Race start, Interlagos, 2022

A proper title fight, a deal for Spa… Our wish-list for the 2023 F1 season

RaceFans Round Table

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In a first instalment of a new feature, RaceFans’ regular contributors have their say on the world of motorsport.

From the political to the personal, from Formula 1 to junior series, this regular feature will see RaceFans writers say how they passionately feel about the world of motorsport. First up, a look ahead to the exciting new season of F1 that awaits us all in 2023.

We all know about the drivers, the teams and the circuits they will be racing on this season, but what are RaceFans’ writers hoping to see from the year ahead – both on and off the track?

More free-to-air races

As a Britain-based reporter, I rue the fact that we only get one F1 race per year on free-to-air television. But it’s the British Grand Prix, which tends to be one of the more exciting ones for race action.

However in 2021 we got to also see the farcical title decider in Abu Dhabi between Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen for free, so the potential is there for the live TV rights holder Sky Sports to agree a deal with free-to-air broadcaster Channel 4 to do something similar again.

Charles Leclerc, Ferrari, Silverstone, 2022
The British GP has been the only live race on FTA TV
F1 fans are probably not going to be treated to a season-long title fight in 2023, but the world championship is really pushing the idea that the penultimate races of the season – the new Las Vegas Grand Prix – is going to be the spectacle of a lifetime. It will have a 6am start time in the UK, meaning a live broadcast on C4 would only be pushing out repeats of old sitcoms, and judging whether the event can successfully capture the interest of casual viewers or non-F1 fans outside of the city will be far more useful for the promoter if it shown free-to-air rather than on specialist subscription channels aimed specifically at F1 fans.

Other candidates for a second free-to-air race would be the Bahrain season opener, because that is the best time of the season to remind people that F1 is happening, or the Australian Grand Prix because it is also has an early morning start time that would not disrupt any of C4’s original programming, and Albert Park is one of the most visually appealing grand prix venues to see on TV.

Ida Wood

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Piastri’s time to shine

Among the many iconic opening bars that hip-hop legend Jay Z wrote over the years, few have been as memorable as “allow me to reintroduce myself” on his iconic Black Album in 2003.

Oscar Piastri may have been only two years old when that line was first recorded, but reintroducing himself to the motorsport world is exactly what the 21-year-old needs to do in his debut season in Formula 1 this year.

Hopefully Piastri lives up to the hype in his first year
Never forget just how on-fire Piastri was at the end of 2021. Aged just 20, he had completed a hattrick of back-to-back-to-back single seater titles across three years: Formula Renault Eurocup champion in 2019, FIA F3 title at first attempt in 2020, then winning the F2 championship the next year. There was literally no other human being on the planet who was more deserving of an opportunity in Formula 1 than Piastri. Such is his potential, McLaren put huge effort into poaching Piastri right out from the very heart of Alpine with a very cheeky but valid contract offer.

Daniel Ricciardo kicked to the kerb, us Australians need someone to cheer on. Who better than Piastri – the brightest prospect since George Russell or Charles Leclerc – to come in and get amongst it in his debut season?

It’s going to be bloody tough. Rarely has Formula 1 been blessed with such a talented pool of drivers under thirty. And McLaren can expect a brutal battle in an unforgiving midfield. But while Piastri’s likely to get his ‘welcome to F1’ moment at some point this year, a strong debut year will establish him as a major star of the future.

The post-pandemic period hasn’t exactly produced the most outstanding crop of rookies to date. Time for Piastri to reintroduce himself to the world of motorsport with a bang in 2023.

Will Wood

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A closer title fight

As we started the long journey back to some normality after the world changed forever due to Covid-19, Formula 1 gave us the showdown we had all desperately craved while stuck in our houses. We were treated to some of the best battles in the history of the sport. A new rivalry was born as Lewis Hamilton, one of the all-time greats, and Max Verstappen, F1’s rising superstar, went wheel-to-wheel and quenched our thirst after years of dominance from Mercedes, and before that Red Bull.

(L to R): Charles Leclerc, Ferrari; Max Verstappen, Red Bull; Red Bull Ring, 2022
A closer championship battle is what we need in 2023
It was only natural then that 2022 was overly hyped up, and when we quickly realised Mercedes weren’t up to the challenge after constant issues with porpoising and speed, we desperately clung on to Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc to challenge Verstappen. Ferrari, however, kept stumbling at the hurdles, and the untouchable Red Bull and Verstappen clinched the title with four races to go.

A few changes come into play however for 2023, with the hope of closing the field again and to make the racing closer. Not only has the troublesome porpoising been addressed with a sensory system included to monitor it, but floor edges have also been raised by an additional 15mm, with the diffuser throat heightened.

The cars will also be marginally lighter, have better mirrors for driver’s visibility and there are various tweaks to the gearbox.

Also, F1 have included three more sprint races, which they believe adds to the drama of the weekend, and gives fans a new and exciting concept to get behind. All in all, F1 has realised 2022 didn’t quite live up to expectations, especially as the sport enters a new era of technical regulations, and something needed to be done. However, will we see a resurgence from Mercedes? Will Ferrari manage to get it together under new boss Frederic Vasseur? That’s something only time will tell.

Claire Cottingham

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Save our Spa

The unnecessary and unexciting sprint race format has got to go, and so does that scourge of proper racing known as the Drag Reduction System. But it feels futile to hope that those running F1 will see the light and kick out the gimmicks. So I’d prefer to channel my energies into something more positive.

Had it not been for a late deal last season, the 2023 F1 calendar would not feature the Belgian Grand Prix at the majestic Spa-Francorchamps. That’s a sad thought for anyone who appreciates circuits which allows modern Formula 1 cars to demonstrate the full spectrum of their extraordinary capabilities.

Start, Eau Rouge, Raidillon, Spa-Francorchamps, 2022
Let’s see Spa confirmed for the future
But Spa only earned a stay of execution for a single season, not a long-term deal. This year’s grand prix has been squeezed in at the end of July, forcing a date change for the Six Hours of Spa sportscar race.

Doubt hangs over the future of an event which is rightly regarded as one of the highlights of the season, notwithstanding its (exceptionally) damp squib in 2021. Make no mistake, had geopolitical events unfolded differently the 2023 schedule might well have featured 24 rounds, including visits to China and Russia, but not Belgium.

Those in charge of F1 have often said the series needs to combine races on modern tracks in new places – which happen to be the most lucrative – with heritage events which link back to its rich past. Spa’s race is unquestionably one of the latter, besides being a simply wonderful place to watch the world’s best drivers compete.

I hope that in 2023 we see Spa gain a place on future calendars, even if only on alternate years. Is that any more realistic than hoping F1 will wean itself off push-button passes? Probably not, but I’m rooting for it anyway.

Keith Collantine

Over to you

What do you most want to see from the 2023 F1 season? And what do you make of our choices?

Have your say in the comments.

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Author information

Will Wood
Will has been a RaceFans contributor since 2012 during which time he has covered F1 test sessions, launch events and interviewed drivers. He mainly...

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42 comments on “A proper title fight, a deal for Spa… Our wish-list for the 2023 F1 season”

  1. Season-long title fight is the only thing that matters to me.

    1. I think that’s the least likely to happen, though. RBR had a significant advantage last season over everyone but Ferrari. I can’t see Ferrari improving significantly until their new boss settles in, and Merc are still a season behind.

      My prediction:
      – RBR will maintain their gap to Ferrari
      – Merc will close up on Ferrari slightly
      – Merc and Ferrari will take points off each other
      – RBR will walk both titles, claiming them even earlier than last year
      – RBR will then be able to avoid any negative effect from their “penalty”, by redirecting their remaining development resources into next year’s car far earlier
      – Merc and Ferrari start beating RBR, run the battle for second to the wire, and everyone becomes hopeful once again that there will be a closer title fight in 2024
      – Rinse and repeat

      1. You are in for a shock!

  2. I want the unexpected. That’s all.

    1. Too bad Alonso already predicted that Stroll could be a world champion.

      1. Nobody expects it, though, do they? ;)

    2. My list
      1. No DRS, at least not as dominant as last year.
      2. Close racing and some podiums and wins without the usual suspects
      3. Max wins in Silverstone :-)

    3. Lewisham Milton
      10th February 2023, 19:10

      BOO!

  3. I’m personally curious about how will the three rookies fare this year, especially Piastri who was so exciting in F3 and F2, will he be close to Norris at the end of the season?
    And of course I also hope at least a 3 teams-battle for the titles !

    Also, as a Belgian, I can only hope the Spa GP will be exceptional both in racecraft and attendance as you’re only as good as your last one ? Thank you Keith for supporting it !

    1. @spoutnik Thanks, it’s not just that I’m biased in favour of frites, honest!

      1. it’s not just that I’m biased in favour of frites,

        Which mayonnaise? Or do you rotate through the choices over a series of hourly visits?

  4. An excellent idea for a new feature series which will also generate a lot of very interesting opinions in the comments sections.

    1. Pourchaire winning the F2 championship in style and securing himself a seat in F1 in 2024 or beyond.

    2. Andretti given the green light to join the F1 grid.

    3. Yes, secure Spa. I can understand why – money – but it still makes my blood boil every time the topic of cancellation pops up. Some tracks are sacred: Spa, Brazil, Monza, Monaco and Silverstone, in my opinion. Cancel these and you break the hearts of countless fans, thus devaluing the sport. No, not in the monetary sense. But I would have hoped that goodwill would count for more than it does with F1’s management team. Shame.

    4. Goodbye DRS. Surely it’s time to experiment with omitting this in a feature race. Maybe it’s still too early and we need to wait another year or two for the team performances to coalesce. But by then it will time for new changes again for 2026!

    1. @shimks

      2. Andretti given the green light to join the F1 grid.

      I’d definitely like to see a new applicant – or, better yet, applicants – being approved.

    2. @shimks

      Agree with the Andretti green light. And more applicants as Keith said.

  5. Not sure I get the love for Spa these days.
    It was the most epic place for racing 25+ years ago, but F1 cars are so… ‘perfect’ (ie, high downforce and high traction) now that the circuit doesn’t push them or their drivers to their limits at all.
    Eau Rouge/Raidillon aren’t really corners anymore. Pouhon is just a slight lift. Blanchimont is nothing.
    All that’s left are the smaller medium-speed corners – because unless it rains, there aren’t any fast ones anymore that mean anything or provide any challenge. And, of course, if it does rain they just throw the red flag anyway – because they make their aero grip primarily under the car now, hence lifting way more water into the air and reducing visibility to a dangerously short distance.
    Add the fact that braking distances are too short and heavy braking zones not plentiful enough, and it results in poor racing every time.

    It’s a great track, as I said – but it’s almost incomparably better with anything that isn’t a modern F1 car on it.
    Leave the track for those series that can still truly show how great it is.

    1. You’re not wrong, but ditching DRS – especially on the Kemmel straight – will go a long way to making Spa a better race track. It’s so easy to pass there now that everyone quickly slots into his ‘proper’ place, and even before that there is no reason to attempt passes anywhere else.

      1. It would be an improvement to end their dependency and use of DRS, for sure – everywhere, not just at Spa – but it wouldn’t solve any of the other issues.

      2. ditching DRS – especially on the Kemmel straight – will go a long way to making Spa a better race track

        Absolutely. I mean, I don’t want it anywhere, but it should be obvious to those running the show how unnecessary it is at Spa.

  6. * Mercedes to get their act together, Lewis to win his eighth and final world title before hanging up his helmet.
    * Alonso to win his last race before doing the same.
    * Liberty finally realising fans DO. NOT. WANT. SPRINT. RACES !!!

  7. McLaren builds a winner, Mercedes too.
    That would mean races with plenty of teams in contention for the win…
    …that we can enjoy as separate events, not forced into some lame, hyped-up “title battle” narrative. Race 2 out of 23 is not a must-win for anyone…

  8. You can get some pretty good seasons without a competitive title fight but I now feel that this is essential given the state of the sport. For example, 2020 was a great season despite having a completely one sided title fight because they raced on great circuits (Muggello, Portimao and Istanbul Park). That, unfortunately, was a blip due to the pandemic.

    Without a title fight or some unexpected good racing I will probably drop out around race ten, perhaps tuning in only for Suzuka and Interlagos after that. I currently only do WEC and IMSA outside of F1 but I will maybe spend half a season with GTs or Indy. Who knows, maybe they are actually worse than current F1, but I feel it is worth a shot.

  9. V10 sounding race engines..

    1. This, it was at least half the fun and emotion

    2. V12
      Ferrari could use F1 to tune the engine noises they’ll be adding to their electric road cars.

  10. Title battle is all I care about.

    On a separate note, this new feature sort of showcases something that has afflicted this site for a while. Lack of creativity in introducing new content. You see sites such as The Race running podcasts and other interesting features online and this one feels like it’s lagging behind a bit. It could well be driven by lack of budget, but often introducing creative content doesn’t need to cost and and a leg. Happy to help.as I have some ideas, if anyone is reading this…

  11. On a slightly contrarian note; Spa-Francorchamps needs to do a better job. Zandvoort gets exactly zero government subsidies to pay for its event, and they’ve been very creative in how to add sponsors given that Liberty claims the sole right to sell TV-visible (this being key) track-side advertising. Spa is also closer to ‘Verstappen heartland’ than Zandvoort and so can’t simply brush aside the comparison by noting that the latter attracts a lot of Dutch fans; they can (and do) too.

    The broader point, that teams and FOM are only really interested in the money, is true. That this leads to a somewhat questionable calendar is also true. But this is the game that’s being played, and Spa-Francorchamps hasn’t shown a lot of initiative in how they themselves can prevent it from constantly being on the verge of losing the F1 GP.

    1. Alan S Thomson
      10th February 2023, 16:15

      F1 needs to remember what happened to NASCAR. They sacrificed their historic tracks for new shiny tracks and it ultimately cost the sport dearly. They have yet to fully recover.

  12. No sprint races, No DRS, Alonso taking at least one win.

  13. Since we cannot get rid of DRS due to the distorted vision from commercial rights holder marketing that more overtakes are better, even if this means literally having races ruined due to dull mid straight or non braking overtakes, I would like at least for them to strategically reduce DRS zones or get rid of DRS in some sections of some circuits to try to have better quality overtakes. They can at least remove DRS on no brainer sections from circuits like Kemmel straight on Spa, COTA straight, Miami back straight, , Montreal straight, even Interlagos main straight (to avoid artificial “comeback” drives should any front runner falls behind the pack). For circuits which overtaking is difficult, they can leave DRS as it is, ex: Hungaroring, Imola, Suzuka etc. I’m baffled that Fia don’t have a dedicated study or working group to just fine tune DRS zones in circuits. With all available gps data, telemetry and historical data available, I cannot understand why they still haven’t solved the Spa kemmel straight DRS. This DRS alone ruined one of the most exciting braking zones in F1 for what, more than 10 years? Spa used to be thrilling before DRS. The DRS fine tuning is easy to implement and low cost solution, and if done properly would great enhance the overtake quality for a full new generation of race fans that seldom experienced this aspect of F1 races.

    1. 100% agree with this. At minimum they should half the length of any DRS zone on a long straight like the Kemmel straight.

    2. @mmertens

      Well said.

      If DRS is not removed, your ideas make more sense.

    3. Jim Hall first introduced DRS with the Chaparral 2 and 2C sports racers in 1965. It was used in a broader manner, but high-end road cars use it (in a slightly different form) today. People thought of Jim Hall’s “flipper cars” (DRS) and other subsequent creations as a scourge and it was banned. So I think the DRS is very relevant; we just need to look at it from a different perspective and be more creative in its implementation.

      If we are going to speak of “scourge”, or artificial, then we need to address the unbelievably ridiculous high deg tires. If ever there was a really bad joke, this is it.

      Spa-Francorchamps is God’s gift to racing.

      Liberty Media giving consideration to removing one of the best, if not the best racing circuit(s) in the world causes me very serious concerns about F1’s future. It’s beginning to look like Liberty Media is becoming greed driven.

      Greed blocks intelligence, reasoning, global (objective) thinking… In a word – perspective. History and tradition mean something. It’s all about balance and I’m seeing less and less of it from Liberty.

      Liberty’s attitude towards Spa; it’s too far from a major city; too much carbon released into the atmosphere with people having to drive to get there, etc. is folly. They are spending hundreds of millions of dollars in Sin City, but seem unwilling to invest a dime in one of the most hallowed circuits in the world.

      I see Liberty moving from, “Short term pain, long term gain” to “Short term gain, long term pain”. If that assessment is correct, we and posterity will be sharing their pain.

    4. @mmertens COTA & Miami back straights haven’t/don’t fall into the same category as Kemmel straight regarding DRS effectiveness, although Montreal’s, Baku’s, & Interlagos’ have occasionally featured similar-style passes, so they apply to some extent.
      However, Spa’s Kemmel straight is the most clear-cut one, although I’d perhaps experiment things the following way instead: No DRS on that straight in the Sprint, but race as per usual.

  14. Stop making aero changes and let the smaller teams creep up to the front.
    Also shorten the distance between DRS activation line and the subsequent corner. The chasing car only needs enough to pull alongside, not pass completely and pull away.

    1. @G Shortening DRS zone would only really be justified on Spa’s Kemmel straight + Baku’s & Montreal’s equivalent longest full-throttle sections to a smaller extent. Otherwise, activation zone lengths are mostly okay so shortening for the sake of shortening would be unideal, for example, in places like Monaco (not that overtaking is any easier anyway), Singapore, Hungaroring, Zandvoort, Montmelo, etc.

      1. I forgot to add Imola & Suzuka, although ‘etc’ effectively refers to other similarly difficult-for-overtaking circuits anyway.

  15. Three teams (or more… but maybe that’s dreaming) going into each race with a realistic chance of winning.

    A few more teams approved to enter at some point in the future.

    A happy mid-season moment when it’s announced sprint races will never happen again.

  16. More free-to-air races – Entirely unconcerning to me, as I don’t live in the UK nor have I generally cared about the matter an awful lot.

    Piastri’s time to shine – Very much hopeful for Piastri, although ‘forever’ is perhaps a slight exaggeration, not that COVID-19 really matters anymore.

    A closer title fight – I couldn’t hope for this more, & Mercedes being roughly on par with RBR & Ferrari is important for closer WDC battle hopes.
    The minimum car+driver weight should indeed be lower than last season by 2 kg.
    However, I’ve recently read reports that 798 would remain, but as long as 2023 technical regulation issue 5 doesn’t come out by the season-opener, 796 will be valid.

    Save our Spa – I hope Spa-Francorchamps stays too, but simultaneously, I’ve accepted the likelihood of losing out as the only reason Spa is in this year’s schedule is South African GP’s failed return attempt, which can & probably will (or some other event instead, either in Africa or perhaps Columbia as rumored) for 2024 + Chinese GP most certainly will finally reoccur in the season after next regardless of when in the season specifically.
    The alternation method could be a financially unviable option, but we’ll see what happens eventually.

  17. My wish list for this season is for it to not feel like a chore. I would very much like to look forward to each race weekend instead of having a feeling of “F1 is on again? Oh man…”

  18. @keithcollantine I think you should get your website personnel to look into pinning posts like these to the top of your articles list so that they get maximum visibility for a period.

  19. Chinese GP is probably over forever. I just can’t see them coming back from this.

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