The Formula 1 (F1) grid has been reshuffled and a few new promising faces have secured a seat for the upcoming season. Four-time World Champion Sebastian Vettel has taken his foot off the pedal for good after retiring at the end of last season as two-time World Champion Fernando Alonso has taken his vacant seat at Aston Martin. Daniel Ricciardo has left McLaren after a disappointing season. The Australian has joined Red Bull Racing as their reserve driver for the upcoming season.
A few promising youngsters who have raced the fastest Formula 2 (F2) in the past have been promoted and will get their first taste of F1 action in 2023. Oscar Piastri, Nyck De Vries, and Logan Sargeant are the three drivers who have earned a promotion, while Nico Hulkenberg will be back on track with a seat secured at Haas.
Red Bull’s domination last year eclipsed the recovery of Ferrari as the former nabbed the Drivers’ and Constructors’ Championships last season. Mercedes got off to a poor start but recovered well towards the end of the season and are expected to be better in the next. Apart from the Top-3 constructors, let’s take a look at the three most exciting teams to keep an eye on this season.
Lando Norris and Oscar Piastri
Mclaren notched 159 points last season and finished fifth in the championship. Lando Norris did most of the hard work as he contributed 122 points to that tally and finished seventh in the Drivers’ Championship 2022. The 23-year-old was behind the Red Bull, Ferrari, and Mercedes drivers.
After winning the F2 Drivers’ Championship in 2021, Piastri was announced as Alpine’s reserve driver last year. A controversial turn of events that included Alpine’s public announcement of Piastri’s promotion and Piastri’s denial to it, led to the driver signing up for McLaren and replacing his Australian compatriot Ricciardo.
The young driving duo’s combined age is 44 years but despite their young age, Norris and Piastri are expected to set the track on fire. It will be interesting to see what the Australian brings to McLaren and if he is able to stay hot at the heels of his teammate or maybe even surpass him.
Pierre Gasly and Esteban Ocon
As Piastri chose McLaren over Alpine, the constructor had to look elsewhere for a replacement for the departing Alonso. Eventually, Pierre Gasly emerged as the replacement for the two-time champion. This means the French team will have an all-French driver line-up for the next season.
Esteban Ocon finished eight in the Drivers’ Championship last year, eleven points clear of his teammate Alonso who finished right behind him. Apart from the competition with other constructors, there was a lot of competition within the team itself as both drivers competed for grid places on the track without team orders. This included moments of aggressive defending and overtaking, which could have led to a double retirement in a couple of races last season.
Pierre Gasly, on the other hand, was the first-choice driver at Alpha Tauri, pairing with Yuki Tsunoda in his second year with the team. The constructor could only notch 35 points all season as Gasly contributed 23 to that tally. Gasly’s previous move to Red Bull did not work well for the Frenchman. This time with Alpine, the 26-year-old will be hoping for a different
Yuki Tsunoda and Nyck De Vries
As Gasly departed from Alpha Tauri, the vacant seat in the constructor’s second car was filled by Nyck De Vries. The Dutchman won the 2020-21 Formula E World Championship after winning the 2019 FIA Formula 2 Championship. The 27-year-old drove for Williams last season when Alex Albon was unfit to race.
De Vries started eighth and finished ninth, thereby securing points on an unexpected F1 debut, finishing ahead of teammate Nicholas Latifi. The Dutchman will be alongside Tsunoda, who experienced a tough drive out last time around, scoring just 12 points all season. The 22-year-old will be desperate to bounce back in the next season.
The duo has the potential to be extremely competitive in the middle of the pack, but a major contributing factor will be the performance of the car. If Alpha Tauri can deliver them a competitive car and is fast enough to score points week in and week out, then the duo can surely make quite a few drivers sweat on track.