his inexperience so must convert more and minimise the errors if he his to retain his place, while Alfa, in a tight fight with Haas and AlphaTauri, will need every point.

Aston Martin

Car AMR23 Engine Mercedes Principal Mike Krack Debut Netherlands 1959 GPs 49 Titles 0 Best finish 7th Last season 7th. Caused a buzz at testing with performances that suggest the team have made a major step forward, enough indeed potentially to challenge Mercedes. Impressively reliable and showing real pace across long runs, with Fernando Alonso on-board they will pounce on any weakness from the top three in an attempt to boss the midfield.

Drivers

Fernando Alonso (Sp, 41) No 14 Debut Australia 2001 Wins 32 Poles 22 Titles 2 Last season 9th. Another team, another new start for the irrepressible Spaniard whose appetite for racing appears entirely undiminished. His vast experience is just what the team need and the champion’s touch has yet to desert him, Alonso might be in his best position to win one more race if a good chunk of fortune comes his way.

Lance Stroll (Can, 24) No 18 Debut Australia 2017 Best race finish 3rd Poles 1 Titles 0 Best season finish 11th Last season 15th. Stroll will drive in Bahrain despite doubts over his participation after suffering a wrist injury in a cycling accident in Spain. However if Aston deliver the car, this will be the acid test of Stroll’s place in F1. It will be a big ask, he must survive being paired with Alonso and prove able to exploit perhaps the best machinery he has yet been given. Another lacklustre season would not fit well with the team’s grand ambition.

Haas

Car VF-23 Engine Ferrari Principal Guenther Steiner Debut Australia 2016 GPs 144 Titles 0 Best finish 5th Last season 8th. Did great mileage with great reliability in testing but there was no hint of the explosive pace that made last year’s car start so strongly. Some strength in depth with the car handling well and displaying good balance of which the drivers approve as they look to master the back end of the pack.

Drivers

Kevin Magnussen (Den, 30) No 20 Debut Australia 2014 Best race finish 2nd Poles 1 Titles 0 Best season finish 9th Last season 13th. Enjoying a renaissance at Haas, K-Mag is clearly relishing his return to F1, not least with that pole in Brazil last year. Will provide the feisty, sharp edge the team needs in a dogfight for every point and is ready to exploit any chance he is given.

Nico Hülkenberg (Ger, 35) No 27 Debut Bahrain 2010 Best race finish 4th Poles 1 Titles 0 Best season finish 7th Last season N/A, 14th in 2019. F1’s super-sub returns for a full season. He has a lot of catching up to do as almost a year has passed since his last grand prix and he last completed a full season back in 2019 for Renault. Nonetheless, the German is a known quantity, capable of the solid runs the team needs as he strives for that elusive first podium after 181 race starts.

Fernando Alonso tests his new Aston Martin in Bahrain
Fernando Alonso tests his new Aston Martin in Bahrain. Photograph: Giuseppe Cacace/AFP/Getty Images


AlphaTauri

Car AT04 Engine Red Bull Principal Franz Tost Debut Austria 2020 GPs 61 Titles 0 Best finish 6th Last season 9th. Pounded out the miles in testing proving the car is reliable but its performance remains in question. The drivers referred to handling issues and it appeared ponderous through the tight corners, so the team now face a tough task of analysing and identifying the weaknesses while racing, an uphill challenge.

Drivers

Yuki Tsunoda (Jpn, 22) No 22 Debut Bahrain 2021 Best race finish 4th Poles 0 Best qualifying 7th Titles 0 Best season finish 14th Last season 17th. Proved himself quick in his opening two seasons but the Japanese driver must now show he can do so without costly errors. If the car is a handful the team will badly need a calm hand to maximise what is available, offering a chance for Tsunoda to make good on his experience but is likely to earn little sympathy if he does not.

Nyck De Vries (Neth, 28) No 45 Debut Italy 2022 Best race finish 9th Poles 0 Best qualifying 8th Titles 0 Best season finish 21st Last season 21st. Made his F1 debut at Monza last year standing in at Williams and did very well, taking ninth in an uncompetitive car. The 2021 Formula E world champion has long proved he deserved a shot at F1 and is highly rated by Toto Wolff – if he beats Tsunoda out of the blocks he will have emphatically made his mark.

Williams

Car FW45 Engine Mercedes Principal James Vowles Debut Spain 1977 GPs 788 Titles 9 Last season 10th. With Vowles joining from his remarkable success at Mercedes, the once grand and magisterial F1 outfit are hoping to begin some form of resurgence. Vowles has an immense task to change the culture at Williams but his influence is yet to be felt. In the meantime the car is an improvement on last year but still looks rooted to the back of the grid.

Drivers

Alexander Albon (Thai, 26) No 23 Debut Australia 2019 Wins 0 Best race finish 3rd Poles 0 Best qualifying 4th Titles 0 Best season finish 7th Last season 19th. Will be expected to act as de facto leader given he is paired with a rookie and Albon has the maturity and assurance to do so. Is happier with the handling of this year’s model and as he proved last year, can be trusted to extract the maximum from limited machinery and in a field where margins will be slight.

Logan Sargeant (US, 22) No 2 Rookie seasonlast year 4th in F2. Faces the spotlight in no uncertain terms as a US driver returns to F1 just as the sport enjoys a huge resurgence in popularity in North America. It will be a cauldron, so Sargeant needs to stay calm and return some early points from which confidence and his natural talent will flow, his performances in F2 suggest the feat is well within his grasp.

Contributor

Giles Richards

The GuardianTramp

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