F1 2023: Quick guide to the season

Max Verstappen recovers from his victory in the Miami Grand Prix.

Not many things fly by quicker than a Formula 1 off-season.

Ten teams, twenty drivers are gearing up to battle it out in Bahrain's season opener this weekend.

But who will romp to victory? Who's at risk of botching it up? And which teams may limp to the starting grid?

Here's your quick guide to prove to your friends you know more about F1 than just some Friday night Netflix...

Max Third-Stappen

There won't be a bookies in the world with anyone other than Max Verstappen as the hot favourite to take a third straight World Drivers Championship.

Your return on investment almost wouldn't be worth the effort.

Ferrari look to have a package strong enough to challenge the Red Bull, but that may likely be a race-by-race challenge, rather than over the course of the season.

The Italian outfit also having to adjust to life under new team principal Fred Vasseur, who's tasked with arguably the most high-pressure role on the paddock.

As proved the case for most of last year, Mercedes look a bit off the pace. A handful of race wins and trying to fight for second in the championship might be the season in store for them.

Rookies Return

It's a breath of fresh air for the grid in 2023 with three new drivers.

You could argue Nyck de Vries - a seasoned reserve driver with Mercedes, a Formula E World Champion in his own right, and a Grand Prix points scorer in his debut race last year as a stand-in for Aston Martin - shouldn't be given a "rookie" tag, but it's his first full rookie season after having spent plenty waiting in the wings. Expect him to have the talent to battle in the midfield early on if the Alpha Tauri is competitive enough.

There's plenty of hopes pinned on America's Logan Sargeant to make enough of a splash at Williams to draw in some American audiences, while Aussie Oscar Piastri, whose move to McLaren dominated mid-season headlines last year, will have plenty of eyes on him to see if he lives up to the hype.

The biggest issue for Piastri will be the machine underneath him, with McLaren logging the fewest laps in pre-season testing, and looking like they've taken the smallest step forward of the ten cars.

He also has the small task of trying to match up against Lando Norris, who's comfortably among the most talented drivers lining up this year.

Fernando Alonso has moved to Aston Martin this season.


The talk of testing was the splash made by Aston Martin's 2023 car, throttled around the track by none other than Fernando Alonso in his latest career move.

It will be incredibly refreshing if that promise comes through, with some pundits picking them to be fighting with, if not capable of beating the Mercedes.

What would Fernando give to prove that age is just a number, as the veteran turns 42 during the course of the season.

Closer racing*

(*in the midfield at least)

Red Bull and Ferrari look a comfortable step ahead of the field, but what happens next is almost anyone's guess.

Williams appear to have made a significantly better start than many previous years, and may well close the gap on the likes of Alfa Romeo, Alpha Tauri and Haas, who've all had solid, albeit unspectacular pre-seasons.

Where they stack up in the pecking order could make for fascinating viewing, and hopefully some exciting racing.

Alpine could be the early season spanner in the works, with the all-French team appearing to be the one team who may have held the most cards back in pre-season testing.

Je ne sais quoi.

Zhou Guanyu slid upside down across the gravel before flipping up and over a barrier, but thankfully escaped serious injury.

Bahrain Bonanza

Season opener, Max Verstappen'a guaranteed win, right?

Yes.... but possibly not. Historically at least.

If he is to take the first chequered flag of 2023, he'll have to break the curse of the past six seasons, where the winner of the opening race has gone on to finish the season as runner-up.

Don't be surprised if the 2023 opener throws up plenty of curveballs, and the occasional safety car chaos.

Although by virtue of being into the second year of new technical regulations, and new engines, we should see fewer reliability issues than early last season.

In theory...

Liam Lawson said he's trying not to get too excited at Spa-Francorchamps but that energy is being felt all the way back here in NZ.

2023 big call

2022 saw Nyck de Vries thrown an opportunity of a lifetime to stake a claim for a full-time seat.

I can't shake a feeling that this season could see New Zealand's Liam Lawson handed a similar chance.

It's entirely out of his hands, but the Kiwi has impressed every time he's given an opportunity to test a Formula 1 car in practice sessions, and would be deserving of an opportunity to stake his claim amongst the world's best.