Race start, Circuit of the Americas, 2023

2023 in polls: Your verdicts on Andretti, Red Bull domination, sprint races and more

Debates and polls

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A new year brings with it new questions, debates and unknowns about the upcoming season of Formula 1 racing that will follow.

Just like any other year, throughout 2023 we canvassed RaceFans readers about their thoughts on the biggest talking points to come from the year of F1.

There was strong consensus on some topics, wildly different opinions on others and some spot on predictions. But here’s what you thought about the last year of Formula 1…

Predictions

As ever, before the season began in 2023 you were asked to pick which drivers you felt would beat their team mates over the coming season.

Kevin Magnussen, Nico Hulkenberg, Haas, Losail International Circuit, 2023
Returning Hulkenberg proved most of you wrong
Unsurprisingly, there were some you nailed. A whopping 97% of you tipped Max Verstappen to beat Red Bull team mate Sergio Perez – and it was not a close battle in the end. You also correctly backed Lewis Hamilton (74%) to beat George Russell and, understandably, Lando Norris (94%) to outscore rookie team mate Oscar Piastri.

For our readers the fight between the Alpine drivers Esteban Ocon and Pierre Gasly was too close to call – it produced a straight 50-50 split between the two new team mates. And Kevin Magnussen, with 60% of the vote, was favoured to out-perform the returning Nico Hulkenberg, though Hulkenberg ultimately prevailed.

When Daniel Ricciardo was dropped by McLaren at the end of 2022, he was immediately brought back into the Red Bull fold as a reserve driver. Before he became of the biggest stories of the year when he replaced Nyck de Vries at AlphaTauri mid-season, we asked you where you felt Ricciardo would be racing for this upcoming 2024 season. The majority of you (34%) predicted he would still be a Red Bull reserve driver at this stage, while 24% of you correctly predicted he would be racing for a team that finished in the bottom half of the 2023 championship.

In McLaren’s 60th anniversary year, we asked you to predict where their next single-seater title would come from. Almost 70% of you picked IndyCar, while just as many (14%) predicted that their next championship would come from Formula E as you did they would never win another single-seater title ever again. Only 3% of you believe they will the F1 world championship before IndyCar or Formula E – it remains to be seen which option, if any, will prove to be correct.

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Reactions

There were many major news stories that broke over the course of the season, but one of the biggest storylines heading into the year was the arrival of Fredric Vasseur as Ferrari team principal, after Mattia Binotto stepped down at the end of the previous season. Before the 2023 season began, a combined 72% of you felt that Ferrari had made the right decision to hire to former Sauber team principal, with only 15% of you either slightly or strongly disagreeing with the decision.

Daniel Ricciardo, AlphaTauri, Interlagos, 2023
Over 50% said bringing Ricciardo back was a good call
Fernando Alonso arrived at his new team at Aston Martin and a new team mate in Lance Stroll. But while Alonso stated his belief that Stroll had the potential to be a future world champion, only 1% of you agreed when we asked which drivers you felt could take a title in the future. The most popular choices were Charles Leclerc and George Russell, with an equal number of votes, while Lando Norris was a close third.

The F1 world was stunned when Red Bull jettisoned de Vries from his seat at AlphaTauri after the British Grand Prix, just 10 rounds into his rookie season, and Ricciardo was brought back onto the grid in his place. Our readers tended to back Red Bull’s decision, with a combined 53% agreeing they had made the right choice, but 37% of you believed it was the wrong call at the time.

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Rules and regulations

There were plenty of debates over regulations in the sport through the season, as there always is in Formula 1. After the sport introduced its technical regulations overhaul for the 2022 season, the vast majority of you (78%) either slightly or strongly agreed that the introduction of ground effect cars had improved racing after the Australian Grand Prix – the 25th round with the technical regulations.

Sprint race start, Interlagos, 2023
Most of you would prefer no sprint rounds
The Melbourne race also provoked debate over how F1 handles late-race restarts following a manic finish with multiple red flags. Among our readers 30% felt standing restarts should always be used if possible, no matter how late into a race they are, while just 14% of you believed standing restarts should never be used after a red flag.

The sport has experimented with many qualifying formats over the years and other series such as Formula E have innovated with their Duels system. But more than half of you believe F1’s current three-stage knockout system is the best format of qualifying currently in use.

F1 and the FIA decided to change the sprint race format again ahead of its first appearance in Baku. While the proposed revised 2023 format was more popular (22%) than the one used in 2021 and 2022 (no votes), our readers remain largely opposed to any kind of sprint races: 68% of you voiced your preference for a standard grand prix weekend format without any sprint sessions.

Sprint races became a talking point again later in the year when Verstappen was on the brink of sealing his world championship title ahead of the sprint round in Qatar, meaning that for the first time ever, the championship could be sealed outside of a grand prix. Just 6% of you felt it was either slightly or very positive for the sport that Verstappen could clinch the title at a sprint round – which he eventually did – while a combined 65% of you considered it as a negative.

At the final round of the season in Abu Dhabi, the question arose whether drivers should be allowed to deliberately slow down to cause a rival to pass them before a DRS detection zone. Lewis Hamilton criticised Alonso’s use of the tactic which has been seen before and even lead to collisions. The debate over whether this was acceptable or not was one of the most contentious of the season, with just over half of you (52%) disagreeing with the suggestion that the tactic should be banned, while 40% of you either slightly or strongly agreeing with a ban on ‘DRS baiting’.

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Red Bull’s domination

The 2023 season was all about one team – the world champions, Red Bull. They controlled the season, winning 21 of 22 rounds (19 falling to Verstappen) and obliterating some all-time records.

Many of you predicted Red Bull would win almost all grands prix
After their comfortable opening round win in Bahrain, we asked you how many rounds Red Bull would win in 2023. While just 5% of you felt that they could whitewash the season and win all 22 rounds, the most popular choice was that they would win between 18-21 rounds (46%) – which is what eventually transpired.

When Red Bull broke McLaren’s 1988 record of most consecutive grand prix victories, one of the questions you were asked over the summer break was which of their rival teams would eventually snap their unprecedented run of success. Mercedes was the most popular option, with just under half of you (48%) backing Red Bull’s fiercest rivals as being the ones to eventually beat them. McLaren were also tipped by 31% of you, but just 15% correctly predicted Ferrari would be the ones to win – which they eventually did at the Singapore Grand Prix three rounds later.

So much winning by one driver and team meant a familiar debate over whether domination is boring and damaging for Formula 1 and its popularity reared its head once again. However, as to be expected from true RaceFans, most of you (54%) said that periods of dominance had never affected your viewership of the sport, with a combined 44% of you said dominance had made you either slightly or greatly reduce your viewership.

Verstappen’s record-breaking season saw him rocket up the all-time rankings to become the third most successful F1 driver in history by total grand prix wins by the end of the season, surpassing Sebastian Vettel with his 54th win in Abu Dhabi to cap off the year. However, the majority of you (56%) do not believe that Verstappen will catch all-time record setting Hamilton and end his career with more grand prix wins than the seven-times champion. However, 37% of you back Verstappen to end his career as the all-time record holder.

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The future

It was not all about 2023, however. Perhaps the biggest ongoing political saga of last year was whether Andretti would be granted an opportunity to join the Formula 1 grid as its 11th team after the FIA approved them and only them through their open application process. While Formula 1 continues to resist opening its doors to Andretti, an overwhelming majority of 97% of you either slightly or strongly agree that the team should be granted a place on the grid.

Michael Andretti, Miami, 2023
Almost all of you feel Andretti should be on the grid
With six night rounds on the 2023 calendar and the same number for this upcoming season too, opinion was split over whether there should be fewer night races in the series. While some of you either slightly (18%) or strongly (20%) agree that there should be fewer rounds held at night, a similar amount of you either slightly (12%) or strongly (22%) disagreed with the suggestion.

At the end of the season when it was confirmed that Logan Sargeant would keep his Williams seat for 2024, it meant that for the first time ever all drivers who raced at the end of the previous season would race for the same teams in the opening round of the next. But when you were asked who should not have kept their seats for 2024, Sargeant was the second most popular answer (23%) with Aston Martin driver Lance Stroll the one who had the most readers (28%) who felt he should have been replaced ahead of the new season.

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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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4 comments on “2023 in polls: Your verdicts on Andretti, Red Bull domination, sprint races and more”

  1. The ‘where will McLaren win’ question is still interesting. I like to see teams compete in different series, even if there’s not a whole lot of behind the scenes overlap between the different operations. It’s good to see big, historic names represented from Indianapolis to Le Mans and the F1 grid. In that regard, it’s nice that the GT3 regulations now adopted by the WEC will mean McLaren will return to Le Mans in 2024 with the 720S, even if it’s not in the top class.

    1. MichaelN, maybe a historical brand in terms of single seater racing, but in terms of sportscar racing, McLaren doesn’t have extensive amounts of heritage. Their heritage in sportscar racing comes down to CanAm and a bit of GT racing in the 1990s – outside of that, they’ve been largely irrelevant as a sportscar brand.

      1. True enough, but the McLaren GT3s have been a staple for a number of years now so seeing them at Le Mans is fun. And regardless, McLaren is a great racing team, and they bring that legacy everywhere they participate.

        And, even if it’s a bit of a ‘yeah but’ story, they did win Le Mans in 1995.

        1. MichaelN, still a bit of a stretch to say that they’re a “historic” manufacturer when you’re talking about GT3 cars that only came into existence in 2011.

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